Here is one of Roy's early drawings of St. Bart's church in London done around the time he became a student.
At some point before he became a student, Roy, thought that maybe he could get a job as an illustrator for a commercial studio. In those days there were, in a city like London, many people who could earn a living just doing illustrations for various kinds of commercial jobs from magazine and book illustration to advertising and promotion. As I was growing up, Roy gradually became quite humble about his skills as an artist; he knew his talents as well as his limitations. But in his youth he was, as many of us are (and perhaps need to be), somewhat over confident concerning his abilities. Many of Roy's drawings up to that point had been cityscapes of London with some sketches of the people around him. But drawing the human figure is the aspect of drawing that takes the longest to master so he was still not entirely accomplished in this regard. So when Roy put together a portfolio to look for a commercial job, he thought he would take a few figure drawings by other artists and use them to pad the folio and give himself an advantage. He wasn't going to actually pass off anyone else's work in print so he figured no harm no foul, so to speak. An artist that Roy admired a great deal was a fashion and book illustrator named Francis Marshall, and in the 1950s Marshall was at the height of his power. Now, you would think that being an amateur with little experience, Roy wouldn't pick drawings by one of the best illustrators around to pass off as his own. But, as Roy told it later on, he lost his head and he filled his folio with Francis Marshall drawings. Marshall had a magic ability with line and composition that was unrivalled, and his ability to use an ink-brush to create masterful drawings that look like that have been just whipped off in a moment is truly remarkable. He illustrated the human figure in situ and out, with an ability that Roy would later admit he would never be able to achieve (and very few others have as well). Some of Marshall's full-colour book covers could be a bit stiff, but his brush drawings were amazing for their spontaneity and ability to portray figures with just the right amount of minimal detail.
Look at this drawing of a woman sitting on a bed.
Or this drawing of people on a London street.
And here is another collection of drawing from Marshall's book on New York.
Roy got offered a job at the first studio to which he applied but in retrospect, he couldn't fathom how the art director didn't recognize illustrations by one of the top illustrators in the county. Roy sometimes thought that maybe the art director did recognize them but figured that at least he knew to steal from the best so maybe would do a decent job. Well, needless to say, a week went by and the art director called Roy into his office to sack him. If you know how socially awkward Roy could be you can only imagine how comically this scene must have played out. The art director was very nice and didn't really call Roy out on what he had done. He just suggested that things weren't really working out and he would pay Roy for the week he had worked.
Well, a couple of years later Roy finally started at art college and eventually went on to have a successful career of his own. Though he loved to draw and became very good at it, Roy's career was more that of a designer and art director, and he would have admitted that his pure skill as spontaneous illustrator of the human figure never matched that of Francis Marshall.