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!