October 9, 2023
Traditional materials


Catherine Bone
Course Director
Francesca Corra
Course Supervisor
Jo Cameron
Foundation Course Director
Femur in Pencil

The goal of this project is for the students to produce a monochrome pencil drawing of an anterior view of an anatomically correct femur/humerus as well as supporting drawings and studies in both pencil and carbon dust. Through depicting the femur/humerus in continuous tone the students will apply the theories of light on form, which they learnt in their foundation course. Emphasis will be placed on direction observation of the subject matter, proper lighting and instructional impact. The project will provide the student with skills in pencil and carbon dust.

  • Learn to analyse good examples of femur/humerus illustrations from which to benchmark your own work. Emphasis on instructional impact and focus on rough and smooth portions of the bone and how they relate to muscle attachments.
  • Put into practice the principles of light on form that was taught on the foundation course.
  • Practice pencil techniques, and implement neatness and good presentation.
  • Learn the basics of carbon dust illustrations for bone studies, and develop common vocabulary relating to carbon dust and of the materials used.
  • Learn anatomical terminology, landmarks and muscle attachment sites that can be found on the femur/humerus.
  • Creating a monochrome pencil drawing of an anterior view of a femur/humerus.
  • Preparing pencil studies illustrations of proximal and distal ends of the femur/humerus, to properly understand their form.
  • Producing a series of pencil studies of the bone, relating the surface to surrounding bones and soft tissue structures to evidence your understanding of the structure of the femur/humerus and its interactions.
  • Producing half size carbon dust studies of the anterior and posterior views of the bone to progress drawing skills into other mediums.
  • An anatomically accurate illustration of a correctly orientated anterior view of a femur/humerus in pencil, which shows instructional impact.
  • A collection of pencil drawings relating to the femur/humerus to surrounding bones and soft tissue structures, evidencing understanding of its structure.
  • Carbon dust half size illustrations of the posterior and anterior views of the femur/humerus.
  • The ability to self assess own illustrations.
  • Mastered monochrome pencil illustration and carbon dust illustration.
  • Built upon skills in continuous tone which you learnt on the foundation course.
Marking Criteria

This project is marked on the four categories listed below. Points are awarded in each category based on the ability of the artist, fluent (21-25), confident (16-20), competent (11-15), basic (6-10) and limited (1-5). Each category has a percentage weighting toward the final score out of 25. A grade is given of distinction if the final score is higher than 21, a credit if between 16-20, a high pass between 11-15, a pass if 6-10 and an amends if below 5.

Illustrations/graphics impact and clarity. Including skill in chosen medium (Final monochrome pencil drawing only and marked out of 10 points)

• Instructional impact of drawing
• Observation accuracy of structure and surface detail
• Skill and neatness of rendered illustration
• Effort given to the requirements of the project
• Understanding and control of art tools, materials and techniques, singly and in combination
• Understanding of elements, such as colour, line, texture, balance

Anatomical accuracy and exploration
(Final monochrome pencil drawing only and marked out of 5 points)

• Anatomical accuracy
• Life size, correct viewpoint and orientation needed for this illustration
• Understanding of the bone in wider context as demonstrated by studies and sketches

Presentation and attractiveness
(Includes all images/ sketchbooks etc. and marked out of 5 points)

• Presentation neatness
• Layout and labelling design and effort
• Spelling
• Use of art vocabulary when discussing artworks

Observational and
exploratory quality of the collection of femur/humerus illustrations.
(Includes all images/ sketchbooks etc. and marked out of 5 points)

• Observational skill
• Creation of final display
• Independent research and original concepts
• Understand stages of art-making
• Awareness and appreciation of the context and purpose of illustration

  • Use good quality cartridge paper – recommend 250gms weight
  • Use sharp traditional pencils, having a good range available from 2H, H, B, 2B, 4B
  • Putty rubber
  • Callipers are useful for detailed measuring, but where possible learn to draw ‘by eye’ and hand measuring with your thumb/pencil
  • The femur pencil project is designed to follow on and compliment the drawing skills studied and developed during your Foundation Programme.
  • Work on your project/bone as a ‘whole’ and build up your shading as a ‘whole’ too, which will create a much more unified finish to your completed drawing.
  • Study around the subject, understanding its place within the body, its relation to neighboring bones, the muscles, the ligaments and capsules that attach to it.
  • Differentiate areas by technique and tonal shading i.e. differentiate from smooth articular surfaces to distinctive ‘rougher’ areas where muscles attach for example and note direction of attaching fibers and blood vessels/foramen.
  • Remember ‘reflective light’.
  • Take your time to observe.
  • Lighting of your pelvis is very important, begin and keep to the same lighting point throughout your artworks and portfolio whether ever possible e.g. lit from top left. You may choose to light from the top right if you are left-handed. Whichever you choose – be consistent.
  • If you are relying on daylight, then draw at the same time/place each day to avoid morning and evening shadows causing contradictions in your artwork.
  • If you are relying on false lighting then place light in a consistent position for each project.
  • Use daylight bulbs where possible.
  • If you are using a lamp, place your lamp at a reasonable distance from your bone, because if it is too close you will find it will create unnecessarily harsh shadows. We recommend a reasonable distance in order to give you a good overall light/shadow effect across the whole bone.
  • Perhaps purchase your own folding art lamp to bring with you or to use at home. For example the ‘Daylight Twist Portable lamp’ looks ideal or similar.
  • Bristol board paper, cold press watercolour paper (such as 90 – 120lb) or smooth surface illustration board or paper
  • Carbon dust
  • Brushes
  • Carbon sticks
  • Scalpel
  • Putty rubber
  • Lamp oil sticks


Pencil drawing of the proximal and distal ends of the femur/humerus drawn on a table top, next to a round object like an egg or ping-pong ball. Relate the surface of the egg to the head of the femur and humerus and define the textural differences between rough muscle attachment sites and smooth articulating surfaces.

Medium development

Simple carbon dust illustrations of anterior and posterior views of the bone in half size, clearly showing the form of the bone.


Pencil studies of the bone, relating the femur/humerus surface to surrounding bones and soft tissue structures to evidence your understanding of the structure of the femur/humerus. For example draw the head of the femur in the acetabulum with ligament attachments, or the ligaments of the shoulder capsule around the head of the humerus.

Coursework draft

Pencil drawing for final coursework piece (can be a work-in-progress). Anterior view of bone in correct anatomical orientation.

Homework progression


Pencil drawings are the basis for all future projects

Medium Development

Carbon dust studies will aid you in the completion of the Pelvis project


Learning and drawing anatomy will assist in all future projects

How to complete this project

Bring pencils, good quality cartridge paper, and carbon dust supplies. Once in class, locate an intact, non-pathological femur or humerus from the bone collection at the Gordon Museum and make initial sketches, research the anatomical landmarks, origin and attachment sites of muscles on the bone and obtain initial feedback from your supervisor. A short lesson on carbon dust drawings, femur/humerus anatomy and a review of good examples of monochrome pencil drawings to benchmark your work will be provided. A lesson on pencil drawing can be provided if students need. In between seminars, complete the homework

You present your finished homework pencil studies which would have helped you explore the form and context of the bone and a work-in-progress pencil drawing of its anterior view. The carbon dust illustrations which will prepare you for future projects, can also be presented as work-in-progress to ensure your drawings are anatomically correct. supervisor and peer review of the work-in-progress will provide formative and critical feedback to produce your final version.

    1. Artworks:
      1. If any of the homework received feedback from supervisors at seminar, incorporating feedback and add work to portfolio ready for next assessment. This work will not be marked independently at assessment, but will form part of the ‘observation and exploratory quality’ and ‘anatomical accuracy and exploration’ sections of the marking criteria.
      2. Finish coursework draft of the anterior view of the femur/humerus based on feedback at seminar. Present again at following seminar to final feedback.

Before submitting to assessment you must have it checked by the supervisor either in seminar or on a designated tutoring day via email or video conference call. In assessment your work will be marked according to the marking criteria of that project. You will receive a detailed feedback form after assessment.


You must bring:

  • The final monochrome pencil drawing of the anterior view of a femur/humerus, mounted and labelled.
  • Homework artworks which include pencil and carbon dust drawings and studies.
  • Include a clear photograph within your portfolio of the real bone specimen/s you are working from.
  • Make sure all artwork is well presented, neat and labelled.

Contact the department

Contact the Medical Artists' Education Trust
Course Director Catherine Bone
Email: catherine.bone@maet.org.uk
Course Secretary Francesca Corra
Email: francesca.corra@maet.org.uk

Educating Artists for Medicine

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