The first thing I did once I decided I wanted to illustrate Weedy Seadragons and their life cycle was to think about what exactly I wanted to include. I will refer to the Weedy Seadragons as Weedys because that is what I called them while I was working on this project.
Step 2: Creating a sketch
I found an image of a Weedy in the wild with a picture of seaweed in the background. The Weedy dance video helped inspire me to clump the kelp into a round shape. I used Photoshop to cut out the original kelp image and collage it into the following:
I traced the image above that I created and transferred it onto the watercolor board. I then worked from left to right (in order to help avoid smudging) rendering it in graphite. I mostly used HB, B and 2B pencils. I faded out the bottom so the fry could be seen when I added them.
Photo of finished background:
I took a black and white outline sketch of the Weedys to the aquarium and sketched in the colors and made notes about them based on the live ones.
I compared this to many different photos I found on the internet of wild ones. Then I finally started painting.
When I felt that I had the colors and details finished I went back to the aquarium with a picture of my painting. I made notes on small color and shape alterations that I felt I should make.
In process photos:
Step 5: Painting the Weedy fry and eggs
I really liked my painting of the adults as it was. After much deliberation, I decided to paint the fry and eggs on a separate surface and add them digitally.
Picture of weedy fry and eggs:
Step 6: Digital composition
Last, I put everything into Photoshop where I adjusted the color and isolated the fry and eggs from their background. Then I took everything into Illustrator. I added the text, circle outlines and leader lines.
My dog Sebastian enjoyed watching me work on the painting: