Natural history illustration

Course Dates: 15/02/19 - 22/03/19
Time: 09:45 - 12:45
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Tutor: Joanne Roberts

Learn how to capture wildlife on paper, from fossils to fleeting birds and butterflies. Gain skills using a variety of different media including digital. Includes trips to the Natural History Museum.

See what you could create – view a small selection of work made on this course


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  • Natural history illustration

Natural history illustration

  • Natural history illustration

What is the course about?

This course guides you through the basic techniques of careful observation, pencil drawing and mixing colours to the more advanced skills ranging from creating depth and perspective to rendering detail, texture and pattern in a wide range of natural subjects. The course also includes guidance on how to use a digital camera and image editing software to enhance your observations and present your illustrations at a professional level.

What previous students liked most about their course:

“Informally instructional, so not too much time on explanation etc. Allowed and encouraged to develop and experiment at own pace and outside class. Supportive while still offering advice.”
“Enjoyed the field trip. Was lovely to get inspiration from the environment around me. “
“I have achieved good tips for putting together a portfolio and selling work. “
“Teachers flexible and supportive attitude and expertise.”
“A sense of achievement in a relaxed atmosphere.”


What will we cover?

- Keeping a sketch book
- Drawing from nature and photographs
- Colour Mixing
- Painting
- Rendering details and textures, patterns of skin, fur, claws, feathers and scales.
- Using digital technology in combination with hand drawn images
- Putting together an illustration portfolio.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Draw natural history subjects with accuracy
- Mix colours to correspond with observed colours
- Successfully execute tonal gradation, texture and pattern
- Use digital technology to enhance your illustrations
- Present a portfolio of natural history illustrations.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is suitable for beginners and starts at an introductory level. Experienced students can also gain from the advanced aspects of the course and the professional guidance.

You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion. You should be able to use numbers and be able to do simple measurements and calculations.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

You will be taught with workshops, short lectures, practical exercises, tutorials and hand-outs. There will be a trip to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington on the third week. You will be required to keep a sketchbook outside the class.
Please note the City Lit uses Apple Mac computers in Digital arts, Graphics & Illustration and Photography.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You will need a sketchbook, roughly A5 in size.

If you would like to buy art materials for your personal use outside of the course, City Lit students receive 10% discount off everything* from Cass Art, the UK's leading art supplies retailer. Your tutor will advise you on what you should buy. You will need to show your enrolment receipt in-store to receive your discount. Visit the Charing Cross shop at 13 Charing Cross Road WC2H 0EP or find your local shop at *Terms and conditions apply, visit

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Customer Reviews 1 item(s)

Write a review
I took this course in June this year - 2018, and was thrilled with the pace and style of teaching. The tutor is a well established and super talented artist who patiently takes you through many different exercises in drawing and painting as well as building in a field trip to the Natural History Museum, and covering some aspects of presenting your work digitally over the 6 weeks. I especially liked the idea of having a personal project and homework on the go along side the short course which allows you to get the most out of it.
Course Rating
Review by Zoe / (Posted on 25/07/2018)

Book your place

Course Code: VK440

Fri, day, 15 Feb - 22 Mar '19

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)

Full fee: £179.00
Senior fee: £143.00
Concession: £109.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

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Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2700/2703

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.