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!
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).
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:
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
On my recent trip up north to Russell, we made a stop along the way at Waipu, where they were having an antiques show. They had all sorts of fascinating things- old books, fountain pens, sewing machines, vintage postcards… but what caught my eye were these vintage Air New Zealand menus, because of the beautiful bird illustrations on the covers. I bought a couple for a few dollars each, and have framed them (in some repurposed frames from the op shop). It turns out the illustrations were done by NZ artist Bruce Harvey (one of the best known NZ artists of birds), between the years 1976-79.
I have heard that the North Island Weka is more endangered than the Kiwi- so a pretty special thing to see in real life!
I used a limited palette (the majority of the bird is just painted with ultramarine blue+ burnt sienna- my favourite combo!) and tried out some new-to-me watercolour paper- plain hotpress Fabriano paper (the paper itself didn’t have a name) which was pretty good but hard to remove mistakes without ruining the paper, which I guess is to be expected from a cheaper paper!
I also just wanted to mention an interesting interview I listened to on the weekend by Nick Patton (from the Picturebooking podcast), who interviewed Katherine Roy– an illustrator of kids natural history picture books. Its a really interesting listen for anyone who is interested in the intersection of science, art and childrens books. Check it out here.
or perhaps I should have called it ‘the mock-up poster’ because this was sort of a quickly put together version of my puriri moth lifecycle for a portfolio submission. I’d like to add to it by doing a fully painted background at some point and adding in text of course.
the tree+backgrounds to the various larval stages are watercolour+coloured pencil, the insects themselves are coloured pencil only.
Its Puriri Moth season again in NZ- I’ve only seen one this year though- much less than last year!
Today I am running this blog’s first giveaway- its for a service I really enjoy using myself and can’t wait to tell you more about it- read to the end to find out more!!
I am quite a fan of skillshare– I’ve referenced it a couple of times on the blog- and have done a few classes through the website. I think its a really useful and affordable way to learn from the pros in various creative areas. Recently I did a new class by Christine Fleming called “Scientific Illustration- conveying information with charm“. I wasn’t entirely sure what the class would be about, but lets just say I was in as soon as I read “scientific illustration”!!
This class teaches you to distill information from scientific fact into fun and educational illustrations. If you check out BuzzHootRoar (which “is a graphics-driven blog that shares and/or explains a scientific concept in 300 words or less”– for which Christine is the resident illustrator) you should get a feel for the sort of style/approach of the class. I found the class really fun and it opened up some options of combining traditional and digital tools that I hadn’t really considered. I also really enjoyed the short lecture on colour theory- which is an area that I really need to learn more about. As part of the class there was a challenge to create an illustration to celebrate National Wildlife Day. I thought it would be cool to illustrate the some of the most endangered species worldwide. I made a selection of ten of the most endangered species- making sure to include at least one NZ species (hint: kakapo!).
I decided to ink the final illustration using my kuretake brush pen, and then colour it digitally in Photoshop.