View Full Version : good wildlife art books

07-03-2000, 11:08 AM
I have come along many good art books for wildlife art

keys to painting fur and feathers: rachel rubin wolfe

another great series of books for wildlife art are by susan rayfield

als look for a book by terry issac

W. Collier
07-03-2000, 05:36 PM
Those are great suggestions. I have "More Wildlife Painting" by Susan Rayfield and "Painting the Drama of Wildlife" by Terry Isaac. Both those books are excellent.

I also have "Wildlife Painting Step by Step" by Patrick Seslar and "Painting Wildlife Textures" by Rod Lawrence. These are also good.

It amazes me how much prep work goes into these wildlife paintings, from actually going out on location to photograph/sketch the subjects to later on creating several different sketches before coming up with the actual layout of the painting.

For quite some time I have wanted to paint a wildlife (I love tigers and snow leopards). However, it seems like such a daunting task that I always seem to procrastinate. My guess would be that I'd have to break it down into smaller tasks. This brings me to my question, which I hope isn't too simplistic. With the advances in graphics software, do any of the great wildlife painters do their compositional/layout work on computer now, or is it better to do this prep work the traditional way, by hand?


07-04-2000, 02:43 AM
For Animal ~

Lessee ... as far as technique references go, I've got Curtis 'Drawing & Painting Animals', Aldrich 'Drawing & Painting Animals', Monahan 'Painting Birds & Animals', Seslar 'Wildlife Painting Step by Step', Rayfield 'Wildlife Painting: Techniques of Modern Masters', Rayfield 'More Wildlife Painting', Isaac 'Painting the Drama of Wildlife Step by Step', Lawrence 'Painting Wildlife Textures Step by Step', Wolf 'Keys to Painting Fur & Feathers', then on birds specifically Rayfield 'Painting Birds' and Rulon 'Painting Birds Step by Step'. I've looked at a lot of others, but these are the ones I've bought and kept.

I've derived a lot of benefit from all of these, often by comparing techniques between them. In some way, though, I get more out of immersing myself in any collections of animal art that I can find and flooding my mind with images in a wide variety of styles until the critical part of me shuts up and I start seeing in a more absorptive manner. It's hard to describe other than saying it switches me over to right-brain dominance - for awhile, at least. (-sigh-)

I also benefit from immersive sessions in nature photography and zoo or other animal location visits. I prefer not to sketch, but to have my husband do photography while I watch the animals move and behave and try to internalize what I see.

Good reference books on animal anatomy are also a fundamental way I learn, like Ellenberger or Calderon. If you can observe movement and relate it to the cognate bones and muscles in your body, you get a whole new feeling for depiction of the animal form. The 'essence', though is hit or miss, either you get that moment's epiphany and reproduce it in a 'sum is greater than the parts' effort or it slips by.

For Wanda ~

The depiction of animals is no more complicated than the depiction of a bouquet, a person or a landscape. It's all a matter of shapes, light and shadow, and the various aspects of color. Still, it's a daunting task to start on, and a field where accuracy and detail tends to be highly valued. That's not to say, though, that impressionistic or expressionistic works depicting animals don't do well and sell well - they're just not what comes immediately to mind when 'wildlife art' is mentioned.

To get started, I'd recommend tracing some photos to get your basic lines down, then work out your composition on layers of tracing paper. That's a great way to sketch animals, too, BTW, while you're learning animals as a specific subject - if you get one part that you really like, but another part just doesn't work, then trace the good part and try again. Also do as much immersive observation as you can, either in person or on TV or the computer. Anything that clarifies your mental picture of what your planned subject looks like, feels like, acts like, etc.

Don't let anyone tell you that learning some of your shapes by tracing is 'cheating'! It's just one more tool to help train your hand and eye. After you've traced a bunch, your confidence will be up, and it's amazing to me how much the hand has learned by following the motions to associate certain shapes with your mental concept of 'tiger' or 'horse' or whatever.

I've heard of several artists who do layout work on the computer. I've tried it several times, and sometimes it clicks, sometimes it doesn't, just like doing the tracing-paper layouts. It is a great way to play with combinations of various reference photos, but I've found it's not really much of a time savings other than in color experimentation, since a color can be changed very quickly in most good paint programs - a hekuva a lot quicker than repainting a background, that's for sure!

You know, Wanda, one way to get started with painting wildlife is to do studies first. Skip the detailed setting and do the animal or a portion of the animal. Here's an example:
<IMG SRC="http://www.northwood.org/studios/images/Jaguar-1.JPG" border=0>
I did this one with pastel pencil on 8.5x11 black paper (three colors for the fur, two for the eyes). The sense of the shoulder being further back was done by lifting off most of the pastel, which faded that portion and gave the impression of greater distance (aerial perspective). Using pastel pencil let me place the marks to suggest the direction of the fur without having to do lots and lots of layers. The digital version lost some of the green that's right at the iris, but it shows how a relatively simple approach can 'work'.

Well, I've nattered on enough for tonight, most likely. I hope the thoughts were helpful!



Judith Northwood
Northwood Studios (http://www.northwood.org/studios)

07-04-2000, 03:57 AM
does anyone know the books of the Sierra club?
I found them on amazon, and they deal with sketching in nature and other subjects on wildlife.
I did't understand if they are books for children or not.

very interesting your indications! thank you.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif ciao, rapolina.

W. Collier
07-04-2000, 08:06 AM

Your advise is very helpful. I think for now, I'll do as you say and practice tracing/drawing, maybe go to my local zoo and watch, take pictures. That breaks my task down into smaller parts, for sure. I can handle this.

Thanks for normalizing the process for me. Maybe soon there will be a lesson on this forum for us, which would also be helpful.


07-05-2000, 03:56 PM

Ciao Rapolina! Come va? Mi chiamo Roberto Gianamore. That's about all I can say in Italian. My parents are from Abruzzi. Rocca Pia to be exact. I was born and raised here in the USA. I live here with my wife and two kids. My son has traveled to Italy many times. He has friends in Milan. Email me if you can. My address is [email protected]

Ciao bob http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

[This message has been edited by bobsart (edited July 05, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by bobsart (edited July 05, 2000).]

one who sees
07-13-2000, 07:08 PM
[i][b]ooOOOOoo what a wonderful thread...
mayhaps its easier to actually list the steps that it takes to create .......but...really am sure as many as we are here...that would be how many styles and steps..
each ends up creating their own way..
although basics could be listed ...

one must put the animal in its proper environment....habitat....this has to be correct if realistically portraying...

there is an exception...
some of the bird illustrations in colored pencil that i do......will just have the bird..and mayhaps a suggestion of a branch..
this is but one style of mine but it does give an example of not needing to know where the critter lives..

one cant....paint a tiger that would knock your socks off.....and place him on an african plain.....or stick a polar bear in white mts NH.....

using the computer as a tool when starting ..psp is a favorite of mine....Metacreations bryce as well..but nothing.....replaces the brush in your hand....the feel of paint on the end of the brush spreading richly on the canvas...
but it could cut time out of the very first steps.....

and Robert Bateman...is the King!!