Kidney Sciart Home

General Instructions

Learn how to sketch

The art of Physiology

Lesson 1

Contextualising the kidney

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Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Gross Kidney Anatomy

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Lesson 2

Lesson 3

The nephron

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lesson 3

Lesson 4

The glomerulus

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Lesson 4


Welcome to a new way of learning about the Kidney

This is a short course of 4 lessons looking closely at kidney anatomy. At the end of the course you should have 4  beautiful images of kidney, should have learnt how to draft am image accurately and learnt some drawing skills.


For each session you have been given tasks to improve three elements of your critical thinking;


  1. Accuracy
  2. Draughtsmanship
  3. Knowledge of Kidney anatomy

Art and science can be taught together. This short course shows you how that can be done.

General information & Instruction pages

1. About the course
2. What is art in your heart?
3. What you will learn
4. Equipment and materials
5. Assessment Strategies
6. Homework
1. About the course

Here is what you will learn: 

  •  Introduction to the transdisciplinary nature of science and art and preparing for the course
  •  Learning the basics of drawing, sketching and 3D rendering
  • Close observation (Lessons 1-5)

2. What is art in your heart?

Ultimately, scientists and artists alike change the perception of the world around us.


I have taken an excerpt from my blog Can science and art co-exist?  below. 

Science and art as a transdiciplinary subject

Both scientists and artists alike try and communicate the way in which they see the world. The public has empathised particularly with the science of the natural world and the environment; plants, botany, animals, climate and the like, especially since David Attenborough first introduced his powerful series examining life on earth in the 1980’s.


This has in part been due to incredibly strong visual images, photography and dedication of the cameras and scientists behind these programmes. Who can forget the Iguanas and the snakes episode? (If you don’t know what I’m talking about -youtube it)


This course aims to introduce the idea that science, in order to be effective, needs the skills that art brings, to communicate and bring the discipline into the 21st century.


Science needs art


Jerome Kagan, an Emeritus professor at Harvard University and listed in one review as the 22nd most eminent psychologist of the 20thcentury, says that the arts contribute amazingly well to learning because they regularly combine the three major tools that the mind uses to acquire, store, and communicate knowledge: motor skills, perceptual representation, and language. http://Bazler, Judith, and Meta Van Sickle, eds. Cases on STEAM Education in Practice. IGI Global, 2017. .


A recent article in The Guardian (attached here) again describes how the simple communications of scientific ideas through art (starting in the 1600’s) can revolutionise and create a whole movement :https://franscienceart.com/2019/04/26/big-tick-energy-how-a-tiny-flea-created-a-revolution-in-british-art-art-and-design-the-guardian/


Let’s assume as a scientist you have gained two of the three major tools that the mind uses to acquire, store, and communicate knowledge: motor skills, and language, but what about perceptual representation?


Once you start to focus in on a topic and become so engrossed in it, it becomes difficult to communicate effectively what you are doing, especially if others are not on your journey or don’t have a basic understanding of your field . The capacity to get creative with our ideas and think outside the box can only do good for scientific advances. 


Does art need science?


Artistic and scientific skills should not be exclusive but embedded in every subject and whilst I have made a case for science to need art, does art need science?


I’m not talking about an artist going off and researching cancer, but instead gaining all the transferrable skills you get from being ‘scientific’. This means developments in observational skills, the objective assessment of what you see, constructing a strong argument, deduction, interpretation and understanding a subject until you ‘know it’ implicitly.  Historians do it, as do geographers, but those pure artists? Any good artist would say that some of those skills are ones that they excel in.


3. What you will learn

Aims and Objectives

  1. How to analyse an object ; to use your senses of touch and feel to look at something from all angles in order to interpret its form , proportion and structure and gain as much understanding and information as possible
  2. One of the other aims of this course is not only to be able to learn how to draw but also by mastering this new skill you will learn how to persevere
  3. The final aim is to be able to comprehend the underlying structure of the heart and why it does what it does.

This will be achieved by:

  1.  Learning the theories behind realistic drawing and   composition; rendering a 3 dimensional subject onto a 2 dimensional surface providing step by step instructions.
  2. Listening to the accompanying audio with the drawing.
  3. Completing the small tests to see how much you have learnt

4. Equipment and materials

The art in your heart kit: equipment and materials



Has to be hard and smooth.


Believe it or not I have found in my experience the paper can make a great deal of difference. I find that with drawing any good quality smooth watercolour paper (hot pressed),  is good for the paper that I like to use. In these instances Winsor & Newton 100lbs or Bristol board, such as Strathmore. Usually an A4 size is more than enough.  If you want to go for the sketchbooks there are some really lovely ones  such as the Stillman & Birn Zeta series.


Some of these might be outside your budget and I don’t think that it’s the be all and end all if you can’t get this paper however if you wanted to frame your work or present your work the quality of paper and the quality of your drawing can really be improved on better paper .



When I was a kid I never knew what on earth any of the different pencil grades were . These range from 4H to 8B  and you will need them. Faber Castell 9000 series, Caran’d Aches, Mitsibushi Hi – Uni or Staedtler Mars Lumograph have some, but stick with one make as the hardness of the lead  can vary from make to make .


I have found that mechanical pencils are really good for line drawing with tiny leads (0.2-0.3mm)



These are also essential. a putty eraser enables you to lift off graphite directly from the paper however I use a retractable Tombow mono zero, Which allows you to erase very small areas on your page



I like my pencil’s super sharp with an elongated lead, the tip then needs to be finely tuned so I use a Derwent sharpener with dual sharpening action and sometimes a scalpel and sandpaper to get that extra level.


Tracing paper

An odd thing I know and not an absolute necessity however it can be used to transfer any preparatory drawings or protect any work in progress, so that it doesn’t smudge


Magnifying glass

Unless you have the eyes of an eagle, the level of accuracy that is sometimes required, particularly if like me you have failing eyesight , magnifying glasses become essential. Clip on ones for your board or alternatively ones that you can actually wear on your face such as watchmaker’s glasses can take your work to another level


Work area

Being organised in science and in art is important. You have to be comfortable and you have to have your materials at hand. You need good lighting because you miss detail, and you end up getting headaches.


Be aware that when you sketch you may introduce a parallax error and therefore raising your work upwards towards you will minimise this effect, in addition, it’ll prevent back ache.


If you are right handed,  have your pencils and what not to the right hand side of you and if you’re left handed have your pencils and what not on the left hand side of you. This prevents crossover and coincidentally is a technique commonly used in cell culture hoods to prevent contamination .

5. Assessment Strategies

Assessment Strategies

This course uses a number of assessment strategies to  help you achieve your goals. These include:

  1. Drawing assignments
  2. Quizzes
  3. Active participation (peer feedback and uploading your work)

(see menu below for more detail)

6. Homework


Every week you will be given tasks to accomplish before you move on to the next lesson. It is recommended that you spend  a week undertaking this.

If you cannot complete the tasks within a recommended time don’t worry about it have a rest and come back to it when you can manage , however once the course has been launched, every week there will be forums and peer assessment that will be moderated for that week. This means that if you miss the deadline you will be unable to take part in that assessment and be able to comment on other people’s work and have your work commented upon.

Further Information about the course

Information: Read before you start

Independent learning

Nobody loves homework- so we have called this something different.

Every week you will be set tasks, some of which can be assessed and others not.  If you complete the tasks you’ll see yourself improving


Assessment Strategies

This course uses a number of assessment strategies to  help you achieve your goals. These include:

  1. Drawing assignments
  2. Quizzes
  3. Active participation (peer feedback and uploading your work).
  1. Drawing assignments

Each part asks you to  complete a drawing assignment  or two that addresses one of the three aims at the beginning of the course (under assessment startegies). If you wish to do more,  please do so,  if you wish to draw other things and apply your general knowledge of what you have learned we would love to see that . Targeted assignments  will be more clearly explained in the homework section for that week and exemplars will be provided.

2. Quizzes

In order to assess how well you do or how much you know or don’t know there will be a quiz at the end of the  course. The aim is for you to improve and even if it isn’t 100% correct you will have progressed and will have known more than you did when you began.

3. Active participation (peer feedback and uploading your work).

Pivotal to this course is an active participation in uploading your work and critiquing other people’s work. We therefore strongly encourage students to post their work within the discussion forum and to also participate in the discussions (see rules on acceptable behaviour for forums).

For some assessments you will be required to assess your own work and for others you will be required to assess another students work. Under both circumstances a rubric will be provided.

Peer assessment

How to peer assess

You will be required to comment on at least two other assignments that have been submitted , although you may mark more if you wish

All feedback must be constructive and operate within the guidelines

There will be a range of skill sets on display  within the course, when reviewing someone else’s work try and examine these with your own work in mind  and learn from them. It’s not a competition, it’s about self improvement.

How to use the tutorial videos

How to utilise the tutorial videos

The audio that accompanies the video is aimed at all levels. We would suggest first listening to the audio and watching the video  from the start to get an overview of the content.

Watch the video again and begin to start drawing,  pausing regularly to catch up or two take notes.  

Watch the video again and again if you need to , ultimately you can tailor this to suit your own needs. You will find that the information discussed during the video may begin to sink in the more you listen to it


General rules for engagement


Be mindful of your comments: be patient and courteous , read them before you post them, make sure that they are appropriate and constructive .


Please do not use jargon, slang , avoid colloquialisms, avoid text language and emoticons and do not use capital letters unless grammatically required, as this can be interpreted as SHOUTING!!!

General rules of communication

Communicate in a simple way , with respect . Avoid gloating and highlighting others mistakes: if correction or clarification is necessary communicate via private conversation .

If you need further help in how to articulate your thoughts and ideas here is a link to oracy skills .

As this will produce a variety of work, respect copyright. If you do use others work make sure it is suitably cited and referenced and ensure that your work is your own work.

For further reading

Shea, Virginia. “Core Rules of Netiquette.” Educom Review29.5 (1994): 58-62.

Optimising your lighting/Photos

Quality of submitted work



If you have a scanner and can scan your work before uploading it. Great!

If however that’s not your cup of tea most of you are going to most likely be taking photographs of your work

Common problems

We find a lot of the following issues when people upload their work. Have a look through and make sure they won’t apply to you!!

  • White paper doesn’t look white and some areas are dark and some areas are light
  • The white paper actually looks like it’s in the shade or in the dark so contrast is diminished
  • The image isn’t face on but is actually twisted

So how do you overcome these issues?

Tips for taking the best image

  • Clean the lens of your camera (fingerprints and smears on lenses are really common issues)
  • Keep your camera or device steady
  • Laying  your image flat and taking a photo from above is the easiest way
  • Make sure you centre your image before taking a photograph , and then crop it
  • Take and image of your work in a well lit area without any surrounding objects to cast shadows
  • Use natural light or if that isn’t possible use a daylight light bulb
  • Try not to use flash photography as this leads to over exposure

Social Media and Franscienceart

Please tag us when you share your drawings @franscienceart.com 

You can use the following hashtag #franscienceart to let us know you are sharing your work.

Read our terms and conditions here, which discuss properly crediting Franscienceart in your work if you want to display work that is form the tutorial.



Online Resources for Artinyourheart

Ahem. Still working on that….

Further Queries

Any further queries please email info@franscienceart


Go to sketching page

Learn how to sketch using a wide range of pencil grades and also a variety of sketching techniques

Brush up on your sketching techniques

5 lessons – 2 hours
View Week

“I worked with Fran for many miserable years, but I should emphasize that it wasn’t her fault. She is without doubt one of the nicest and most talented scientists that I have ever met and what sets her apart from the others is the mysterious hold she has over me.”
Philip Miller Tate
Philip Miller TateSurrey,UK
“She puts students at the heart of what she does and is an amazing role model for them. As well as a sparky and inspiring colleague.”
Hilary Wason
Hilary WasonKingston University, London
“This course is amazing. Why is it free?”


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