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
22472 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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Rankings are based on a provider's overall CourseTalk score, which takes into account both average rating and number of ratings. Stars round to the nearest half.

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Oya Horoz profile image
Oya Horoz profile image

Oya Horoz

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
For me it was a fantastic designed course. It combined the science and art in a perfect way.I learnt a lot and I wish you designed another one for intermediade ar advanced level.
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CHARLOTTE ELTON profile image
CHARLOTTE ELTON profile image

CHARLOTTE ELTON

8/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
I am a beginner so that influences my view. This certainly got me started and I love the approach taken. By module 5 I felt out of my depth tho still curious. Module 6 was beyond my abilities to really understand the how tos.
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Megan Hitchens profile image
Megan Hitchens profile image

Megan Hitchens

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
Content was great, assessments appropriately challenging, but the lack of feedback from staff was disappointing. If you are offering this course again, you need to have more than just peer and self review. Staff review particularly for the final two weeks is crucial. I was very disappointed with this aspect of the course and is why I have only given the instructors 3.5.
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Sara Remelli profile image
Sara Remelli profile image

Sara Remelli

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
All is very amazing and usefull for a person who want to begin drawing natural skills, instructors explain in a very clear way and the content are at a correct level of difficulty. The provider was usefull.
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Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
There are already many reviews giving very positive feedback on the course and I can't really think of anything to add further! I think the course was extremely well presented - very professional and personable in delivery and the peer community that quickly developed was most supportive and a delight to be a part of. Yes, there were a few technology glitches, but they were pretty much sorted out. Hooray for the option to be able to even do such a course online from anywhere in the world! As others have mentioned, the peer assessment process can be a bit fraught, but the general vibe of the whole discussion forum meant I was really wanting people to achieve their personal best and feel good about what they were striving for, so I tried hard to be as encouraging and helpful as I could when reviewing others' work even though I'm a long way from being an accomplished illustrator myself and therefore didn't feel I had the expertis... There are already many reviews giving very positive feedback on the course and I can't really think of anything to add further! I think the course was extremely well presented - very professional and personable in delivery and the peer community that quickly developed was most supportive and a delight to be a part of. Yes, there were a few technology glitches, but they were pretty much sorted out. Hooray for the option to be able to even do such a course online from anywhere in the world! As others have mentioned, the peer assessment process can be a bit fraught, but the general vibe of the whole discussion forum meant I was really wanting people to achieve their personal best and feel good about what they were striving for, so I tried hard to be as encouraging and helpful as I could when reviewing others' work even though I'm a long way from being an accomplished illustrator myself and therefore didn't feel I had the expertise to do assessments. As a taster for what the degree course at University of Newcastle has on offer, this MOOC course is excellent, but it also stands alone for those who aren't up for doing a full degree course and just want a great introduction to Natural History Illustration. The main thing I learned from this course was that observation and understanding of a subject is vital before even picking up a drawing tool. Learning how to see before creating is so important and this was well taught in this course. And then one must practise, practise, practise...! Not hard to do though as it was all just so engrossing, particularly with focussed tasks to explore and complete. And the instructors and other students certainly encouraged this. My only quibble with the course was the verified certificate process. I really wanted to buy the certificate to support the work of both edX and UON (rather than being important for me in itself), but although I was able to successfully pay (so I'm glad the money went through) I wasn't able to complete the upload of my personal details/ID as my computer didn't have a webcam. I'm also not at all comfortable to have that sort of information put online when I don't know the security involved nor the ultimate "resting place" of such information. Perhaps (for free courses in particular) an alternative, less stringent process could be provided to get some sort of certificate or recognition for completing a course like this one? Thank you very much to all who were involved in running the course and those who participated - between you all it made for a great 6 weeks. I hope there will be more like this course offered in future.
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Heidi Bransby profile image
Heidi Bransby profile image

Heidi Bransby

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
This was my first MOOC course I've been privileged to take. Right from the start, the course gripped my imagination, and consistently inspired me to observe my natural surroundings in a more detailed way. The course gave me so many more reasons to feel blessed by Mother Nature's exquisite gifts that are accessible to us, if only we would love her as much as she loves us. I thank you for creating this wonderful course. I would love to return again and continue learning this way. Seasonal Best Greetings to Everyone.
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Tania Ruvalcaba Valdés profile image
Tania Ruvalcaba Valdés profile image

Tania Ruvalcaba Valdés

10/10 starsTaking Now
2 years, 9 months ago
Fantastic instructors and material. One of my favorite MOOCs so far. You end up learning how to draw accurately but also about the complexity and fascinating natural illustration field.
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Kay Cutmore profile image
Kay Cutmore profile image

Kay Cutmore

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
Excellent course! As an educator I was impressed with the structure,content and delivery of this introductory unit! Such a positive outcome! Amazing work was produced at all levels. Great to hear that the technology was refined. Still had a little difficulty in accessing the discussion board.
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student profile image

student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
Wonderful course! Studying the theory and carrying out the assignments has resulted in a huge improvement in my drawing skills. I've completed 28 MOOCs before, and while this was certainly the most challenging, I'm glad I took it. Looking forward to the next one!
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Student

8/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
This was overall an excellent course. While no prerequisites were listed, basic drawing skills would be helpful. I really enjoyed it & understand so much more about the field of Natural History Illustration now. I look forward to any follow up courses provided.
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Rhonda Pepper profile image
Rhonda Pepper profile image

Rhonda Pepper

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
I recommend this short course without hesitation. I have learned so much. I looked forward to each weeks module with enthusiasm and loved the drawing assessments and field work. The Videos and teachers where very helpful and with suggestion from our teachers started up various multimedia support groups where we shared our work, sort help and information and supported and encouraged each other. Those who lived in close proximity to each other created drawing groups where we met up for field drawing days. We all have been amazed at the growth and improvement in our own drawing skills and each others. It certainly has opened up our eyes to a whole new world of looking at nature and enjoying it. Looking forward to further courses of the same nature and being able to expand into the world of colour. I thank all those involved in bringing this wonderful opportunity to so many world wide and the time and effort spent.
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Gwendolyn Jenner profile image
Gwendolyn Jenner profile image

Gwendolyn Jenner

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
It was an eye opener in many senses. Being a well planned course it brought out the most enthusiastic qualities from those taking part under the very competent tutors' instructional advice. The peer information and assessment was like gold dust with intruiging snippets of information and supportive comments and I would recommend this course to everyone who might consider taking part.
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Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
This is a fabulous course! This is the first time I have taken or even heard of a MOOC and the experience has been wonderful. I was afraid that with my limited drawing experience that the course would be too difficult for me but with the excellent instruction and encouragement of my peers I surprised myself with my accomplishments. As mentioned by others, I also found myself wanting more during the videos. I also found the peer reviews difficult but that was due to my lack of experience with this type of course, not from lack of instruction. I completed all the required assignments in this course but missed a couple of the optional ones. Since the course will be archived I plan to go over the material again at my own pace to help reinforce the lessons and continue my practice. I'm happy to have connected with so many fellow artists and am looking forward to continuing our journey together.
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Meg Leathart profile image
Meg Leathart profile image

Meg Leathart

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
What a fab thing to do to improve ones drawing skills. I've always been pretty free and loose about my drawing but I was taught how to really look and accurately build up the subject. I am really happy with my work and enjoyed applying the great information to the paper. Learnt about materials, how to use them, how to obtain accurate scale, how to consider plant and animal structure - jam packed. Thanks UON. Would somehow like a digital copy of all the info to keep without having to screen shot it????
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
I loved the course, it was a lot of fun and I learned some things. Its super for beginners and anyone who wants to improve their drawing skills. I recommend it highly. I learned some interesting tips about shading that were new to me. Its a course that you can learn as much as you want from depending on how hard you work at it.
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Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
Wonderful introductory course, great content and clear instructions. The 6 Modules were nicely paced and challenging and my drawing skills improved quickly, I was a complete beginner and using graphite only really allowed me to focused on the skills needed to successfully capture natural environments, flora and fauna. Thank you to the wonderful lectures, I loved the instructional videos they were easy to watch and so encouraging. Thank you to Newcastle University for making this opportunity available.
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Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
Terrific course! I have been drawing for many years, most recently focused on botanicals. I wanted to expand my efforts to learn more about illustrating other natural subjects like animals and nature objects. the course was very well-organized and the material extremely well-presented and useful. I especially loved the details on how to look at light and shade on your subject for the final two modules. The large size of the course enrollment and peer-review assessment was not ideal, but for a free course you can't beat it! A fantastic introduction to the subject of illustrating nature. I would definitely recommend.
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Suzy Butz profile image
Suzy Butz profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 years, 9 months ago
This has been a fabulous course! The content was amazing, useful and helpful. I learned an awful lot. The instructors were clear and although I would have liked more information from them, it certainly got me and the others on the course going to find out more. I would love to do this course again, as I was totally new at it and did not have time to do the optional drawings. It would be great to see my (hopeful) improvement over time. And, of course, it would be great if there was then a more advanced course. Having this amazing course available on edX was spectacular. it has been a privilege to be a part of this experience. Congratulations Newcastle Uni for presenting this course. Bring on more please!
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
As a beginner I was very intrigued by the course. It started very simply and quickly jumped into more complex subjects. Having to submit each week challenged me to have a go at tasks that I didn't think I could achieve and feedback was always fair. Instructors and resources were great with good links and support from my peers.
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Judith Chestnut profile image
Judith Chestnut profile image

Judith Chestnut

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
Having been an admirer of natural history illustration for quite some time, I was excited to try it myself through this course. While my attempts are no where near those illustrations I have admired from afar, I did learn something about the art form. The course also encouraged me to slow down when drawing and to be more observant and I feel I have benefited from that. Thank you to all those involved with getting this course up and running. I enjoyed it very much.
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Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
This course was fun, challenging and inspiring. The level of instruction was basic enough for a novice such as myself, but absolutely pushed me to my limit of ability. The modules were presented well and the instructors were encouraging and professional. I have learned so much in this course. I hope they are able to offer this course again and possibly develop a class addressing color illustration, as well. This EdX course was my first online class, but I found it pretty easy to negotiate the platform and submit assignments, comments, etc. Thank you for such a great course!!!!
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this course. This was my first experience with an online course and I found it enjoyable and informative. I particularly enjoyed viewing and sharing work with other students as we progressed though the course through the Discussion page and on Facebook. I did not however enjoy being graded by peer review or having to review other student's work. I question whether a course of this type needs to be graded.
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Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
Really enjoyable and insightful course that inspired alot of art and looking at what nature was presenting. I would recommend for everyone, a beginner to learn and the more experi3nced to remember.
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Student profile image

Student

8/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
This course was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the opportunity to just draw and I picked up a lot of tips along the way. Thanks for everything. Good luck everyone
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Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
I had not done any drawing for a long time when I enrolled in this course..so it was great to start to "see" again and relearn putting what I was seeing onto paper .. I am dabbling in painting and I am sure this course will improve my work.. I think the course has given me renewed confidence in my ability and find the value of being patient and slowly build on the layers of the drawing .. I found the online format to be surprisingly good and it was helpful to be able to go over the information several times...each time gaining more information ..I had no difficulty with navigation of the course online...except finding this review part..ha ha..
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S Smith profile image
S Smith profile image

S Smith

10/10 starsTaking Now
2 years, 9 months ago
Wonderful course that introduced the foundations of scientific drawing in a very accessible way. The content was concise and practicle, the instructors were fantastic at conveying the key concepts and techniques. The peer support and assessments really made you feel that you were part of a student community. The course work and assessments were easily achieved in the suggested time frame of 4-5hrs per week and I am amazed at my progress over the six weeks. I highly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in the natural world and/or fine art. Well done to the staff at the University of Newcastle for developing such a inspiring course and Edx for delivering it free of charge.
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Student profile image

Student

6/10 starsTaking Now
2 years, 9 months ago
I am enjoying the course and I have learnt quite a lot. I really appreciate the free access to learning and I thank the providers. I do think that sometimes the tutorial videos gloss over things a little, so that a complete beginner can feel somewhat at sea, particlularly as to animal/bird structure and drawing technique. I wonder whether the course designers have road-tested the resources with beginners? Anyway as I say, I am learning and enjoying!
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Liane Tancock profile image
Liane Tancock profile image

Liane Tancock

10/10 starsTaking Now
2 years, 9 months ago
A Fantastic course to further my art. i come from a fine art background and felt i lacked scientific knowledge. This course has enabled me to enhance my work, with like minded people
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Oi Yee Tai profile image
Oi Yee Tai profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 years, 9 months ago
I have thoroughly enjoyed this course. The course materials are interesting, the assignments are challenging, and the peer interaction is encouraging. Understanding that this is a free course, and a condensed one, the drawing instructions are not as detailed as I had envisioned. However, in a way, that has prompted me to do more online research and interact more with classmates, which turns out to be very helpful to improving my skills. The staff encouraged us to use social media, and some peers were very proactive and set up a Facebook group which I find extremely helpful. The group has approximately 400 members, which makes interaction and peer review more intimate. With over 12,000 people enrolled in this course, discussion in the EDX's course forum sometimes seems futile as one's comment can be easily drowned and lost with no response. If the students are randomly grouped into tutorial groups of smaller size, the interact... I have thoroughly enjoyed this course. The course materials are interesting, the assignments are challenging, and the peer interaction is encouraging. Understanding that this is a free course, and a condensed one, the drawing instructions are not as detailed as I had envisioned. However, in a way, that has prompted me to do more online research and interact more with classmates, which turns out to be very helpful to improving my skills. The staff encouraged us to use social media, and some peers were very proactive and set up a Facebook group which I find extremely helpful. The group has approximately 400 members, which makes interaction and peer review more intimate. With over 12,000 people enrolled in this course, discussion in the EDX's course forum sometimes seems futile as one's comment can be easily drowned and lost with no response. If the students are randomly grouped into tutorial groups of smaller size, the interaction might be better, and especially for those who are shy. I find the homework very challenging, but also because of that, I pushed myself even harder and was actually amazed at what I could accomplish. Being a freelance Chinese inkwash artist, I paint free style with minimal strokes, capturing more the essence and less the form, and Natural History Illustration is very different from what I am used to. This course has taught me to look at things differently, and to analyze in a very careful, schematic manner. My sketching skills have immensely improved, and this course has helped me capture the beauty of nature in a way that I never thought was possible. This is the second MOOC course I have taken. Given the large class size, I find the moderators readily available for questions, and gave as much guidance as they could. I was so surprised to see comments left by Dr. Bernadette Drabsch on some of the student threads in the discussion forum. That never happened in the other course I took. Many thanks to Dr. Bernadette Drabsch, Dr. Andrew Howells, Clare Lloyd, Gina and the staff at the University of Newcastle for making this such a great experience. I am so grateful to my classmates for helping me along the way. Last but not least, I must thank EDX for bringing us this course and I look forward to the sequel.
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Klazina van Meel profile image
Klazina van Meel profile image

Klazina van Meel

8/10 starsTaking Now
2 years, 9 months ago
This course was a very good introduction of what NHI is supposed to be. It certainly helps people to discover their talents in drawing and to broaden their interest in the direction of NHI. However, if we are supposed to work with Europe, recommended books can't reach us in time, not before the course has been completed. This course was supposed to be for all levels and no drawing experience was required. It would have been great to get more instructions in drawing itsself and in technical terminology.
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