Cartooning in Colour

I’ve got a strong idea in my mind of what the historical Robert Adam would have looked like, but this is a comic strip, not a dramatised documentary, and I’m going for a pantomime version of the character. I’ve pared down the drawing to a cartoony style, which I think should work much better.

I’ve delved into the colour wheel rather than sticking to a standard set of swatches as I previously did but this is just a start. I would probably also add some texture, for instance on the gargoyle, the original of which, at Nostell, has a scaly texture.

A Little Rough

First rough; having got that on paper – or at least on the iPad – I can now improve characters, dialogue and setting as I move on to the next layer and work in pen.

Whenever I think about drawing a comic strip I start to get white page syndrome. If I thought too hard about this little idea, inspired by the gargoyle that I drew last week, I’d likely break off to research the historical setting and the costumes.

After my recent experiments in drawing on the iPad in Clip Studio Paint, this is my first attempt at using the program to generate a comic strip, so I’m keeping the layout ultra simple.

Limiting myself to four squares, each with a ruled border around it, means that – if the final strip was ever used anywhere – it could be four horizontal frames or four vertical and if, as I intend, I was to draw five strips on the same theme, as you’d see in a daily paper, they could go together in a four by five grid, for the Saturday morning supplement, in comic strip tradition.

Layers in Clip Studio Paint.

I’ve always struggled with the concept of adding frames in Clip Studio, partly because there are several alternative ways to do that so I’ve gone with the method that I’ve become familiar with, treating each frame as a separate drawing.

The main difference is there’s no photographic reference this time, and I’m enjoying working from my imagination for a change.

Nostell Gargoyle

This gargoyle guards a collection of medieval finials, pillar fragments and a battered font housed in one of the stalls in the stable block at Nostell Priory.

Drawn – closely following a photograph I’d taken – in Clip Art Studio with an Apple Pencil on my iPad Pro.


Nostell Priory, National Trust

Roofina the Gargoyle

 Blacker Hall Farm Shop Cafe

gargoyle Blacker Hall farm cafe

gargoyle Blacker HallYou ask me why the stony face?
Well, you’d look like that in my place;
I sit at table 23
But no one seems to notice me.
Five hundred years at Blacker Hall
And now I’m stuck here in this wall!
Most gargoyles have a tusk or horn,
No wonder I feel so folorn;
They gave me something else instead,
A bloomin’ ridge-tile on my head!

gargoyle sketchesgargoyleI hadn’t spotted this small carving in the converted barn at Blacker Hall until we happened to sit at table 23 in the farm shop cafe.

Drawing from the left side I assumed this was a clean-shaven man or a child. It was only when I drew the pencil sketches above from some photographs we’d taken that I realised, especially when seen from the right, that this looks more like gargoylea woman.

She reminds me of Tenniel’s drawing of the Queen of Hearts in the trial scene in Alice in Wonderland. A Wikipedia article suggests that Tenniel based his drawing on a stained glass window painting of of Elizabeth de Mowbray, Duchess of Norfolk (c. 1442-1507)

Tenniel's Queen of Hearts
Tenniel’s Queen of Hearts

which means that roof-shaped headpieces were in fashion towards the end of the Wars of the Roses. I’m sure that Blacker Hall dates back to that time and the weathering on the bedding in the sandstone suggests that the carving has been subject to the elements for hundreds of years.

gargoyle cartoon

I’ve been trying to imagine what kind of character ‘Roofus’, or as I now realise ‘Roofina’ would be.

We went to see the Aardman Animation movie Shaun the Sheep today and I thought that I’d try to work up the gargoyle into an Aardman style character. That’s not so easy as they make it look. If you do get to see the movie, it’s worth making the effort to sit out the credits as they’re illustrated with what look like production sketches of the characters.


RoofinaIf I had the time and enough Newplast modelling clay I’d try modelling her.

Developing Roofina as a medieval character didn’t seem to work. I think that it’s important that she remains a gargoyle (although I guess intended to be a fashionably dressed lady of the period, not anything scary).

RoofinagargoyleI imagined the male version of the character, Roofus, grumbling about his film career as a gargoyle extra;

‘I auditioned for The Lion in Winter and, would you believe it, they used French gargoyles for that title sequence! Talk about overacting! And a couple of them hadn’t even called in at make-up to get their cobwebs removed!’