International GCSE Art Sketchbook examples

Last Updated on April 2, 2023

The A3 sketchbook examples shown in this blog post were created by my sister Heather Garland (aged seventeen) and I, prior to my first year of teaching IGCSE Art and Design (the International equivalent of GCSE Art, assessed by Cambridge University). I employed Heather to work for me during the Christmas holidays: together we created sketchbook pages that could be used to inspire and guide my students. In 2002, the internet was not the wealth of resources it is today: I needed physical Painting and Related Media Coursework examples that my students could learn from.

The sketchbook pages you see here are based a ‘Coastal Environment’ theme: the exploration of natural forms, such as shells, plants and seascapes. It is hoped that these pages are of benefit to many high school Art students, as well as, of course, those studying or teaching GCSE Art or IGSCE Art and Design.

Note: In 2002 the CIE IGCSE Coursework requirement was for a final project + sketchbook, rather than the A2 portfolio of 4 sheets (8 sides) that is the [maximum] requirement today.

observational drawings in a GCSE art sketchbook
These graphite pencil drawings of shells were completed from observation. Observational studies such as this should form an integral part of an International GCSE Art sketchbook project.
gcse art sketchbook showing natural forms
This International GCSE sketchbook example explores the natural forms of shells. It allows students to practise a range of different mediums, including graphite pencil, coloured pencil and black pen. It shows experimental line drawings, including blind drawings and contour drawings. Annotation fills the gaps, making the page seem comprehensive. While the focus of this sketchbook page is upon accurately depicting of shape, proportion and tone, some of the shell drawings (those in groups, with shadows) allow students to also represent space and depth.
line techniques - art ideas for a natural forms project
A small exercise that introduces students to drawing and rendering using line. This photocopy of a shell (made by lying a shell directly onto the photocopier) is then cut, with removed portions redrawn using black pen.
line and texture ideas for a GCSE art project
Another comprehensive sketchbook page based on the natural forms of shells. In addition to trialling a range of media and drawing techniques, students begin looking more closely at texture. Charcoal drawings of textured surfaces, as well as an etching of a nautilus shell (with notes about the Golden Section) are included.
charcoal drawings of shells - gcse art sketchbook
These charcoal drawings of shells allow students to explore textured surfaces. The bottom left image is an acrylic painting of a shell, with details and additional rendering added with black pen. Masking tape has been used to keep sharp edges in this GCSE Art sketchbook layout.
example of a gcse art sketchbook exploring shells
This International GCSE Art sketchbook example includes drawings of crumpled cans found at a local beach as well as watercolour paintings of shells.
drawing of seaweed in sand - gcse art sketchbook
This drawing of seaweed and keys buried in sand keeps with the Coastal Environment theme. The manmade keys provide welcome variety to the natural forms that make up the majority of the sketchbook. The seaweed painting is students’ first introduction to working on a ground (undercoat).
newspaper and mixed media sketchbook page, GCSE art
GCSE Art sketchbook ideas: Sometimes the simplest things can provide the best learning opportunity. This crumpled up piece of newspaper resting on the sand allows students to practise drawing form, detail and space. Actual newspaper, as well as textured wallpaper, has been glued onto the page in places.
black and white on brown midtone - sketchbook drawing of bones
Graphite and white paint on mid-tone brown. Drawing of skulls buried in sand. Bones can be a great thing to draw within your GCSE Art sketchbook / Coursework.

Learning from the artist Raymond Ching:

learning from raymond ching drawings - gcse sketchbook
This example of an International GCSE sketchbook page shows copies from artist model Raymond Ching. Ching produces beautiful pencil drawings of bones. This example shows a bird skeleton.
creative use of a photocopier - gcse sketchbook tips
The photocopier is an underutilised art tool. This sketchbook example page was created simply by laying found natural objects (grasses and seed pods found at the beach) upon the photocopier and created a black and white image. Photocopiers create the most beautiful deep shadows and often unexpected blurring and marks – particularly when paper gets caught and crunched in the machine!
how to draw water - gcse art sketchbook ideas
This sketchbook page introduces students to different ways of drawing water using various line techniques.
drawings of water - gcse art ideas
This International GCSE sketchbook page example includes graphite pencil drawings of water – the top one completed on thick, high quality tracing paper, which provides a beautiful silky surface for students to draw on.

The top work on this page is inspired by watercolour artist Hazel Soan:

water paintings, gcse art sketchbook work
This International GCSE sketchbook page example explores wet on wet painting techniques using watercolour and acrylic – learning from artist models such as Hazel Soan.

Learning from the artwork of Sylvia Siddell:

learning from artist models - gcse art fish paintings
This sketchbook page illustrates how a student might learn from artist model Sylvia Siddell. A painting is initially analysed, with copies of the painting imitated to learn technique. Then another fish is painted in the style of Sylvia Siddell.

These pages are also visible in the following video:

To see student artwork completed using this teaching programme, please view this IGCSE Art sketchbook by Manisha Mistry, who gained 98% for her Coursework Project based on the same Coastal Environment / Natural Forms theme.


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