Word Art Anatomy – how do I do it?

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.

Bird - my first Wordart Anatomy drawing
Bird – my first Wordart Anatomy drawing

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.Β 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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

Beth πŸ™‚

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