Activity | Nature Sketching | Desert Botanical Garden


Tips For Creating Your Own Botanical Illustration Journal

Observe & Sketch
Sketching from nature is a great way to connect with plants and animals while enjoying the outdoors. Practice observation skills to record and preserve details of plants in the field through quick illustration. You are invited to visit Desert Botanical Garden or your backyard.

Travel Light And Pack The Essentials
A pencil and a sketchbook are all you need, but you can also choose to bring a pack of colored pencils or watercolors along.

Take Time To Observe Your Subject
Agave plants are stiff and sculptural in structure, and make excellent models. Notice that their broad, flat leaves are relatively simplistic and connect to the shortened stem at the base of the plant, forming a rosette around the center. Leaves come to a sharp point, the terminal spine, at each tip.

Identify Shapes That Make Up The Form
Lightly sketch and block out simple circles and ovals that make up the shape of your agave.

Add Detail And Value
Refine shapes to reflect points and angles that you see in the plant. Add shading to darker areas of the plant that are reflecting less light.

Anchor In A Background
You don’t need to draw every detail that you see, but adding hints of rocks and leaf litter or rough outlines of neighboring plants helps to ground the drawing and give it a sense of place.

Add Color
Color can set the mood of the sketch, but also records important information about the plant such as variegation.

Write Field Notes
Include a few notes about the habitat the agave was found in, the location of the plant and anything else that was of interest. Don’t forget to sign and date it.

These drawings can be used to document seasonal changes of plants in your own yard, commemorate a special hike or record details of an unidentifiable species to solve later with field guides at hand.