Digital Tools for Art & Design Visits

Interactive Sketchbooks is a new digital resource from Oxford University Museums to support art and design students develop their sketchbook based research skills.

The interactive website was built primarily with students aged 14-16 in mind to complement a ‘sketchbook introduction’ museum visit. The aim of this project was to make the museums’ popular and heavily used example sketchbooks accessible to students and teachers as a resource pre and post visit, and to utilise digital’s ability to ‘layer’ content to enable students to examine more deeply the composition of the sketchbooks, and dig into additional resources about the featured collections.

The current pilot site provides four sketchbooks, one inspired by each of the Oxford University Museums, showing the types of information a student might collect whilst on a visit, and examples of how they might bring these together as a coherent sketchbook page. The sketchbooks are high resolution, allowing for deep zoom, and overlaid with ‘hotspots’ that the student can trigger to open in a lightbox. Museum education officers use these hotspots to provide information about the composition of the page, tips to students on creating their own pages, and links to further resources about the collections to support students in developing their critical understanding of artists, techniques and materials.

Digital Sketchbooks

The digital sketchbook pages featured here were done using two apps: ProCreate and Pic Collage. In ProCreate you can draw, paint, import, crop and manipulate photos and work in layers. Object labels have been photographed and then pinched very small - the photographs can then be enlarged again later to retrieve information such as text and accession numbers so objects can be looked up in online catalogues when back at school.

With some knowledge of ProCreate and Pic Collage apps students can create several digital sketchbook pages in a 1-2 hour visit. Working with an iPad or tablet can enable some students to gather more material than by using a traditional sketchbook.

Apps such as ProCreate and Pic Collage are basic packages and therefore ideal for harvesting and collecting information in a museum, not for developing art techniques. We recommend using a stylus for any drawing work in an iPad or tablet.

The museums have developed a series of films explaining how to use some of the apps mentioned above as part of a museums art and design visit - you can watch the introductory film here.

You can find the rest of the Digital Sketchbooks series on the Ashmolean Website.

Simply click on the images below to expand to full screen.

Ashmolean Museum


Museum of the History of Science


Museum of Natural History


Pitt Rivers Museum


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