Illustrating these herbs truly allowed for me to feel like a botanical illustrator. Recently while hiking, I was able to actually look at the stinging nettle plant up close. Unfortunately, I touched it and experienced the sting! That was a lesson for me.
I had many assignments going when I did this project, so I hired a talented student with consummate drawing skills. Her name was Laura, and her drawings enabled me to easily illustrate the herbs. Even her hand lettering naming each herb was exquisite. I’ll share her drawings at the end of this post.
I enjoyed the challenge of illustrating different types of leaves. There were many shades of green tones and delicate leaf textures. I used acrylic to add tiny hairs and other details. It was especially interesting solving the texture of the “puffball” on the dandelion! Recently, I had a salad made with dandelion leaves and it was delicious!
Below are some other herbal illustrations done as “flavor indicators” on packaging. The last two illustrations of basil and oregano were done for Lender’s Bagels.
I have mentioned before that I disliked “sketching.” As an illustrator, my drawings were simply the “roadmap,” which I followed when painting or using markers. I only needed my sketch to show me where I would be adding color and texture. Since the pencils lines could show, I had to be very skillful at only putting the simplest and most accurate lines to follow.
One advantage of markers for me was the marker paper (see Material List) was transparent. I just put my sketch underneath the paper while I worked. It was much more laborious to use graphite paper when transferring my drawings onto watercolor paper. I did have a trick, however. When using friskit, I would first place it on a pencil sketch. When I lifted it off, the pencil lines were on the friskit. This was tricky, and I only did this occasionally.
In the early 1990’s, I did an illustration of an energy bar, a “proto-type” for a company named Pharmavite. I was pleased to be called by them over ten years later.
I was asked to do two, preliminary illustrations for a very low budget. It was worthwhile for me to do this at the time. I saw this as an opportunity to developing a long-term working relationship. I was right.
My first assignment was a series of approximately eight illustrations for Costco’s Kirkland vitamin line. My illustrations were to be reduced very small – so simplification was absolutely necessary. Therefore, the paintings were not nearly as complex and detailed as the herbal illustrations I did for a book on Herbs (Post #18) If I had actual, plant reference I could have done something superb.
It might be boring that I am sharing so many drawings for my vitamin assignments. However, I enjoyed seeing them because it shared my improvement over the course of my career. I enjoyed my simple sketches that were easy to fax. I was pleased that I was able to delicately sketch out each herb very cleanly.
I used an Alvin Techliner Pen (.01), and only occasionally had to scratch or erase my lines on the fairly transparent tracing paper I worked on.
I always gave a variety of choices (sometimes too many!), which art directors really appreciated. Sometimes, the selected choice required further modification and resulted in another group of choices. With this project, that rarely happened.
Sometimes, while shopping at Costco I’ve seen a large display board with one of my vitamin illustrations. It was exciting for me to see my illustration quite enlarged!
All of my paintings for Pharmavite were done with watercolor/dye. Friskit was used to create clean, sharp edges. I utilized reference from the Internet, which saved me time but wasn’t great for color or detail.
Not long after completing the first series of illustrations, I received a second assignment from Pharmavite. I needed to illustrate another twenty herbs for a series of labels on a product called “Nature’s Remedy.” It was challenging to render the same herbs and have this series of illustrations be distinctly different. The art director instructed me to use even a simpler style. Each painting showed a single herb, which was different than the grouping of two I had done on the first series of illustrations.
In order to create the thin lines on the garlic, I had a technique where I “scored” the watercolor paper first with an exacto knife. Wherever I lightly scratched the paper with the exacto, a delicate line would appear when painting with the dyes. My challenge was to see where I had scored the paper, since it was invisible until painted over.
A few years later, it was exciting for me to work with Pharmavite again. I illustrated Calcium Chews as well as two, different Pomegranate illustrations for use on a supplement label at Sam’s Club and Costco. At that time, I was able to implement my new, digital process of working.
I will share that working process with the layouts and clipboards I used to create these illustrations. I put considerable time into creating my digital painting.
When I was satisfied with my digital image, I printed it “lightly.” It became my “road map.” By the time was done, it had been painted over completely.
Unfortunately, just as I became efficient with the computer – I was no longer receiving any more work assignments!