Notes for Illustrators

Surrey Archaeological Collections

The Surrey Archaeological Society strives to publish illustrations of high quality and will expect well-prepared work, which will enhance the accompanying article as well as the volume.

A simple clear style is preferred and illustrations are best discussed with the editors before final versions are prepared. Good quality photocopies should be submitted with the draft text but original drawings must be supplied for final publication, although crisp photocopies may be acceptable in some circumstances.

All illustrations, whether in line or half-tone, are integrated into the text and should therefore be numbered as a single sequence of figures (not plates), abbreviated to 'fig(s)'. All figures should be referred to in the text and should be numbered in the order in which they are to appear in the printed article. Their approximate positions in the text should be indicated in pencil in the margins of the manuscript. All photographs and drawings should be clearly marked with their relevant figure numbers and a list of captions should be supplied separately. The print area for the Collections is 205 x 135mm and all illustrations should be prepared with these dimensions in mind, leaving enough room for a caption. Fold-out illustrations are used in exceptional circumstances but these are expensive and contributors may be asked to bear the extra cost of including them.

Maps, plans and diagrams

Care and consideration should be taken to ensure that each figure does the job intended of it, and also that extraneous information is excluded.

Maps, plans and diagrams are normally drawn using a Rotring, or similar pen, on plastic-based drafting film on which mistakes can be erased using a rubber together with moisture. Care should be taken to ensure that the chosen ink is of sufficient density to appear as black. Illustrations always improve with reduction so work should always be supplied at a size greater than that at which it will appear. A reduction factor of 2:1 is adequate for most drawings but larger scales are appropriate in some circumstances (ie for detailed excavation plans or surveys covering large areas). The effects of reduction should be borne in mind when considering the size and style of any lettering and the width of lines.

When maps for publication are based on Ordnance Survey mapping, editions which are out of copyright (50 years rather than 70 years for printed material) should be used wherever possible. The editors should be given details of O.S. sources which are in copyright in order to obtain permission for reproduction. The date of the map used should be included in the figure caption, if appropriate. On maps and plans, the north point should be shown (a simple style should be used) together with a neat and unobtrusive metric scale (using the abbreviations 'km' or 'm' for kilometres and metres). An imperial scale may also be used if appropriate. A simple primary location map should be supplied and may be inset into a larger figure. Such a map could include major rivers (eg the Mole, Wey and Thames), the line of the North Downs, and relevant larger settlements marked with dots. The site name is best included in the caption. Frames around drawings are unnecessary unless the plan shows a detail of a larger area.


Drawings of pottery and other finds should be capable of standing alone to explain the object being portrayed. Illustrations submitted will be expected to show an understanding of conventions commonly used in finds illustration. Care should be taken in, for instance, locating the positions of sections, and ensuring that, in all cases, the light source comes from the top left-hand corner. Different views of an object should be linked using a single short dash. Pottery and other large finds may be drawn on either plastic-based drafting film or heavyweight tracing paper and mounted using 'Magic Tape' on thin card capable of being rolled (the print area of the Collections fits just within an A1 sheet at 4x enlargement). Frames are not necessary. A linear scale will be required for all finds illustrations. For contrasting styles of illustrations of small finds see Hare 1985 (for a line technique) or Crummy 1988 (for stippled drawings).

Pottery is normally drawn at 1:1 for linear reduction to 1:4 or exceptionally to 1:3 (usually for prehistoric pottery).

Small finds (eg of copper alloy) are normally drawn at 2:1 for reduction to 1:1.

Iron is normally drawn at 1:1 for reduction to 1:2 or smaller.

All but the smallest flints are best drawn at 1:1.

Flints can be especially difficult to draw and may require knowledge of flintworking techniques; they may be best left to a draughtsman experienced with this material. Flints are best executed using a dip pen on a suitable card which can take linework, although drafting film is acceptable (see Martingell & Saville 1988 for a high standard in flint drawing). Any author considering publishing large numbers of flint drawings must consult the editors beforehand.

Prospective illustrators are urged to refer to the conventions and techniques used in recent volumes of the Collections (eg Williams, 1999) for fine quality drawings. For general comments on illustration technique authors are referred to Adkins & Adkins 1989 and Griffiths, Jenner & Wilson 1991.


Maps and diagrams can easily be marred through poorly-applied annotations or inappropriate use of fonts and point sizes.

These days various forms of computer-generated lettering are most often used and have largely replaced the old 'Letraset' techniques. The most convenient method is to print out lettering on to A4 sheets of clear self-adhesive film (such as LazerSharp, obtainable from the London Graphic Centre) which is then cut with a sharp knife. Drawings supplied with low resolution lettering (ie with jagged edges) will not be acceptable.


These should be good quality black and white prints though advances in image-processing techniques mean that colour prints or transparencies may be acceptable. Photographs should be sharp and have good contrast and must be supplied at a size at least equal to, but preferably larger than, that at which they are to be printed. Photographs should not be physically trimmed, but any peripheral areas not required for reproduction should be clearly indicated on a tracing paper overlay or on an accompanying photocopy.

Illustrations on disk

Where illustrations are to be submitted on disk (either 3.5" or CD-ROM) the following formats should be used:

Line drawings: eps (or 1000dpi bitmap)

Monochrome photographs: 300 dpi tiff

Colour photographs: 300 dpi tiff (but CMYK not RGB)


Adkins, L & Adkins, R, 1989 Archaeological illustration, Cambridge University Press

Crummy, N, 1983 The Roman small finds from excavations in Colchester 1971-9, Colchester Archaeological Reports 2

Crummy, N, 1988 The post-Roman small finds from excavations in Colchester 1971-85, Colchester Archaeological Reports 5

Griffiths, N, Jenner, A & Wilson, C, 1991 Drawing archaeological finds: a handbook, London, Archetype

Hare, J N, 1985 Battle Abbey, English Heritage

Martingell, H & Saville, A, 1988 The illustration of lithic artefacts: a guide to drawing stone tools for specialist reports, Technical paper of the Association of Archaeological Illustrators No 9

Williams, D W, 1999 Some recent finds from Surrey, SyAC, 86, 171-97

The Association of Archaeological Illustrators and Surveyors (AAIS) produces a number of technical papers. Apart from No 9 noted above, those available in late 1999 include Nos 8, 10, 11, 12 and 13 which deal with footwear, excavated window glass, wooden artefacts, surveying and recording historic buildings, and prehistoric pottery respectively.

 (December 2005)