Most wildlife illustrations work begins with a brief
presented by the client, this can take the form of a simple species list
to a more precise and detailed description of the required image or
images. The example shown here was commissioned by the UK's
Wildlife Trusts for a poster depicting common garden beetles.
This brief consisted of a simple list of the beetle species and there
The first step in creating the
final image is to gather as much reference material as possible, this
usually comprises both actual specimens and photographs, once this is
done a preliminary full size pencil sketch is produced (1). This
is then presented to the client for comment and correction.
You can see in this
drawing (2) there have been one or two alterations, particularly to
sizes of some of the beetles. Apart from these minor changes this image
is basically a more precise line tracing in pencil of the original
sketch. This image
sent to the client for comment before commencing with the final
painting. The final illustration is painted on stretched 300gm
Arches smooth watercolour paper and in order to transfer the line
drawing to the paper a neutral grey water soluble pencil
crayon is scribbled on the back of the tracing. Then, using a 6H pencil,
the drawing is drawn over again so burnishing down the image onto
the watercolour paper. It's now ready to paint.
Close-up showing some of the detail in the finished
illustration. However, even this close-up computer image does not
show all the fine detail of the actual painting.