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).
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.
I recently came back from a 5 day trip to Russell (in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand) which was a lot of fun.
Here are some of the sketches I made on the trip! I was aiming to fill the whole sketchbook I made, but ended up with a sketch-a-day…
the campground set in bush that is kiwi and weka habitat- the weka are very curious and like to investigate the tents and pinch food. They were also really fast and difficult to sketch!
The sketchbook I used was a repurposed hard back book that had been withdrawn from the library I work at. I refilled it with my new favourite paper- Lana Dessin drawing paper (which is only $3 for a large sheet- enough to fill this book!). Its great because its 220gsm and you can also use watercolour on it easily.
I brought a small watercolour travel set, my waterbrush and other drawing supplies (pencils+pens)- all kept in a click-clack container to stop them getting water damage etc.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you might remember the short film I “drew” for my sisters university assignment, just over a year ago. This small project made me realise the huge number of possibilities and ideas that could be brought to life through combining illustration, film and animation. Stop motion animation is something I’m really interested in, and I had the idea to perhaps do some biology and conservation based short animations, but hadn’t gotten around to doing anything yet.
Then earlier this year, I saw an advertisement for the Outlook for Someday film competition, which is to encourage film making specifically regarding sustainability, for young people. I thought it would the perfect competition to enter (and my last opportunity- next year I will be too old!) as it combined film (stop-motion animation in my case) with conservation. So I made a short stop-motion animated film on the subject of ecology and sustainability, using coloured paper cut-outs and live action drawing, and entered it. I found out a few weeks ago that my film was selected for the Department of Conservation Big Picture Award- and we got to attend the amazing awards ceremony last week.
Here is the film- I called it Nature’s Ghosts because it is about the huge loss of species the earth is currently experiencing as a result of mans’ influence. It was created using a borrowed ipad and a basic stop motion app, then edited using Photoshop CS5 and Corel Video Studio, and my sister kindly did the voice-over (recorded on the ipad using garageband).
The other films in the competition were amazing, a combination of animated films and real-life documentaries, and it was great to meet the other film makers on the night. You can check out the other films here. The overall winning film was this documentary ‘To the Rescue’ by Mason Cade Packer– an amazing film about food wastage and the charities that work to ‘rescue’ food and bring it to the people that need it.
I can’t wait to make some more biology/conservation animations. There are definitely things I would like to improve on next time and I am hoping to write up some more short films to animate in the new year. Thank you very much to the Outlook for Someday team that created such an awesome event and competition. If you or someone you know is into film and is under 24 years old, encourage them to enter next year– its an awesome thing to get involved in!
I’ll be back later this week with some more posts and am hoping to do a blog giveaway before Christmas gets here!
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.
last week I finished up a series of paintings of the Spur-winged Plover (Vanellus miles) – which is a relatively common bird species where I live in Auckland. Last year I did a small painting of a Spur winged Plover chick, and thought I would add to it by painting an adult and an egg.
All were painted in acrylic using a sort of watercolour wash method:
the adult- with distinctive yellow wattles
and the egg!
Interestingly this species is one of only 2 NZ native bird species that have no legal protection – it was removed in 2010 after so many public complaints about the species as a nuisance bird (mainly due to crop damage and “interactions” with aircraft).
I am planning on compiling these illustrations- together with some small habitat drawings I also have just finished- into a small poster showing the life stages and common habitats of this species (such as roadsides, airports and sports-fields), and the ways in which this species is threatened by people because of the proximity it lives to us.
BLOG update: If you’re a regular reader you may have noticed a couple of small changes to my site. I have updated the Useful Resources page- it now has more of a visual overview of the books I recommend. If you have a goodreads account, you can add them to your own reading list by clicking on the books image. I have also removed my portfolio page and the link above now directs you straight to my official portfolio site. Also new is the Categories drop-down list in the right side bar (under the about info), so if you are looking for posts on a certain subject hopefully that makes things easier to find! I am hoping to do a full blog re-design at the end of the year so stay tuned for some bigger changes in a few months time.
This month I wanted to highlight a beautifully illustrated identification guide to primates. Primates of the World: an illustrated guide by Jean-Jacques Petter and Francois Desbordes was published on 2010 in French, but has just been translated and published by Princeton University Press last year.
The primate illustrations in this guide, by french wildlife artist Francois Desbordes, are absolutely phenomenal- and I recommend checking out this book for them alone. There are 72 realistically rendered watercolour plates, as well as a number of looser watercolour sketches in the introductory section entitles ‘Fascinating Primates’- including a very colourful evolutionary tree diagram.
I have read other reviews that say some of the scientific information is slightly out of date now (that’s how fast species phenology can change) but it is a comprehensive guide of the major primate species of the world, sorted by continent.
What I really liked about Mr Desbordes illustrations is that they not only show the animals morphology but also give some clue to the postures and behaviour of the different species. I couldn’t find much information about the illustrator however it appears he has illustrated a number of books about wildlife in French.
I highly recommend taking a look at this book- its a masterpiece.
blog update: you may have noticed a new link in the right-side bar- best of drawing escape. I’ve made a collection of the most popular posts from the drawing escape archives- you can check them out here!
Just quickly popping by to post this Dusky Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) illustration I did in Photoshop. I roughly followed this tutorial (main difference being I used different photoshop brushes and I drew the sketch with pencil+scanned it in, rather than drawing it in photoshop). This was one of my things to try out in my september goals (and one of the few I actually did end up completing!!).
Not 100% sure I like it but I think I need to play around with the technique a bit to see if I can get it looking right.
Its been rather quiet over here over the last couple of weeks- been feeling a bit unmotivated to make anything- especially since my scientific illustration course finished- so haven’t been posting. BUT I finally got the idea to do this little illustration of a Maui’s dolphin, and actually managed to FINISH it, which happens rarely. I actually did it twice- the first time the watercolour paper (Hahnmuhle watercolour 300gsm) I was using crapped out (won’t be using that again for watercolour!), and so I decided to re do it, second time without a background (and on my so-far-favourite- HP Fabriano 5 watercolour paper). There definitely is a benefit to doing a drawing twice!
Round 2 attempt:
And the final scan:
I was inspired to do this painting because World Ocean Day (on June 8th) and the campaign that WWF NZ is running, called the Last 55. It is estimated that there are only 55 Maui’s dolphins over the age of 1 year left- making them the rarest dolphin in the world (they are also the smallest dolphin in the world!). They are a sub species of the Hectors dolphin, which is found mostly in the South Island of NZ- however the Mauis dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui) is found on the west coast of the North Island (hence ‘Maui’s’, as te- Ika-a-Maui is the Maori name of the North Island)- they are NZ’s only endemic cetaceans. As they prefer shallow water, they are threatened by the fishing industry (set-net fishing and trawling), as well as ghost nets and other rubbish, and (to a lesser extent) diseases such as toxoplasmosis (which it is believed enters waterways via storm water runoff).