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1.

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 food plants.

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.

2.

 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 is also  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.

3.

4.

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.