Nature and Sea Life

More than anything else, I love drawing nature, especially animals of all types, whether they be real or fantasy, highly realistic or cartoony. Here is a selection of my more realistic work from a couple of books on sea life that I have worked on with author Gloria Snively.

From High Tide, Low Tide a colouring, story, and activity book from Kingfisher Press:
More images from this book can be seen on my Pen and Ink page; it is still in print and can be ordered from the link above.

HTLT front cover.jpeg

The cover drawing, which was printed in colour for the actual cover, and black and white, so that it could be coloured, for the title page.


Giant Sea Anemones — deadly to the creatures around them, but really fun to draw!


An Octopus escapes from a threatening fish with a cloud of ink


Hairy Hermit Crabs sparring for their pick of new shells. In the background, a “naked” one is sneakily scooping the best shell!

The challenging part of drawing a colouring book is to leave room for the colouring; to keep things simple but give enough detail to guide the colourist. It’s really a bit like drawing a comic! To my delight, this project led into another, in which I was able to give full rein to my urge for detail and storytelling.

In Explore the Wild Coast with Sam and Crystala forthcoming book from Heritage House Publishing Company, also by Gloria Snively, full colour paintings in watercolour and coloured pencil are paired with detailed, captioned, sepia-coloured pencil drawings to illustrate an educational storybook about the nature of the West Coast of North America.

Here is another version of the hermit crabs, this one in pencil (sepia tone applied in Photoshop):

ch 10.1 full page.jpg

Many of the drawings were designed to wrap around the side of a page, or only be at the top or bottom, to allow room for text.

ch 13.5 bottom.jpg

The challenge with the pencil drawings was to maintain accurate depictions of the subject (in this case a Tidepool Sculpin), while creating aesthetically attractive compositions for the space allowed.

ch 13.3 top.jpg

I got to draw a surprising number of birds—and some large primates, too!

ch 11.4.jpg

The coloured paintings were created with watercolour over an initial graphite-pencil sketch. Then I heightened the colours and picked out details with coloured pencil and a bit of white ink.


A detail from this one was used as part of the cover by the publisher’s designer.

ch 10.4.jpg

Life is lively at the bottom of a tidepool—and oh, hey, there’s those hermit crabs again!

If you’d like to pre-order a copy of Explore the Wild Coast with Sam and Crystal, you can do that here. We have more books planned for the future; watch the blog and this page for updates and release dates!

4 responses to “Nature and Sea Life

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