3 June 2020

#DrawnToGeoscience: Go Forth and Science

Posted by Shane Hanlon

A description of a giant acorn barnacle. Credit: Kate Hruby

#DrawnToGeoscience is a series of posts by artists who draw about science and explain their process and inspiration while also showcasing their pieces. Learn more about contributing. This week, Kate Hruby. 

Art is a thing I was really into when I was younger; I was totally that kid who took art classes outside of school, drew on napkins (and myself), and doodled in the margins of all my notebooks. But then I went to college, got sucked into the wonderful world of science, and let drawing fall off my list of usual activities. When it came to science communication and learning though, I still always loved the media that had an artistic element. I loved picturesque nature documentaries and short animated science videos. Once I finished my master’s, I figured it was well past time for me to get back into drawing, and this time, I’d draw about science.

Really all my inspiration comes from how much I love nature. Whether I’m drawing about plate tectonics or barnacles, it all comes from the fact that every time I step outside, my whole body goes “oh my goodness this is just so cool!”

Lately I’ve been doing all my drawing on my computer with a drawing tablet and programs like Photoshop or Inkscape. It took me awhile to get used to looking at a drawing that was happening on a screen, rather than a notebook, but it makes it a lot easier to manipulate the drawing to fit a specific space (like for social media posts). I start in Photoshop with a basic sketch, then go over that with a clearer line which becomes my final outline for the cartoon. Next, I fill it with basic colors. And then comes my favorite part: shading! It’s always fun for me to add depth to a drawing with lighter and darker colors, since it changes the whole feeling of the picture. When I’m satisfied with the drawing, I’ll transfer it over to Inkscape, add words or background shapes, and voila!

The series I’ve been working on lately is more marine biology than geoscience focused: I’ve been building character profiles for sea creatures (I included a couple here, and more can be found at www.goforthandscience.com/graphics). But I also have fun with tectonics and glaciers! The first drawing is for a podcast episode I did about mantle processes and plate tectonics, and the second shows Seattle under the ice that had been present in Washington State during the last glacial maximum. 

Kate Hruby is Chief Mate at Deep Green Wilderness, Inc., and an artist with Go For and Science. Find her on Twitter and Instagram