RBGE Certificate in Botanical Illustration

The RBGE Certificate in Botanical Illustration (CBI) is a great way learn the fundamental techniques of paint and pencil. Using plants as out core subject this course is an ideal starting certificate if you want to become a botanical illustrator. The techniques you learn are valuable across all areas of illustration and a seldom taught in art colleges or university art departments, so it is well suited to any developing artist.

 Pamela Richardson 

There are many courses that teach botanical illustration, but this structured course consists of 10 units with assessment built into the programme within a standard framework.  The focus is on the fundamental skills, and is taught by experienced and enthusiastic tutors.

There is some theory provided to aid your understanding (in the form of short, highly visual presentations), but the course is designed to be delivered and assessed using a predominantly practical approach.

The CBI is a formal qualification and students must therefore pass on-going assessment to achieve the award.  Students are required to build up a course portfolio containing notes, visuals and exercises. This body of work will show progression and help develop skills leading to a final painted composition. Both the portfolio and the final piece will be assessed and the marks combined to provide the final grade. There is also an element of continuing self assessment and evaluation within the programme.

This course gives you all the skills required to join the RBGE Diploma in Botanical Illustration if you wish to take your studies to a professional level. 

Course Option 

This year we are running the course in the following ways:

Attended Courses

  • A 2 week block course running at RBGE in July 2018
  • A 10 day course running at RBGE one Saturday a month from September 2018 – June 2019

Distance Learning Courses

  • Online Course running from October 2018 – March 2019
  • Online Course running from March 2019 – August 2019

Course Structure


Context of Botanical Illustration and the sketchbook


Drawing plants


Modelling in 3D


Colour and Mixing Painting


Painting techniques 1


Painting techniques 2


Exploring Composition




Composition and Review


Final Assessment

Who is it for? 

The RBGE Certificate in Botanical Illustration (CBI) is for anyone who wants to gain the key fundamental practical skills of an artist. It will be of interest to: 

  • Students interested in becoming a botanical artist or illustrator  
  • Secondary students developing portfolios  
  • Experienced artists who would like to formalize their learning 
  • or Artists who are interested in developing new skills and techniques


This is a predominantly practical course, designed to assess a practical level of understanding and competence. Candidates will be assessed in three ways:

Course Portfolio (40%)

You will be issued with a blank folder which you must then use to record the key knowledge points and all exercises from each unit, as well as the practical activities demonstrated and carried out during the course. 

You are encouraged to include detailed notes, self analysis, diagrams, possibly photographs, labels and/or other information given to you during the course units. However, this is a ‘practical’ course and therefore you will be engaged for the most part in ‘hands on’ drawing and painting. The aim is that this is a working portfolio to which you can refer in the future, and will become an important part of the course.

After Day 5, tutors will carry out an interim review of the Portfolio.

All students must submit their Course Portfolio on the last day of the course for assessment.

Student Assessment 

Each student is required to fill in a self evaluation record. This is to enable the tutors to gage your own understanding of progression during the course.

Final Composition

Students are required to complete one composition piece which illustrates that they can demonstrate the key techniques and skills taught throughout the course. Students are then required to present their work to the tutor, demonstrating where they have been able to meet the set criteria, which will be given at the start of the course.

How to Apply

You download the Applicant's Handbook from the 'Downloads' box on the right. This contains further information of specific dates, times, prices and the application form you must complete. Spaces on this course are limited. Candidates will be selected on the basis of the answers given to the questions on the application form. If all applications are of a high standard, applications may be allocated based in the order they were received.


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