CODY Astronomical Society


Drawing the Moon

"Why draw the Moon?" has the same answer as "Why climb Mount Everest?" - "Because it is there - and looks good - and is fun to attempt to draw!"

Here is some advice from our member Gordon Lloyd.

  • Only attempt a drawing on a night when the air is fairly steady sufficiently often to avoid frustration! This almost always means that the Moon must be above about 30 in elevation.
  • Use whatever medium - pencil, ink, combination, crayon, felt-pen - you are happy with.
  • Use proper paper for the purpose. (I used ordinary paper for the Aristarchus/Herodotus drawing and regretted it)
  • For good detail with strong shadows, draw areas of the Moon near the "Terminator" (not a violent film - but the part of the Moon near its Sunrise or Sunset where shadows are long).
  • Don’t try to draw too large an area, or one will take too long to complete the whole drawing to the same standard.
  • Typically, when doing ordinary drawings from nature, one scales the drawing in the time-honoured way by holding out the pencil at arm's length! This results in a drawing the same subtended size as the scene itself. Unfortunately, one obviously cannot do this with a telescope!
  • Also, it is impractical to use a high enough magnification that the area of the Moon being drawn looks the same size at the eye as one’s drawing. Therefore there is the added problem of making the drawing much bigger than what one sees in the eyepiece.
  • The basic approach is the same as for all art - sketch out the main features and get the scaling and shapes correct.
  • Then progressively fill in details, working all over the drawing so that some parts don’t get so much attention that other parts don’t get finished.
  • Don’t bother to fill in the shadows - simply draw around them and crosshatch.
  • Try to encompass as much as possible of the range of grey-shades present. This is actually impossible, but a compressed scale is satisfactory and is all photographs can do too.
  • To help achieve this, make the average grey somewhat darker than you first think. Otherwise you run out of grey-shades and have to re-do whole areas again.
  • Only draw what you can actually see! This prevents embarrassment when comparing the drawing later with maps and photographs. Remember the long-running fiasco of the "Canals of Mars" when astronomers convinced themselves that they could see details on Mars which, quite-honestly, they were imagining!
  • At home, fill in the shadows with pencil of ink. Finish, but do not embellish or alter the drawing.
  • Use a fixative liquid to prevent smudging of a pencil drawing.

Click here to see a drawing made by Gordon of the crater CLAVIUS 

Click here for a photograph of CLAVIUS by member Paul Curtis for comparison.   

Click here for a drawing made by Gordon of the crater COPERNICUS  

See some more of Gordon's drawings - click on thumbnails below:-