Creatively Capture the Natural World
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Natural science illustration combines the beauty of nature with the precision of scientific observation. Working in both traditional and digital formats, science illustrators produce work for publication in textbooks, science journals and online sites, as well as for exhibition in museums and art galleries.
In this certificate program, you’ll learn to render detailed zoological and botanical illustrations using a variety of media. We’ll cover a comprehensive set of nature illustration skills using carbon dust, color pencil, stipple pen and ink, watercolor and gouache. You’ll study principles related to forms, biomechanics and structural diversity found in the animal kingdom. Learn digital illustration and online publishing techniques, and get tips on contracts, copyrights and how to market your work.
Artists who want to hone their visual illustration abilities, along with scientists looking to add or improve these skills.
Applicants must have completed at least one intermediate-level drawing course (a B.F.A. is preferred), and one basic course in Photoshop is highly recommended. Prior coursework or experience in the biological or life sciences is recommended in order to demonstrate, through a portfolio, an understanding and technical ability necessary for executing concepts such as perspective, use of tone, line, texture, composition and design in drawing plants and/or animals.
If you're not a native English speaker, you’ll need to have basic English language skills to participate in this program. To learn more, see English Language Proficiency Requirements.
To enroll in this program, international students must have a visa that permits study in the United States. This program does not enable students to obtain or maintain F-1 visa status. For more information, see Admission Requirements for International Students.
You must have access to a computer, and we recommend a high-speed Internet connection.
You earn the certificate by regularly attending class and successfully completing all required courses. For more information, see Completing Your Program.
Bart Rulon, one of the instructors of the Certificate in Natural Science Illustration, shares highlights of the program.
Complete the courses listed below to earn the certificate. You may be able to take individual courses without enrolling in the certificate program; check the course pages for details.
Principles of Natural Science Illustration
Applied Techniques of Natural Science Illustration
Certificate in Natural Science Illustration
Approved by the UW School of Art + Art History + Design.
View this program's advisory board.
Each of our programs uses an advisory board to review content, guide design and recommend updates to ensure the program remains current as the field of study evolves. By tapping the minds of the top thinkers, doers and leaders in the field, we offer a transformational learning experience. The following individuals serve as the advisory board for this program.
Lisa Anderson, Scientific Illustrator
Kevan J. Atteberry, Writer/Illustrator
Becky Barker, Interim Vice President of Education, Woodland Park Zoo
Jennifer Bates, Artist/Illustrator
Rovy Branon, Vice Provost, University of Washington Continuum College
Terry Brosseau, Program Graduate, Natural Science Illustrator
Paul Carew, Instructional Designer, Illustrator
Karen Cheng, Associate Professor, Design, UW School of Art + Art History + Design
Audrey A. Miles Cherney, Natural Science Illustrator/Artist
Heather Dwyer, Public Art 4Culture; President, Washington Lawyers for the Arts
Michael Felber, Natural Science Illustrator
Gail Gibson, Owner, Gail Gibson Gallery
Gail Guth, Communications Director, GNSI
Jessica Heide, Freelance Illustrator/Instructor
Doug Keith, Illustrator/Fine artist, children's books
Kathleen Kemly, Illustrator, Children's Books and Magazines
Nanette Kuich, Educator Coordinator
Chuck Lennox, Principal/Consultant, Cascade Interpretive Consulting LLC
Michael Liang, Visual Information Specialist, North Cascades National Park
Zhi Lin, Assistant Professor, Painting, UW School of Art + Art History + Design
Karen Matsumoto, Marine Science Education Coordinator, Seattle Aquarium
Rita Moore,Natural Science Illustration Program Graduate
Gordon Nealy, Lead Visual Designer, Mimic Technologies, Inc.
Craig Orback, Illustrator/Teacher, Children's Books
Helen O'Toole, Associate Professor, Painting, UW School of Art + Art History + Design
Christopher Ozubko, Director, UW School of Art + Art History + Design
Susan Pope, President, GNSI-NW, Illustrator/Artist, Photographer, Program Graduate
Michelle Poston, Vice President, GNSI-NW, Natural Science Illustrator, Program Graduate
Roxanne Ray, Assistant Director, Academic Programs in the Arts, UW Professional & Continuing Education
Dorothy Rissman, Visual and Sustainability Artist, Board Member, Blue Earth
Elizabeth Smith, Natural Science Illustrator, Program Graduate
Julie K. Stein, Executive Director, Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
With the exception of the one-time application fee, certificate program fees are charged on a quarterly basis. Payment is due when you register.
Course fees do not include any costs for class materials such as textbooks and software.
Drops, Withdrawals & Refunds
Attend class in person at one of our convenient locations. You’ll engage face to face with your classmates and instructors as part of a highly interactive curriculum. An online learning management system may be required to access some course materials and assignments.
Our special blended programs combine the convenience of online study with the vibrancy of in-person classes for a unique learning experience.
Not available for this program
Enjoy the flexibility of online learning, which allows you to participate in class activities, assignments and discussions on your schedule, from anywhere. Experience cutting-edge technology and a supportive, diverse learning community.
Dive into the principles of animal behavior, and learn how to apply this knowledge when addressing animal care issues.