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Nature journaling skills: adding visuals

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Develop your skills of nature journaling through observation and sketching while exploring a greenspace or city park. Adding visuals to your nature journal can help you to connect with your surroundings. You can first try to sketch familiar objects as practice.

As you grow more comfortable with sketching, try observing and sketching items nearby on the ground, and also objects far away. Here are some sketching tips to guide you.

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Line

  • Make a variety of lines using pencils, pens, crayons, pastels, or paint.
  • Add descriptive words.
  • Contour drawing:
    • Blind contour: follow the outline of an object keeping your eyes on the object not your drawing. No peeking. Do not lift your pencil but make one continuous line.
    • Modified contour: You can look but not lift your pencil.

Texture

  • Make rubbings, then write in details. To make a rubbing, place your paper over an item such as a leaf or tree branch, and then rub your pencil or a crayon over the paper. The texture of the item will be replicated onto the paper.
  • Try recreating textures by using pencils, pens, or charcoal.
  • You can use drawing techniques such as dots, scribbles or shading to recreate a texture.
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Shape

  • Look for shapes in nature.
  • Organic shapes.
  • Shapes that are found in nature.
  • Inorganic shapes.
  • 2D shapes are flat with length & width.
  • 3D forms have length, width & height.

Space

  • Positive space is usually the object or shape being observed.
  • Negative space is the space or shape in between the objects.
  • This kind of seeing takes practice but is very helpful when drawing.
  • Try putting 2 simple objects together(vases or glasses) and then sketch the space in between them.
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Colour

  • You can go back and use pencils crayons, pastels or markers to enhance your sketches.
  • Add words or designs to describe the colours you remember.

Viewfinders

  • Viewfinders are a tool to help with focus and composition: note the difference when holding it close to your eye and while moving it away.
  • Empty slide mounts can be used as viewfinders, or you make them out of cardboard.
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Value

  • Study light and shadows indoors and outdoors.
  • Try to capture the light and shadow values with light and dark shading.
  • Sketch using only shading, not lines.
 
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