Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Lavender Hall Park

Lavender Hall Park
Balsall Common, Solihull.
OS Grid ref: SP2378 7783
October 2009

As projects go, this was relatively straight forward but required an urgent turn around.
The text was supplied and the design and layout style were already firmly established and displayed throughout the site by a series of boards detailing various habitats. This afforded me valuable time to concentrate solely on the vector illustration and meet the challenging deadline.
A series of two interpretation boards were commissioned by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust in September 2009, to provide the visitor with on-site identification guides. The first features sixteen birds most likely to be seen visiting the parks feeding station. The second illustrates eleven leaves from the native tree species featured in the park.

Lavender Hall Park local nature reserve became a public open space in 2000 and is owned and managed by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council. It's 11.23 hectares features open grassland, ponds, hedgerows with mature oaks, recent broad leaved plantations, playground, skate park and football pitches.
Both boards have gone to press and are being manufactured by Shelley Signs Ltd. They are due to be installed very shortly.

Illustration style

A majority of my illustration has been developed specifically for a niche market. My principal for delivering natural history theories and detail to the general public, is a combination of scientific and gesture illustration.

What on earth does this mean?

Lets take wildlife illustration, in order to identify a particular species, we need the fine detail or specification such as the venation of an insect wing, the exact segmentation of the tarsus of an ants leg, the variation in scale size in fishes or the topography of a birds wing. This detail maybe overlooked by many viewers but I regard the general public as having a variety of levels of knowledge and I want to accommodate all.

Gesture, this element of illustration I feel is key to grabbing the attention of less informed viewers and makes way for an aesthetic consideration. It is the difference between drawing from a specimen and drawing from life. It deals with movement and behavior which is superimposed over anatomy.

Line art

Monochromic and precise, hand drawn as a hardcopy i.e. Pen and ink on paper or scratch board. Line art has a long history and firmly established tradition and is mostly associated with applied scientific illustration e.g. used in academic text books. A speciality in itself and one I greatly admire. See illustrators such as Wendy B. Zomlefer and K. Hansen McInnes.

In my formative years as a graphic illustrator, I used pen and ink exclusively. My particular technique involved Rotring Isograph technical drawing pens on tracing paper. This practice served me well when I spent a year working in the lab at UEL, drawing microscopic invertebrates, mammals teeth and the digestive system of a pigeon. I loved it but unfortunately these days, I rarely get the opportunity to draw from specimens.

Between 2000 and 2006 I worked on a series of nature reserve interpretation boards for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, that still feature throughout the county today. The graphics show pen and ink drawings of a variety of wildlife species, rendered in stippling, eyelashing and crosshatching to highlight texture, volume and transparency.

This is a drawing style I will always enjoy but get ask for less frequently.


Full colour, control and portability. Vector illustration is geometric and digital, computer generated images created through applications such as Quark Express, Adobe Illustrator and the original pioneer, Corel Draw.

I decided some five years ago to broaden my technique and develop my skills, prompted by the realization that the 21st century viewer was becoming more sophisticated, as the popularity of the internet and digital graphics grew exponentially. I also felt that younger generations of viewers would relate to vector illustration more readily than any other style or format.

Ironically however, there is a habit I can not break - every piece of my artwork initially starts out as a pencil sketch on paper!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Learn and Discover

Learn & Discover
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust
Brandon Marsh Nature Centre

September 2009

The education team at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust approached me early in July, wanting a total re-brand of their department to coincide with the launch of their new name - Learn & Discover.

The entire project included a logo, a ‘global family’ of characters who, along with a strong branding image, could easily be adopted throughout all promotional material produced both in-house by the Trust and commercially.

The starting point of the project arose out of the former Education and WildPlay teams party service, which required a leaflet detailing the activities and services on offer and also a set of invitations which are supplied with firm bookings.

The result is a brand image based on the Really Wild Parties poster above. Although there is some full colour illustration featured within the material (such as the ant), it is the solid fill wildlife species in three colours; cyan, orange and the all trendy electric green, and the magenta title text that strongly associate the brand. These colours predominate in any Learn & Discover graphic, it runs through the logo and the global family characters. The fonts are also specific.

Academic Year Planner

Education Wall Planner
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

August 2009

This is an A2 sized academic year calendar which the Trust produces each year for use in local schools. The calendar grid, it’s detail and illustration are original and change annually. The layout; strap line, logo and lead spot colour follows the national Wildlife Trusts corporate identity guidelines.

The illustrated scene shows a variety of wildlife and habitat. On a personal note, I wanted to feature the 7- spot ladybird in particular, which takes centre stage. This was because this time last year, I noticed in my garden, a large number of ladybirds I didn’t recognize and a distinct lack of those I did!

I sent photographs and records off to The UK Ladybird Survey, who indeed identified the alien species as Harmonia axyridis or Harlequin ladybird, the most invasive ladybird on Earth.

The predatory Harlequin feeds on our native species and has steadily populated Britain from the southwest since 2004.

Fortunately, this year my lovely aphid-eating friends have returned to the garden but annual maps from the survey show an astounding trend.

Sustrans NCN Route 41

National Cycle Network Route 41
April 2009

A series of three interpretation boards installed along the disused Leamington to Rugby railway line, at Draycote, Birdingbury and Long Itchington.

The main feature of each board is a comprehensive, yet simple map that orientates the viewer to their position within the whole route. Additional information details both the historic and wildlife interest of each location which describes the changing landscape at various points in time.

At Birdingbury, some 250 million years ago, you look out on a landscape dominated by tree-like ferns and stand upon lower lias clays and limestones formed a little later in the Jurassic period. Then, between the early 1800’s and the late 1960’s, a thriving railway system serving both commercial and industrial transport, thunders through.

And today, remnants can still be seen, such as the old railway station house and two descendant species of fern growing on the platform walls.

The path was opened in 2004 and now forms part of a network of over 12,000 miles of traffic-free routes throughout the UK.