Nature Encyclopaedia

One of my many projects from the last term consisted of making an encyclopedia based on natural images. I had to create this piece of work as part of the Natural History Illustration course. Whilst the course was very interesting, this project was running alongside our class projects which made for a very rushed final piece of work. However, I am pleased with the final piece as I experimented with a new drawing technique: paper cutting and collage.


I approached this project with the hope that I could paint each of my illustrations, but as I said, time was very limited and paper collage was a lot quicker.

A lot of planning went into the encyclopedia. From collecting facts at my local pub quiz to searching the internet for hours, I finally was able to collate the 26 facts that I needed for each of the letters of the alphabet.

I always wanted the encyclopedia to be in a concertina book form. A very large piece of paper was folded and cut in specific places in order to help me create this form and create the 26 pages I needed.


My main inspiration for this piece of work was from looking at Eric Carle’s, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Carle used coloured tissue paper to collage images such as the fruit and the caterpillar. The transparency of the tissue paper helped to create different tones and textures in his work and I really wanted this to come across in my work.


I decided that I wanted to create the texture by painting papers myself with gouache paints. The brushstrokes helped me to avoid too much of a block colour look and hopefully gave it a bit more interest than just using some coloured card.


Paper cutting is a very fiddly technique but achieves very unique illustrations. I finished off my illustrations by painting small details with black drawing ink and any leftover gouache paint.


Overall, it was a lovely project to have done but I would love to have had more time to refine it and to make it on a bigger scale. I’ve attached some of my favourite illustrations to this post and I hope you like them as much I enjoyed making them.

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