By the end of May 2014 I started working as illustrator for the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid. A year later I think it’s time to show the work and procedures in which I have been busy all this time.
Most of these illustrations were made for the project FLORA IBERICA, a multivolume compendium of plant species of the Iberian Peninsula, in development since 1980.
Specialists in each group of plants are responsible for developing descriptions of each species. To do this, they review the herbarium specimens available for study, from national and international collections. At the same time they select those specimens that best represent the characteristics of each species and sent it to the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid to be drawn.
Herbarium specimens. From left to right: Tanacetum panthenium, Anthemis saxatilis and Geranium brevipes. Photography Román García Mora.
These selected collections of specimens are those I use as reference to start with sketches at the facilities of the herbarium in the botanical garden.
Sketching Santolina ageratifolia. Photography by Román García Mora.
Sketching Vogtia annua. Photography by Roman Garcia Mora.
In order to describe some characteristics of the species, is necessary to study them under the magnifying glass. Sometimes this requires to rehydrate some parts to regain their original form.
Tanacetum funkii disc flowers ready to be studied under magnifying glass. Photography Roman Garcia Mora.
Study under the magnifying glass. Left: Tanacetum funkii disc flowers. Central above: disc flowers of Santolina ageratifolia. Central below: mericarps of Geranium ocellatum. Right above: disc flowers and achene Vogtia microphyllum. Bottom right: mericarps of Geranium ocellatum, sketch. Photography by Román García Mora.
Each sketch should be accompanied by a scale and reference of each herbarium sheet that served as reference. This information will be included in the caption of each final plate.
Several sketches prepared for processing, labeled with their legends and codes of herbarium specimens used as reference. Photography by Roman Garcia Mora.
Back in my studio, the sketches are scanned and composed on a single sheet of A3 size.
Sometimes, when the three-dimensional structure is lost in the pressing of the plant, or we lack an important structure, it is helpful to work with 3D programs to reconstruct a mockup of the specific detail that we want to describe.
Modeling process of the mockup of the fruit of Geranium yemense. Top left: modeling sepals detail drawn from the laboratory. Left below: mericarp modeling. Right: Model of fruit. Art by Román García Mora.
These mockups are completed in Photoshop, adding elements that would be difficult to achieve in 3D software, such as the indumentum.
3D mockups for Flora Ibérica. a) Capitula of Tanacetum vahlii; b) Anthemis saxatilis habit; c) capitula of Tanacetum funkii. In this extinct species reconstructing the capitula in 3D was the only way to show this detail convincingly. Art by Román García Mora.
The contrast of the visual language of 3D models and pencil sketches not affect the outcome, since the final plate is done with ink, so all elements have a homogeneous finish.
3D models and the outcome made with ink. Left: Detail of inflorescence of Iva xanthifolia. Right: Group of achenes of Schkuhria pinnata. Art by Román García Mora.
With all the elements arranged in the format, the sketches are sent to specialists for review.
Approved sketches for FLORA IBERICA. Art by Román García Mora.
Once the sketches are approved, the final plate is made on polyester paper, using pen and ink.
Some final details. a) detail of the inflorescence of Eupatorium cannabinum, b) detail of the inflorescence Flaveria bidentis, c) capitula of Schkuhria pinnata, d) bract of Schkuhria pinnata, e) radial flower of Schkuhria pinnata, f) disc flower of Schkuhria pinnata, g) detail of the inflorescence of Ageratina adenophora, h) floral receptacle during the fruiting of Ecliptra prostrata, i) capitula of Crhysanthemoides monilifera, j) disc flower of Ecliptra prostrata, k) radial flower of Ecliptra prostrata, l) achene of Ecliptra prostrata, m) floral receptacle during the fruiting of Centipeda cunninghamii, n) radial flower of Schkuhria pinnata, o) disc flower of Schkuhria pinnata, p) disc flower of Eupatorium cannabinum, q) achene of Iva xanthifolia, r) fleshy achene of Crhysanthemoides monilifera, s) fruit of Crhysanthemoides monilifera, t ) floral receptacle during the fruiting of Conyza bonariensis, u) achene of Schkuhria pinnata, v) achene of Tagetes minuta. Art by Román García Mora.
Some final details. a) habit Flaveria bidentis, b-e) leaf variability in Conyza bonariensis, f) basal rosette of Conyza bonariensis, g) basal rosette leaf of Conyza bonariensis, h) basal leaf Flaveria bidentis, i) apical leaf of Flaveria bidentis, j) habit of Centipeda cunninghamii , k) radial flower of Centipeda cunninghamii, l) disc flower of Centipeda cunninghamii, m) achene of Centipeda cunninghamii, n) habit Ecliptra prostrata. Art by Román García Mora.
Carlos Aedo and Ramon Morales, for trusting me from the beginning and their support at all times.
Anotni Buira for care that all plates be render with the best result.
All the authors of the descriptions, for your patience and passion for our work in order to achieve the highest quality possible.
And mainly to Katia Cezón, my friend, who was in the right time and the right place to offer me this opportunity.
To be continued …