Herbalist’s Primer: Here’s to a good start!

by Anna Urbanek

Imagine that: I’m 20% done.

Well, not really – but I’ve finished twentieth plant entry from the planned hundred, and I think it calls for a celebration. Or, at least, for noting it in a blog post for future reference.

If you haven’t heard of the project, Herbalist’s Primer is my pet project: an illustrated guide to real-world magical plants. It’s a guide for beginner herbalists, magicians, witches, and alchemists. It’s an exercise in whimsy: a mix of honest-to-science botany, even more enjoyable ethnobotany and folklore, the modern occult, and a completely fantastical resource for tabletop roleplaying and writing fantasy novels.

I like my hobbies eclectic.

It all started in May, because I was going slightly off-course because of the pandemic. Now, I’m writing a book. The plant entries, like the one on Calendula above, are not all that there’s going to be in the book, but they’re the most time-consuming part, as I both write and illustrate them at the same time.

And today, I did entry #20. A pretty good one, if I say so myself.

I have learnt so much in the four months.

  • digital watercolors aren’t that hard
  • clean layout and accessibility will always be more important for me than the fanciness
  • I don’t know enough about botany, but I will know quite a bit at the end of this book
  • quality takes time, and I better find it

At the moment, I’m spending about five hours every day, working on this project. On top of my full-time graphic design work, kids, house upkeep, and some other stuff. But you know what?

It’s worth it. I love this project. I have never been so excited about anything else I’ve made.

I hope you love it too.


Here’s your regular reminder that you can read all of the entries from the Primer and get the illustrations as commercial-license stock art on our Patreon, where we’ve just passed the 25 Patrons milestone.

We love them all. Join us!

A banner with the link to the Double Proficiency's Patreon page

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