12 Ways To Wondrous Wildlife Art
Artists & Illustrators|August 2021
Four leading wildlife artists – Laura Hardie, Natalie Öberg, Maria Popma and Amber Tyldesley – share a dozen expert tricks for improving your work in minutes

1 USE THE FULL PALETTE

Laura Hardie: “I use Unison Colour soft pastels. They are a medium, buttery-soft pastel that doesn’t crumble when used. I love their silky-smooth application, rich pigments, and vibrant colours.

“Unison’s colour range is great with more than 400 colours to choose from – my favourites, and most used in my work, are the earth colours and subtle greys, but when I need brilliance and vibrance for my flamingos, the reds and oranges never let me down.

“Other than my pastels the only tools I use are the PanPastel Sofft [sic] sponges. These are great for blending the first layers of pastel.”

2 TRY A FIRMER SUPPORT

LH: “It’s so important to have a good support to work on and like many fellow pastel artists I use Clairefontaine Pastelmat Board. I prefer using board to paper as it offers more support and won’t crease, tear or warp. Pastel is a delicate medium until framed behind glass so using sturdier supports like these boards gives me that added comfort of knowing it is less likely to be damaged in transit.”

3 FOCUS ON SHAPES

LH: “When starting a drawing, try to not think of it as a specific bird or animal, and instead focus on shape and colour. I work primarily dark to light and always block in first using soft pastels.

“Once I am happy with the base layers, I work over this with lighter shades and add details with pastel pencils. To keep my pencils sharp, I use a craft knife instead of a sharpener. I found leads continually break when sharpened with a sharpener and the pastel also quickly blunts the blade, so the craft knife is a less expensive option.”

4 DON’T RELY ON PHOTOS

Natalie Öberg : “Although photos are very important for realist artists, it is also a good idea to not rely on them 100 per cent. Sometimes an artwork may benefit from slightly changing your subject’s pose, redoing the lighting or adjusting some features when compared to the reference.

“Having a basic knowledge of your subject’s anatomy and topography can help you in making those adjustments and, as a result, create a more compelling artwork.”

5 PICK PAPER CAREFULLY

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