archaeological illustration

Valerie Woelfel

1178 Thomas Ave

St. Paul, MN 55104


651 649=1506

Artifact drawings

cypriot artimis from Idalion


One of the most common tasks of an archaeological illustrator is drawing finds and features from excavations and museums. With over 20 years experience in the field, I have worked with a wide range of materials from tiny neolithic beads to the wall paintings of Pompeii.



byzantine pot Archaeological illustration is not just making a pretty picture of an object. The goal is to provide the most information in a form that viewers can read. A good illustrator knows the conventions governing how artifacts should be drawn. My knowledge of the techniques used to record and draw artifacts makes my work accurate and clear. My years of experience means I can work quickly and get more done before a dig season ends or a publication deadline passes.


lithicI first attended field school in 1986. Since then I have spent a part of every summer in the field and in the lab. This knowledge of archaeology gives me an edge when illustrating, an understanding of what is needed by the archaeologist and how best to depict the material. I can work independently so the director is free to manage the many other tasks at hand. I provide my own equipment and can adapt to work in the basement of an aging museum or the spotless facilities of a proper lab.


greek lampMost of the artifact illustrations I do are ceramics. I start by creating a pencil drawing which is then scanned in and inked in Adobe Illustrator. The time saved by working in Illustrator and Photoshop means more artifacts drawn in less time. The result is a digital drawing that can easily be shared, stored or sent to a publisher. I still create some images in pen and ink when I feel that will better show the details or shading of an artifact.