By Guest Blogger Julie Ho
Ridgway's rail (Rallus obsoletus). I started the design as I would start any illustration, by doing research on my subject. I was primarily interested in learning about the habitat the mouse and rail would be found in to get an idea of the foliage that I would need to depict in my design. The pickleweed (Salicornia pacifica) and cordgrass (Spartina foliosa) stood out to me as some of the more easily identifiable and common flora found in San Francisco salt marshes. I knew when I started my research and from seeing the rail and cordgrass that I wanted my design to be vertical and narrow to emphasize the silhouette of the bird.
The Draft: After I received feedback on my sketch I added the gumweed plant (Grindelia stricta and Grindelia camporum) to my design to add a pop of yellow from its flowers and break up the green of the cordgrass and pickleweed. At this time I also planned out the color scheme for the t-shirt, doing my best to narrow down the color choices to as few as I could. While I would normally go into detail at this point and flesh out all the subtle color variations in the rail, mouse, and flora I restricted myself in my color palette and made the decision to simplify the flora to very basic shapes to put further emphasis on the rail and mouse.
The Final: In the last version of the design I changed my choice about depicting the shorter gumweed plant in the foreground to a similar yellow flowering shrub, the salty susan (Jaumea carnosa). At this point I also realized I had to further simplify my colors and chose slightly different colors to fit within the requirements from the t-shirt printing company. I ended up going with only 3 colors and really had to push my boundaries to make the most of the limited palette I had.
I am quite pleased with the end result, and while I could not render all components in the design as accurately as I would have liked due to the constraints, the final design still holds up to my original concept, and that is more than I hoped for going into it! Click here to learn how you can get your own 2018 CFC T-Shirt!
An artist from the San Francisco Bay Area, Julie started her undergraduate studies in Biochemistry but rediscovered her love for art in her second year and turned her concentration to creating art for science communication. She completed her BFA degree in Pictorial Arts with a minor in Science from San Jose State University. During her time as an undergrad she taught art classes in Los Altos, CA, where she found her passion for children's education. Continuing her own education, she attended CSU Monterey Bay's Science Illustration graduate program in 2016. Influenced by the changing climate and its effect on life within it, Julie hopes to communicate local environmental issues through illustrations for science education. She returned to the Bay for her internship in Fremont at the Children's Natural History Museum. Currently, Julie is working at New Museum Los Gatos (NUMU) as their exhibit and graphic designer. You can see other examples of her work on her website.
Wingbeat is a blog where you can find the most recent stories about our science and outreach work. We'll also share guest posts from volunteers, donors, partners, and others in the avian science and conservation world. To be a guest writer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.