Exploring 3D space on a flat surface

Module details

  • Offered to 3rd & 4th Years
  • Thursdays 16.00-18.00
  • Planned delivery: On campus (South Kensington)
  • Two-term module, worth 5 ECTS
  • Available to eligible students as part of I-Explore
  • Extra Credit, or Degree Credit where your department allows
Degree credit module options by departmentHow to enrol

This innovative, hands-on drawing module teaches approaches to investigating space in paintings and drawings through practical exercises, drawing from the works of past artists and drawing from life.

When most people initially approach copying or drawing from life it is often to employ such ideas as classical perspective, such as 1-point or 2-point perspective used in technical or architectural drawing. This can have the effect of becoming technically measured, photographically precise or even cold, with drawings lacking sensation or feeling.

In contrast, this module will instead deploy alternative approaches to investigating line, tone and space that allows for a playful, individual approach to thinking about drawing on a flat surface. By drawing from life alongside looking at how artists embraced the flat surface of paper, you will get your hands dirty. Moreover, you will understand the physicality of drawing in a new way, with the goal of changing the way you think about how space in drawings works, and how you see the world around you.

Restrictions on module selection: If you have taken the Practical Art: Drawing from Observation module in your 2nd year, you are not eligible to enrol in this module during your 3rd or 4th year.

Please note: The information on this module description is indicative. The module may undergo minor modifications before the start of next academic year. 

Information blocks

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • TBC

Through a focus on drawing, you will examine ideas and approaches to creating the illusion of space on a flat surface (also known as the picture plane). By examining and breaking down historical images by artists of the past we will gain a deeper practical and academic knowledge of what these artists were doing and how they were doing it, what they were looking at and how they responded and even the similarities in these artists work even though they may be separated by decades. Alongside this a development and understanding of drawing from life through practical approaches shall inform your own unique outcomes and insights in drawing. Considering ‘good’ or ‘bad’ drawing will not help us and only serves to create a concern for being ‘correct’, instead we shall take the position that everyone’s drawings are of worth as they tell us how they experience the world! What we can gain is confidence and an ability to play and take risks, to risk failure and find opportunities and insights in our drawings. To this end, we shall consider a series of approaches to drawing toward visual problem solving. We shall remove ideas around classical perspective drawing made famous by the Italian Renaissance and instead consider the how marks, lines and flat shapes or ‘planes’ related to the edges of the paper to create exciting, sensorial, spatial drawings that our eyes move around and through, which some have suggested is closer to how we experience space in the real world. In considering these dynamics we will gain a new appreciation of how drawings and paintings can work and how, through looking intensely at them and the world around us, they can be ‘unlocked’ and opened.  

The module will include: 

  • Copying past artists’ work
  • Drawing from life
  • Re-evaluate how we approach line, form and tone
  • To look at how flat shapes and forms in drawings can relate to one another to create light and space
  • A self-led sketchbook in which to draw outside the workshops to embrace mistakes and increase confidence 

This practical drawing module is primarily designed to increase your confidence and skills in drawing.  

Anyone can draw! You can only embrace how you draw rather than try to be somebody else. Development (as opposed to a style) in drawing is achieved through an historical understanding alongside practice and application. This module will combine both toward a deeper experience in how you think about images and how they work.  

Each session will focus on a specific idea or process such as line/contour, tone, composition, speed and so on. In this way the complexities that observational drawing entails will be broken down into 'bite size' elements, separated from one another. As the module progresses these individual processes will be combined. First, it may be line with elements of tone, then bringing in touch or sensation, then applying those to ideas around copying artists work or drawing from still life. In this way you will be able to identify your learning and understanding toward assessment on which you can reflect, considering how you’ve gained a deeper understanding of how you might approach drawing and the value derived from the experience.

Drawing materials will be provided and each session will employ a combination of practical exercises and historical references either on screen or printed out. Comparisons of work will allow students to learn from each other, encouraging further risk-taking and insights towards boosting confidence.  

You will be provided with a sketchbook and encouraged to continue drawing between sessions to ‘keep your eye in’. Over the weeks this will support you to gain confidence in your drawing and greater hand to eye co-ordination to develop as well as considering the ideas from the sessions. Your progress in the sessions across the module will be evidenced through submission for assessment in the form of a Personal Development Blog and a selection of images you have made. This will be done in two stages, once before the Christmas break and once before the Easter break. This will allow a mid-way point to give context to your leaning and a final assessment of your work. 

As this is a practical module with each session spent drawing, the understanding or value derived by you will be shown week on week when new exercises combine ideas from previous weeks. This is therefore shown in your drawn outputs. Through summative assessment you will produce dozens of drawings in class demonstrating your progress from across the module, plus a personal development blog in which we can identify what they have learnt and how they have progressed over the course of the module.  

For summative assessment you will select eight drawings that you feel reflect your learning, your understanding of drawing, and your approach to it.  You will need to photograph and store online a selection of images from across the term toward summative assessment in the Spring term.

Autumn term

  • Practical Work: 4 Drawings/Sets of drawings PDF file (30%)  

Spring term

  • Coursework: Personal Development Blog – 1200-1300 words (40%)
  • Practical Work: 4 Drawings/Sets of drawings PDF file (30%) 
  • Requirements: You are expected to attend all classes and undertake approximately 85 hours of independent study in total during the module. Independent study includes reading and preparation for classes, researching and writing coursework assignments and preparing for other assessments.
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 6 module. For an explanation of levels, view the Imperial Horizons Level Descriptors page.‌‌