Natural History Illustration

Natural History Illustration practitioners are concerned with how things are, they seek to understand and visually explain natural world subjects, themes and events. Through observation, fieldwork, research, collaboration and studio-based enquiry Natural History Illustrators produce highly detailed artworks that seek to accurately describe complex forms, structures and narratives.

Why study a PhD or Research Masters in Natural History Illustration at Newcastle?

Natural History Illustration is collaborative by its nature and our research candidates work across disciplines and with industry on a broad range of research projects. Our current researchers are working with medical and botanical science researchers, ecologists, mycologists and archaeologists.

The creative outcomes within Natural History Illustration are broad in nature and can include both two and three dimensional works produced through the use of traditional and digital illustration means. Creative outcomes include: scientific, taxonomic, reconstruction, procedural and creative illustrations, infographics, models and screen-based outcomes including animations.

Works resulting from this form of practice often serve a functional role as scientific and educational resources. Natural History Illustrations are developed for both print and screen-based applications and are often developed for exhibition purposes including museum exhibits.

What you can research

Research proposals are invited in the following areas:

  • Medical/Anatomical Illustration
  • Botanical Illustration
  • Entomological Illustration
  • Archeological Illustration
  • Cultural and Heritage mapping
  • Natural History Illustration theory and practice

Research methodologies

Most Natural History Illustration research is either a practice-lead or a practice-based enquiry. Students also use qualitative, quantitative and mixed method approaches in their research and often work collaboratively in their enquiry.

Research projects in Natural History Illustration can include Thesis and Creative Practice Projects where the artefact is submitted with a written exegesis. The creative outcomes (artefacts) can take many forms and are developed in response to individual research aims and objects.

Find a Natural History Illustration supervisor

Before you apply, contact a supervisor for discussion on possible research projects. This will allow you to frame your proposal to align with established disciplines and areas of supervisor capacity.

  • Dr Andrew Howells: Drawing as inquiry; Digital/Traditional Illustration Practice; Natural History Illustration; Art and Science collaboration;
  • Dr Bernadette Drabsch: Contextualised history of illustration; Role of prehistoric art as a mnemonic too; Art creation as a ritual process; Early visual narratives and linear inscriptions; Connection between art, religion and social complexity in the Levantine Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age; Syrio-Mesopotamian cylinder seals; Rock art of New South Wales; Illustrators of the Hunter Region, past and present
Current Graduate studies in Natural History Illustration
  • Australia's Mangrove Species: Botanical Watercolour Illustrations of a Plant Community Facing an Uncertain Future
  • Visualising Life: Illustration as a Vehicle for Communicating the Development and Aging of the Human Placenta
  • More Than Coal: A Visual Recording and Interpretation of the Environmental Heritage of the Lower Hunter Region
  • The Art and Science of Botanical Illustration and Identification within Hornsby Shire
  • Beyond Exploration: Illustrating the Botanical Legacy of Ludwig Leichhardt