African Jacana & Hippos


I couldn’t resist one more. (Tomorrow, hamsters. Really!)

I decided to try to do something similar to the other two woodblock-homages, this time with animals instead of a landscape (or maybe with hippos, the trick is that animals ARE the landscape.) This is an African Jacana, which I really did see standing on top of the hippos at Chobe. (Hippos don’t care if things walk on them, apparently.)

So the trick to doing these is actually similar to the Art Deco travel posters I was doing earlier–instead of drawing the oulines, I block the whole shape out in flat colors, and use about ten thousand layers, putting thin black outlines around the big blocks of color and then drawing very thin weird lines on other multiply layers to shape the whole thing, and using gradients madly to make the flat colors work.

It is a seriously weirdass way to work. I am having to think much farther ahead than I usually do. Once everything is blocked out, fixing little dings requires sorting through dozens of layers to find out where something is.

But I really like how it all comes out. The thin lines are basically the same kind of black lines I draw on everything, only more useful.

Mad gratitude to Kevin–he took about a hundred photos of hippo piles which were invaluable for making it work. (Hippos have really messed up heads, incidentally. Their eye lumps do things no other mammal does.)


Prints available!

3 thoughts on “African Jacana & Hippos

  1. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    They look a great deal more restful than real hippos. I seem to recall that hippos kill more people in Africa than Lions do, because they look roly-poly and cute but are, in fact, viciously territorial. So, idiot tourist gets too close, and hippo improves the gene pool.

    Your hippos look a lot more pleasant. Maybe they are to common hippos what bonobos are to chimps.

  2. Athena PN says:

    Dang, this is *gorgeous*; so worth the mental agony (well, easy for me to say). Loving the terrific “eye lumps” phrase too, it sounds like it could be descriptive of one of your less-ordinary critterpeople!

  3. MamaMetta says:

    I lived in Kenya, and YES, hippos are wonderful and scary, and jacanas are beautiful. the bits on Kenya are fabulous – but no battle quails, alas. we do have guinea fowl, though! (Southern Africa has the fabulous hoopoe.)

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