Some wonderful blog readers have pointed out that my "process" photos don't really show much of my actual drawing process. Part of that is because the bulk of illustration problem-solving occurs before the final drawing starts. There are lots of early considerations in a science illustration including: pose, dimensions, accuracy, details, colors, lighting, and whether or not the illustration is best telling the story. Sometimes I get to problem-solve on my own, and often I get to collaborate with my clients on issues as they come up. These are some of my favorite parts of science illustration for publication and I like highlighting them on my blog!
Another reason I rarely show the actual stages of drawing is because I get so into the final rendering that I forget to stop and document the process as I go:) So with my Olympic Marmot illustration for Washington Trails Magazine, I tried to stop and remind myself to take a couple true "process" shots. This was the final piece in the 2014 summer nature series. Thanks to Eli Boschetto for being part of my illustration problem-solving process and catching all the little (or not so little) mistakes along the way!
1. The assignment was to illustration the Olympic Marmot in its natural habitat of the Olympic mountains showing some lovely peaks in the background and summer foliage in the foreground. I decided to draw an adult with its baby and included lupine and glacier lilies in my draft. The feedback I got was that while "adorable" the marmots were not quite the right species. Oops! Caught. I had used poses of a different species for reference and while trying to adapt them to Olympic Marmots had not quite succeeded.
2. Thanks to my editor's sharp eye, I spent a few days immersing myself in photos of Olympic Marmots and sketched them in many different poses to get a feel for their species. Defining features include their smaller eyes and ears, and broader face shape. Ideally, I would have hiked out to the Olympic Mountains and just sketched them from life!
3. Once I was happy with my final pose, I drew it on tracing paper and as usual transferred it onto fancy bristol stock for the final rendering. Here you can see part of the trace, the transfer, and some early shading.
4. Next I focused on the foreground, specifically flowers. The color in the next two photos is a little over-saturated.
5. A little farther along in the foreground foliage...
6. Then I got totally immersed in the drawing and podcast I was listening to and forgot about taking process shots of all the tedious hours of fur-work. So here it is a bit farther along!
7. Finally, I painted a separate background layer for the final image, digitally combined them, and here it is all laid-out in the article.
Did you know that Washington State is home to the tallest waterfall in North America?
I didn't know until a couple months ago. I've backpacked around Washington for over a decade and I love that I've barely scratched the surface experiencing this state's natural beauty.
This large 24x36' poster is part geological infographic and part love-letter to Washington State. On the 125th anniversary of Washington, I've highlighted the state's largest mountain peaks, rivers and waterfalls, and compared relative sizes of major lakes and islands. It's not a map, but I put many hundred of hours into researching the information and arranging it in a way that's visually appealing. I hope it inspires many more hundreds of hours of adventures and explorations for everyone who hangs it on their wall.
Perfect for the hikers, backbackers, waterfall photographers, peak-baggers, or general outdoor enthusiasts in your life. Available in two styles: rustic, earth-toned "Naturalist" or inverted, modern "Explorer."
Purchase prints here
This illustration was part-two of the Washington Trails Magazine summer nature series. The wolverine is one of my absolute favorite subjects to draw, but definitely challenging to find references...it's not like I can just go out and photograph them:) But it was fun to piece together a bunch of fur/pose/and lighting ideas. Also it's super exciting that they're making a comeback in Washington! Such amazing creatures!!! As always, thanks to my editor, Eli Boschetto!
1. First I had to solve the dimensions problem. It needed to be tall and narrow to fit with the other illustrations in the series, so we decided to include mountains in the background, adding some height.
2. This pose was based on a far-away photo from one of the authors. The lighting, legs, and face were completely obscured in the photo so I did a lot of research to fill in the gaps. There are definitely some proportion issues with this initial draft:)
3. I'm happy with how the final wolverine illustration turned out. The mountains were a separate layer that I painted and added digitally to fade them way back.
This summer I had the privilege of illustrating an infographic for The Scientist. It is part of a fascinating article, "Beyond the Blueprint," about indirect genetic effects (IGE) and how the genomes of community members can influence their neighbors even across species. You can check out the full infographic and article in the magazine or on their website!
I had a blast learning about this cutting-edge area of genetic modeling and creating all the insets for the piece! A huge thanks to my AD, Lisa Modica!
A larger view of one of the cutaways including anadromous alewives:
When I was seven years old I went through a geologist phase. I obsessed over rocks, collected pebbles, and begged my parents for a rock-tumbler...remember those? A quick google-search just informed me that you can still buy one for about the same price as 20 years ago.
I recently had the opportunity to revisit my geology craze with an illustration assignment for Washington Trails Magazine. The assignment was to create two double-page spreads of prominent geology features found in Washington state. The first illustration needed 12 glacial features including moraines, a tarn, cirque, and arete. The second required 12 volcanic features including caldera, cinder cones, lava tube...
Sometimes my illustration process flows as smooth as a glacier...or in this case the glacier illustration. After reading a description of the illustration need I created a couple drafts (1), the editor responded with some edits (2), I made the changes (3), the draft was approved, and I moved on to rendering the final piece (4).
But occasionally in science and nature illustration the subject requires a bit more interaction between me and the expert as was the case with this volcanic features illustration. My wonderfully patient editor, Eli, and I went back and forth many times to get the layout, accuracy, colors, etc... just right.
Look for these illustrations and the accompanying article in the newest July/August issue of Washington Trails Magazine!
Whenever I see pelagic cormorants, Phalacrocorax pelagicus, perched on pilings and diving into the water, they remind me of dragons. I submitted this gouache painting to the 2014 Puget Sound Bird Festival poster contest. I knew that the judging committee prefers a looser art style for their poster selections so I let myself have fun with the watery layers and iridescent-colored feathers. For the poses, I used references from different types of birds and then made sure the coloring was mostly accurate to the pelagic cormorant. Overall, I'm happy with how the motion of the image turned out.
Renee Williams' "Red-tailed hawk" was announced as the winning entry. You can see her original piece at the Puget Sound Bird Festival this September.
'Go Birding' is the first of a three-part nature series that I'm illustrating for Washington Trails Magazine this summer.
The first assignment was a Lewis's Woodpecker, Melanerpes lewis, a beautiful, iridescent bird. After referencing many different images, I drew the bird over a dozen times to work out an attractive but accurate tail, foot, and wing pose as well as an interesting perch. Eventually I came up with two draft concepts and the one without the gruesome insect was chosen:) I used one of my favorites, color pencil, for the final woodpecker rendering, and I created a separate watercolor wash for the background. The two were digitally combined to give the editor ultimate control over the background opacity.
Check out the entire, inspiring article written by Sarah Swanson and Max Smith by picking up a copy of the May/June Washington Trails at your local REI!
A huge thanks to the ever-obliging naturespicsonline.net for generously providing me with high quality reference photos and of course a big thanks to my editor, Eli Boschetto!
This borage, Borago officinalis, or more elegantly starflower is a pretty little companion plant for the strawberries in my garden. Apparently its flowers and leaves add a cucumber flavor to teas or cocktails.
I dream of illustrating a series on companion plants, their pollinators, and other beneficial insects. Any gardening art directors out there want to hire me for such a project?
My first exhibit of 2014 is Drawing on Nature: Flora & Fauna at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. It opens tomorrow with three of my pieces included among the botanical and natural science artwork. My pika piece even made it onto the poster!
I and many of the artists will be there tomorrow evening, Wednesday, January 15th for the opening. Come say hi and enjoy some beautiful art!
Last week was super busy, but I got to take part of a day and teach science illustration to AP biology students at the Center School in Seattle! I had a lot of fun introducing the process that I go through in planning and producing my science illustrations. The students practiced drawing fall leaves and then used microscopes to illustrate tiny stuff. I was super impressed by all of the work that was produced in such a short time and loved briefly being back in the science classroom. Big shout out to their amazing teacher, Ms. Peterson...thanks for inviting me!
Web & Moss Studio
The science illustration studio of Lindsay Holladay