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Birds – Feather Studies

January 3, 2011

Some sketches from tonight to practice bird anatomy. The information in the colored feather study is largely copied from this extremely useful tutorial by Cedarseed on deviantArt. Click the sketches to enlarge them.





SB Project: Sketches 38 and 39

January 1, 2011

Kudzu is a Japanese plant that was introduced to the United States in 1876 and has since been dubbed “the vine that ate the South”. According to Wikipedia it’s been spreading at a rate of 150,000 acres a year. Kudzu has been used to prevent erosion and improve topsoil quality, but unfortunately it grows so well in the southern US that it out-competes virtually all other plants, destroying the biodiversity of areas it infests.



Harvest Mites, or Trombiculid Mites, are sometimes called chiggers, but should not be confused with Chigoe Fleas, which can potentially do a lot more damage to their hosts. In their larval stage these tiny red mites create holes in the skin of their hosts using digestive enzymes. They then feed on the exposed inner skin, causing irritation and swelling. After feeding they drop off and mature into adults. Harvest Mites are potential vectors for a number of diseases.


Work and SB Project: Sketch 37

December 30, 2010

I’ve had to do a number of animal studies recently for my work with Feytouched Studios. I don’t know that I’d ever draw a bear before, and don’t have much practice with eagles or ruminants, so these were all good learning experiences. The bottom right one is basically what one of the finished emblems will be, after I refine and color it, of course.


Tunga penetrans, also known as the Chigoe Flea, jigger, and sometimes chigger, are nasty little things. Not to be confused with chiggers (harvest mites, which will be coming up in a couple pages) in temperate areas, Chigoe Fleas are endemic to the tropics – particularly South and Central America and the Caribbean.  They parasitize mammals, including humans, and are usually found on feet and sometimes hands. Females start out much slimmer than this, but once they find a suitable host, they burrow under the skin, leaving a small hole though which they breathe and get rid of excrement. Feeding on the host’s blood, the female will get larger as eggs develop inside her. Growing up to a centimeter across beneath the host’s skin causes terrible discomfort. In some places, people’s feet are so full of Chigoe Flea sores that they cannot walk. Eventually the female lays her eggs and they fall to the ground to hatch and grow into new fleas. She will die and be sloughed off with the host’s skin.


SB Project: Sketches 35 and 36

December 28, 2010

I’ve finished all the pages in my Sketchbook Project book! The total comes to 40, so I still have a bit of a backlog to post. Nick and I don’t really celebrate many holidays, so this time of year is usually pretty low-key for us compared to most people. Nonetheless, our routine has been different from usual and I haven’t been drawing or painting much the past week. Once New Years is over, I’m thinking about spending 30-60 minutes each morning doing some kind of sketch/study to limber myself up. I’m sure I’ll post those sketch here, but I was also thinking of Livestreaming them. It would probably be pretty early in the morning, so I don’t expect that many people would be awake/not at work to stop by, but it’s something I’m toying around with.

Anyway, on to the sketches!


I’m a big fan of the various species of Writing Spiders. Quite a few of them lived in our garden when I was a kid, and I loved to hunt for them each morning to find where they had erected their beautiful web that day.


The human body louse exists everywhere people do, but usually only gets a foothold on people who do not have regular access to bathing facilities and clean clothing. They generally live in clothing, climbing down to the skin to feed on blood several times day. Adult lice are about the size of a sesame seed.

Interestingly, the term “nitpicking” came from the act of looking through a person’s hair for the tiny eggs (nits) of lice and removing them one by one.


SB Project: Sketches 33 and 34

December 20, 2010

I adore bees. They’re great. 🙂 I played around with using some acrylics to add highlights and the pollen stuck to the bee.



Leeches have pain killers and anticoagulants in their saliva to make the feeding process as easy and safe as possible for them. This one is pretty full. I’ve never had a leech on me. You?

SB Project: Sketches 31 and 32

December 18, 2010

Two more pages from the Sketchbook Project!

Emerald Jewel Wasps exclusively use cockroaches to reproduce. Upon locating a cockroach, the female wasp stings it with a mild paralytic. Once the roach has been immobilized, the wasp makes a very precise injection of a different venom into a specific area of the cockroach’s brain. Studies indicate that the venom blocks dopamine and/or octopamine receptors, and from then on the cockroach will not attempt to flee, even after the paralysis wears off. At this point the wasp usually bites off parts of the cockroach’s antennae and leads it into a burrow. After laying a single egg on the roach’s stomach, the wasp barricades it and the egg inside the burrow and leaves. Soon the egg hatches and the larva burrows inside of the roach, consuming its tissue for nourishment. The cockroach is alive this whole time, but because of the second sting it got from the female wasp, it still will not attempt to flee. Eventually the wasp larva creates a cocoon inside the roach and develops into an adult wasp. After it hatches, it emerges from the now dead cockroach and leaves the burrow.



This has nothing to do with the “adhere to me” theme, but baby koalas have to eat their mom’s poo in order to acquire the proper enzymes to digest eucalyptus leaves. Yum.



December 17, 2010

Some recent commissions for my friend Suzene. These characters belong to her, and as always they were a blast to draw!