Drawing Nature, Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101

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10/10 stars
based on  94 reviews
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Cost FREE
Start Date On demand
Drawing Nature, Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101

Course Details

Cost

FREE

Upcoming Schedule

  • On demand

Course Provider

edX online courses
Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Berkeley, are just some of the schools that you have at your fingertips with edX. Through massive open online courses (MOOCs) from the world's best universities, you can develop your knowledge in literature, math, history, food and nutrition, and more. These online classes are taught by highly-regarded experts in the field. If you take a class on computer science through Harvard, you may be tau...
Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Berkeley, are just some of the schools that you have at your fingertips with edX. Through massive open online courses (MOOCs) from the world's best universities, you can develop your knowledge in literature, math, history, food and nutrition, and more. These online classes are taught by highly-regarded experts in the field. If you take a class on computer science through Harvard, you may be taught by David J. Malan, a senior lecturer on computer science at Harvard University for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. But there's not just one professor - you have access to the entire teaching staff, allowing you to receive feedback on assignments straight from the experts. Pursue a Verified Certificate to document your achievements and use your coursework for job and school applications, promotions, and more. EdX also works with top universities to conduct research, allowing them to learn more about learning. Using their findings, edX is able to provide students with the best and most effective courses, constantly enhancing the student experience.

Provider Subject Specialization
Sciences & Technology
Business & Management
21575 reviews

Course Description

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 b...

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.

Reviews 10/10 stars
94 Reviews for Drawing Nature, Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101

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Laura Stark profile image
Laura Stark profile image

Laura Stark

10/10 starsCompleted
1 year, 3 months ago
The instructors were great. There was a lot of information packed into each week with lists for further study. I am a beginner and was still encouraged with the progress I made during the 6 weeks of the course.
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Christine Mackinder profile image
Christine Mackinder profile image

Christine Mackinder

10/10 starsCompleted
1 year, 3 months ago
A beautifully presented course which taught me that realistic drawing is about observation and practice. Since the course finished I have continued drawing keeping in mind the helpful hints from instructors and comments from fellow participants. My drawings are improving all the time.
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Rosa Smith profile image
Rosa Smith profile image

Rosa Smith

10/10 starsCompleted
1 year, 3 months ago
What an excellent course. The videos, content, and quality were top-notch. Because of the competence of the instructors, the content is easy to follow: a highly professional teacher pulls and pushes students beyond what is expected. Therefore, I highly recommend this: you will learn to draw or -- if you have already begun, you will quickly draw with more skill.
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Jen Grace profile image
Jen Grace profile image

Jen Grace

10/10 starsCompleted
1 year, 3 months ago
What an amazing course - I highly recommend! I was amazed at what I was able to draw as a beginner!! Excellent instructors!
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ramon Pineda profile image
ramon Pineda profile image

ramon Pineda

8/10 starsCompleted
1 year, 3 months ago
This is a very nice course for people with skills in draw, people with passion for nature and quite patient and ready to do and redo. This course will help to improve our perception of reality, by observation and representation.
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Suzette Hartwell profile image
Suzette Hartwell profile image

Suzette Hartwell

10/10 starsCompleted
1 year, 3 months ago
Brilliant, instructive course with a plethora of invaluable resources. Very good instructors who speak gently, encouragingly and I felt part of a drawing 'community' while on this course. I wish to thank the instructors for their encouragement and commitment to help bring out the best in others. I also thank the University of Newcastle for making this online course available in this format. Bravo!
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Kristina McGuire profile image
Kristina McGuire profile image

Kristina McGuire

10/10 starsCompleted
1 year, 3 months ago
I have always had an interest in the Natural World and in drawing and painting and was thrilled when my sister sent me details of this course. It has exceeded my expectations. The Instructors are excellent and support information clearly presented and inspiring. I did have technical difficulties in the beginning and found that the Ipad is not conducive to downloading material but I had no such difficulties on the PC. I am employed full time and so had to keep focused to complete the assignments in the allotted time. I enjoy reviewing the course even now it has finished. I loved the Peer review and seeing the work of fellow students from all over the world.
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Brigitte Staples profile image
Brigitte Staples profile image

Brigitte Staples

8/10 starsCompleted
1 year, 3 months ago
For me, this course exceeded expectations. It helped to enrol for the verified certificate to stay motivated. I was able to engage for the duration - immersed in the production of drawings, exercises and online discussions. The videos were very clear and informative, feedback from peers engaging, and overall I gained skills to take away with me and continue in my drawing practice. Don't think that because this is an online course you can cruise! You will be challenged to do your best and give it your all, and you won't be disappointed with your improvement if you do!
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Miriam van Veen profile image
Miriam van Veen profile image

Miriam van Veen

10/10 starsDropped
1 year, 3 months ago
This course is very informative and I have learned a lot from it. Also from seeing the work from peers. The course had very clear learning material, youtube films, examples, instructions and lots of inspirations. Thank you so much. I did not start to have a certificate but to study botanical illustration as a relative beginner. So I did focus on that part of the course.
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Shirley Sykes profile image
Shirley Sykes profile image

Shirley Sykes

8/10 starsTaking Now
1 year, 3 months ago
I enrolled in this course a few times however did not get any emails to say it had started only on Facebook group so disappointed that once I found the course it only had a week or two left before it had finished for this time. I was under the impression that you could start and finish in your own time but I suppose there has to be some sort of deadline for getting feedback on your work when you enter it for marking. I am waiting patiently for the next round hopefully not too much longer
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Sharon Kenny profile image
Sharon Kenny profile image

Sharon Kenny

10/10 starsDropped
1 year, 4 months ago
Unfortunately I had to drop this very interesting course, as I started late and wasn't informed that I could no longer complete my assignments as the due dates had passed. Other courses I have done have enabled me to complete assignments at anytime. I was able to obtain a refund, however was a little disappointed that I couldn't complete the course. Maybe next time :(
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Morgan R profile image
Morgan R profile image

Morgan R

10/10 starsDropped
1 year, 4 months ago
I sadly had to drop the course b/c I hadn't realized that starting an ongoing course super late would effect me. I thought I would get six weeks like the current ended courses I had been taking. Luckily I was able to get a refund, but I just wanted to let people know so they didn't make the same mistake as me. The course itself was lovely though and if I had started it even three weeks in I would have been okay. Hopefully I'll be able to acquire a verified certificate even after it has closed.
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Isobel Reid profile image
Isobel Reid profile image

Isobel Reid

10/10 starsTaking Now
1 year, 4 months ago
This course is what I have been looking for exactly for such a long time. I have not completed any of the homework tasks for peer assessment as I am just learning the skills. I will be the first to enrol in this course the next time it is offered, and between now and then my basic drawing skills will be enhanced. The further resources provided at the end of each week will be my resources for developing skills.
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Andrés Rodríguez Ramírez profile image
Andrés Rodríguez Ramírez profile image

Andrés Rodríguez Ramírez

10/10 starsCompleted
1 year, 10 months ago
It is a super interesting course, applicable to the professional life of any designer or artist that passionate illustration. Unfortunately and for work reasons I could not complete this course, I would like to know when they reopen it to take it as it should be! A big hug for everyone!
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Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
1 year, 11 months ago
I mostly enjoyed this course - I enjoy drawing although I don't do it very often and hadn't taken a formal art class since I was a child. The assignments were challenging but really helped me improve - looking at my final assignment, I still can't quite believe I drew it! I didn't realize until afterwards that this was the first time this course had been offered through EdX. That helped to explain some of the things I didn't like as much about the course, and I hope that further offerings will make improvements. I think this course could really benefit from being divided into sections based on skill/experience - as a beginner it was quite daunting to see expert-level drawings posted in the forums and peer assessments. And indeed, I think my work was sometimes unfairly judged by some in the peer assessments because it wasn't as skilled or high-quality as many of the others' work. Perhaps an initial questionnaire about drawing abil... I mostly enjoyed this course - I enjoy drawing although I don't do it very often and hadn't taken a formal art class since I was a child. The assignments were challenging but really helped me improve - looking at my final assignment, I still can't quite believe I drew it! I didn't realize until afterwards that this was the first time this course had been offered through EdX. That helped to explain some of the things I didn't like as much about the course, and I hope that further offerings will make improvements. I think this course could really benefit from being divided into sections based on skill/experience - as a beginner it was quite daunting to see expert-level drawings posted in the forums and peer assessments. And indeed, I think my work was sometimes unfairly judged by some in the peer assessments because it wasn't as skilled or high-quality as many of the others' work. Perhaps an initial questionnaire about drawing ability/experience could help place students into groupings where they would feel more comfortable. One of the weekly e-mails from the instructors even acknowledged that the course included beginners as well as professional natural history illustrators, which doesn't really seem fair for anyone in terms of instruction level and peer assessment. If the course continues to throw everyone in together, my advice to future students would be to consider how well you are able to integrate with artists of wildly different skill levels.
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Phyllis Dermer profile image
Phyllis Dermer profile image

Phyllis Dermer

9/10 starsDropped
1 year, 11 months ago
I loved this course and recommended it to friends. As someone who had never even tried to draw before, it was a fascinating experience. I loved the feedback from other participants. The course progressed too rapidly for me and I would have been better off with just the first several modules in an expanded format. I found the format easy once I got used to it. I hoped for more instruction. The final modules were too advanced for my skill level so I followed them but did not submit work.
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Lori Smith profile image
Lori Smith profile image

Lori Smith

8/10 starsTaking Now
2 years ago
This overview course provides a delightful taste of what natural history illustration is all about. I enjoy not only the information that is presented, but also interacting with the other participants as we worked out how to address the assignments. There is a wide range of talent and skill represented in the group taking part in online discussions, which may intimidate newbies and/or disappoint the more advanced. Yet, for its absolute inclusiveness for all comers it is hard to beat. There is something for everyone. While assessment criteria is open to some interpretation, many express that they learn as much from assessing the work of others as they do from doing their own work. Once we all worked out the platform (which also had a few technical glitches) it was easy enough to settle in. The team behind the course is helpful and responsive. Given this is not a course for university credit, and certification is Pass/Fail, it is not... This overview course provides a delightful taste of what natural history illustration is all about. I enjoy not only the information that is presented, but also interacting with the other participants as we worked out how to address the assignments. There is a wide range of talent and skill represented in the group taking part in online discussions, which may intimidate newbies and/or disappoint the more advanced. Yet, for its absolute inclusiveness for all comers it is hard to beat. There is something for everyone. While assessment criteria is open to some interpretation, many express that they learn as much from assessing the work of others as they do from doing their own work. Once we all worked out the platform (which also had a few technical glitches) it was easy enough to settle in. The team behind the course is helpful and responsive. Given this is not a course for university credit, and certification is Pass/Fail, it is not difficult to pass if directions are followed. Even so, it reminded me of the rigour required in obtaining a degree and was an excellent taste of what to expect should one decide to pursue further training in this arena. Kudos to the creators and moderators in developing a taster course on something by its very nature is filled with diversity, beauty and challenge. I would enjoy taking more courses from UoN along this line and I enjoyed being part of this first foray for UoN into delivering a MOOC even with the inevitable hiccups. It is refreshing to see art and science reunited.
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Nora Ewer profile image
Nora Ewer profile image

Nora Ewer

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years ago
I loved this class. It focused on practical ways to improve my artwork, rather than acting as though art is merely talent and all art is good. I hear that soft of thing so often, this course was refreshing. Once you realize that there is such a thing as a poorly executed drawing, you can begin to improve. I feel like I did improve significantly. I like doing classes on edX because they are free and there isn't the pressure of tests etc. I did choose to get the certificate for this course, but even so doing the assignments on this course was very relaxing.
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Janell Simpson profile image
Janell Simpson profile image

Janell Simpson

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years ago
I thoroughly enjoyed exploring a creative discipline that I had never before even contemplated. As a trained naturalist, I always wanted to sketch my observations, but lacked the confidence, tools, and occasion to do so. The course instructors encouraged students to explore our abilities with just the right amount of challenge. I definitely surpassed my initial sketches and plan to continue to learn about landscape and bird sketching.
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Belinha Fernandes profile image
Belinha Fernandes profile image

Belinha Fernandes

8/10 starsCompleted
2 years ago
It was my third MOOC and by the second Module I was very disappointed. As a beginner without any experience in this particular kind of illustration I felt this module was too demanding and that there wasn't enough guidance on how to use graphite. I wanted step by step tutorials and more practical approach. But I got it from other sources, namely my peers and from my own search on the web. That was my hardest week. I wanted to give up. But as a consequence I learned a lot. That was just a bump on the road.From that moment on I felt more motivated and by the last Module I was more satisfied with the course. I even got to enjoy my final illustration. I made progress.I enrolled to re-start drawing and I made it. After 25 years I feel I still can do it. I feel I will look at Nature differently from now on and I have plans to draw more, so much more. So, in conclusion, it worked just fine. Congratulations to the team that put it together ... It was my third MOOC and by the second Module I was very disappointed. As a beginner without any experience in this particular kind of illustration I felt this module was too demanding and that there wasn't enough guidance on how to use graphite. I wanted step by step tutorials and more practical approach. But I got it from other sources, namely my peers and from my own search on the web. That was my hardest week. I wanted to give up. But as a consequence I learned a lot. That was just a bump on the road.From that moment on I felt more motivated and by the last Module I was more satisfied with the course. I even got to enjoy my final illustration. I made progress.I enrolled to re-start drawing and I made it. After 25 years I feel I still can do it. I feel I will look at Nature differently from now on and I have plans to draw more, so much more. So, in conclusion, it worked just fine. Congratulations to the team that put it together and thank you.
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student profile image
student profile image

student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years ago
I have studied art before, but in this course I learned how to create accurate representations of plants and animals. I was exposed to the different areas of natural history illustration; now I can explore each area further. My fellow students have been so generous with their constructive feedback making NHI101 the best art experience I have had.
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Lisa Terry profile image
Lisa Terry profile image

Lisa Terry

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years ago
What a wonderful course. I could combine my knowledge of biology and love of art. As a beginner artist I found the learning materials and instructions were good. The supportive constructive criticism of my drawings was really helpful and there was a great sense of community within the group. It allowed us all, beginner and professional artist alike to work at our own level and improve our skills.
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student profile image

student

9/10 starsCompleted
2 years ago
First off let me say I love this course! It has been very informative and helped me immensely. I would do it again in a heart beat. It isn't perfect, I was very overwhelmed but this was the first run I believe of anything like it as a MOOC. Plenty of other reviews rave about the positives. I would like to point out some basic things you should know/consider before jumping in, especially as a beginner. - Basic Computer Knowledge - This shouldn't come as a surprise, but some basic computer and photo editing knowledge will make this course a lot easier for you. Everything is submitted digitally. Can you take a photo on your phone/camera and change brightness/contrast levels to make the image easier to see? Do you know how to upload an image to the net or a site? Can you put multiple images into a single one? If not, see if you can find out how, or know someone that can help you at least for the first submission or two. This will save ... First off let me say I love this course! It has been very informative and helped me immensely. I would do it again in a heart beat. It isn't perfect, I was very overwhelmed but this was the first run I believe of anything like it as a MOOC. Plenty of other reviews rave about the positives. I would like to point out some basic things you should know/consider before jumping in, especially as a beginner. - Basic Computer Knowledge - This shouldn't come as a surprise, but some basic computer and photo editing knowledge will make this course a lot easier for you. Everything is submitted digitally. Can you take a photo on your phone/camera and change brightness/contrast levels to make the image easier to see? Do you know how to upload an image to the net or a site? Can you put multiple images into a single one? If not, see if you can find out how, or know someone that can help you at least for the first submission or two. This will save you a lot of stress trying to learn last minute. - Skill Level - I would like to say that I feel this course is introductory to nature illustration, but not so much drawing in general. They will cover some basic drawing/tone information but it isn't a "Beginners Drawing 101". You will get examples, but not really step-by-step instructions on how to do what they show. They give you a basic frame work and you have to go from there (so some extra research will be required on your behalf). So be warned on that if you are entirely new to drawing! - Course Pace - This is a rather brisk paced course, so you don't get as much time as you would like maybe. Plan on that six hours of drawing time over the three if you actually want to submit assignments. Don't short sell your time. At this stage too, with the Edx platform, the deadlines are hard.... not late submissions. So if you miss one, that is it. Consider that especially if investing in the certificate. - Access to Real Items - This class focuses a lot on having the real, hard items in front of you, not photos. So try and look around for possible subjects before starting so you don't have to panic last minute. - Assessments - They will scare and terrify you, but give them a go! We have all been VERY surprised at what we have accomplished. Submit no matter if you get it finished or not. A huge amount of what you learn can come from good peer assessment or reviews on the discussion boards. Take all criticism on board and try not to get offended/upset by it. Most people really are only trying to help :) I hope I have covered some useful things to consider and bare in mind that isn't all gushing positives :p This course is worth every second of your time. I went from having a lot of theory and fumbling drawings that I hated, to actually being able to draw something that I am proud of. I hope to be able to either do the whole course at UoN or at least parts of in person one day.
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Dael Allison profile image
Dael Allison profile image

Dael Allison

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years ago
It was a privilege to be able to do this course, and mind-boggling to know the tutoring team coped with 13000 enrolments. Well done. The course was well paced and, as long as you read ALL the frames of each instructional section, all the information needed is supplied. Use of the platform wasn't entirely clear at first, eg the top Next bottom skipped individual pages to go to a next group while the bottom button moved frame by frame - I suspect students missed seeing all the instructions in some tasks because of this. Peer review is fraught with problems and instructions need to be completely specific, eg do this assessment as a line drawing only, don't use shading. It is also hard to assess someone who is a complete beginner against someone already accomplished, and someone who draws a very simple subject very well against someone who attempts a very complex subject and does a good job of it. So some glitches but an incredibly rewar... It was a privilege to be able to do this course, and mind-boggling to know the tutoring team coped with 13000 enrolments. Well done. The course was well paced and, as long as you read ALL the frames of each instructional section, all the information needed is supplied. Use of the platform wasn't entirely clear at first, eg the top Next bottom skipped individual pages to go to a next group while the bottom button moved frame by frame - I suspect students missed seeing all the instructions in some tasks because of this. Peer review is fraught with problems and instructions need to be completely specific, eg do this assessment as a line drawing only, don't use shading. It is also hard to assess someone who is a complete beginner against someone already accomplished, and someone who draws a very simple subject very well against someone who attempts a very complex subject and does a good job of it. So some glitches but an incredibly rewarding course, well structured, with supportive tutors. Expect to spend hours getting your drawings right - and don't give up! Congratulations to UON and the Natural History unit - a brilliant effort!
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Graça Cruz Lima profile image
Graça Cruz Lima profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 years ago
Excellent!This course is great for beginners as well as professionals. The content is explained very objectively, to the point. The focus on research and "learning to look" are prioritized resulting in greater coherence and depth in the works. For me, this course opened up a whole new world of opportunities and new themes for drawing and painting. I thank the teachers and staff very much and I would love it if there was a continuation of this course.
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Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsTaking Now
2 years ago
This course is excellent as a starting point for natural history illustration. Easy to navigate the course information, constructive feedback from peers and challenging assessment. This is the first course I have done online, and have enjoyed how flexible it is with my lifestyle. Easy to submit work and print off worksheets that assisted in drawing modules. Assessment pushed me out of my comfort zone and I have improved my skills immensely by following the examples and tutorials. Highly recommend this course if you are interested in this particular style of illustration!
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Elizabeth Everingham Miller profile image
Elizabeth Everingham Miller profile image

Elizabeth Everingham Miller

10/10 starsTaking Now
2 years ago
I love this course, it's really opened my eyes to so many aspects of nature that I would otherwise not even notice. Since beginning 5 weeks ago my drawing has improved in leaps and bounds. The instructors are great, the two professionals who are featured in the videos are excellent and clearly know what they are talking about, and the forum administrators are fairly good at gettin back to you. They only loose half a star because their are so many students and not enough staff to answer all our questions. The learning design and content is of a very high standard but it is a little let down by the clunky peer assessment process. I felt the marking criteria was very clear however it seems through discussion with other students that it is a bit open for interpretation. I'm very happy to have been a part of the first NHI MOOC.
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Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsTaking Now
2 years ago
I have deeply enjoyed this course. Being a total beginner at drawing, but also a huge nature and animal lover, this course was very intriguing to me. The course has taught me not only about the appropriate tools to use, along with the theory of Natural History Illustrations, but also the basic tips and tricks to being about to make drawings. I have also enjoyed the advice that I have obtained from my peers during this course.
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Kathryn Law profile image
Kathryn Law profile image

Kathryn Law

10/10 starsTaking Now
2 years ago
This is a fantastic opportunity for access to instruction and encouragement that would normally cost a small fortune. The structure of the course is ideal for all levels, and the objectives are clearly explained in the lessons and videos on the course website. The instructors are highly qualified, and the staff has done a remarkable job of answering questions and helping resolve any confusion. There is a great discussion forum where students help each other, and the staff can clarify when needed. Assignments are interesting, varied, and fun. I hope they will offer a continuation, or possibly do this same course again. The verified certificate will be a great addition to my portfolio!
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Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsTaking Now
2 years ago
I have loved doing this course. I will never look at an animal, bird or plant in the same way again. I found the progression excellent, the feedback constructive and the camaraderie generally very positive and helpful. The willingness to share amongst the students has been wonderful & for me, a very basic beginner artist, I think I can now spend some time becoming more confident in showing my work & continuing to explore nature illustration. Thanks you to all the staff for putting it together & I for one would look forward to more in the future. :)
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