Category Archives: Unusual Animals

Shoebill and Squirrel Share a Secret, for IF

Shoebill and Squirrel, 8×10 Copic Markers, digital text & background

[Quick Note:  If you are subscribed to my blog (thank you very much!) it turns out the notices are going into spam. They were doing that for a bit but I thought I fixed it. Apologies for the trouble and I shall continue to try to find a solution. Arrrgh!]

The word is Secret at Illustration Friday.

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I was working with the pink background for a while but in fooling with the hue slider in Paint.NET I settled on this ecru. And actually, I don’t have too much in the way of critical comments on this one. I think I reached a good stopping place (and actually stopped!) before over-doing the swirly bits. Hooray!

Thank you so much for stopping by! You are the coolest. ;P

*Shoebill: Otherwise known as a shoebill stork or whalehead (or whale-headed) stork.  Some consider the shoebill a missing link between the pelican and the stork, and they are the last living species of the family Balaenicipitidae. Shoebills live mostly in eastern Africa and are endangered due to loss of habitat. They can be as tall as four feet and are mostly solitary creatures.

Beauty or Beast Shoebill by SKSfoto at DeviantART;  Gray Squirrel Hanging Upside Down photo reference. The font is Ugly Qua.

Mole Dee for Monday Artday, in Copics

A Mole Named Dee in Copic Markers with digital text

You may have seen the shy tarsier named Nee in my last post, for the topic “Shiny” at Illustration Friday. And now, a mole named Dee for the topic “Moldy” at Monday Artday. Perhaps you sense a trend? Time will tell!

She was halfway out of her den before stopping for a breath, and also to rethink her evening plans. Yes, it would be nice to visit her sister Dinky for grubs and gossip about that new family of field mice. But Dinky had insisted on moving so far away, and only eighty percent of the route was reachable by tunnel.  After a moment’s more thought she turned and went back inside. A nap sounded mighty fine.

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I think I went too dark overall, from fussing with it too long. Wasn’t happy with the colors though they ended up not too bad. She’s also a tad lumpier than needed. Aaah!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Reference photo from the University of Zurich; font is Ugly Qua.

Shy Tarsier Named Nee for Illustration Friday

A Shy Tarsier Named Nee, 8 x 10 Copic Markers and Multiliners

Tarsiers are naturally shy creatures, and Nee is no exception. In the continuing effort to come out of his shell he decided to take a one-on-one assertion training class from a small parrot named Louisa, who is quite famous in certain circles for her charming yet firm personality. When not working as an assertion training specialist, Louisa has a small side business in matchmaking. As you might imagine, she has a lot of overlap in clientele.

I’ve taken a small liberty with Illustration Friday‘s daily word Shiny. In this case, shy Nee. He’s got one ear cocked to take in all of Louisa’s wisdom but so far has been unable to relax.

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I am happy with the tarsier but next time would take longer with the parrot and the trees, which were a bit rushed (and look it).  Thank you so very much for visiting, wonderful people!


Young tarsier reference photo.

Young Tapir with Puffin in Copic Markers for IF

Young Tapir with Puffin, 9" x 10" Copic Markers with Digital Sky/Text

Yikes! I left town for a few days and totally trainwrecked the vibe of my methodical blogging (twice a week). I finished “Faded” for Illustration Friday at the absolute 11th hour (about 11pm on Thursday!) but did not love it and did not post it.

Here we are at the next week already.  For the topic: Hurry!  At Illustration Friday.

Tuwawi* the puffin has been trying to instill in her friend Giuseppe, a tapir, the importance of being on time to all kinds of engagements. As a long-suffering bird whose husband is the unhurried, moseying type, she thought that starting the tapir young would be a good foundation. Just now they are (sort of) hurrying to an afternoon fruit feast at the home of Guk, a rhinocerus hornbill and great friend of Tuwawi and her husband.

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*Tuwawi! means quick! in Inuit. She is from Alaska but unlike the rest of her extended family, neither she nor her husband could stand the cold. After a few months of searching for a suitable home, they ended up in tropical Malaysia of all places. They really liked the bountiful fruits, but it was Giuseppe the baby tapir who sealed the deal. Sometimes two creatures from different worlds just really hit it off. As for Tuwawi’s husband, he tends to socialize mainly with the hornbills (in part due to their naturally unhurried demeanor).

Tapir Running photo reference, Font: Ugly Qua

Aardvark and the Dandelion, for Monday Artday

Aardvark & the Dandelion Wine, 8.5 x 11, Copics with digital background

Why the Aardvark Has a Long Tongue.

A very, very long time ago, before humans destroyed the delicate balance of the Earth, there were many astounding biological innovations we can only imagine today.  One such innovator was the dandelion flower which grew its own spigot so that all the creatures of the forest could enjoy its spirited liquids. (Also dandelions were way bigger.)

The aardvark, a curious creature with claws made for digging and ears made for hearing, was one of the dandelion’s most ardent admirers. However, due to his oversized claws, he was unable to manipulate the delicate handles of the spigot. So the Earth did what she did best back then (before corporate “persons” bent her to their will and made her into a grotesque parody of herself). She gave the aardvark a long and agile tongue, well able to bypass the spigot mechanism within and enjoy a bounty of dandelion wine. (The aardvark also used his new tongue to hunt in termite mounds. But that came after, of course.)

This one is starting to look a bit glassy-eyed and might pass out soon. Which is good, otherwise he wouldn’t leave any for the next guy! This illustration was created for the “Drunk” topic at Monday Artday.

And now, a slideshow:

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Hooray for sticking with one color family! I did do a bit of extra correction in paint.NET, particularly closing the mouth partly and cleaning up a few messy spots. Most of the ink was done with a teeny 0.05 Copic multiliner, though I did go back at the very end and thicken some lines with a 0.2. Apparently I am on a bit of a kick with long-snouted creatures. This will come as no surprise to those folks who visited during my “big nose” phase which, now that I think of it, may not have been a phase at all.

If you get a moment, take a peek at Topsy-Turvy Trees, the illustration blog of Nei Hatsumi. I know there are a million art blogs out there, but she’s really great but little known, so I thought I would share. I think sharing contributes to a great community. :)

Thanks for stopping in!


Reference aardvark photo from ARKive. Reference dandelion photo from Paul Franklin.

Bilbies and the Corn Cob Pipe, for Illustration Friday

Bilbies and Corn Cob Pipe, Copic Markers, 9" x 6"

In exchange for keeping the cottage free of insects and slugs, Cachimbo* the Corncob Pipe Maker always left a row of fresh kernels on a new pipe as a treat for his friendly rare green bilbies. The mom, an 8-yr old named Daisy, always let the little ones go first. This little one is Jade. Her brother Jasper is napping at the moment after having spent the morning chasing down a spider. (He got it.)

Several missteps with this one. I mean really, a brown and pink pipe stem the same color as the floor? A bilby too close to the color of the wall? Yikes. I always think I know what colors I’m going to use, but then sometimes I get a wild hair and grab something different. Ah, well. My last post is a recent favorite, the Shrew Hare Urn, in case you missed it! (I stuck to my original colors and it worked out just like I hoped.)

Another slideshow with lots of sketches. You will see I tried a few different tacks with the color of the main bilby. I really should have stopped messing with it about step 12 or 13. And a better composition would put the baby facing in toward mom.  Next time! ;)

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Not going to bore you with details about the steps (but feel free to ask anything in the comments!) I will add more details for the next one I really like.

Thank you for visiting! You guys are the best.


*Cachimbo means “pipe” in Portuguese (according to an online dictionary).


Elephant Shrew Urn Artifact for Monday Artday

Copic Markers and Multiliners, on Canson 150 lb. Fanboy Paper, with digital background and text added at the end.

The topic is Ancient Artifact at Monday Artday. To me that meant: 1. something decorative, and 2. with animals. I wanted to actually limit the color palette (rather than intend to and not do it), and also see if I could avoid my usual thick black outlines. And now, a super neat progress slideshow (my second!):

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Row one:  1. Boring urn with fancy handles; 2. a hare (they are cool!), and then something with a long nose for a handle (sort of) – elephant shrew?; 3. better elephant shrew is also GIANT elephant shrew. 4. replace lid with something simple (ugh lots of eraser marks – I really should try to keep a lighter touch). 5. Another different top. Needed stuff coming out. Boyfriend came by to ask why I put a bunch of tiny legs in there! I guess I was thinking sticks. 6. Inked in red ink because I decided to go with  browns and reds.

Row two: 7. Masquepen stage on body of urn; 8. Ooh, golden browns, how I love them. Am I a pro at shading? Not by a long shot, but doing ok. 9. Brown pen outline. I thought about stopping right here. Really! 10. I was worried about adding the red because I was liking just the browns, but I like the way the red contributed. Also went back over the outlines with a very tiny black multiliner – 0.03. 11. Needed some more design on the main part of the urn. 12. Swirly bits – hooray! Adds a bit of depth.

Row three: 13. This is what the actual page looks like, all Copics (and a couple Micron pens). I did a very pale swirl on the rabbit and tried yellow on the shrew but you can barely see it (which is fine). 14. Digital background in vibrant blue, the color I was going to do with Copics (but at the last moment I decided against using all the marker it would have needed); 15. Slightly mysterious (?) black with pinkish clouds. I wanted to do something dark and “serious” and add a kind of museum tag to the bottom. 16. The end!

Thanks to everyone for the insanely nice comments lately. So thrilled people like to look at these things. ;)

Steampunk Wombat and Cat, Copic Markers

Steampunk Wombat and Peterbald Cat, Copic Markers 8.5 x 11

I wasn’t sure whether to call him Steampunk Wombat or Aviator Wombat. He has asked me repeatedly to simply call him Taz, his given name. (Actually, I wasn’t sure if I should even call him a wombat, since his appearance has strayed somewhat from species norms. But that’s ok.) Along with Taz today is his good friend Hastings, a reserved yet wily cat.

Because my last post’s piece suffered in the sketch stage, I have included some extra sketches. Here goes:

Steampunk Wombat Sketch 1

Mostly wombat shaped. Reference is an un-attributed photo on this page, which must be Australia’s version of the Franklin Mint.

Steampunk Wombat Sketch 2

A much-needed friend (adding interest to the composition, hooray!) Reference is Sir Mauri Vilendor, hailing from a Lithuanian Cattery. (Ah internet, what wonders you still hold!)

Steampunk Wombat Sketch 3

Now that’s a sketch. I decided against an ocular device obscuring one of the wombat’s eyes, and I didn’t leave enough room for a dandy-ish Victorian scarf or suit, so I went with aviator-ish goggles and a curious yet stylish pipe. Very happy with this sketch, I must say. Slowing down at the sketch phase = good. It also means the sketching takes all of one evening, leaving the rest for a subsequent evening.

Of course it also suggests that taking more days for sketching might be better still, but I must work up my patience slowly.

Steampunk Wombat Initial Ink

Recently I’ve been doing an initial ink in a color other than black. They smudge less when erasing pencil lines, for one thing! But they are also somewhat less final.

Steampunk Wombat Masquepen

Steampunk Wombat Color 1

Steampunk Wombat Color 2

Steampunk Wombat Color 3


Steampunk Wombat and Peterbald Cat

The background is white because I could not decide on a color. Probably peach or something dark. I did some digital backgrounds to test.

Aviator Wombat and Peterbald Cat Peach

Aviator Wombat and Peterbald Cat Purple

Leave it white? Any preference?

Oh also, new banner! Thank you so much for dropping in.


IF Puzzled, Capybara and Crowned Crane in Copics

Green Capybara and Crowned Crane, 8x10 Copic Markers

I would have expected the capybara and the crowned crane to be equally puzzled upon meeting the other. But it turns out capybaras are rarely puzzled (or troubled) by much. The crowned crane, for her part, was not so much puzzled by meeting her first capybara, as by its peculiar coloring. Granted, it had been some years since university, but she felt strongly that no member of the rodent family came in any green shade whatsoever. Puzzling indeed.

The topic is “puzzled” at Illustration Friday. You haven’t joined yet? Why the heck not? Here are some progress shots:

Capybara and Crane Sketch

Capybara and Crane Ink

Capybara and Crane Frisket

Oops! Colored his foot before I remembered to scan!

Capybara and Crane Color 1

Capybara and Crane Color 2

Capybara and Crane Color 3

I think I like this stage the most. But it felt like it was missing a bit of something and the ground seemed very unfinished.

Green Capybara and Crowned Crane, Final

Sometimes I think these progression posts are as much about what not to do, as things you can do. Not sure about those clouds. Definitely not sure about that landscape with the somewhat unfortunate green amoebas. The crane has too much tone in common with the ground, and the bright orange feathers are a tad too bright! Hrm.

There is no undo with Copics, which sometimes leads to interesting things. And sometimes not. I don’t hate it but I do need lots of landscape practice. I can say this capybara is head and shoulders above my first tragic attempt, (at the bottom of that page, with the purple emu).

Thank you for stopping by! (And don’t forget I have an IF thumbnail tutorial on the right side of this page. Make sure your thumbnail works!)

Capybara reference from this site. Crowned crane reference from this one.


IF Shades, Wombat and Chihuahua

Wombat and Chihuahua Copic Ghosts

I’ve been meaning to do a wombat for ages! So my choices for Illustration Friday “shades” included – wombat with sunglasses (shades) or a wombat in front of window shades or in shades of a particular color, or a wombat ghost (shade). My first wombat is a wombat ghost! His name is Nigel. And he wouldn’t be complete if he weren’t haunting the place with his best friend Gabriel the Chihuahua (also a ghost).

Their friendship is a tale of incredible mystery and adventure, but we’ll have to save that for another time. Suffice it to say they met their untimely ends together during an escape attempt from a trio of American kidnappers in Venice sometime in 1974. They haunt the Venetian tavern where they lived with a quiet Irishman for  eight years after being won in a dice game from their former owner, a globetrotting Tasmanian.

I am not sure they look entirely like shades in the final above. But how about 2 scans ago:

Wombat and Chihuahua, Somewhat More Ghostly

I can’t decide which I prefer. The background is definitely unfinished in this one, but I could have left the critters alone. Let me show you the whole process:

Wombat and Chihuahua Sketch

Wombat and Chihuahua Color 1

Wombat and Chihuahua Frisket

On Nigel here I went over frisket with three shades of gray then peeled off the frisket. On Gabriel you can see the Masquepen (frisket) in blue, with no marker yet.

Wombat and Chihuahua Color 2

Gabriel colored with 2 grays and one gray-purple so the ghosts would not be quite the same color. I suppose I could have left the eyes white. That’s rather ghostly.

Wombat and Chihuahua, Somewhat More Ghostly

This would have been a stopping place for the figures, but the wall and tabletop need somehelp.

Wombat and Chihuahua Color 3

Wombat and Chihuahua Copic Ghosts

I don’t know, the more I look at them, the more ghostly they seem, though they did not need the extra thick black outline. I can say with certainty I have never drawn a wombat ghost, or any animal ghost, before this challenge. And though I do get a kick out of steampunk trend-wise, I don’t have much enthusiasm for the whole zombie thing. But ghosts, that’s totally different! Right? Thanks for coming!

Photo inspiration from Wombats! and Chihuahua Pictures.