Paraphthona mostovslyi, Flea Beetle

Description

Very small flea beetle from the Chrysomelidae family. They are mainly found on plants on which they feed and are considered by some a pest. This illustration was part of a series for Alex Konstantinov’s research as an entomologist at the USDA.

Process

This illustration was generated from a couple specimens. It is always good to have several as they can get damaged and or have parts missing. Initial “sketches” were done from a camera lucida (microscope from which you can see both the drawing and specimen simultaneously). As per convention the femur is drawn from the dorsal view and the tibia can vary but mainly is done from the lateral view and the tarsi, again from the dorsal. Once the initial sketches are done for all the parts, I scan them onto the computer. From there I import the scan into Adobe Photoshop and make create all the individual parts as separate layers so that I can manipulate them. Once I have moved all the parts around so that I have a complete sketch, I draw a clean outline using a tapered brush in Adobe Photoshop. Special care must be taken over the joints to make sure they are correctly depicted. The next step is to add the punctations (pits) if there are any and the setae (hairs). As much care as possible must be taken over these as they are also important species identification characteristics. Once the outline, punctations and setae are in place the curator (Alex Konstantinov) checks the proportions and if need be corrections are made accordingly. Then the outline (and only the outline) is printed on coquille (textured paper) where a tone study is created. This is then scanned in and using the tone study and outlines, fully rendered in Adobe Photoshop. The punctations are emphasised and eemphasised accordingly to suggest curvature etc. The setae are brought in, lightened and darkened to prevent them becoming lost or overwhelmed.