A year is ending

Not just any year. It was a quite exciting year!!

Since two years, I have something that I call my 'Happiness jar'. I write down all the little and big things that made me happy in at some point and put them in that jar. Each year a new glass. I started this new tradition in 2013 because I tend to lose track of all the things I did or experienced and always feel disappointed when a year ends because I wasn't able to fulfil everything I intended to fulfil - or even if I did everything I intended to do - I still think I could have done more or could have done these things better....
At the end of the year I open that jar... and I get a warm fuzzy feeling that this year wasn't so bad after all ;) .

It is something I can just highly recommend!! I just have one rule: I don't put things in which I don't know how they will end. For example: Somebody contacts you for an awesome project and it even seems that it will be a very good paid job. You love the project, you love the client. But... first talks are not always how a project will turn out. The bigger the project the bigger the risk that it will in some way turn out totally different from assumed.... So this is a thing I would not put in my jar. If I would put it in e.g. in April and it gets cancelled shortly after I will feel stupid reading the note at the end of the year that I was so happy about it in the first place. I try to keep a lot of the small daily happy moments in it. A nice talk with someone you look up to, a good meal, something you did you never thought you would have the courage to do so, a perfect day, somebody on street telling you that you look nice etc. Even if you read about it months later it will instantly take you back to that moment. It is also good to mention that I mostly put in events and memories of experiences and not possessions. The later does not make as happy as the first things.

So there were many many things going on this year. I finished my Master with a masterthesis about birds, made some new friends, reconnected with some old nearly lost friends, grew my own vegetables in my own garden, was the maid of honour at my brothers wedding, moved officially to another country (with all the bureaucracy involved...), made my very first progress video, presented at a Behance Portfolio review which had a live connection to New York, visited Paris for the first time in my life and got myself an allotment garden for next year and re-opened my Morlo-shop... :) And these are just the big things... there were many small things which made me just as happy. Of course there were also lows but for me it is better (and I honestly think that is true for everybody else) to highlight the highs to have the feeling of a fulfilled live.

And for next year...

... ahh... I think of next year tomorrow ;)


Under the sea - Little mermaid II

So in the last post I showed you the process of the 'Under the sea' illustration.
One or two days later I realised that it was just not working the way I wanted it to. The face wasn't right in any way, althoug I worked with references. I chose a model which I thought beautiful and changed the lighting. In the pictures the lighting cam from top right corner and slightly from behind and for the illustration I decided I needed light from the lower left corner and more from the front. THAT was the biggest mistake I could have done....and second: Always check if the model shoot works for you illustrations!!! Even if you think the person looks very beautiful it may just not work for an illustration. Or to say it in a different way: Is the model a pretty person or is he/she also photogentic AND will it work the same in an illustration??

This is the last stage before I decided to change it.

So.... after thinking about it for 1-2 days I got my got my collection of erasers to get of all the layers I allready had put on, which was nearly a half day of work. Got some new and good references ....and....started all over again.

I sketched the new face firs on paper and layed it in photoshop over my illustration and emphasized the big lines to see if it would work. It does! ;)

And finally the finished piece:

For the first time I actually worked with beaten gold. But you can't really see it in the scan which is why I took some pictures to show that aspect:

...and you can vote for it on Infected by art since I am taking part in the competition for the next annual


Little mermaid

So in between I am working on some other illustrations than just scientific ones. In september I already posted the black and white sketch for a portrait of a mermaid.

When I was a kid I used to watch many fairytale films made in eastern countries e.g. Poland, Rumania, USSR, Czechoslovakia and later Czech Republic. Many of them inspired me when I was younger and still do.
I always have the picture of a mermaid from "Malá mořská víla" (The little mermaid - 1976) in my head. Not the Disney version of the little mermaid.

This year I wanted to make my own version of the little mermaid:

Black and white sketch

Black and white sketch but with digital values...

...and the same sketch with some colours...

...and the first layers in my real drawing!! :)

Since the drawing is pagefilling and not - as many of my scientific illustrations - with a lot of white space this will be one of my biggest colour pencil drawings I ever created.
It is 51x45cm - which is 20.1x17.7in!

PS: You can also follow me for this illustration (or others) on Instagram!


Polly wants a cookie!

I think parrots are very inspirational birds. Obviously because of their intense colours but also because of the pure variaty of them. Plus the go through big changes in their looks from hatching to being an adult parrot.
That's why I am at the moment busy with an illustration of a green-winged macaw (Ara chloropterus), also known as the red-and-green macaw.

Black and white sketch.

First colour pencil layers to give it some generall shape.

Details in the head are nearly finished!!

PS: You can also follow me for this illustration (or others) on Instagram: http://instagram.com/ankatsart_insta


Final year II

And...now you get the second part of the promised post!! :D

After I visited a parrot breeder, different bird parks and bird of prey centers, the collection of the biodiversity center Naturalis and of course the Clinic for Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish in Giessen. And making the first sketches to portray the birds I also had to study the important parts: The urogenital-systems of the blue-fronted amazon and the saker falcon.

Not only I had to see these parts to illustrate them in the correct way, but I even had to see them in their different states. First you have the juvenile urogenital-systems: That's when the birds never had been sexually active before. Then you have the active and the inactive urogenital-systems: That's when the birds are sexually active at the time of breeding season or not active because it is not their breeding season. Their sexual organs do change, active = bigger and inactive = smaller.
These anatomical illustrations have never been produced before so I had nearly no books I could rely on. That meant that I had to do many dissections to prepare the sketches for my illustrations.

For the representative of the Psittaciformes shown I chose the blue-fronted amazon because it is a common pet parrot in Germany. That gave me easier access to specimens of this kind. To illustrate a falcon and not another parrot species was important, because there is a big difference in the anatomy of the females of falcons, hawks and kiwis and females of other bird species. Due to evolutionary reasons most female birds just have only one functional ovary (the left one), connected to an oviduct. Kiwis, hawks and falcons have two. So that was an important aspect to illustrate.

Two anatomical sketches made during dissection.


Final Year I

So.... now you get the promised post about my final year!

It all started with a video on the internet. It showed part of a short documentary about a new method to inseminate birds which was used in the Loro Parque Foundacion. Since I grew up with two ornithologists/nature photographers I was hook in an instance. A brand new scientific project about birds and how to protect bird species with it. AND there were no illustrations produced so far for it. Just perfect!!
So I contacted the LOF in Tenerife and after a few mails and calls my application got forwarded to Prof. Michael Lierz from the Giessen University who actually developed the new method with his research group.
A few more calls later I was happy that I could look forward to start my final project in september 2013 in Giessen.

In september I started with studying the birds (and their urogenital systems) I would portray. I visited a parrot breeder, different bird parks and bird of prey centers, the collection of the biodiversity center Naturalis and ofcourse the Clinic for Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish in Giessen.

But before I got to my finished illustrations I had to make many sketches:

The Pelvis of an amazon parrot

and the skeleton of an amazon parrot (without and with the sternum)

First sketches of the urogenital system of the femal saker falcon.


Cute dolls or my shop is back

So I thought that I it has been long enough. I am still kinda freaked out by the fact that I finished my study. But it is time to get back on the tracks.
I will update my blog and facebook page more regularly from now on! It will be my early New Year's resolution.
And to immediatly break another promis. I won't have it about my final exam in this post but about my online shop!

Leslie, Jana, Abbie and Adrian :)
These four new Morlos are just a few of the ones which can be bought adopted in my shop! There are also some known faces from before the break which I took because of my final exam.

Maybe one of the will find a new home at your place?


10.000 is the number!

10.000 is my number of the day. 10.000 views since I started this blog! Just to bad that in the last couple of months I didn't write as much as I wanted to do.
But.... to sum everything up which happened in the last few months:

I finished my Masters degree and... after enjoying the summer for about a few weeks...it finally hit me: I am not a student any more!! I won't go back to academy after this summer!!
And I panicked... more or less. First I just didn't know what to do and after a while I still didn't know what to do.
Lucky for me I already had some kind of new assignment AND I had to get my administration together. When I was engaged with these things it made it easier to look for new clients, jobs etc.
But what I did do is to re-correct my master thesis and get a re-print of it.
And since I never posted a single finished illustration of it, here you go:

In the next post I will go into the details of making these illustrations and how that year was for me. But if you can't wait until then there is already a pdf version of it online.
BUT *drum roll* I am working on a brand new website which will include an animated view of my book so that you can turn pages etc. And until then I hope to have finished another bird-project I am working on just now!!

Next to that I am working on some other very nice personal and not personal pieces and projects. The personal ones I will use to participate more in various competitions! A great article by Donato about that can be found on Muddy Colors!! If you don't already follow that blog I tell you know to do so!!

And as a preview for the upcoming blog post the sketch of one of my personal projects:


Little pet parrot

Sooo.... things are sorted out. Summer vacation is knocking at my doors... This was the last year for me as a student. But more on how I finished my Master Programme in Scientific Illustration in tomorrow's post. This past few days I just enjoyed to relax, work in the garden and get some fresh ideas for new projects and illustrations :)

But now I want to show something which I worked on next to finishing my thesis:

A demo of a bird illustration: Forpus Coelestis:

And the finished illustration:

Flying forpus

Detail of the wing

Detail of the head

Sitting forpus

I showed the making of the Forpus coelestis at my Behance Portfolio review in Düsseldorf. If you are an artist living in NRW (or as I am very very close to it) I can just recommend to sign up for the big adobe event happening there next week!! You can register using this link: Adobe World Tour Registration

Tomorrow I will show my final thesis :) Stay tuned!


Questions and Answers

Since I got asked quite a few question in the last time I though I would should share the most common asked questions and answers!!

Q: Can you recommend me some books, maybe instructional videos, or any other resource on colored pencils?

A: In general my answer to that would be that the best thing to do (especially if self taught) is to draw, draw and draw even more.
Actually that is what my teachers make us do. The first year it is all about live drawing classes and trying to really understand what shape and texture you are seeing before you put it on paper. This takes most often more training than it needs talent. I can just repeat what a lot of illustrators, painters and other creatives who inspired me said. You have to keep drawing, even if you have a bad drawing day.

This is a speech of Neil Gaiman about being creative.

About books.... there are MANY books worth recommending, but I would start out with these:

The first would be 'Die Gestalt des Menschen' by Gottfried Bammes. Actually MOST of the books by Bammes are GREAT, why I also recommend 'Der nackte Mensch' ....which I think is one of the few fully translated books 'The naked human'. There is also a book about drawing animals by him.

Right after that there would be two books by James Gurney. These would be 'Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter' and 'Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist'. Although the second one doesn't seem to fit in drawing realistic it still offers a lot of good insights, tipps and tricks.

And if it is just about colour pencils I have one book by Ann Swan which is called 'Botanical Portraits with coloured pencils'. If you need a guideline how to start with coloured pencils I think this book offers some good advise. Although I personally do also some stuff which I just came across while drawing.

Q: What materials do you use?

I personally use Polychromos by Faber Castell. I really like the feeling when I draw with them and for me it is the perfect mix of oiliness and pigments.
There are some other colour pencils as these ones (e.g. Prismacolor, Caran D'ache and some others) but I would just try what works best for you and what you can get your hands on (and what is not too pricey).

Q: What paper, do you use?

For the paper: I have the chance to use the paper we use in the academy which is Schoellershammer Duria 300gr (but I think they stopped producing that and now it is the 250 gr).

In the next entry I will present some inspirational blogs, website or artists :)


Deadline is near

....for handing in my final exam! And you can bet that I am quite stressed out about it. Now it is just about finishing everything in time and make it all come together. That is also why I have put my shop (and designing the new layout for it) on pause.

I thought it is time to show you some sketches and wip's! Here we go:

What you see would be a sketch of a saker falcon, some sketches of blue-fronted amazon's and the 'under-drawing' of one and the nearly done illustration of the other blue-fronted amazon. They will be used for different things in my publication (e.g. introduction...).
The rest will consist of anatomical illustrations, in-vivo and isolated urogenital system and a manual of collecting the semen and inseminating. More details soon! ;)


Sign of life or... Happy New Year!

Didn't I tell you in the last post how things are planned but sometimes don't work out....?? Yup....so much about posting regularly again.
The reason is my final exam. Although I am moving on more slowly than I planned (again....hff) it consumes most of my time and now I even have to go faster.

At the same time I am working on a new layout for Morlo's World - the Fb page as well as the Etsy-shop - and some new Morlos. So I hope there will be some updates there as well.
Besides these things we are still working on our home. There are still the tiny (or last things) to be fixed e.g. painting the old stairs in a new colour or get the garden ready for spring as well as some tiny improvements in my workspace.
For the rest of the time I am just trying not to panic because I have to hand in my publication in about....MARCH allready. Can somebody hand me a paperbag...hfhfhf!!!

But here are - as some kind of starting the big update flood which I promised the last time - some hand drawings with the hand-skeletons. This is part of our Master and we had to draw many more hands to be abple to draw them okay in the future. Hands are a pretty important thing if you are going to illustrate in the medical field ;)