Thursday, October 31, 2013

Creature Feature #16: Angelfish

The Angelfish are a perciform fish found in shallow reefs and should not be confused with the cichlid freshwater Angelfish of South America. Part of the Pomacanthidae family, there are over 80 species. They are diurnal fish, using the daylight hours to forage amongst coral - some on zooplankton, others on algae, depending on the species. At night they hide in crevices.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Creature Feature #15: Angelfish

This tropical, freshwater cichlid is popular with aquarists. In the wild in makes its home in the rivers of tropical South America. The stripes aid in its camouflage. This is not just because it is shy, but also because it is an ambush predator and hunts smaller fish, insect larvae and any tasty invertebrates that might stray its way.

If you wish to keep them in an aquarium, it should be noted that they are semi-aggressive and will eat anything that is small enough to fit in their mouth. They require heated water as well.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Creature Feature #14: Anemone

Sea anemones are an Order of  polyp that make their home on the sea bed. They use their tentacles to hunt for prey, specifically small fish that draw too close. They have formed a symbiotic relationship with Clownfish, who use their tentacles as their refuge and do not get eaten.

There are numerous different species of anemone.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Creature Feature #13: Alpaca

The Alpaca of Peru is a domesticated species - there are no known wild populations in existence. It has been farmed for thousands of years by the native people of South America, specifically for its thick coat of luxurious fibre, not unlike wool. Small and stockier than their cousins, the llama, alpaca were not bred to be beasts of burden. Instead they are farmed for their coat and, occasionally, their meat. There are over 52 different natural colours available in their “wool”.

They are vocal creatures, that live in large family groups, lead by an alpha male. Although their defensive behaviour is called “spitting” it is more akin to vomitting, as it contains stomach matter. They use a communual dung pile and, allegedly, can be house trained.

This is the first entirely domesticated species I have unwittingly illustrated as part of my Animal Alphabet. When I reach the “V”s I will illustrate their probable ancestor, the Vicuna.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Creature Feature #12: Akohekohe

The bogan bird of Hawaii, the Akohekohe sports a bright dyed mullet. He is also known as the Crested Honeycreeper, for reasons which I think you will see are self explanatory.

For a time considered extinct, a population of these birds was rediscovered in 1945 upon the island of Maui, Hawaii. They are still hanging in there - with an estimated population of over 3,000 - but are classified as “critically endangered”.

Like most of the honeycreepers, it is vulnerable to bird malaria and is only found now at higher altitudes, where the lowland mosquito does not survive. Predation by rats and competition with introduced birds have also reduced it to 5% of its original range.

For more information on Hawaiian birds and how you can help the birds of Maui, here’s a website:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Creature Feature #11: Alligator Snapping Turtle

The Alligator Snapping Turtle of the South Eastern USA is the largest freshwater turtle in the world and can weigh over 100 kg. Mostly aquatic, only the female comes ashore, and then only to breed. Purely carnivorous, this hefty beast hides itself on the lake floor, with its mouth wide open. The tip of its tongue is topped with a squigly pink appendage -  vermiform - which mimics the behaviour of a real worm and acts as a lure. In this manner, this opportunistic hunter will capture fish and even small mammals or reptiles that venture too near the waters' edge.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Creature Feature #10: Albatross

One of the largest flying birds in the world, the albatross spends most of her life on the wing, or resting on the surface of the ocean. She rarely comes ashore, except to breed, and favours isolated islands over populated main lands.
With a wingspan of up to 3.5m (Wandering Albatross) and weighing up to 12.7 kilos, it can take a bit of flapping and exertion to get airborne, but once aloft, the albatross will rarely flap its wings and glides and soars on the thermals.

This is an Art Card (2.5 x 3.5 inches) and is available for purchase (NZ$10) or trade.
Message me for details.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Creature Feature #9: Akiapola’au

Like all Hawaiian honeycreepers, this golden bird is susceptible to bird malaria and is only found at elevations where mosquitoes are not. If Darwin had travelled to Hawaii instead of the Galapagos, he could still have come up with his theories on divergent evolution. The slender top bill of this fellow is used to pry open bark and hook out insect larvae, which are then crushed by the lower mandible.

Hawaii’s native birds suffered tremendously with the introduction of humans. Unlike many other island communities, it was not the flightlessness of the birds that proved their undoing - most of their endemic species were small passerines - honeycreepers, descended from an original immigrant, or larger honeyeaters. Bird malaria claimed many of the former, and hunting the latter. There are now none of the five honeyeater species (which include the O’o) left at all and the honeycreepers cling by a narrow thread.

I shall be drawing more hawaiian honeycreepers in tribute and to build awareness. Look for the Akohekohe, Anianiau, Akepa, Akikiki and the Apapane amongst the As! I may not draw them all, but I intend to try!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Creature Feature #8: Ajolote

Not to be confused with the axolotl, which is sometimes given the same name, the ajolote is a type of lizard, an amphisbaenian, and is also called the "Mole Lizard". It is one of the only species of vetebrates to only have the front set of limbs, and one of the few amphisbaenian to have limbs at all. It spends its days delving deep into the earth, and is an opportunistic carnivore - which means it eats anything meaty that it can catch. At night or after long wet spells, it will sometimes come above the ground.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Creature Feature #7: Agouti

The Agouti is a rodent, living in South America and noted for being rather shy. The Azara Agouti is considered a jungle gardener, as it often buries seeds and forgets where, so that they sprout.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Craeture Feature #6: Adder

The Common, or European, Adder is the only venomous snake to make its home in the British Isles. As such, it has been the subject of much folklore. Although its bite is painful and poisonous, it is not aggressive and will only attack if cornered or injured. There are numerous anti-venoms available and although bites are fairly common, hospitalisation and fatalities are not so much.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Creature Feature #5 - Addax

The screwhorn antelope, or Addax as it is more widely known, is found in the arid Sahara desert. In summer it is white with the brown head markings, but in winter it puts on a brown coat - as you can see pictured here. Living in such an arid landscape, it can go for long periods of time without drinking. It eats grass, leaves and herbaceous shrubs. Males are significantly larger than females, and have longer horns.

This is an Art Card - 2.5 x 3.5 inches and can be traded for similar or purchased for NZ$10. Message me for details.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Creature Feature #4 - Accentor

The Accentor is a Family of passerine, endemic to the Paleoarctic, that due to their drab colouration are easily overlooked. Those of you in New Zealand, we have them in our backyards - not this fellow, he's an Altai Accentor from the Himalayas - but the dunnock, or hedge sparrow, belongs to this illustrious group. They are not sparrows, or even particularly closely related, having long thin sharp bills which are used for the collection of insects in summer, supplemented with berries and seeds in winter.

Once again, I'm drawing an animal-a-day, working through the list alphabetically. This is an Art Card and can be traded or puchased for NZ$10. Note me if you are interested.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Creature Feature #3: Abalone

Abalone is the common name given to a selection of marine Gastropods, that is to say, sea snails. They are characterised by having low spiral shells, several open respiratory pores and are also extremely edible. Not only is their flesh considered something of a delicacy, but once you scrape off the harsh protective colouring, their shell has a nifty mother-of-pearl (nacre) inlay which is desirable for jewllery. This fellow is a Red Abalone (with exaggerated colouration), but a famous New Zealand species is the paua.

This is my third animal ATC working through the list alphabetically, and I am as yet undecided with what I wish to do with them. If anyone is interested in trading me for any of these cards, or purchasing them (NZ$10 each), please let me know. If you have a favourite animal that you would like to see included on my Creature Feature, please also drop me a line and I shall make sure I do not overlook it when I get to that letter.

Next feature will be feathery in nature.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Creature Feature #2: Aardwolf

An Aardwolf is a hyena of petite and diminutive stature, who makes his home in the east and south of Africa. Despite being a predator, his main prey is termites, which he licks up with his long tongue, consuming as many as 200,000 a night.

When I was young and we had to do projects on animals, most folks in my class chose lions, tigers, bears and elephants - I always liked to choose the more obscure and interesting, and my favourite animal at that time was this wee guy. I would like to meet one, one day.

I think tomorrow it might be time for something that is not a mammal.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Creature Feature #1: Aardvark

I was introduced a couple of days ago to the blog My Zoetrope in which the artist is drawing an animal every day and working her way through them all in alphabetic order.

And I thought - that's a good idea, let's see how long I can make an animal ATC a day for (probably until early November, when I start working on my NaNoWriMo novel).

Anyhow, presenting #1 which is, of course, the Aardvark:

The Aardvark is a placental mammal from the Order Tubulidenta and is found in sub-Saharan Africa. It is characterised by having a long snout and tongue, and powerful claws, with which it rips apart termite mounds believe licking up the insects within.

Working alphabetically - who can guess what animal I shall be drawing tomorrow?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Battlecry Wolf turns 30

I have improved at drawing wolves.
Of course, an online step-by-step tutorial helped...


These four birds may share similar traits - long necks, long legs, semi-aquatic lifestyles, but they are not particularly closely related.
This is how convergent evolution works.

What we have here are:
Flamingo; Japaense Ibis
Saddle-Billed Stork; Demoiselle Crane

Friday, October 4, 2013

My Little Zombie Pony

Inspired by the amazing work of Cedric Laquieze, I bring to you "My Little Zombie Pony". She does not have a name, but maybe something with orchid would be appropriate, given her "cutie mark". Here she frolics through the meadows, in front of the castle, whilst observed by a started owl.

She measures 6x4 inches and was part of a Secret Halloween gift headed to Portland, Oregon.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My first (and probably last) World of Warcraft Commission

Commissioned by a friend of mine as a random gift for a friend of his.

Disclaimer: I have never played World of Warcraft and any thing I have rendered wrong is entirely due to my ignorance and not spending enough time researching the "gear" on the 'net.

Commission was for the character - a gnome mage, fishing with otters. I was giving references of gnome mages, the character, and how fishing looks on WoW. I was not, alas given references for the otters and only found the WoW style otters after I had inked them in. Man, the WoW critters are cute! I based the background on a New Zealand swamp forest.

I hope the intended recepient likes it.
(And isn't also a secret watcher of my blog, but that seems highly unlikely).

Based on my current commission rates, for a piece like this I would normally charge NZ$36 
(6x4 inches, 1 main character + 2 additional chars + complex background).
Just in case anyone is thinking of commissioning me.