News Stories in category: Botanical Illustration step by step

Botanical Illustrations of Moss: Step by step Sphagnum tenellum

Story posted: 23. December 2016 by Lizzie Harper

I’ve been working on botanical illustrations recently for the Field Studies Council ; specifically on a big batch of Heathland plants.  Amongst these are several moss species.

The first step is to get your hands on the moss itself; drawing mosses is so unusual and new for me that unless I have a reliably identified specimen to work from, there’s no way I can even begin an illustration of the species.  I’ve been incredibly lucky in having the support of Ray Woods ( Radnorshire Wildlife Trust botany and mycology expert) and Jonathan Sleath ( British Bryological Society ), both…

Read the full story

Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 267

Botanical Illustration: Step by step painting of leaves

Story posted: 18. November 2016 by Lizzie Harper

I recently taught a workshop of botanical illustration of leaves , and broke down the process of painting a leaf into incremental steps shown on a demonstration painting of a blackberry leaf.



Demonstration illustration showing different steps involved in painting a blackberry leaf, and a breakdown of the colours used to mix the greens that I used for each step.

I thought it might be worth deconstructing and explaining the processes in a blog.  The illustrations below are magnified, and so are a little out of focus; my apologies.

It also needs to be pointed out…

Read the full story

Category: Botanical Illustration step by step, Illustration techniques    Comments: 0    Viewed: 1002

Natural History and botanical Illustration of Long-tail tits and Cylamen

Story posted: 6. May 2016 by Lizzie Harper

A recent natural history and botanical illustration commission ended up being one of my favourite jobs of the year.

The painting is for a 90 th birthday, and needed to include an array of plants and animals that mean something to the recipient.  We sat together over a cup of tea and came up with some rough ideas which I took home and worked on.



Series of thumbnail sketches and roughs

Once I’d sourced reference material for all the elements (yet again I blessed my  sketchbooks – I seem to have pages of visual notes on Silver birch  Betula pendula !) I could piece…

Read the full story

Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 951

Botanical Illustration: Step by step illustration of a Wild Strawberry

Story posted: 18. December 2015 by Lizzie Harper

One of the botanical illustrations I’ve been asked to paint as a natural history illustrator, is the Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca .  This will be one of the plants featured on a fold-out identification chart of Edible British Plants produced by the Field Studies Council .  There's also a 2 minute Youtube film of this illustration being completed online, in time lapse.

I begin by drawing up the rough in pencil, using a mechanical pencil such as the P205 .  I draw direct onto the paper I’ll paint on, Fabriano Artistico hotpress .  There are lots of wild strawberry plants…

Read the full story

Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 3649

Natural History Illustration: Step by step Painting of an Elder

Story posted: 4. December 2015 by Lizzie Harper

There's a really wonderful job I'm working on right now; about 20 botanical illustrations of different edible plants for a fold out chart, to be produced by the  Field Studies Council .  Other blogs on this job include the step by step of painting a dog rose, and the step by step painting of a wild strawberry plant.  This week I'm illustrating the Elder, Sambuccus nigra.

It's autumn, and although I'm fortunate enough to be able to find (slightly battered) elder leaves, and a few berries still hanging on, there's no elder blossom anywhere.  This is why I keep my sketchbooks ,…

Read the full story

Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 1895

Natural History Illustration: Step by step Painting of a Dog Rose

Story posted: 17. November 2015 by Lizzie Harper

I’m currently working on a series of botanical illustrations and natural history drawings for Field Studies Counci l, who will use them on identification charts.  One of the charts details edible British plants, and includes the Dog rose, Rosa canina.

The first step is to draw up a pencil rough.  I use a mechanical pencil, such as the Pentel P205 , and draw directly onto watercolour paper.  I use Fabriano Artistico hot press paper , which has a high cotton content, and a very crisp and smooth working surface.

It’s always easiest to work from live specimens as you…

Read the full story

Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 1760

Natural History Illustration: Step by step Painting a Hazel leaf and sprig

Story posted: 16. October 2015 by Lizzie Harper

I've recently started painting up some botanical illustrations commissioned by FSC Publications (for whom I did many of the "Caring For Gods Acre" natural history illustrations).

One that I knew would take some time, but was seasonally appropriate, was the Hazel Corylus avellana .  I drew the leaves and nuts from reference gleaned from a local hedge, and had information on the catkins and flowers in my sketchbooks .

I started by using a mechanical pencil ( Pentel P205 is a favourite) to draw the plant onto  Fabriano artistico Hot Press watercolour paper , which…

Read the full story

Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 1657

Botanical Illustration: Painting an Ivy sprig

Story posted: 22. January 2015 by Lizzie Harper

I recently had a commission to illustrate the common Ivy Hedera helix .  I'm often asked to do botanical or natural history illustrations of this common British plant, and always enjoy it enormously, not least because the reference is so very easy to come by.

I had a little look on the wall at the back of the garden, and decided the shape of this Ivy sprig was perfect; fluid but not extreme.  I picked it, and using my new Pentel Graphgear 1000 mechanical pencil drew it up.  I try to be as clear as possible with my pencil lines, and to include enough information, but no tonal…

Read the full story

Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 2514

Botanical Illustration: Step by Step Painting a Fly agaric fungus November 7th 2014

Story posted: 7. November 2014 by Lizzie Harper

Natural history illustrators are quick to paint specimens that turn up on their doorstep, so when Dave Prescott of Herefordshire New Leaf appeared with a beautiful fly agaric fungus ( Amanita muscaria) I leapt at the chance to paint it.



First up, draw it.  I wanted to focus on the stem (stipe), so took reference from photos on how the ring (annulus) on the stem attaches.  Then I drew it up in pencil.  I favour pentel P205 automatic pancils with an 0.5mm HB lead; and work onto fabriano artistico 100% cotton hot press paper.



I looked at the stipe for a…

Read the full story

Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 2646

Botanical Illustration: Step by Step Painting a rose July 4th 2014

Story posted: 3. July 2014 by Lizzie Harper

I'm loving the series of 50 natural history illustrations (done in a sketchbook style) that are needed for the follow up to The Hedgerow Handbook by Adele Nozedar .  The book's to be called "The Cultivated Forager", and will tell you what and how to eat common plants you may find in your garden.

This week I painted a gorgeous rose (we're unsure of the type of rose; if anyone DOES know, please let me know!).  I was rather up against the clock as the rose was looking a little tired on delivery, and they have a deadly habit of unfurling all their petals then shedding them before…

Read the full story

Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 2    Viewed: 3610

Botanical Illustration step by step - Painting a Sketchbook study of a quince - November 15th 2013

Story posted: 15. November 2013 by Lizzie Harper

My botanical illustrations being done for The Cultivated Forager (follow up to The Hedgerow Handbook , also by Adele Nozedar) are, inevitably, going to take a back seat over the colder months of the winter.  However, this sprig of quince was still looking fresh, and the fruit in perfect condition.



As before, this illustration will be incomplete, a s ketchbook study ; a pencil habit drawing of the sprig, and then I'll work into details so that I get to grips with colour, texture etc.

First, I get a sheet of paper ( Fabriano Artistico ) and a mechanical pencil ( Pentel…

Read the full story

Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 1    Viewed: 2264

Botanical Illustration step by step - Painting a Nasturtium - September 27th 2013

Story posted: 27. September 2013 by Lizzie Harper

We recently got the wonderful news that The Cultivated Forager (follow up to Adele Nozedar's best-selling The Hedgerow Handbook ) will be published, probably in late 2015.

This means that I have to get painting; 49 garden plants to illustrate in the sketchbook studies style, which is to carry through both books.  Althoough I've completed a good selection of plants to be included, there are lots which are about to finish flowering for the year, and which need doing.  The beautiful nasturtium in one of these.

As with all these studies, the first thing I do is to draw the…

Read the full story

Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 1    Viewed: 10586

Botanical Illustration of a honeysuckle - August 9th 2013

Story posted: 9. August 2013 by Lizzie Harper

As mentioned in earlier blogs ( Natural History illustration - Step by step study of a rose - July 12th 2013 , Botanical Illustration step by step - Painting a Sweet pea - July 26th 2013 ), I'm currently working on a series of common culitvated plants which are also edible.  Honeysuckle is on the list.

I love honeysucke (wild and cultivated), I love the way the pinks and reds flush on the flowers, I love the smell, and I love nipping off the base of the corolla tube and sucking out a drip of delicious nectar which was absolutely not intended for me, but for the bees who so…

Read the full story

Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 6926

Botanical Illustration step by step - Painting a Sweet Pea - July 26th 2013

Story posted: 19. July 2013 by Lizzie Harper

I'm currently working on a series of sketchbook style illustrations of common cultivated garden plants; there's a possibility these will illustrate a book on foraging in the garden in the next year or so.

One of the plants needing illustrating was the sweet pea.  While visiting a friend, I espied her sweet peas, and immediately begged some of the dark purple and bright red-pink ones from her.  I ended up with an enormous bunch of flowers as well (thanks to Layla who runs The Majestic Bus , a wonderful converted bus where you can stay, in the gorgeous hills near us in Hay);…

Read the full story

Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 5    Viewed: 25089

Natural History Illustration - Step by step study of a rose - July 12th 2013

Story posted: 12. July 2013 by Lizzie Harper

I recently did a botanical illustration sketchbook study of a rose for a natural history illustration project I'm working on.  This proved really tricky; partly because the flower and foliage were very dense and lush, but mostly because by the end the rose had shed all its petals!

The first step is to make a mark on that threatening sheet of white paper, and to get all your kit ready (including a nice cup of tea).



Then comes the part I love, the drawing.  As always, I use a mechanical propelling pencil (I like pentel ones), a soft rubber, and Fabriano Artistico…

Read the full story

Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 1    Viewed: 6915