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Teaching Leonardo: An Integrated Approach - Renaissance Notebook Assignment

Rick Faloon

[Here is the basic assignment given to the students:]


Over the course of this trimester each of you will create pages for a Renaissance notebook inspired by the work of Leonardo Da Vinci and by other Renaissance artists.  The objective of this project is to give you an opportunity to perform like a Renaissance person by making your own observational sketches, perspective studies, mathematical calculations, scientific notes and drawings.


Your book must contain competent examples of the following:



  • Imagined creature drawing Blind contour drawing (palm of hand)
  • Modified contour drawing (hand)
  • Mechanical drawing (from boat or from mechanical objects in class)
  • Leaf drawing (using contour in ink and pencil)
  • Tonal drawing of torso (using chiaroscuro sfumato)
  • Silverpoint drawing
  • 10 quotations from Leonardo
  • 10 quotes from others including the Vasari quotation (relating to Leonardo’s seven traits)
  • Leonardo biography page
  • List of seven traits of Leonardo with your commentary on your own traits
  • Anatomy drawing from model   (with muscles labeled)
  • Gesture drawings of figure (using ink, conte, etc)
  • Facial expression drawing
  • Backwards writing
  • Master copies -Michelangelo back drawing (crosshatching) 
  •         Mantegna - Dead Christ (foreshortening)
  •         3 copies of works of Leonardo or other Renaissance artists   (your choice)
  • Art History images/pages with notes



  • 2 drawings of Platonic Solids using 1 or 2 point perspective. Show area and volume
  • Tiled Piazza in 1 point linear perspective. Show all measurements and correct perspective. Include quotation by Pierro della Francesca
  • Vitruvian Man and Golden Mean
  • Fibonacci Sequence
  • Mathematical evaluation of a Renaissance Painting showing horizon line, vanishing point, orthogonal lines, eye point and correct ratios demonstrating correct linear perspective.


  • 2 Dissection drawings (done in science class in conjunction with dissection)
  • Drawing of simple machine in Leonardo style; explanation of physics of mechanism

What follows is taken from the mathematics section of this project.

Rick Faloon, "Teaching Leonardo: An Integrated Approach - Renaissance Notebook Assignment," Convergence (October 2004)