The assumption is that the advanced botanical illustration student is proficient in drawing but there is always room to practice and learn a little more. The drawing and techniques based modules are intended to support your portfolio work, so this module can include drawings from other work that you are developing or wish to develop on a plant of your choice. These are the type of preparatory drawings that should be made for all botanical illustrations.
The primary aim of drawing in botanical illustration is to create clean and clear illustrations. The drawing should have no areas that are confused and the viewer should be able to understand what they are looking at. Drawing often takes lots of adjustments and it is expected that there will be a lot of erasing - so always work very lightly with a well sharpened pencil that is not too soft as this will enable you to keep the drawing clean. The better your measuring is the less erasing will be required.
Line drawings should be clear, enlargements should be made where appropriate, i.e. if parts are small
Tonal drawings should not rely on any outline but should have sufficient tonal values to create the form.
Lets begin with the basic skills in observational line drawing. This is often assumed to be the simplest for of illustration but can actually be the most challenging to create clean flowing lines, particularly where perspective is involved.
Begin by working through the Drawing Tutorial to give you an insight into drawing and complete the exercises in it for me to assess. The subject can be any of your choice and you can use on elf your portfolio choice subjects to complete this.
The password is: DrawingMaster20
Complete the following exercises:
Choosing one subject complete drawings of various parts as directed, use a live subject for this activity and not photographs. The drawings can be completed in your sketchbook or on loose sheets, guidance on materials is given in the tutorial. When submitting the drawings please include photographs of the subject and the plant name. if you need advice, please contact me.
Part 1 Line Drawing:
In this exercise you do not need to worry about perfect clean line drawings, accuracy is the priority.
1. A measured leaf portrait, of the front and back of a leaf, showing the correct venation, margin, tip and base.
This is a face on view of a leaf with no perspective. Like the one shown below
2. Perspective drawings of the same leaf. Make 3 or 5 drawings of the same leaf at different angles using line. Be careful to ensure that the venation is correct as well as the outlines.
3. Measured flower drawings, make front side and back view drawings as well as at least one drawing of the flower at and angle, so with perspective. You may also make drawings of the individual flower parts, such as petals and reproductive parts. This will give you a good understanding of the flowers on your plant.
4. Drawing larger plant parts now that you have drawn several parts of the plant you can start to look at larger sections of the plant with connections, as shown in the Tutorial. Make a drawing including several parts on a stem including leaves and a bud or flower.
Part 2 Tonal Drawing
1. A continuous tone drawing. Add tone to one of the line flower drawings in Part 1. 4. Again use the tutorial for guidance.
Photograph the line drawing before adding tone or alternatively you can copy the line drawing by transferring and to have two versions.
About continuous tone: the finish in this type of drawing should be smooth with tonal differences between parts being clear. You should use directional lighting, work form a live subject but also take reference photographs to assist you. Before starting look at your subject carefully and decide which parts are lighter and which parts are darker, also be clear about your light source, it should be clear to see where the lighting is coming from on the subject.
Once you have completed all of the exercises, email them to me at
Case study images to follow