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Class Code
Module Title
Natural History Illustration Tutorial Module: Book Creation
Em-B1.12 (Elystan Morgan, Llanbadarn Campus)
Start Time
End Time
Start Date
End Date
Other Date(s)
Shepherd, Tereska(Ms)
£220.00 (concessions: £200.00)

Brief description

Develop the skills to create your own Natural History Illustration book or pamphlet through this exciting new multi-disciplinary module, ideal for keen illustrators and ecologists alike. This module will give students the opportunity to further develop observational and artistic skills gained in previous natural history illustration modules, as well as knowledge from previous ecology courses. You will be required to research a chosen subject(s) and develop a personal illustrative style which will culminate in the creation and production of a unique book. The course will include two sessions in the Aberystwyth University Digilab gaining digital imaging and book design skills with specialist tuition from Martin Crampin. Students will therefore acquire skills relevant for self-publication and for publicising their own work on websites, social networks and forums.
Printing costs are included for all fee-paying students, an additional £10 supplement will be required for non-paying students.


This module is at CQFW Level 4


Outline Scheme of Work
Session 1: Preliminary research and preparation
Discussion of potential project ideas with examples: Setting your statement of intent. Examples could include: contemporary illustrative ecology books, traditional herbal, Victorian journal/album, identification guides, children’s books, personal record of subject/ site specific natural history, documenting an ecology project, species seen at local nature reserve.
A Process: Overview of suggested process. Use of Lightroom.
Discussion: Studying and researching anatomy and ecology of subject
Observational line drawing techniques: mapping out, proportion, negative spaces, pen, ink an pencil.
Observational tonal drawing techniques: shading techniques, pen, ink, pencil, charcoal.
Tips for accurately gathering reference material for book text: reliable resources and referencing.

Home study:
Research and reflect on the type of illustrations / illustration books which inspire you or don’t. What do you like / don’t like about them? Make notes in your visual diary. Gather examples to share for the next class.
Write an outline proposal for your project (Statement of Intent)– subject, type of book, audience and possible style.
Research your subject – species anatomy, characteristics and habitats. Start to create diagrammatic, linear and tonal drawings.
Begin to research ecology of subject and gather potential reference books/resources, information for book text.

Session 2: Creating a unique and engaging book.

Discussion Tutorial: Inspiration, sharing of inspiration / book examples. Successful and less successful examples.
Activity followed by discussion: In groups discuss and write down what you think the properties of engaging books/illustrations and properties of less engaging books and illustrations.
Time for students to write down outcomes of discussion and reflect on the discussion.
Individual Student Tutorials: Discussing project ideas and research/drawings created so far.
Technique troubleshooting:
Research observational drawing techniques that seem to be commonly problematic.
Questions & Answers.
Seeing the Unseen: Scale and magnification. Microscope and electron microscope images, working down a lens.
Creating research study pages for each species.

Home study:
Begin to create A3 study pages for each species to be included in book – drawing structure and anatomy, tonal drawing. Leave space for colour and texture studies and notes on ecology.
Further reflect upon characteristics of successful and engaging books, annotate examples.
Continue compiling information/ potential text for book

Session 3: Working from Life
Demonstrations and activities:
Sketching techniques in the field: the importance of looking. Capturing the GISS of subject, outline form, silhouettes, negative spaces. Mark making in charcoal, pencil and pen.
Drawing from Memory: 2mins looking at a subject, 60 seconds drawing. 1 min looking, 30 seconds drawing etc…
Speedy drawing: 30 secs drawing, 1 min drawing, 2 min drawing, 5 min drawing, 10 mins drawing.
Drawing and observing movement: Gaining an understanding of the subject: depicting multiple poses and drawing a moving form – shapes, space, angles and lines. Wildlife often changes and resumes a pose multiple times enabling several positions to be sketched over a period of time.
Drawing from videos: gaining experience depicting moving subjects.
Activity: In groups discuss and write down pros and cons of working from life verses photographs.
Group Discussion: Discuss outcomes of activity. Suggested tips for taking successful photographs.

Home study:
Continue to explore techniques covered during the session and gather reference material including photographs and drawings. Create as many sketches from life as possible.
Continue to compile information/ potential text for book
Research and begin to reflect on illustrative styles which inspire, bring in examples for seminar next session.

Session 4: Finding your illustrative style
Seminar: Illustrative Styles. Mark making. Choosing your materials – paper type, media type(s)
Potential examples to include: pen and ink, pen and watercolour, pencil / charcoal & watercolour, watercolour and mixed media.
Bringing subject to life on page.
Answering student’s questions relating to techniques / approaches to these styles.
Reflection: opportunity for students to further reflect on and experiment with styles discussed in seminar.
Group critique: Sharing studies, techniques and ideas developed so far.
Technique Troubleshooting:
Addressing any common problems and technical issues that have arisen from group tutorial.

Home study:
Continue explore techniques and experiment with different styles for accurately depicting subjects including colours, textures and form.
Continue to add to research study pages for each species: colour studies, texture studies, close up studies of more complex aspects of species. Colour illustration of insect as whole.
Continue to observe and sketch subject from life on chosen subject.
Decide upon the illustrative style which you wish to use for your book illustrations and create more resolved illustrations for your book.
Session 5: Selection and development
Group Tutorial/ critique: Sharing and selecting potential illustrations created to use in book. Studies which were more/less successful. Balancing tone – looking at black & white copies of paintings.
Activity: Composition. In groups students discuss and reflect upon examples of different compositions of images and text within books: pros and cons of different compositions.
Group Discussion: groups share their thoughts and reflections.
Consideration to:
Importance of Space
Positioning of text.
Practical time: students to make notes on/ think about composition within their illustrations/book and continue working on content for their book.
Individual tutorials will also be carried out throughout this session to further discuss student’s selection of artwork for the book, any technical/ technique issues which have arisen and give feedback.

Home study:
Continue to develop and complete illustrations and text ready for book creation.
Please bring all text and images to next session.

Sessions 6:
Individual Tutorials will also be carried out throughout this session to further discuss student’s individual project progression and give feedback. Proofing of student’s text for book.
Techniques for mapping / planning book:
Diagrams and sketches
Photocopy and collage

Laying out books in Lightroom – understanding the potential of the software, and its limitations tips from IT tutor. Study the Lightroom book layout templates.
Students to create initial plan for layout of books.
Outline plan, aims and outcomes of Lightroom session with IT tutor in Aberystwyth.

Home study:
Complete and prepare all illustrations and text ready for Lightroom sessions in Aberystwyth University Digilab.

Session 7: Lightroom Workshop Part 1: Preparing and editing images (Digilab Aberytwyth)

Photographing and scanning artwork
Understanding the best way to digitise your artwork – when is photography better than scanning?

Introduction to Lightroom package: managing image libraries, importing images to Lightroom

Editing images in Lightroom:
Understanding colour in digital imaging, importance of white balance for colour matching.
Adjusting light and dark areas to recover detail in highlights and shadows.
Image adjustments and retouching using Lightroom.
Colour conversion

Home study: Finish preparing all digital images and text for book. Finalise design/ layout plan for book.

Session 8: Lightroom workshop part 2: Constructing and completing books (Digilab Aberystwyth)

Working on book and one to one teaching with tutor and student
Making use of book layout templates and creative use of images within the limitations of Lightroom.
Understanding typography and design.

Session 9: Book assessment and feedback
Assessment, discussion and evaluation of printed books.
How well do the completed books meet expectations?
How would the students alter their approach/techniques if making another book?
Ideas for future projects.


This module is at CQFW Level 4

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