Trading Colours

Finally! Some ideas!

I’ve been experimenting with swapping elements of the species I’m looking at, like their colour and appearance. The idea spanned from considering how society would respond to pigeons if they had the plumage of exotic birds, despite still being pigeons underneath the colourful exterior. My initial spark for this came from the aforementioned collaboration between Julius von Bismarck and Julian Charrière focusing on the palettes of pigeons and painting them to create a public spectacle. Whether the intent behind this is similar to mine, I don’t know, but it can certainly be used as an example of what I am hoping to achieve.

I wanted to show that, despite whatever pretty and colourful exterior an animal may have, it doesn’t hold it’s value above those who are slightly more grey or a bit darker, pigeons seemed to be a prime example. To prototype this idea, I chose two highly contrasting animals: The Californian Condor and a Fiery Throated Hummingbird; one is, of course, more appealing to the general public than the other.

Using Adobe Kuler – a swatch making and palette generating website I fell in love with a while back – I created limited colour palettes from images of each animal and used this as a basis to swap the colours of each animal, while maintaining their shape and structure.

condor_2 hummer_2


Below is a more finalised realisation of this. I draw the two birds with graphite, scanned it in then digitally painted the colours with custom chalk brushes and other dry medium brushed to maintain the texture the graphite gave them originally.

I quite like the images, I think they are visually strong enough, but it’s still not quite the right impact or way to communicate what I want to communicate.

I still like the idea behind it; bring to the audience’s attention the level of value placed on an animal because of the most fickle and unimportant reasons (appearance) but I don’t think this is the right way to reflect that. Perhaps I could try other methods of showing this idea, but I get the feeling it could be a waste of time and I’d end up producing something in a rush that I’m still not happy with. It’s also moving away from an element of illustration that I’d love to incorporate into the project; scientific illustration.


Since writing my dissertation on the subject, I’ve wanted to play around with scientific illustration’s aesthetics within this project. I’ve always loved the visual appeal of scientific illustration, modern and early, and my dissertation has reaffirmed my desire to use it visually in my BA8 outcomes.

But my plans with what exactly to do with its style and technique, first came from coming across this amazing render of a lioness by Hermann Dittrich. Using his work as a base for the method behind creating scientific illustration, I definitely think I’m going to be exploring this route more and seeing where it can take me. If it leads me down a road that involves the swapping of colour palettes, then that’s great! If not, then the aesthetic will still be more appealing and better suited to my ideas in the first place.

Hermann Dittrich


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