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The Preacher Man

Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Saturday, 13th December 2008


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THAT’S CHRISTMAS just about wrapped up and I have to admit that I enjoyed our Christmas shopping trip on Thursday. We parked some way out from the city centre, put on our haversacks and walked in via short-cuts and back alleys, which was more relaxing than driving around the multi-storey looking for a space.


These candles are details from my drawing for this year’s Christmas card and again I’ve gone for the simplified comic strip style that I’ve been experimenting with; using the paint-bucket tool in Photoshop to flood each enclosed shape of my pen drawing with a flat colour.


The idea is that I’ll apply the technique to the history sections of my book and save myself time but so far it’s taken longer than a regular drawing because I’m still finding my way. For instance, here are the stages I’ve been through to bring to life a Victorian preacher for one of my tales from local history.


I’ve designed my page grid so that each picture square is less than 2 inches (5 cm) square so to fit everything in is a design as much as a drawing problem.


Historical research has also taken longer than I thought, partly because of the interesting byways I’ve found myself exploring but also because some of the oft-told tales about this character are evidently inaccurate and I feel I owe it to the guy to be as truthful as I can, without, of course, losing the larger-than-life element to the stories that have grown up around him, because that’s part of his legacy too.

Preacher in colour
Close up
Head and shoulders

As is so often the case, my sketches look more lively than my final artwork but I’m keen to get a ‘graphic’ look so let’s see what the completed page looks like.


When I’m drawing this period, I often take a look at a glossy souvenir booklet of the film Oliver! for costume and background details. Only one sketch of my real life preacher character exists but by an odd coincidence in it he’s dressed exactly as Ron Moody is as Fagin in Oliver!; the same hat, breeches and greatcoat (although Fagin’s is ankle length). His gesticulating hand comes from the Dr Who cover of last week’s Radio Times.