Laboratory drawings are a very important part of botany laboratory work and for botany studies as a whole. In order for a student or botanist to describe the level of understanding of the plant specimen, the laboratory drawing has to reflect the depth of study and clarity. While drawings can be a nightmare for those who are not inclined to drawing, an understanding of drawing techniques helps one make laboratory drawings for botany specimen with ease.
The primary rule to be followed: As opposed to other artwork, it is not the artistic approach that gets the work approved, but rather the clarity, clear-cut lines and fine definition of outlines with labeled diagrams. The drawing should be as simple as possible so that it describes the study with just a single glance.
• Instruments and drawing tools:
Before a drawing can be made, there are a few basic requisites that have to be prepared in advance. They are (in random order):
– drawing sheet(s) most often of standard A4 size. Special botany laboratory drawing sheets are available in bulk for this purpose.
– x-ray film / glass slab the size of the drawing sheet or bigger
– micro-tip pencil of hardness 4H -6H and size 0.5mm lead. Soft pencils are not to be used.
– Ruler with standard grading
– If a regular pencil is used, use very fine sand paper for sharpening the point to a fine tip.
– Text for reference and clarification
– Microscopic tools for identification
When one is to undertake a drawing of the botany laboratory specimen, a prior in-depth study of the material has to be done. For whenever possible, keep the text at hand for reference, to be used only when in doubt. At other times, one has to rely on ‘spot identification’ for drawings as how one observes it.
• Size of drawings:
Botany laboratory drawings should be fairly large and clear. Beginners usually make the mistake of making small drawings which are not very expressive, thereby making, especially cell structures, look cramped or inconspicuous.
• Page orientation and layout of drawing:
The page view follows the portrait orientation with the punched holes for filing purpose on the left. An entire border around the page is optional with the left margin of the border about an inch from the page edge, no less, while the rest of the margins of no specific proportions from the edges, yet neat. The name of the drawing owner is to be at the top right hand corner, followed by the date below it. The title of the drawing is centralized most often, though some follow the system of the title at the left corner above the owner’s name. This is applicable when there is only one drawing per page. The drawings should be about an inch away from the left margin and drawn to a fairly large size. Keep space on the right of the drawing for labeling. Drawings should be neatly labeled on the right with straight, horizontal lines as possibly can. Label in neatly written ‘Capital’ letters only.
• The actual drawing:
Before drawing, place the sheet of drawing paper on the x-ray film or glass sheet so that drawings don’t form depressions in the page and become difficult to erase. Drawings should be in faint, broken lines as one identifies the specimen. Dark lines are not to be drawn initially. The student has to find a comfortable way to compare sizes, as in length versus breath and positioning of certain aspects within the drawing. Once a faint outline has been formed, erase over this lightly so as not to remove the entire trace outline, but to enable visibility yet neatness for doing the final drawing.
When the final laboratory drawing is to be made, use clear, single stroke and continuous hand motion for the drawing. Do not repeat or draw over. Small strokes of back and forth motion make for untidy, careless and obscure botany laboratory work. Lines have to be sharp and well defined. Only lines that are required for the specimen identification purpose has to be in the drawing. No other artistic touch-up is to be added. Again a repetition: This is not art-work for the purpose of admiring, but rather a translation of the microscopic and laboratory study of the botany specimen.
In conclusion, bear in mind that neatness is a mandatory part of good botany laboratory drawings. That means that not only the page has to be be clean, but also ensure that your hands are always clean when setting out to draw. Cutting and studying of the plant specimen should be done prior to drawing so as not to have interruptions in drawing which can get messy.
These are some of the basic rules when one is to make good laboratory drawings for botany studies. Following these rules will prove beneficial and resourceful for quick drawings.
Pandey B.P., Modern Practical Botany, S. Chand & Co (Pvt) Ltd., 1988, New Delhi, India.