Paint and draw

Draw Like a Pre-Raphaelite

Discover how these artists draw people and clothes

Illustration by Helena Perez Garcia

Illustration by Helena Perez Garcia

The Pre-Raphaelites were a society of artists founded in London in 1848. The group was made up of poets, designers, sculptors and painters.

Art at the time was often influenced by Renaissance artists such as Raphael. The Pre-Raphaelites thought it was boring and wanted to do something different!

They made art in new ways, using modern life, literature and the medieval period as their inspiration.

They believed in the idea of 'art for art's sake', meaning art doesn't need to have a purpose. It can just be beautiful.


Sir John Everett Millais, Bt
Ophelia (1851–2)

The Pre-Raphaelites loved to read and write, and many of their paintings were inspired by famous poems and stories.

Ophelia was painted by John Everett Millais and shows a character from the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare.

Do you have a favourite story or poem which you'd like to draw?


Dante Gabriel Rossetti was one of the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelites. He used his friends and family as models, dressed up as different characters.

In his painting Proserpine his friend Jane Morris is dressed as an Ancient Roman goddess who was kidnapped and taken to the underworld.

Objects in the painting give us clues about her story.

  • The pomegranate represents being trapped
  • The incense burner shows she is a goddess
  • The ivy is a symbol of memory. She misses her home!

Which objects would you choose to tell your story?


The Pre-Raphaelites studied their models very carefully to make sure they got their faces just right. Proportion is very important when it comes to drawing faces.

Let's draw a face

Template of how to draw a portrait

1. Draw a cross, then sketch an oval shape around the cross. This will be your face!

Template of how to draw a portrait

2. Draw two almond shapes for eyes on either side of the vertical line

Template of how to draw a portrait

3. Between the chin and the eyes, draw another horizontal line. On this line draw your nose

Template of how to draw a portrait

4. Just below the nose, draw a third horizontal line and add your mouth

Template of how to draw a portrait

5. Add some eyebrows above the eyes

Template of how to draw a portrait

6. Now for the hair! What style will you choose?


Illustration of Christina Rossetti

Illustration by Helena Perez Garcia

Christina Rossetti was a poet and writer. Her most famous work is a long poem called Goblin Market about two sisters and their adventures at an enchanted fruit market. Her brother, Dante Gabriel, illustrated the poem.

Christina Rossetti also wrote the poem below. Can you read it and then illusrate it?

You can use paints, colouring pencils or crayons. Be sure to use lots of colour!


What is pink? a rose is pink
By the fountain's brink.
What is red? a poppy's red
In its barley bed.
What is blue? the sky is blue
Where the clouds float thro'.
What is white? a swan is white
Sailing in the light.
What is yellow? pears are yellow,
Rich and ripe and mellow.
What is green? the grass is green,
With small flowers between.
What is violet? clouds are violet
In the summer twilight.
What is orange? why, an orange,
Just an orange!

Christina Rossetti


Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt
Sidonia von Bork 1560 (1860)

This painting by artist Edward Burne-Jones is called Sidonia von Bork 1560. Sidonia was supposedly a witch who was so beautiful she could enchant people with her looks.

When Burne-Jones painted clothing, he included lots of different fabrics, patterns and jewels to show each character's personality. In this painting Sidonia's dress is patterned with snaking lines like a giant net!

Design an outfit

Illustration of a wardrobe

Illustration by Helena Perez Garcia

You could draw an outfit for a friend! Think about what you want the clothes to say about them and their personality.

Discover more activities in the Meet the Artist: Pre-Raphaelites book by Helena Perez Garcia. Available online at Tate Shop. Please visit this website with an adult.

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