Paper Wasp, Polistes fuscatus

Description

The paper wasp is a social wasp living in colonies, building its nest from wood fibres: hence the name “paper wasp.” However, paper wasp describes a number of species. Polistes fuscatus specifically is found on the North American continent and is common in the Midwest of the USA. Although it is commonly found in wooded areas, it can also be found in urban settings.

Process

As this is a side view of an insect, I was very concerned with accuracy of the morphology. Like with any scientific illustration, I spent time counting the number of segments in the thorax and legs, using multiple reference photographs and comparing my findings to descriptions of the species in field guides and scientific literature. The number of segments in the thorax seemed to vary when I counted from reference photographs and this was because one was often covered by an extension of another exoskeleton segment. The colour also varied from male to female, so this was important to pay attention to in the rendering. It was done with colour pencil on Duralene, by putting a multitude of layers of many colours to get such vibrancy. More colour was added on the back: complementary in the centre and analogous around the edges. Lastly, the shadow was done by rubbing graphite pencil on a different sheet of paper and brushing the excess graphite on the back of the Duralene lightly. It was quick and simple and not intrusive.