FFWD: Drawing a harnessed tiger moth

FFWD: Drawing a harnessed tiger moth


Welcome to Design Fast-Forward.
This week I did a simple illustration of a harnessed tiger moth for an ongoing series
of moth illustrations that I’ve been posting to Dribbble lately.
For the tiger moth, I started out by drawing the wing and body shapes and giving them placeholder
colors just to establish the basic structure from the reference photo.
When I had the basic shape down, I started choosing more realistic colors, fine-tuning
some vibrant shades of orange for the second and third layer of wings and the body.
Once I had that done I started working on the surface design for the top layer of wings.
I knew I wanted the wing itself to be black with high contrast markings, so I went with
white strokes of varying widths. I tried mimicking the markings of the reference
photo while also editing the lines to create something that was both visually balanced
and interesting to look at. The lines are very structured but still suggest
a kind of gestural nature. For the second layer of wings, I wanted to
mimic that lighter orange fringe before moving on to the dark spots. And when I drew the
dark spots, I made sure not to leave any sharp corners so we could accurately render the
kind of organic aesthetic of the original moth.
Similarly for the third layer of wings, I made a small edge and then just added a simple
black dot to each. For the main body shape I started out with
a simple line of circles, but that turned out to be pretty boring and didn’t seem to
match the overall aesthetic, so I extended it into this kind of tapered stack of teardrop
shapes. Then I made basically a flat shadow for the
moth’s back before working on the markings up there.
And I messed with this shape for a long time before finally getting to something pleasing
and moving on to the rest of the markings. Then for the atennas I made a simple tapered
stroke and started working on a shape that would represent the filaments of the antenna
without adding unnecessary complexity to the shape, and I ended up with these kind of translucent
black shapes. And then I just cleaned things up with a clipping
mask and switched over to true drop shadows rather than the flat style of shadows that
I had before. And that’s it – here’s a look at the finished
illustration.

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