News Stories from March 2013

Creation of a Natural History Illustration: A Stag Beetle in Woodland - March 31st 2013

Story posted: 31. March 2013 by Lizzie Harper

I had a wonderful comission recently; to do a natural history illustration to accompany a poem by Chris Meredith .

I began by reading the poem carefully (I've transcribed it at the end of this article) to get the atmosphere right, and to list what species I'd be needing to illustrate.  These included ones named in the poem, but also making sure there was enough of a variety of other plants and animals in there so the image would be full of life, and the colours wouldn't be isolated within the composition.

Next step is a very swift set of thumbnail sketches, these are just…

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Category: News of current projects    Comments: 0    Viewed: 986

Illustrating Iridescence: Understanding and rendering iridescence in nature - March 24th 2013

Story posted: 24. March 2013 by Lizzie Harper


Mechanics of Iridescence

There are many subjects in nature which are extraordinarily beautiful, and animals which glint and gleam with iridescence are definitely one of them.  However, in order to take on the (not inconsiderable) challenge of illustrating iridescent creatures it’s important to have a basic grasp of the processes that cause these animals to shine and glitter as they do.

The colours seen in areas of iridescence are not caused by pigment, but by physical interaction and interference between light waves and the object they’re reflecting off.  These can…

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Category: Biological terminology, Illustration techniques    Comments: 0    Viewed: 3361

Drawing Disgust: Scientific illustration of traditionally unpleasant animals. March 16th 2013

Story posted: 16. March 2013 by Lizzie Harper

As a scientific illustrator, I sometimes get commissioned to illustrate animals many people find scary, or disgusting.  They say the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this is certainly true with a variety of natural history illustrations I've completed.  None of these animals evince a reaction of horror or revulsion in me, but I'm interested in exploring why certain creatures do cue such a response.

The most universally loathed candidate is probably the blue bottle fly.

These are common insects, and the reasons for their status is clear and understandable. …

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Category: Showcase of themed natural history illustrations    Comments: 1    Viewed: 3753

Botanical Illustration: Tips on mixing greens - March 11th 2013

Story posted: 9. March 2013 by Lizzie Harper

This week I’ve been painting ivy leaves, as have many members of the Botanical Art for Beginners group .  Comparing the dark greens needed to depict an ivy leaf with those required for something like a yellow butterwort leaf got me thinking that a crash course in mixing greens could be handy.

First, I think it needs to be said that everyone likes to mix colours in their own way, and become used to certain mixtures and certain paints.  Two big watercolour paint manufacturers  are Windsor and Newton and  Daler Rowney .   I tend to source my paints from them but know…

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Category: Illustration techniques    Comments: 0    Viewed: 6345

Botanical Illustration: Tips on leaf shapes - March 3rd 2013

Story posted: 3. March 2013 by Lizzie Harper

Although you can always draw what you see, and get lovely results; sometimes a bit of background botany can prove invaluable when undertaking a scientific illustration of a plant.


One of the main aspects to consider is the leaf of the plant.  The first thing to do is to figure out if you’re drawing a dicot or a monocot .  Monocots include grasses, palms, and orchids and have leaves with parallel veins (amongst other characteristics).

Monocot                                          Dicot


The next thing to observe is whether your plant has leaves…

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Category: Biological terminology    Comments: 1    Viewed: 9821