Naturalist illustration is a discipline which rose up in the great explorations epoch. In those days, scientists and artists became part of the new world exploration teams. Their mission was record all the unknown species and try to understand the patterns of the new world nature. Those illustrations not only represented the discovered species fisionomy, but also the environment of the new areas. To do that, in addition to rigorous representations, it was also important to pay attention to the composition, the light on the elements and other artistic elements. The resultant works respond to an architectonic style, what means that they stand out for copying the details of each element from the simple observation.

In this way, naturalist illustration is considered closer to realism or even to hyperrealism than to scientific illustration. Naturalist illustrations search for the harmony in compositions from the represented elements and the used colours point of view. In this way, resultant works have not to be necessarily trustworthy to the reality but they do to a personal author’s point of view. Therefores, naturalist illustration is characterised by exploring themes related to the nature, like life and biodiversity representations.

Therefore, what differences naturalist illustration from any artistic portrait of the nature. The finality. A naturalist illustration transmits a certain message about the represented element.


Main differences regarding scientific illustration

Scientific and naturalist illustrations can be considered as close disciplines from the thematic view (both treat themes related to the nature) but very distant regarding their aim. While naturalist illustration tries to represent an element in its environment or its context, scientific illustration has a more specific objective. For instance, to illustrate a process, schematize a part of a living being or show elements invisible for the human eye. In this way, naturalist  illustration can take some licences which would be impossible in a scientific illustration. That happens because the first one is based on the observation and the second one on the study and documentation of the represented elements.


Hedgehog – Sara Domínguez Sainz