Awesome books keep coming my way and I hope it remains like that. This time I got inspired to level up my nature-themed drawing and painting skills with Mindy Lighthipe‘s book, The art of botanical and bird illustration. It starts with the very basics of recommended materials, their properties and how she makes use of them: from different types of paper to digital cameras and pinterest. She also uses different kinds of mediums: graphite, watercolors, gouache, pastels and colored pencils, which gives more freedom of expression depending what type of illustration we want to achieve.
The Art of Botanical & Bird Illustration: An artist’s guide to drawing and illustrating realistic flora, fauna, and botanical scenes from nature
by Mindy Lighthipe
Keywords: reference, illustration, painting, drawing, plants, birds, realism, watercolor, colored pencils, graphite.
*Paperback, 144 pages
Published November 1st 2017 by Walter Foster Publishing
This is not a 3-step DIY book for you to just follow and copy drawings, if you want instant gratification and a book that helps you create something ready in a day, if you don’t want to spend the time learning, then I wouldn’t recommend this book for you. If you are willing to do the work and take your time to practice, this book gives you foundations so you can choose your own subjects and create whatever nature illustration you want. It includes tips, notes and exercises that will help you polish your craft. Some of them are: graphite pencil tonal scale worksheet, color charts, brush techniques, how to photograph botanical subjects, surface contour, how to light a subject, leaf, flower and bird anatomy/ morphology (only what is relevant for achieving realistic illustrations), tonal rendering, several examples of her illustration process (with helpful images), how to achieve realism and three dimensionality, etc.
“Learning to draw requires patience and dedication. Many people believe it’s about talent, but drawing is a skill. With practice, it can be enjoyed by anyone who wants to learn”
– Mindy Lighthipe, The art of botanical and bird illustration.
I specially liked how detailed the explanations were and how much of her own experience is shared in here. The way she uses mylar (which I didn’t know about) on both sides of the page was totally new to me. I would have loved to own a book like this one when I was studying Biology, but it is never too late to start!. I think this book is a great resource if you want to create realistic nature illustrations with emphasis on plants and birds. Those who practice urban sketching or keep travel journals and include nature in their sketchbooks can also benefit from it.
*eArc provided by Walter Foster Publishing
You can check her Youtube channel for nice tutorials: