wooden models

10 drawing prompts to help you sketch outside the box.

1) Self portrait:  In a mirror with a washable pen, trace the lines of your face (on your face), or of one particular part (an eye, your mouth, etc.) Take note of things that you discover: the placement of under-eye bags, the curves in your nose, the line of your jaw. Recreate the line-art on paper. 

2) Poses and Posture: Draw stick figures in a variety of positions- dancing, jumping, leaning backwards, sitting forwards, etc. gradually fill in the bodies of these figures using a wooden model or online guide. It’s helpful to draw a line down the centre of your figures that runs through the nose, sternum, and pelvis. If your figure is twisted or bent, the line should be too. 

3) Doodle: Draw the silhouette of something you’re good at drawing. Then, draw the biggest circle that you can without going outside the lines of that silhouette. In the remaining space around the circle, draw the biggest circles that you can. Attempt to fill the entire space with circles. Each new circle creates room for several smaller ones, and eventually you will have spaces that are too small for new circles ( using a fineliner will reduce but not eliminate this problem). If you like, colour in the circles and spaces according to the coloration of the thing you drew the silhouette of. 

4) Creativity: Using an online guide, make a rough sketch of the proportions of a human face. Include lines for the nose, mouth, eyes, ears, and eyebrows. Then, instead of drawing a human face, try to draw one as alien as possible while still following the proportions you have sketched. Pay attention to shading and details such as eyelashes, lip-wrinkles, and facial blemishes. 

5) Hands: Go through a few magazines and cut out pictures of hands in as many different positions as possible to glue into your sketchbook. Using a pencil or erasable pen, trace over the key features of each hand. Pay close attention to the width of the hand, the length, and its connection to the wrist. Try to recreate these hands beside the pictures. Don’t focus on detail, instead, focus on making the position of the hand look as natural and fluid as possible.  

6) Perspective: with a pencil, draw a large square with a dot in the centre. Draw lines between the corners of the square, crossing over the dot in the centre. Attempt to draw the room you are sitting in by first drawing the largest objects, and later filling in details. Use the lines as guidelines for perspective: things closer to the dot will be further away, things closer to the edges of the square will be closest to you. An object that starts close and gets further away will seem like it is being ‘pulled’ into the centre by the dot, and will have lines of the same angles as those you have drawn. 

7) Animals: If you have a pet, try to sketch it as quickly as possible. Focus on forms and shapes, not on detail. When it moves, sketch its new position over top of the old one. If it moves to the right, sketch it again to the right. Allow your sketches to overlap. If you do not have a pet, this would be a great excuse to watch cute cat videos on youtube. 

8) Memory: It’s dangerous to rely on memory when drawing, especially if you haven’t trained your memory to recall forms and shapes before details. Generally, what we remember most about a scene is what we see as the most unusual. This is why some people are good at drawing eyes, but unable to draw the rest of the face. For this exercise, find a photograph you like in a magazine or newspaper, and give yourself 30 seconds to study it. Try to see shapes, not objects. Instead of seeing a cup, remember the shape of the cup and its position relevant to other objects. Then, try recreate the photograph from memory. This may take several tries, don’t be afraid to ‘cheat’ if you get stuck. 

9) Abstract: allow yourself to be filled with a specific emotion. Focus on that emotion, think about how it feels, the physical effect it has on your body. Try to draw that emotion coming out of you. It may be helpful to start by drawing a self-portrait of your facial expression while feeling the emotion, and letting yourself get carried away as you draw the components of your face that are most altered by that expression. Don’t try to preserve the first things you sketch, let them be covered and obscured as you add more details. 

10) Practice: It’s always good to practice drawing objects, I find it most helpful to draw from photographs. Dedicate a page in your book to drawing objects that you feel represent you, or are otherwise close to your heart/ identity. Like music? Try drawing piano keys. Like fashion? Draw a few of your outfits draped over the bed. Try to fill the page with these drawings, making use of every inch of space available. 

Margaret E. Knight (1838-1914) was the first woman to be awarded a patent for an invention in the United States. The device in question was a machine which folded and glued brown paper to form the paper bags which are still used, with the same design, today.

Despite lack of formal education, as she had been forced to work in a cotton mill from age 12, she came up with the idea and built a wooden model of the device. A male coworker stole her design and applied for the patent, but Knight was given due credit after taking him to court and winning in 1871. She went on to apply for 26 more patents throughout her life.


Large Egyptian Boat Model and Crew, Middle Kingdom, Dynasty XI-XII, C. 2134-1782 BC

Made of wooden polychrome stucco, this large and exceptional boat model, accompanied by its crew, is a perfect illustration of grave goods dating from the First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom. These models appear as early as the sixth dynasty (c. 2350 BC) and have the same meaning as the scenes carved on the walls of the tombs of the Old Kingdom with the aim to provide for the deceased in his or her afterlife. At nearly 60 inches long, this particular model is one of the largest known boats in existence.

Personal Profile – Norman Carr

Norman Carr’s official title at Our Home and Miniature Land is Vehicle Development Team Leader which means he sources all suitable vehicles for the exhibits. Unofficially he’s known as Q – the character from James Bond films. He is the one responsible for commercially available diecast models, plastic models and scratchbuilt models, and he has to do them in a scale of 1:87.

Years ago Norman visited Miniature Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany and he has long had an affinity for building very small vehicles, streetcars and model railways. When Our Home and Miniature Land was looking for modellers, he replied. He initially got hooked on making model aircraft at the tender age of seven, and then graduated to models of wooden boats and after that came trains. The skills he developed were further attuned with the technical expertise he picked up in his career at Ontario Hydro where he was involved in instrumentation and control at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, and later in technology-based training. He also continued to do graphic arts on his own.

Norman enjoys card modelling, model railways, and tramway modelling, along with collecting die cast cars. His favourite book is Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and not surprisingly, his favourite movie is a James Bond flick – Dr. No.


“I was at home, yesterday night past. And I was helping my son with a wooden ship model. That’s something we do. And he asked me about the ship. I said it was the kind of ship used for exploring the seas. And he said, “Where do they explore, Father?” And I told him, “Everywhere. The Orient, Peru, and even the frozen North.” And he says, “What’s that, Father?” And so I told him it was the places all covered with snow. North of Scotland and even beyond that. And he said, “Do people live there?” And I said, um… “No. It’s too cold and lonely all the time. No one lives there.” And I started to cry. And I couldn’t stop. My son took my hand. I…I couldn’t stop crying.”                                                                                                                                           Why?                                                                                                                          “Because I realized I was wrong.”