Adam Oehlers

Adam Oehlers illustration

Adam Oehlers illustration

Adam Oehlers is a British illustrator, concept artist and character designer whose work carries a feeling of his admiration for the Golden Age illustrators.

Most of the illustration on his website is in a fantasy vein, with wonderfully rendered forest scenes, animals and plant details. He makes effective use of muted, limited palettes, giving the work a coherence and sense of subtlety.

I particularly enjoy his use of repeated natural forms, like leaves, tree trunks or butterflies, as components of suggested patterns, with a bit of an Art Nouveau sensibility.

In addition to illustration, you can find on his blog examples of animated music videos, as well as both prints and original art for sale in his shop.

You can also find additional examples of his work on Behance and Instagram.


Edward Julius Detmold

Edward Julius Detmold, classic illustration, animal illustration

Edward Julius Detmold, classic illustration, animal illustration

Edward Julius Detmold and his twin brother Charles Maurice Detmold were book illustrators active in the “Golden Age” of illustration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Both were interested in natural history and animals, and even in their illustrations for books like Kipling’s The Jungle Book and The Fables of Aesop, their images were more likely to feature animals than people.

Both worked in watercolor and ink and were influenced by Japanese Prints, Art Nouveau and the Pre-Raphaelite painters as well as their contemporary illustrators.

I can’t find as much information about Charles, so I’ve focused here on Edward Detmold, and the images shown are (as far as I can determine) by Edward.


Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur L. Guptill

Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur L. Guptill

Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur L. Guptill

Pen and ink is a medium with a long history, but despite some modern revival in interest (as evidenced by the current internet-wide exercise of Inktober), its importance has faded from its time as a major drawing medium for Renaissance and Baroque masters, and its strong popularity as a medium for illustration during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Pen and ink is a medium with unique characteristics — in linearity, texture and tone — that have a visual charm shared only with similar techniques in printmaking.

From the waning years of the medium’s heyday as a staple of book illustration, we have a classic volume that is simply the best book on pen and ink I’ve ever encountered: Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur L. Guptill

The original version of the book was published in 1930 as Drawing with Pen and Ink, and versions of that volume are still available. The edition titled Rendering in Pen and Ink was created in 1976, leaving out a few of the original illustrations, adding many others and condensing the area devoted to text while enlarging that given to images.

This is a from-the-ground up treatise on drawing with pen and ink, starting with materials, basic marks and methods of making tones — hatching, cross-hatching, stipple and freeform textures — and going on through methods of rendering trees and landscapes, architecture, still life, people and more.

Much emphasis is given to making and controlling tones and suggesting light and shade, something that those learning pen and ink often struggle with, as well as conveying the textures of natural and artificial surfaces.

Many of the illustrations, particular those explaining the basics of ink drawing and rendering, are by Arthur Guptill himself, and he is no slouch at pen drawing. The book is also profusely illustrated with plates by some of the best pen and ink artists from the turn of the 20th century, a high point for the use of pen and ink in books and magazines.

The drawing may strike some as “old fashioned”, in that it has a character of classic illustration — but to others, myself included, this is a Good Thing — a welcome grounding in techniques taken from masters of the medium.

The current 60th Anniversary edition of the book, which is huge, both in page size and number, is available for under $30 on Amazon U.S. For my money, a single chapter would be worth that! (I’ll note that I have an older, well-worn hardbound edition that I’m using for my review, and I can’t speak to the binding and paper quality of the current printing.)

I’ve had the book since I was in my early 20s; I considered it a gem then, and the years have not dimmed my enthusiasm for its value. Rendering in Pen and Ink is highly regarded as a standard must-have book among illustrators and comics artists, but is less well known to other contemporary artists.

There are a lot of books available on drawing in pen and ink, but if you have any interest in working in, and hopefully mastering the medium, this one should be on your shelf.


Russ Kramer

Russ Kramer, marine artist, paintings of historic yacht races

Russ Kramer, marine artist, paintings of historic yacht races

Connecticut based marine artist Russ Kramer focuses much of his work on the drama of historic yacht races, emphasizing the movement of water and vertiginous angles of the boats as they are lifted and tossed by the power of the waves.

He has a touch for rendering roiled water in a way that feels palpable, capturing both its movement and visual texture.

Kramer also finds drama in the play of light on his subjects, enlivening even his portrayals of more sedate harbor scenes.

In addition to the images in his website gallery, you can find additional images of his limited edition prints. There is also a book available that collects some of his work.

[Suggestion courtesy of James Gurney]


Yuko Shimizu (update)

Yuko Shimizu illustration


Yuko Shimizu is an illustrator who I first profiled in 2007, mentioned again in 2010, and featured prominently in the article I wrote on contemporary illustrators for the Summer 2013 issue of Drawing Magazine.

Shimizu (not to be confused with the Japanese designer with the same name who created “Hello Kitty”) is orignally from Japan and now based in New York City. Her illustration style is a fascinating blend of influences from Japanese traditional and pop culture, American pop culture, comics, classic illustration, woodblock prints, and probably a myriad of other sources I haven’t picked up on.

She works in both traditional and digital media, often drawing/painting with ink and traditional Japanese calligraphy brushes, and then taking the drawing into Photoshop to apply digital color.

She also frequently will take her brush and ink line and translate it into color, producing a distinct and fascinating contrast with the more traditional ink line and color fill common to woodblock prints and other illustration techniques.

Shimizu’s line work is full of energy and verve and her color choices are frequently unexpected, particularly in the way certain colors are juxtaposed against one another. I very much enjoy the way she plays with floral and animal forms in her images — sometimes as subjects, and sometimes as design elements in the composition.

The gallery on her website can be filtered by genre to a degree, but I find it fascinating to simply leaf through, enjoying the contrast between subjects.

You can also find her work on Behance, Instagram, Tumblr and her Online Store.