In 1788, Allan began a series of watercolours depicting the local characters of Edinburgh. This drawing of a Highland soldier was part of the series, which also included a fishwife, chimney sweep and a fireman. Allan carefully studied these figures, often exaggerating certain traits or characteristics so that they almost look like caricatures. His pictures of the people and scenes of everyday life earned him the title of the 'Scottish Hogarth'. His work greatly influenced other artists in Scotland and he was considered the father of Scottish genre painting.