Learning by Designing Pacific Northwest Coast Native Indian Art, Volume 1

Raven Publishing Inc.

Regular price $32.95

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By Jim Gilbert and Karin Clark

  • Learn Pacific Northwest Coast native formline art, step-by-step, with this comprehensive guidebook, including "how to draw" sections.
  • Plan out traditional formline drawings and create meaningful, original designs.
  • Save hours of researching online with well-researched cultural background information and regional art-style comparisons.
  • Beginner to expert, find something for everyone!  
  • Make it easy with step-by-step, clear, concise directions and detailed illustrations.
  • Meet your curriculum expectations beautifully, with history and applied design techniques, if you're a teacher or homeschooler.
  • Feel confident in respectful content. Our books have been vetted and recommended for accuracy and respectful tone by First Nations artists, educators, and community members.


    • A reference and instruction manual with a detailed, thoroughly analyzed, well-supported comparison of four Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations art styles.
    • Includes 800 clear, detailed illustrations accompanied by straightforward copy.
    • Topics cover design formline, ovoids, U shapes, S shapes, heads, body parts, and design formation, as well as a step-by-step “how to draw” section.
    • A glossary explains terms, an extensive index supplies easy references, and a bibliography supplies further resources.
    • Durable soft cover, black and white, 224 pages.
    • 5 in x 11 in 
    • First published 2000 and reprinted in 2002, 2005, and 2012, Volume 1 has sold over 25,000 copies to date, and it is one of our most popular books.

    Don't forget to buy the companion manual



    “This book provides valuable information about the complex variations of Northwest Coast designs. It is well researched, and all artists should benefit from this information. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK. Congratulations.”  

    — Chief Tony Hunt Mupin Kim, Klah Kwa Tzee Four Times Chief/Big Copper - Kwagulth Master Carver and Artist. Tsaxis/Victoria, B.C.


     “This well researched and richly illustrated book will be of great benefit to anyone, from children to adults, who wants to learn about the art styles of Northwest Coast First Nations."

    — Steve Brown, Author and Artist, Associate Curator, Native American Art, Seattle Art Museum. Seattle, Washington.


    “An incredible teaching resource that can be integrated into the curriculum for the teaching of art in a comprehensive manner ... will provide a bridge of understanding to the diversity of the art styles of the Northwest Coast." 

    — Nella Nelson,  First Nations Education Division Coordinator, Greater Victoria School District, Member of the Tsawataineuk Band, Kwakwaka’wakw Nation. Victoria, B.C.


    “A font of information for those who feel a need to understand more about the fascinating complexities of Northwest Coast Native Indian Art ... Excellent, the best yet." 

    — Reg Ashwell, Art Collector, Consultant and Author. Saltspring Island, B.C.


    Table of Contents



    Overview of Learning by Design

    Aboriginal Art within a Cultural Context

    Map: Culture and Art Style Regions of the Pacific Northwest Coast

    Map: Four Major Art Style Regions of the Pacific Northwest Coast

    History and Description of the Mid Coast Art Style

    History and Description of the South Coast Art style

    History and Description of the West Coast Art Style

    Basic Design

    Formline: An Introduction



    U Shape

    S Shape

    Joining Design Units

    Salmon Head Design


    Examples of Heads in Design Units

    Examples of Free Form Heads

    Head Components

    Beaks and Bills







    Hats, Headbands, Hair

    Moustaches, Beards



    Body Parts and Appendages

    Body and Appendage Designs

    Split Body Designs

    Balance, Apparent Symmetry, and X-Ray Design

    Comparing Bodies Across Art Styles

    Arms and Hands - Human

    Legs and Feet - Bird Toes, Claws, Webs

    Fins and Tails - Fish and Sea Creature

    Tails - Otter

    Tails - Whales

    Tails - Animal

    Wings and Tails - Bird

    How to Draw

    How to Draw Ovoids

    Approaches to Drawing Ovoids

    Making Ovoid Patterns or Templates

    How to Draw Ovoids Across Art Styles

    Ovoids Used in Designs Across art Styles

    How to Draw a North Coast Art Style Eye and Eyelid

    How to Draw U Shapes

    Approaches to Drawing U Shapes

    Making U Shaped Patterns or Templates

    How to Draw U Shapes for Design Purposes

    U Shapes Used in Designs Across Art Styles

    How to Draw an Eagle Head

    How to Draw a Salmon Head

    How to Draw a Human Head

    How to Draw a Killer Whale

    How to Draw a Wolf Head


    Glossary of Art Terms

    Bibliography and Resources


    Learn about Raven Publishing's authors.