ACTIVITies 1, 2, 3 & 4

Activity 1 - Using Different Pencils

October 12, 2017 - I have been spending my time learning the online classroom for the RBGE and introducing myself to my fellow classmates who come from all over the world. It's so exciting to be a part of such amazing opportunities on the internet! I can't wait to see what the next six months bring.

Today was our first opportunity to get started in our studies and it began in a way that all botanical illustration courses should begin - with graphite work. It is important that we become familiar with our tools and this first study is perfect to accomplish the familiarity of our graphites.

My favorites are the Faber-Castell 9000 Series which is what we were recommended to use for this course. We were to focus this first activity on the 3H, HB & 3B pencils, but could include others as well.

Unit 1, Activity 1.jpeg

I have a total of 4 Activities in Unit 1, so I will be including them here as I complete each one.  I hope you will join me on my journey to becoming a botanical illustrator through the RBGE.



October 26, 2017 - During this first Unit which lasted from October 9 through the 26th, we were given lots of time to do each of the four units. However, it also became the perfect time for our family to make a move! Yes, I'm talking about packing up all our belongings and moving them 45 minutes away. At least we weren't moving across the country :)

Before we began the move, I was able to complete my first two Activities - but I didn't have time to do any more than the assignment required. I took time to read and re-read the instructions so I knew exactly what was required of me and set to work.

These first four activities are not graded. They will however, be put into our growing portfolio to help make up our final grade at the end of the course.

Activity 2 - Measured Drawing

The first activity focused on getting to know our graphites, but this second activity was fun because we moved into measuring a subject and I really love measuring!  I decided to make it a little bit difficult by choosing and apple that leaned a bit to the right...


I had to set everything up just right so that my subject was at eye level and I could stretch out my arm to just in front of the apple for measuring.  I could not move at all while measuring or it would change my perspective and mess up my drawing.

Next, I had to imagine there was a pane of glass right in front of my subject that I could not go through and had to measure everything with my ruler flat and straight up and down.  When I squinted one eye, I got great measurements! I then used a 6B and an 8B to darken on the right and bottom of the apples.  I found this gave a little more dimension to the apple.

Unit 1, Activity 2.jpeg

Activity 3 - Scaled Measured Drawing

Activity 3 was fun too and I chose an Ivy leaf, Hedera, growing on the side of my house to demonstrate.  I know once my Hon- discovers it growing there it will come down quickly as it destroys the paint and wall - so here's a little memorial for it :)  Look at those lovely veins! 


In Activity 3, I listened to a video on the structure and various parts of the leaf and it was very interesting.  One of my goals through this course is to learn each part of the plant so that I don't have to look them up all the time.  Here's the assignment:

Unit 1 - Activity 3 1.jpeg

I spent a little time making a simple line drawing of the Hedera vine and labeling it, but the main focus of this activity was to enlarge our drawing.  As you can see above on the right, I cut out a square 3cm x 3cm window in a stiff piece of paper and chose a portion of the Hedera leaf to focus on.  Then I drew two boxes 2 times larger (6cm x 6cm) and drew out what I could see on the front and the back of the leaf, multiplying all of my measurements by 2.

This is a really cool activity, but it can get quite confusing if you are tired from moving! :) I will definitely be practicing this more.

Activity 4 - Foreshortening & Perspective

In Activity 4 of Unit 1, I had to draw the general shape of a leaf with red for the left margin, green for the right margin and blue for the central vein. I then cut it out and curved it in different ways and drew what my eye saw with the lines passing through each other.

Then I was to take a real leaf and do the same thing with my HB graphite.  It was pretty late at night when I finally began this Activity, so I grabbed the closest leaf outside. I'm not sure what this tree is in my backyard, but it has such pretty little leaves, with greenish-white bell-shaped flowers and these bright red poky berries too... Maybe you have seen it before?

UPDATE:  I just found the name of this tree! It is a Strawberry Tree or arbutus unedo and apparently that means, "I only eat one." in Latin and they make great jam and even liqueur.


Here's how my Activity 4 page turned out with the final drawing being the arbutus unedo leaf measured and a bounding box around it. I chose to have it curving slightly toward me.

Unit 1 - Activity 4 1.jpeg

Well, that's the end of Unit 1. Today, October 26 our new Unit 2 has begun and I have taken today to catch up on my journaling for Unit 1 - Then I'll be ready to begin the new Unit tomorrow.

I'm really excited about all I am learning and going to learn during this Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Certificate Course.  The tutors are amazing and my fellow students are lovely sending in their beautiful and inspiring activities from all over the world.  I think I might be the only one in my group from the U.S.A.!

If you are interested in how you can begin this course - it is time right now to fill out an application and get it in.  The next course will begin in March and here is the website: Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Professional Courses

P.S.  As I finish the activities in each unit, I attach them with a tiny clothespin to this frame with strings that I found at Michaels Art Supplies store.  My family likes it because they can pass by my art desk and see what I'm up to in my RBGE course and I like it because it inspires and encourages me to keep going. :)


Thank you so much for following along on my journey to becoming a botanical illustrator.