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University of Newcastle

Drawing Nature, Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101

University of Newcastle via edX

This course may be unavailable.


Whether an aspiring scientific or medical illustrator or someone who enjoys drawing nature's wonders, this first-of-its-kind MOOC course is for you.

The field of Natural History Illustration is about observing and illustrating subjects from nature, science and culture, with their linkages to the environment being central.

Our natural world is a fascinating place. Being able to observe and replicate it through illustration provides insights into life that can change how we think about ourselves and our surroundings.

You will learn essential skills and techniques that form the base for creating accurate and stunning replications of subjects from the natural world. This art and culture course is suitable for people looking to enter the illustration discipline as a serious pursuit or just looking to explore a passion.

As world-standard instructors, we will show you practical ways to develop your skills from the outset. Step by step, we will cover the fundamentals of Natural History Illustration, from the first observation of a subject in the field to the final replication in the studio.

This online course will teach you enduring skills that can be used in many different ways. Join us to explore, observe and draw the natural world and become part of a scientific tradition steeped in history.


Week 1: Introduction
Introduction to course and overview of NHI of historical and contemporary practice to set the scene for an immersive skills building experience.

Week 2: Observational drawing
Introduction to Natural History Illustration methods and demonstration on observational drawing.

Week 3: Field sketching and recording techniques
Introduction to working in the field and recording subjects and their environmental surroundings quickly and accurately.

Week 4: The structure of flowers and leaves
Understanding plant anatomy.

Week 5: The structure of mammals and birds
Understanding animal anatomy.

Week 6: Rendering
Creating finished artworks.

Taught by

Dr. Andrew Howells and Dr. Bernadette Drabsch


5.0 rating, based on 2 Class Central reviews

4.1 rating at edX based on 15 ratings

Start your review of Drawing Nature, Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101

  • Anonymous
    From a beginner's point of view, the Natural History Illustration 101 presented itself as a very clear, well structured, easy to digest MOOC with relevant yet succinct content. I enjoyed the course because it provided me with a different perspective on how to look at things to draw.
  • Profile image for Tao Barry
    Tao Barry
    I decided to give myself a challenge with this year s course 2022.
    I found this course enlightening , intense and very enjoyable. I was out of my comfort zone in the beginning but soon settled into the stride, every week was a different learning curve, and made you want to draw something different from what you have ever done before. the critique from your peers was very helpful and very encouraging. which of course made me want to try harder.
    I would recommend this course to anyone who likes a challenge.

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