After two weeks of sketching, inking and coloring, I’m finally done with my entry for Johanna Basford’s Magical Jungle competition. I had such a blast working on my entry for the Lost Ocean competition, that I knew I immediately wanted to create an entry for her second competition. The two week time frame is always a bit of a challenge for me. But I find specific deadlines really motivates me to stay focused.
First, I picked up a copy of Magical Jungle at my local bookstore. Johanna did offer up the page as a free download to print for anyone not yet able to get their hands on a copy of the book. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this particular picture was one of the few perforated pages at the back of the book that are easily removable and one-sided. Additionally, the paper utilized in the book is fantastic.
Immediately, my mind started churning. I settled on exactly what type of materials I would use. My Lost Ocean entry was completed entirely using Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils. This Magical Jungle entry is printed on one-sided paper, opening up a lot more options. I loved not having to worry about bleed through to the other side of the paper. Quickly, I settled on using my new set of Derwent Inktense pencils in conjunction with my Polychromos pencils.
A lot of the time in my coloring process, I’ll spend at least an evening looking at the picture and imagining how I’d like it too look when completed. Sometimes ideas jump out immediately. Sometimes it takes a while. Initially, I was stumped about how to tackle the picture because of its circular composition. If I made additions, could I successfully integrate them?
The idea of placing a tree on either side to frame the photo popped into my head, and I set to work. After sketching the trees in pencil, I started dropping in other animals to add points of interest. I mimicked Johanna’s style for the macaw, and used her lion as inspiration for my jaguar. Comically, I thought I was being super original by adding a sloth hanging from the tree in the upper right hand corner, and then while flipping through the rest of Magical Jungle I spotted Johanna’s sloth elsewhere in the book.
After all my additions were sketched, I started to work inking with a 0.3mm Uni Pin Fineliner. Inking is definitely the most stressful part for me. My personal art style never utilizes much line work.
I finished up the inking my entry, and then the fun started! Next, I completed most of the leaves and the background using Derwent Inktense pencils. Watercolor pencils activated with a water pen blend beautifully, but I am always averse to page buckling, so I used a clear Tombow, water based marker to blend to avoid any warping. I initially did a light blue wash in the background, and then later added additional washes of teal and darker blue, and the paper held up perfectly.
The animals themselves were all drawn using Polychromos pencils. I wanted them to be a bit more detailed and vibrant to draw the viewer’s attention. After blending, my black Polychromos pencil wasn’t giving me enough depth, so I went over the black spots on the Jaguar with my black, Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen. Additionally, I added darker shadows to the butterfly and toucan.
After every finished picture there will always be things I like, things I love, and things I wish I’d done differently. But all in all, I’m pretty satisfied with my entry, and I felt like I learned a lot in the process. The jaguar is hands down my favorite part! Hopefully, soon I’ll get a tutorial up, for anyone interested, on exactly how I created him.
Please don’t hesitate to put any questions about specific techniques or elements in the comments below. Keep on coloring!
Links to all art supplies used in this picture are as follows:
Polychromos artist pencils
Uni Pin Fineliner
Pitt artist pen