This resource page is to assist those who wish to learn more about archaeological illustration, in all its forms. It is intended that it will grow over time to provide a useful and more comprehensive guide to the user.


Getting Started in Archaeological Illustration, a guide for new and aspiring illustrators

Applying for CIfA Accreditation as an Illustrator/Graphic Designer/Photographer/Surveyor



The software listed below is largely industry standard software for each application purpose; both open source and premium (paid for) software are listed. Different archaeology units use different types of software, but we would recommend learning how to use a GIS programme, a CAD programme, a vector graphics editor, and a raster graphics editor. Bear in mind that students and educational institutions may have access to premium software at a reduced price. See the Guidance section below for help learning these programmes.


QGIS Open source software for creating maps and visualising geographic information (GIS)

ArcGIS Premium software for creating maps and visualising geographic information (GIS)

AutoCAD Premium software for plotting measured data such as survey and preparing measured drawings (CAD). Moved to a subscription service in 2018

DraftSight Low-cost (compared to AutoCAD) premium CAD software. No longer available on Linux

LibreCAD Open source CAD software

Inkscape Open source vector graphics editor

CorelDRAW Premium vector graphics editor

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) Open source raster graphics editor

Adobe Photoshop Elements Premium raster graphics editor; a more basic and more affordable version of Photoshop which does not require a cloud subscription (see below)

Adobe Creative Cloud A suite of premium software including Illustrator (vector graphics editor), Photoshop (raster graphics editor), InDesign (layout design) and more; requires a cloud subscription

Agisoft Metashape (formerly PhotoScan) Premium photogrammetry software

RealityCapture Premium photogrammetry and laser scan software

3DF Zephyr Premium and free photogrammetry programme; automatically generates models in free version

CloudCompare Open source 3D point cloud and mesh processing software, useful for editing, analysing and comparing point cloud data

COLMAP Open source general-purpose Structure-from-Motion (SfM) and Multi-View Stereo (MVS) pipeline

Blender Open source 3D modelling software

SketchUp Premium (or free in-browser) 3D modelling software

Autodesk 3ds Max Premium heavy-duty 3D modelling software from the same company as AutoCAD



Finds Drawing

Archaeological Illustration: Small Finds by Thomas Small (BAJR guide 32, 2013)

Introduction to Drawing Archaeological Pottery by Lesley Collett (CIfA Professional Practice Paper 10, revised 2017)

Drawing Lithic Artefacts by Yannick Raczynski-Henk (Sidestone Press, 2017)

The Illustration of Lithic Artifacts: A Guide to Drawing Stone Tools for Specialist Reports by Hazel Martingell and Alan Saville (AAI&S technical paper no. 9, 1988)

The Illustration of Excavated Window Glass by Susan White and David King with update from Lesley Collett in 2022 (AAI&S technical paper no. 10, 1990)

The Illustration of Wooden Artifacts: An Introduction and Guide to the Depiction of Wooden Objects by Steven J Allen (AAI&S technical paper no. 11, 1994)

The Illustration of Prehistoric Pottery by S.Goddard, D.Knight, J.Goddard, S.Hamilton and S.Rouillard (AAI&S technical paper no. 13, 1997)


Survey Methods

The Survey Association Essential Guides

Metric Survey Specifications for Cultural Heritage (Historic England guidance, 2015)

Drawing for Understanding: Creating Interpretive Drawings of Historic Buildings (Historic England guidance, 2016)

Understanding Historic Buildings: A Guide to Good Recording Practice (Historic England guidance, 2016)

Traversing the Past: The Total Station Theodolite in Archaeological Landscape Survey (Historic England guidance, 2015)

Photogrammetric Applications for Cultural Heritage: Guidance for Good Practice (Historic England guidance, 2017)

3D Laser Scanning for Heritage (Historic England guidance, 2018)

BIM for Heritage: Developing a Historic Building Information Model (Historic England guidance, 2017)

Short Guide: Applied Digital Documentation in the Historic Environment (Historic Environment Scotland short guide 13, 2018)

Multi-light Imaging for Heritage Applications (Historic England 2018)

Beginners Guide to Aerial Survey and Rectification by David Connolly (BAJR guide 7)

The Survey and Recording of Historic Buildings and Monuments technical paper from 1995


Software Guides

QGIS for Archaeologists: Getting Started by Jake Streatfeild-James (BAJR Guide 42, 2016)

Online Courses Review Links to graphic design software courses


Helpful Peer-Reviewed Articles

Where are we? Reviewing the Integration of Complex Spatial Data in Current Field Archaeology by Peter Jensen (Internet Archaeology, 2017)



Digital Image Capture and File Storage (Historic England guidance, 2015)

Photography for Archaeologists Part II : Artefact recording by Lisa Jayne Fisher (BAJR guide 26, 2009)



Archaeological Illustration post-graduate module, University of Edinburgh (see also reading list on the linked page)

Archaeological Illustration and Imaging undergraduate module, University College London

Short courses via Mark Hoyle and NAA (see webpages for planned courses)

Heritage Visualisation MSC, Glasgow School of Art (a course with a broader scope than commercial archaeological illustration, including 3D survey)

Archaeological Graphics module, University of Reading (module within Archaeology degree)



Adobe Color colour palette generator

Hachure brushes for Adobe Illustrator (ZIP file with .ai file and PDF how-to) supplied by Historic England

Archaeological Reconstruction: Illustrating the Past (2000 AAI&S/IfA publication)

Reconstruction Illustration: Bibliography from Graphic Archaeology magazine 2007

OS Open Data Free downloadable data from the Ordnance Survey; shapefiles compatible with GIS software for UK mapping

Preparation of Artwork for Publication (technical paper from 1992)

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