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.


The software listed below is largely industry standard software for each application purpose; both open source (free) 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)

DraftSight Open source software for plotting measured data such as survey and preparing measured drawings (CAD)

AutoCAD Premium software for plotting measured data such as survey and preparing measured drawings (CAD)

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 version of Photoshop which does not require a 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

Agisoft PhotoScan Premium photogrammetry software

Blender Open source 3D modelling software

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


Finds Drawing

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

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

Survey Methods

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)

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

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

Traversing the Past: The total station theodolite in archaeological landscape survey (Historic England guidance, 2016)

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 2013)

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)


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

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