Its been a very long time since I last updated this blog (I’ve been more active on instagram over the last year) but I’ve been wanting to revive the blog for a while- now that postgrad study is complete, I thought I’d give it another go!
So… the last year has been a pretty busy one (hence no posting). Here’s an update on some of the projects I had the opportunity to work on:
Last year was spent studying hard to get postgrad qualifications in illustration, specifically medical illustration. What an amazing year- it was a huge learning curve, but at the same time, it went super fast. I was lucky enough to work in the Design for Health and Wellbeing Lab (a design for health studio based in Auckland City Hospital) to carry out my illustration honours project. Here is a post about my research project (and in more detail here).
I might do a more in depth post about my research and some of the interesting things that came out of it at some point.
Alongside studying, I was lucky enough to work on a really fun illustration project with entomologist Leilani Walker, illustrating 52 native New Zealand insects (and designing packaging) for the Insects of New Zealand Playing Cards. You can read more about the process for making these illustrations here. It was such an awesome project to be involved in, (probably the biggest and longest lasting illustration collaborations I have worked on) and the support for the cards now they have been released into the wild has been great- in fact, we have just released the second edition last month!
Since I completed my studies I have been transitioning into freelance illustration work. While I had been doing freelance projects for the last couple of years, treating it as a serious full-time business and actually calling myself an ‘illustrator’ has been a big step. Lots more learning and developing processes of working (and administration!), plus a newly designed website, which you can see here, and a sparkly new Etsy store too!
Both still a work in progress. I’ll start posting more about some of the projects I HAVE worked on soon. Next time, back into regular posting with something (hopefully) a bit more interesting 🙂
If there’s anyone out there reading this, thanks if you are still following this blog- I appreciate it!
Just quickly popping in to say hi and share these beautiful illustrations by Cliff Whiting from the maori childrens book Pūrerehua (Kahukura) by Hirini Melbourne, which is about the life cycle of the NZ Red Admiral. I thought it was quite fitting to share these today as we come to the end of Te wiki o te Reo Maori (Maori Language Week) here in NZ!!
Images from: Melbourne, H., Whiting, Cliff, & New Zealand. School Publications Branch. (1979). Pūrerehua (Kahukura)(Purapura. Pīngao. A). Wellington, N.Z.]: Te Rōpu Whakamahipukapukakura.
I have been using pen and ink a lot more lately (and am growing to really like it), but there are still things I find difficult, especially when it comes to executing certain very precise ink ‘styles’ required for scientific illustration (loose pen and ink work is a whole ‘nother board game!!). I think that’s where copying comes in handy. Taking an image in the style you are wanting to learn, enlarging it (so the lines are approximate to the original inked size) and then taping acetate film over the photocopy and copying the original drawing is a great learning exercise. I have found that trying to get all the nuances of the line and details the same as the original illustrator did in their illustration is a huge help in learning the muscle-memory required to execute the technique (or something similar) on your own work.
Here is an illustration of a Marginella pygmaea shell from Henry Suters ‘Manual of the New Zealand Mollusca‘. The original illustration is much reduced in the published work, so that the stippling is hardly visible (and the dots tend to merge).
Equipment used: inked with a Hunt dip pen and detailed with Rapidograph isograph pens + Pigma micron.
I thought it might be quite a fun and useful educational resource , as I don’t think the species of seals we have in New Zealand is very well known to the majority of people (myself included before doing this little project).
As I mentioned in my last post, a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend Chromacon indie arts festival, and the associated Chromaconnect creative industry summit (as a result of winning tickets through Design Assembly blog), that was held at Aotea Centre, Auckland. I had been looking forward to the event for weeks, and it turned out being even better than I had imagined.
The talks from illustration and animation industry pros (such as J.A.W Cooper and Paul Tobin from WETA Workshop) were so inspiring and I took loads of notes and came away feeling more motivated about the industry. I thought I would use this post to distill down the major ideas and take-aways I got from the day. Throughout the day I was able to attend talks by the amazing J.A.W Cooper, Wenna, Laura Dubuk (Weta Workshop), Paul Tobin (also Weta) and Jacky Ke Jiang– which all approached different topics and were fascinating to listen to.
After the event, I jotted down some major themes or takeaways I got from the day, and thought they might be useful to other people who are aspiring illustrators!
recently I have been practicing more and more on digital painting techniques, trying to see if I can emulate the look of traditional media in photoshop (which I am finding quite challenging!). I really don’t like the CG look, so its an interesting challenge, which I can tell is going to take a lot of practice to master.
Here is my first entomological digital “painting”, of a NZ chorus cicada (Amphisalta zealandica). As we move into the colder weather here in New Zealand, these guys have been disappearing.
This started off with sketches in real life, scanned in, then added digital paint over the top. The wings were also rendered with highlights, which you can only see on a darker background:
In other news, I was lucky enough to attend Chromaconnect (NZ’s only industry conference for creative fields like illustration, concept art, animation), last Friday. It was amazing, I took lots of notes and will be writing up a post with some stuff I picked up there to go up later this week for anyone who is interested!
This months Natural History Artist is Piers Hayman. I first heard about him through New Zealand Bird Rescue, a charitable trust of which he was a founding member (then the NZ Wildlife Rehabilitation Trust). Originally from England, and trained as a graphic designer, he emigrated to New Zealand in the early 80’s.
He has done numerous beautiful illustrations of New Zealand Birds, and has written and illustrated numerous books on NZ wildlife- two of the most well-known books being ‘Discovering the Birds of New Zealand‘ and ‘The Bird Next Door’. He was a regular contributor to the New Zealand Herald where he wrote and illustrated a weekly column about birds, a clipping from one of his columns from 1985 is below:
It is loosely based on a few stories I read in a book about the cultural history of NZ birds- the New Zealand eagle (which was the largest known bird of prey, with a wingspan of up to 2.4m) was written throughout Maori myth and legend as a dangerous bird that preyed upon humans, and was also seen as a bad omen. In this drawing I tried to imagine children re-enacting the myths of warriors who fought against these giant birds of prey.
Here is the colour palette I used:
hope you are all having a great weekend! Check back mid-week for another installment of NZ natural history artist- this weeks artist is Piers Hayman, an ornithological artist who did some really amazing work. Till next time! emma
Here are some in progress and final illustrations from a recent project I worked on for Leilani Walker, who is studying Cambridgea foliata (NZ’s largest species of sheetweb spider) for her PhD at the University of Auckland.
Starting with sketches, here is my initial concept sketch for one of the illustrations:
then the revised sketch after some valuable feedback, changing the leg joint angles and body positioning relative to the web:
Once approved, here is the basic inked version (inked by hand):
I then added in the back legs, which were inked on a seperate piece of mylar, and adjusted to a lower opacity in photoshop. The stippling was added last, also digitally:
A similar process was applied for the other behavioural interaction illustration, showing initial ‘no contact’ between the two spiders. Here is the final:
In real life, these images show the spiders upside-down- that is, they hang from the web as they carry out these interactions!
It was a pretty fun project to work on, and it was interesting to be able to combine digital and traditional inking to get the final product.
All images copyright E. Scheltema 2015. Please respect my client (these illustrations are part of their research) and do not copy or use any of these images without permission. If you are interested in commissioning work or collaborating on a project like this please contact me