Wednesday, 25 November 2009

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!

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