Learning by copying

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).


Continue reading “Learning by copying”


Seals of New Zealand- free colouring sheet

I posted earlier this week on instagram that I would be releasing this ‘Seals of New Zealand’ colouring-in sheet as a free download on the blog- and finally its ready!

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). SEALSofNZ-COLSHEET-final

Continue reading “Seals of New Zealand- free colouring sheet”

the process of a scientific illustration

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:

first sketch concept of two spiders fighting
first sketch concept of two spiders fighting

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.

If you want to find out more about Leilani’s research, please check out her blog.

Till next time!


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 

inktober week 3 round-up

just one week left of the inktober challenge! I haven’t been inktober-ing every day of the week- mainly because I’ve been focussing on getting an illustration portfolio all made up (a big job!!)- but have been trying to make 3 or 4 inked pieces a week.



more toucan drawings! a sort-of story line is developing with them…

This week I also got hold of a pack of Sharpie Brush tip markers in a bargain bin at the Warehouse Stationery (I think I’ll do a full review of these too at some stage). I’ve been trying them out a bit too as you can see below- I got the ‘fashion colors’ set; lovely bright colours of lime green, aqua, hot pink and purple.



drawn onto a piece of recycled cardboard…those pens bleed right through regular paper!

then corrected in photoshop:



All set for the last week of Inktober? I’ll be sad when its over!!

see you in a couple of days with a newly reviewed Illustrated book of the Month.


inktober challenge week 1

hey everyone!

here is a round up of the #inktober sketches from this week. I didn’t get around to doing one every day- that’s my goal for next week!!


some of the most endangered species in the world, kuretake brush pen


wish upon a star, asian calligraphy brush and india ink


no man is an island, asian calligraphy brush and india ink / gouache


basic leaf shapes for a small project idea I had, calligraphy brush and india ink

Lots of fun and so far I’m finding it a really useful way to create more stuff!

I’d love to hear if you too are getting involved in Inktober– leave a comment below.

hope you have a lovely weekend,


more science-y stuff: harvestmen illustrations

Here is the other scientific illustration project I recently finished- illustrations for post-doctoral researcher Chrissie Painting and Professor Greg Holwell, at the Holwell Lab, University of Auckland, who are researching weapon evolution in harvestmen (Order Opiliones).

Two types of illustrations were completed: one showing a comparison of chelicerae morphology, as well as a series showing some behavioural interactions. All were completed with pen and ink on detail paper, and cleaned up in photoshop.

Behavioural interactions:





Morphological comparison:


You can see them on my official portfolio site here. Please check out the interesting research Chrissie and Greg are doing:

Chrissie Painting’s website

Greg Holwell’s website

All images above, copyright 2014 E.Scheltema. Please do not copy without permission.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!



giraffe weevil illustrations

So- as promised– here is some of the entomological illustration I have been working on in the last couple of months (I will post about the other project I have worked on seperately).

This is a pen and ink series of illustrations for the Masters project of Rebecca Le Grice,  a student in Greg Holwell’s lab at the University of Auckland, who is investigating the behaviour of the New Zealand Giraffe Weevil (Lasiorhyncus barbicornis)- which incidentally is New Zealand’s longest beetle. All illustrations were done with pen and ink (dip pen for outlines and Rotring isographs for stippling) on detail paper.


Male giraffe weevil displaying guarding behaviour


Sneaking behaviour
Sneaking behaviour
Male giraffe weevils fighting
Male giraffe weevils fighting

If you’d like to find out more about these amazing creatures- check out these wonderful article:

Weasley Weevils– by Chrissie Painting on the Forest and Bird website

All images above, copyright 2014 E.Scheltema. Please do not copy without permission.

till next time!


biology comic and a few other things

Its been a little bit since I last posted (hope you had a great easter!)- I have been a bit busy working on some different projects- including an awesome logo design project with a new local company- which I will post about a bit more in the next few days.

For now, I wanted to share an idea I have been thinking about for a while- but only really just started working on. Its a series of educational resources for biology students. This is my first attempt at a sort of ‘comic’ style of illustration, so there are quite a bit of improvements to be made.

I haven’t been asked to do them, they are just something I thought might be fun, as I get to use things I have learnt through my own degree (in biology) and practice some drawing (as well as digital editing)! The first one I have been working on is on Mitosis. I am thinking of doing a series on cell biology, but we’ll see how it goes.

Here is the first page (I haven’t added any colour yet- don’t know if I will):

My sister gave me the “my-toe-sis” idea

I did all the drawing by hand, using artline+rapidograph technical pens, then scanned it in at 600dpi, and used photoshop to clean up some of the images and add in the text. The little amoeba guy’s name is Alfred.

I found this information on Garen Ewing’s website very useful for information on digital editing of comics, if anyone else is interested.

I am also trying to get more digital practice in- even though I don’t really like it as much as traditional techniques. Now I have set up an old digital tablet I had and that makes things a lot easier, even if its just for editing purposes!

I have also updated my portfolio pages a bit more, and uploaded some older work as well as made a proper photography page (check them out here) and also the inspiration page.

That’s all from me! If you have a bit of time on your hands, I can’t recommend enough checking out this interview from BBC Desert Discs with Judith Kerr author and illustrator of the Mog books.

File:Mog the forgetful cat.jpg

Its a really worth a listen!

If there’s anyone out there reading this– tell me, do you do any digital illustration, or do you stick to traditional materials?