My Private Reef is Ready for Viewing

Over my April break, I took some time to finish my saltwater coral reef illustration. If you’ve been visiting here for a while, you might remember me showing parts of it as I completed it. But work and life took over and it was put on the back burner. Now it is completed! Here it is:


This particular piece is very involved and I took inspiration from real corals and fish.

Can you find a giant clam, zebra moray eel, banded coral shrimp, sea star, clown fish, mandarinfish, longnose butterfly, banner fish, gamma fish, Angelfish, Pacific stinging sea nettle, sea snail, sea urchins, tube coral, brain coral, shelf coral, and lettuce coral? What else can you spot?

You won’t find all these in the same biome in nature but since this is my private reef, you can!

Here’s a mini breakdown of the process. Digital illustration using GIMP:


If you are so inclined, I sell this illustration at my zazzle shop, 1000 Words.

I’ve been lucky enough to scuba dive with several of this fish. Have you ever been scuba diving?

illustrations by me!

Share! It will make you happy, trust me.

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  1. That is really great! So vivid. It’s your virtual sea tank – you stock it with whatever you want.

    1. Thanks! And a great thing about this tank is nothing every dies.

  2. No scuba diving for me. I like your work. It’s colorful and eye-catching.

    1. Oh and I bet there are great places to dive in your neck of the woods! But snorkeling would be great too.

  3. You are one talented chick, that’s for sure. I have not seen your zazzle shop yet, but will check it out. Love the name. Zazzle.

    — Whisk

    1. Thanks. I love Zazzle. It’s fun.

  4. That is gorgeous! I love the depth of colors.

  5. So cool! Clarissa Draper has been giving GIMP tutorials on her blog. I don’t understand it at all. Sadly. Your illustrations are gorgeous 🙂

    1. Thanks. Clarissa does a good job at describing how to achieve different techniques.

  6. seems lovely, wish it was in bigger dimensions

    1. The actual piece is huge. You can see it larger at my zazzle shop. Try this page, then click the enlarge button.

  7. Oh, cool! And what an involved process of layering in the design. I would love to scuba dive, but I really am one of those people who was scared to death by Jaws. Won’t go in the water. You can get eaten in there. 🙂

    1. And fish nibble too…

  8. Wow, that’s stunning, Holly. I have a soft spot for fish and aquariums. I need to get one at some point. I miss it. 🙂 I had to give them all away when we moved across country.

    1. Me too. I could spend (and have) hours just looking in tanks at aquariums.

  9. I love to swim, but I’m claustrophobic, and the thought of diving leaves me a little queasy. Absolutely gorgeous illustration, Holly. Zazzle, here I come!

  10. Wow! I love that graphic! And I love how you showed the steps along the way. Too cool!

    Thanks for visiting my blog. 🙂

    1. Thanks and you’re welcome.

  11. That looks so cool. I have done scuba diving one. In Thailand. It was amazing!

    1. In Thailand! That’s awesome.

  12. You are very talented! Stunning. Absolutely stunning!

  13. I can’t go scuba diving. The pressure risks collapsing one of my lungs. 🙁

  14. WOW. The colors and choices are so vibrant and lovely. So cool how it all was put together. Great job!

  15. It’s beautiful! I love the colors and the sea. I’ve been snorkeling, which is tons of fun. Someday maybe I’ll go scuba diving. It’s on my bucket list!

  16. Love the colors! I also love coral reefs. Nicely done!

  17. It’s beautiful! So talented!!!!! 😀

  18. That is awesome! Great work HR. The colors just pop out 🙂

  19. Wow! So colorful!

    I love it, it’s beautiful!

  20. I love your reef. The process is fascinating!

  21. This is really great!

  22. Oh my! That is AMAZING!! You created that? Wow, you are on talented artist.

  23. wow that’s beautiful! And a lot of work! Impressive 🙂

  24. Hi Holly – it looks very clever .. you’re so talented .. and I love seeing what you’ve been creating … happy summer activities .. cheers Hilary

  25. Hi Holly .. sorry been tied up – so haven’t been to check re posting .. but it worked ok – as you see … and I unclicked the commentluv box – so my latest post didn’t show above .. then it clicked in and worked for this comment ..

    So I can comment – cheers Hilary

  26. hey there just dropping by to say hello!

  27. That is so cool! I’ve been scuba diving off Phi Phi Island. Loved it.

  28. gorgeous! i miss this place! been too long!

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