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Introduction to Using a Sketchbook (Online)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

This course aims to demystify the function, format and uses of the sketchbook, introducing students to various working approaches and methods; combining materials, considering compositions and working with thumbnail sketches. Through practical advice and guidance from a specialist tutor, students will develop ideas and be more experimental in the sketchbook. 

Short 1:1 sessions with the tutor will be offered to students once a week within the times outlined below:

Monday 9.30-11.30am and Wednesday 5-6.30pm

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

This is a Level 7 course and as such is seen as an introductory course and no previous knowledge is assumed.

Special Information

In addition to the course fee, students are expected to provide the following list of indicative tools, materials and equipment:

  • Basic drawing medium including coloured pastels and coloured oil pastels, one small tube of black oil paint, white gesso and watercolour, gouache or acrylic paint

  • Glue or acrylic medium matt

  • Gum Arabic watercolour medium

  • Collage paper (wallpapers, newspaper cuttings, fragments of old paintings, drawings and collages, rice paper, tissue paper, baking parchment

  • Fabric off cuts – any kind of woven cloth (opaque as well as transparent), canvas (raw as well as primed and tinted)

  • Plastic sheet A3 (for mono-printing and drawing support) or a piece of cardboard covered in aluminium foil

Materials you will need to bring to the first class:

  • One hard back A4 sketchbook

  • One small hard backed notebook

  • 5 small found objects gathered whilst walking which evoke memories of the sense of place in which they were found

  • 1 printed image relating to the same place

  • Permanent black Marker pen

  • Scissors or craft knife

  • Coloured pastels 

  • Erasure, scraper and old rag and masking tape

Content of Course

Each session, students will be introduced to various aspects in relation to the course. The sessions will explore a combination of contextual references and feature practical exercises and demonstrations, which include:

1. Explore fusing materials and tools.

2. Gathering primary and secondary references.

3. Exploring ways of fusing, collaging and editing reference materials to advance ideas.

4. Working on location, making drawings and small painting studies.

5. Working with collage and prepared grounds.

6. Exploring mono-printing approaches.

7. Developing a series or sequences of idea.

8. Working with thumbnail studies.

9. Working within limited timeframes and movement.

10. Exploring compositions and formats.

11. Using mind-maps to develop ideas.

Teaching method(s)

Ideally you should have;
  • An up-to-date web browser (Google Chrome recommended) 

  • Microphone (ideally headset) and Webcam 

  • Strong Internet connection

Teaching will be fully online and will typically include a range of practical exercises, introductions to techniques, processes and concepts, and set projects which lead to more focused and personal exploration. Over the course, students’ progress will be monitored and supported by the tutor.  Teaching will include practical demonstrations, one to one tuition, group discussions and critiques. For students taking a course for credit you will be required to undertaken work outwith the class, which your tutor will outline, including practical directed study activities and by keeping a reflective Learning Journal. Directed study will include developing further practical work alongside research into a range of suggested artists and their associated movements to engender a contextual awareness. Students are expected to demonstrate how their research has informed their work through annotated sketchbooks and reflections made within a digital learning journal. 

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate various methods and approaches in using the sketchbook to develop ideas.

  • Use a sketchbook to develop and sustain a focussed range visual ideas, images and research.

  • Make appropriate choices in the range of drawing, painting and mixed media techniques both within a sketchbook and in development studies.

  • Present a contextually referenced line of enquiry.


Core Readings

  • New, J., 2005. Drawing From Life Princeton Architectural Press, New York.

  • Dieter, R,. Dieter Roth: diaries,2012, Edinburgh Fruitmarket Gallery

  • Perrella, L., 2004. Artists' Journal and Sketchbooks: Exploring and Creating Personal Pages, Gloucester, MA: Quarry Books.

  • Brereton, R., 2009, Sketchbooks: the hidden art of designers, illustrators and creative, London: Laurence King.

  • Livingston, A., and Jackson K. 2014. Kurt Jackson Sketchbook Lund Humphries: Ashgate Publishing

  • Manco, T., 2007, Street sketchbooks, London: Thames and Hudson

  • Maslen, M


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.