The Magic of the Rain Forest

by | Apr 8, 2020

rain forest image with several animals laying around

Last week I released my first online reading of ‘The Magic in the Rain Forest‘ on YouTube.

This is a Brazilian creation story, which Naomi Alder retells the story in her picture book, ‘The Barefoot Book of Animal Tales From Around the World.’

‘Magic in the Rain Forest’ beautifully speaks of how the rainforest was born from the magic of old wise trees. Later it recites how the jaguar, the largest feline native to the Americas, gained their beautiful eyes. The cat’s keen eyesight is an important characteristic, as enables them to hunt at night. After a snake takes Jaguar’s eyes, an old wise tree helps him by using magic to call Harpy Eagle, a rare and critically endangered bird who lives in forested areas of Central and South America.

While myths carry universal symbols and archetypes, their magic and insight become more potent when both the storyteller and their listeners know intimately the landscape: that means they know the intrinsic qualities of each animal, reptile, insect and plant that lives in it. When this foundational knowledge then enables deeper layers of understanding to be revealed. It also helps to create a deeper sense of connection and belonging.

To help bring this magical landscape to life on the screen, I created digital illustration frames. I wanted the animals to look quite realistic. While at home, and in quarantine, I entered the worlds of the tapir, the jaguar, the armadillo, the quetzal and the other creatures of the rainforest watching videos on YouTube. Using these videos as a reference, I then drew gestural sketches. In natural history illustration, a gestural sketch is a quick and rather loose way of sketching flora and fauna to help capture their form and also the way they move. From these sketches, I then created contour and colour images of the animals using the Adobe Illustrator.

I hope you enjoy the reading. I created an educational bundle for myth to encourage children to unpack these stories I will be sharing and also a free Harpy Eagle colouring page. These are available from my shop.

Naomi Alder’s book ‘The Barefoot Book of Animal Tales From Around the World’ was published by Barefoot Books. For more information, go to their website.

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