Learn something new or brush up your skills in our unique traditional and digital 2-hr mini workshops, half-day (4-hr) workshops, and full-day (8-hr) workshops.

Leonardo Alannis, 3D–2D Pipeline: Digital Modeling Techniques for Illustration

Completed painting above; 3D base model below. © 2015 Leonardo Alannis.

Leonardo Alannis
3D–2D Pipeline: Digital Modeling Techniques for Illustration
(8-hr workshop)

This course will introduce participants to several techniques for incorporating 3D models into their illustration work in both digital and traditional platforms. Topics that will be covered include basic 3D modeling, texturing and lighting techniques, and importing 3D models into programs like Adobe Photoshop. The instructor will provide 3D models for participants to use during the presentation.

Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop required (intermediate level preferred); Basic familiarity with 3D software.

Materials: The computer lab will have Photoshop but will not have 3D modeling software installed. Please bring your own laptop with ZBrush downloaded and installed (free trial version available here: Drawing tablets are encouraged; please bring your own if possible.

Carrie Suzanne Carlson Hand-painted Linoleum Block Prints and Etchings

Meadowlark and Tickseed Sunflowers (Sturnella magna and Bidens polylepis). Linoleum block print and watercolor. © 2015 Carrie Carlson, courtesy of the artist.

Carrie Suzanne Carlson
Hand-painted Linoleum Block Prints and Etchings
(2-hr mini workshop)

Linoleum block is an established printmaking technique accessible for all ages and skill levels! Come learn the basics and how to increase sophistication in both content and methodology to create striking works of art. Working with oil-based inks allows the artist terrific opportunities for hand painting finished prints with watercolor. Basic tools and methods, inks, papers, alternative carving substrates, and hot tips will be discussed. In addition to block prints, etchings are an engaging printmaking option, although they require access to a printing press. Etchings are a natural extension of traditional pen and ink scientific illustration and may also be hand colored. Examples of both will be examined and techniques explained.

The artist is completing an ambitious Artist in Residency venture documenting at-risk, recovering, and keystone prairie species through relief print (linoleum block, wood block, collagraph) and etching in order to generate awareness and celebration of a local grasslands restoration project. Step-by-step directions and imagery of these grassland pieces will inspire you to seek out your own local cause to celebrate through printmaking. Small prints will be provided by the artist for experiential learning in hand coloring and collaborative artistry!

Prerequisites: None.

Materials: Please bring watercolor supplies (simple field/travel set is fine). Instructor will provide a few extra sets of watercolors.

Carol Cassidy,  Silverpoint/Metalpoint and Pastels for Illustrators

Cricket frog (Acris cerpitans). Silverpoint on plike. © 2014 Carol Cassidy.

Carol Cassidy
Silverpoint/Metalpoint and Pastels for Illustrators: Surfaces (4-hr workshop)
Silverpoint/Metalpoint and Pastels for Illustrators: Techniques (4-hr workshop)

Carol will be leading a two-part silverpoint/metalpoint workshop consisting of a morning session in which participants will explore the various ways to prepare paper for silverpoint, and an afternoon class in which participants will practice various silverpoint techniques—either on the paper they prepared in the morning or on commercial paper. Some might opt to attend the workshop as an all-day event, while others might only sign up for the afternoon techniques session. Included in the morning session will be mixing, heating, and applying a medieval recipe from natural pigments, and applying that ground to watercolor paper. We will also be coating other paper with various mediums, such as gouache and zinc white, and adding marble dust and pigments (sanding is necessary between coats). The afternoon session will consist of learning how to transfer a cartoon onto the paper, basic silverpoint techniques, and the advantages/disadvantages of various papers, such as plike, terraskin, and coated stock.

Prerequisites: None.

Materials: Please bring a 9" x 12" smooth drawing board or surface to work on (such as a thick piece of plexiglass), 2H and H pencils, a few pieces of tracing paper, a 4" x 6" image to work from (photograph or your own artwork), a white Staedtler Mars plastic or MagicRub eraser, cheap pastel sticks (to grind into pastel dust), and brushes for dusting pastel (Golden Talkon #0, #1, and #2). Instructor will provide student-grade silverpoint styluses, gouache, marble dust, mixable silverpoint ground, application brushes, hotplate and pot for heating, various commercial silverpoint paper samples, files for shaping the stylus, and miscellaneous items.

Lucy Conklin, Photoshop Techniques for Illustrating Space

Space Art Tutorial. © 2015 Lucy Conklin.

Lucy Conklin
Photoshop Techniques for Illustrating Space
(4-hr workshop)

Have you ever wondered if there is any practical use for the "Render>Clouds" filter in Photoshop? Then this program is for you! In this mini workshop you will use all of those obscure Photoshop blending modes and filters you've been ignoring to create an out-of-this-world space scene. Nuggets of interesting astronomy science facts will be sprinkled throughout this fast-paced, step-by-step, technique-heavy workshop. At the end you will have illustrated your very own planet complete with an atmosphere, satellite, parent star, and icy rings.

Prerequisites: Attendees will need a basic familiarity with Photoshop (know how to use layers, brushes, and apply textures).

Materials: None. Computers and software will be provided in the computer lab. Can bring your own laptop and drawing tablet if desired (with Photoshop CS5, CS6, or CC installed).

Jennifer E. Fairman Advanced Techniques in Adobe Photoshop

Advanced techniques in Adobe Photoshop. © 2016 Jennifer E. Fairman, CMI, FAMI.

Jennifer E. Fairman
Advanced Techniques in Adobe Photoshop
(4-hr workshop)

In this workshop, participants will practice a workflow that uses advanced techniques while maintaining a traditional look and feel in their rendering. Jeni will present various digital illustration techniques including filters and effects to capture surface texture and grain, 3-dimensional effects on small structures, 3D techniques, using masks and blending modes, layer modes, color modulation and adjustments, transparency vs. translucency, atmospheric effects, watercolor and other traditional techniques, integrating traditional sketches, traditional style brushes, creating photo sketches, skin textures, and smart layers with the integration of vector assets from Adobe Illustrator. Participants are encouraged to bring sketches and digital files they would like to work on and to bring any questions regarding current or prospective projects.

Prerequisites: Intermediate or advanced knowledge of Adobe Photoshop.

Materials: Bring any sketches or digital files you’d like to work from, and a portable external hard drive or thumb drive. Computers and software will be provided in the computer lab. Can bring your own laptop and drawing tablet if desired (with Photoshop and Illustrator installed).

Rebecca Gelernter, Introduction to SketchUp

Construction of spaceships. © 2016 Rebecca Gelernter.

Rebecca Gelernter
Introduction to SketchUp
(4-hr workshop)

Rebecca will provide a basic introduction to 3D modeling in SketchUp, a program that can be downloaded for free and uses lines, planes, and simple geometric shapes to create buildings, vehicles, household items, and other objects.

Prerequisites: None.

Materials: None. Computers and software will be provided in the computer lab. Can bring your own laptop and drawing tablet if desired (with SketchUp installed).

Julie Himes, Fungus Fun: Mushroom Illustration

The common button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus). Watercolor. © 2015 Julie Himes.

Julie Himes
Fungus Fun: Mushroom Illustration
(2-hr mini workshop)

This workshop is an introduction to mushroom biology and watercolor illustration. We will start with an overview of Santa Cruz local fungi and learn some of the key characters to look for when identifying and drawing mushrooms. We will then take a close look at live mushroom specimens. You will learn how to recognize the different characteristics and will then illustrate mushrooms using graphite pencils and watercolors. We will cover some specific techniques for achieving the right textures and colors using watercolor.

Prerequisites: Familiarity with watercolor.

Materials: Watercolors (natural colors), watercolor brushes, pencils, pencil sharpener, watercolor paper, sketchbook, eraser, paper towel, and a container for water.

Kristine Kirkeby Visual Arts in K–12 Schools

A student drawing. © 2005 Dave Stone.

Kristine Kirkeby
Visual Arts in K–12 Schools: If You Don’t Teach It, Who Will?
(4-hr workshop)

Ask a teacher what visual arts are included in their curriculum and you’ll be met with guilty looks. Can we increase the presence of visual arts in the classroom? Kris will speak about her passion for to the need for scientific illustrators to become involved. She’ll describe the curriculum she designed and uses for combining art and science—a strategy that reaches thousands of K–12 students. She’ll show how to construct a curriculum, what to include for programming components, structure of lesson plans, and assembling a teaching collection. Kris will share tips about promotion, marketing, and funding. Part of the session will include hands-on art methods that guarantee artistic success for the young student.

Prerequisites: None.

Materials: None.

Marjorie Leggitt From NOTAN to Plein-Air Snapshot

Watercolor snapshots. © Marjorie Leggitt.

Marjorie Leggitt
From NOTAN to Plein-Air Snapshots: A Different Approach to Field Sketching
(4-hr workshop)

“Field sketching” is the activity of drawing what one sees in the field. In the case of an artist with an interest in scientific illustration, the sketch often includes a natural object, a detail, or a scene, all of which may help support a field of study. Or, maybe the sketch is part of one’s daily ritual of appreciating the nature that one sees each day. In the NOTAN to Plein-Air Snapshots workshop, attention shifts from “subject” to active observation and recording of the harmonious relationships between shapes and values. Rather than recording “things”, this workshop focuses on light and shadow shapes and the simple play of colors to produce snapshots of the “here and now”. Learn to see and develop small-sized black and white core abstractions (NOTAN). Then use these thumbnails as a guide for your larger field sketch. Practice developing three-value sketches using a “gray” watercolor mix. Then complete your field sketch by applying limited palette color washes and builds. Each student will come away with a sketching process and techniques that can be used to capture the richness of most terrestrial landscapes (and beyond!). Demos and individual attention are an important component of this workshop.

Prerequisites: A good familiarity with sketching outdoors. Basic understanding and practice in working with and using watercolors as a medium.

Materials: Download the materials list here.

Melissa Logies Digital Colorization and Painting in Photoshop

Tortoise beetles of Brazil. © 2016 Melissa Logies.

Melissa Logies
Digital Colorization and Painting in Photoshop (4-hr workshop)

In this presentation, learn how to take a scanned drawing and bring it to life with color in Photoshop. Skip the watercolors and colored pencils and cut down on the tedious hours spent painting layer upon layer in Photoshop. In just a half hour, your graphite drawing, or even just a tonal sketch, can become a full-color illustration ready for publication.

Prerequisites: Basic familiarity with Photoshop.

Materials: Bring your sketchbook and/or some scanned sketches you’d like to colorize in Photoshop. Computers and software will be provided in the computer lab. Can bring your own laptop and drawing tablet if desired (with Photoshop installed).

Andrew McAfee Blender Basics: Getting Started in 3D for Free

Blender basics. © 2016 Andrew McAfee.

Andrew McAfee
Blender Basics: Getting Started in 3D for Free (4-hr workshop)

Blender is a full-featured 3D modeling, rendering, and animation platform. Unlike other 3D software such as Maya, ZBrush, and Cinema 4D, Blender is free to download and use for any purpose, including commercial, under its General Public License (GPL). This introduction to Blender will give you a basic understanding of modeling and rendering in a computer-generated 3D environment. Topics covered include understanding the interface, navigating in 3D space, using Object and Edit modes, adding primitives, basic modeling, UV (texture) mapping, node editing, animation, and rendering. This short course is intended to be jumping-off point for independent exploration.

The course will include short, objective-based exercises to build familiarity with the interface and understand the creative potential of the platform. The course is not licensed or supported by Blender. Learn more and download the software at

Prerequisites: Basic to intermediate computer skills, including mouse navigation and keyboard commands.

Materials: None. Computers and software will be provided in the computer lab. Can bring your own laptop and drawing tablet if desired (with Blender installed).

Brynn Metheney Digital Drawing for Science and Fantasy

Skeleton diagrams and overlays. © 2016 Brynn Metheney.

Brynn Metheney
Digital Drawing for Science and Fantasy (2-hr mini workshop)

This workshop will cover basic drawing techniques in the digital medium. Brynn will describe how she builds up a basic animal skeleton, overlays muscle anatomy, and then poses the animal. She will also cover her own process in creature design and how to reference animals—living and extinct—to better understand fictional lifeforms.

Prerequisites: Familiarity with vertebrate anatomy, basic Photoshop skills, and traditional drawing techniques.

Materials: Sketchbook and pencil for notes. Computers and software will be provided in the computer lab. Can bring your own iPad, Surface, or laptop and drawing tablet if desired (with Photoshop installed). Participants will have the option of purchasing the high-resolution PSDs with the PDF package—which will include the lesson plan, anatomy diagrams, and a tutorial on how to build a sci-fi creature using animal references.

Gloria Louise Nusse, Craniofacial Anatomy and Emotion of the Face

Facial reconstruction. Photo by Gloria Nusse.

Gloria Louise Nusse
Craniofacial Anatomy and Emotion of the Face
(8-hr workshop)

Craniofacial anatomy is unique in vertebrates. From its embryonic development to the unique structure of its muscle attachments it is intended for information gathering and communication. In this one-day workshop we will explore the muscles of the face as conveyers of emotion. This workshop will focus on human anatomy and will use a series of exercises to learn how to use knowledge of the craniofacial structure to illustrate believable emotion. Part one will consist of a facial dissection lecture. How can we better understand anatomical descriptions? What do the muscles of the face do? Part two will consist of drawing exercises for facial muscles. We will draw muscles on paper on top of preprinted skulls. Part three will cover expressions of facial muscles, including an overview of facial features anatomy, a lecture on facial expressions (Paul Ekman research), a series of exercises on common facial expressions, and analysis of artists’ images and photographs.

Prerequisites: None.

Materials: Students will need to bring paper (9" x 12" or 11" x 14") and drawing supplies.

Reid Psaltis, Maquette Building

Gorilla family, made at AMNH. © 2015 Reid Psaltis.

Reid Psaltis
Maquette Building
(8-hr workshop)

Create your own reference for your illustrations by building a scale model of your subject. Starting with skeletal anatomy diagrams, Reid will show you how to build metal armature, pose it according to your needs, and flesh it out with plastaline clay. At the very least, you will come out of class with a cool model; at best you will have a great aide for visualizing a hard-to-draw subject.

Prerequisites: Intermediate knowledge of anatomy and basic sculpting experience.

Materials: Please bring wire cutters, needle nose pliers, and clay sculpting tools. The instructor will provide clay, slow cookers (for melting clay), brass wire, and aluminum foil. If you have an animal you want to make a model of, bring a printout of the skeletal anatomy (8" at the longest dimension). Additional reference is helpful, but not necessary, including muscular anatomy, photos of the live animal, and detail images. The instructor will also provide printouts of predetermined animals (deer, horse, cow, cat, dog) for those without their own references.

Scott Rawlins A Dry Media Combo for Lab and Field Sketching

Red mangrove. © 2000 Scott Rawlins.

Scott Rawlins
A Dry Media Combo for Lab and Field Sketching
(4-hr workshop)

Graphite and pastel dust can be used in combination to produce quick, accurate, and water-free field sketches, as well as studies of closely observed objects in the lab. Participants in this workshop will learn how to produce and mix pastel dust as a tinting medium for graphite studies of landscapes and small specimens. This technique is especially suited for those who engage in activities that take place in exotic, less "civilized" locations.

Prerequisites: None.

Materials: Please bring graphite pencils (2H, HB, 2B), a sketchbook (any size), two or three pieces of tracing paper, and erasers (kneaded and white vinyl). Optional: ballpoint pen (black), thin Micron pen (001, black) or a thin sepia/brown pen (such as Pitt Artists’ Pens).

Suzanne Wegener Painting Lichens with Gouache

Collection of the Newberry Library. © Suzanne Wegener.

Suzanne Wegener
Rendering Textures with Gouache
(4-hr workshop)

Learn to capture lichen in gouache, the perfect medium! We will earn about lichen, then work hands-on to capture lichens with gouache on light and dark backgrounds.

Prerequisite: Basic familiarity with watercolor.

Materials: Please bring a #2 watercolor brush with a good point. Instructor will provide all other materials.

Terryl Anne Whitlatch Believable Creature Creation

Burrassa/Elemex. Copic Sketchmarker. © 2013 Terryl Whitlatch.

Terryl Anne Whitlatch
Believable Creature Creation
(4-hr workshop)

This workshop concentrates on the creation of imaginary but scientifically plausible species, as is required by today's increasingly sophisticated productions in animation, gaming, interactive graphic novels, and film industries, as well as virtual and augmented realities, and science-based/speculative/paleontological documentaries. Participants are encouraged to bring references of their favorite animals and animal anatomy materials from which to create imaginary species based on real life.

Prerequisites: Familiarity with traditional drawing media (pencil, pen, marker, etc.). Digital drawing tablets optional. General biology/zoology background a plus.

Materials: Drawing paper, tracing paper (very important), pencils, and drawing materials of choice. Animal photos and references/animal anatomy books, resources.

Bruce Worden and David Clarke Science Comics

Project Gemini G-2C space training suit. Adapted from a NASA photo. © 2013 Bruce Worden.

Bruce Worden and David Clarke
Science Comics: Illustration + Science + Storytelling
(4-hr workshop)

What's the difference between science illustration and science comics? It's the story! Come learn how to make your illustrations tell their own story, rather than support someone else's dusty old text. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then in this workshop you'll create a mini-comic worth 8,000 words using only one sheet of paper! Amazing, I know.

Prerequisite: An interest in sequential art and visual storytelling.

Materials: Paper will be provided, but bring your favorite drawing materials and come tell us YOUR story about science.