Illustration of insects in the MCNG library
In the Natural Sciences Museum of Granollers we can visit the beautiful garden that surrounds it and houses a sample of the botany and geology of the Vallès Oriental region, and also the permanent and temporary exhibitions, for the whole family, where we can know how It is a cave inside and what animals live there.
But the museum has other surprises: research and conservation groups for bats, butterflies, small mammals, amphibians and reptiles work here. And on the first floor of the Pius Anfres house is a cozy library, decorated with large antique scientific illustrations of various animals, it contains 8,000 volumes: from the latest field guides and manuals to 16th century ornithology books, passing by the basic reference books of the scientific study of nature.
In this library I have had the pleasure of teaching a small course of scientific illustration of 3 classes “Dots and lines: different techniques for the illustration of insects.”
Many elegant scientific and naturalistic illustrations are made with this ink technique. The stippling technique, used above all to highlight morphological aspects of each species, does not stop providing beautiful black and white results, to which color can be applied later. Whether for a practical or more artistic purpose, the stippling illustrations are beautiful and highly detailed.
It’s a technique that takes some patience, but it’s worth it. You can discover more in this blog post: Scientific illustration with Stippling.
We have also been able to try the fun Scratchboard technique, ideal for illustrating animals with hair or feathers. The scratchboard technique is executed on a cardboard that is covered with a layer of white plaster and another upper layer of black ink, to create the drawings we use scraping tools (punches, scalpels, cutters …) that tear off the black surface layer, leaving the white one in sight. For this reason, this is a technique that is worked “in negative”, that is, we draw the white and not the black, what is left in the background and gives a striking appearance to the illustrations.
Both techniques can be colored, and that’s what we did in the third and last class. With the stippling and scratchboard illustrations made in the previous classes, we applied watercolor (over the permanent black ink stippling) and special scratchboard inks. The result was that our insects came to life and jumped off the page.
It has been a real pleasure to teach these classes with students who love entomology and scientific illustration, eager to try new techniques.