If any of you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you may be aware that I have been creating a series of drawings I call Wordart Anatomy. It started nearly a year ago when I was curious about the names of different parts of birds. Opening my bird book to a diagram of the different parts I began to wonder if I could combine the drawing and the words. What started off as an experiment turned out to be a rather big success.
I posted the picture on Twitter and was overwhelmed by the response; it went mental. Since then I’ve been creating Word Art Anatomy drawings of all sorts of animals. Despite being fiddly they are really good fun to draw and I love learning the names for all the different parts of animals. Did you know that the sections of turtles shells are called scutes? And that each section of membrane of a bats wing has a different name?
I’ve had a few people ask me how I create the drawings so I’ve put together this blog post with some step by step photos of my latest drawing.
1) Chose a subject and find a reference
I’ve had lots of fun with all of the drawings that I’ve done but I’ve found that these drawings work really well with insects. When I’ve decided on my subject I need to find some reference pictures, for the subject outline but also diagrams for body parts. I quite often work from a few different pictures so will be flicking between tabs. I also quite enjoy watching something in the background, normally a nature documentary; in this case it was the legendary Attenborough and the incredible Life Story.
2) The outline
Once I’ve got the reference diagrams I need to pencil out the outline of the animal. The picture looks just like a simple line drawing, until I start breaking it down into segments. At this point I have to decide how detailed I want to be. This depends a little on what diagrams I find and how in depth they are. I aim to include as much detail as I can but I can sometimes be limited by the size of the body part and the thickness of the pens I have. I just have to make a judgement call on what I think would look best.
3) The words
Next on the agenda is working out if the words will fit into the sections I’ve marked out for them. I pencil most of them in fairly lightly and make a decision on how big each letter needs to be.
4) Transfer to paper
All of these drawings begin life in my sketch book but at some stage in the process I transfer them onto a separate piece of paper. When this occurs varies with each drawing. Some, like this one, move before I get the pens out, whilst others will be completed in the sketchbook and then a copy made on paper. I use tracing paper to copy out the segmented outline, and I then keep this in case I want to make any copies of the drawings.
5) Get the pens out
Once I’ve pencil-ed the words out I’m normally feeling confident enough to begin inking the words in. This is the most difficult bit as any mistakes at this point are permanent – Confession – in the above picture I have made a mistake; where it says coxa on the wings it should say costa. I didn’t realise this until I’d almost finished the drawing. With the outline of the words finished I can erase all the pencil lines.
6) Finishing it off
From there it is just a case of filling in all the gaps and ensuring that all of the words are readable but distinct. Luckily for me I managed to correct the mistake I’d made earlier on with this drawing, just about, but I did really mess up one before and had to redo the whole drawing!
So there you go – that’s how I create a wordart anatomy drawing. I’ve recently started doing some more personalised ones and realised that there’s plenty of opportunities to play around with these drawings so I expect they’ll be keeping me entertained for quite a while yet!