How to Draw a Fluted Point

Fluted Point – Scale 1:1
Fluted points are easily recognized by the groove-like flaked scar created at the base of the artifact. This “flute” is what you’ll want to convey in your illustration, along with the flaked scars up and down the sides.

Drawing fluted points is actually easier than other types of points. The flute can be short or long, on one or both sides and is shallow which makes the point less complicated than say, a biface that has a multitude of intricate, flaked scars.

Mapping a Fluted Point

If you don’t have access to a fluted point, you can find resin copies online. You can also visit your local archaeology center and they may let you sit in the lab to draw, especially if you’re furthering your education in archaeology and/or anthropology, or you volunteer for them in some capacity.
Examining the Artifact
Okay, you’ve got your fluted point now get to know it; I’m talking up close and personal. Check out both sides and its profile. Feel the depth of the flute and flaked scars along the edges.

Do you notice some of the scars are deeper than others? And the fluted area is quite shallow but you can see there is a definite direction of the flaked area?

Holding the point at different angles in the light will help you see these curved lines. Your drawing will indicate the direction the flintknapper made when removing the flakes.
Step 1.
Using a 2H pencil and a T-square, place a border around your paper.

A good rule of thumb is to draw the border a ½ inch from the top and ½ inch the sides and then one inch from the bottom, leaving a little more space below for writing the name and description of the artifact.

I prefer ink borders so rather than using a pen (and take the chance of flubbing up!) I create borders on several pieces of paper with a computer, and then print them out on art paper I’ve cut to fit the printer.

Finding the center of the paper for positioning the artifact.

Why a border, especially if the illustration is going to be published? In four words – Because It Looks Nice.

No really, the importance of creating a border is the first thing I learned, before art class, in high school drafting. It frames the drawing.

In art, composition plays an important part in the esthetics of a drawing or painting.

Without a border, the drawing can often appear to be running off the page.

Normally, the object isn’t placed directly in the center of the paper but when drawing artifacts, you do want to place the illustration in the center of the page.
Step 2.
Finding the center.

Place a T-square or ruler diagonal from corner to corner (within the border) and draw an ‘X’, lightly with pencil (you’ll be erasing it later so easy on the pressure!). The intersection is the center and reference point for placing your point (pun intended).
Step 3.
Tracing around the point.

About an inch and a half to the left of the center, place the fluted point as straight as you can and hold it steady while lightly tracing around it with your pencil. You may have to change finger positions so you can trace all sides.

Fluted point pencil outline and tick marks
Outline the point and make tick marks along the flaked edges.

Next, while still holding the point in place, make tick marks, lightly, marking the rise and fall of each flaked scar and any other areas that stand out. You can also measure these worked areas using a ruler or caliper but this is easier and faster for one-to-one scale drawings.

After drawing the tick marks, remove the point from your paper. Using a T-square, draw a line across the tip of the point and another line across the bottom of the point.

When you turn the point sideways to draw the profile, now you’ll know where to place it – between the two horizontal lines. This is so the profile view lines up evenly with your top view.

Tracing around the point’s profile is a bit more challenging. I tend to stand up while changing hand positions for more control. After tracing, measure the width and length indicating and indicate the distance with small pencil marks, then freehand any corrections.

Tip: It’s helpful to stand the artifact on its side, right next to the drawing while you perform freehand.
Step 4.
Pencil in the detail.

Fluted pt pencil
Adding details in pencil using the tick marks for reference.

Place the point to the left of your drawing. Very lightly, from the top and using the tick marks you’ve created for reference, pencil in the flaked scars. Think of each flaked area as a shape. Work your way around the edges then towards the center. Remember, we are “mapping” out the artifact.

Once you start drawing, it’s helpful to use the prior drawn flake scar for reference in placing the next one and so on. Keep looking back and forth between your drawing and the artifact for accuracy and making any necessary changes.

After penciling in the details, erase the guide lines at the top and bottom of the artifact and as much of the “X” created in find the center of the paper.

NOTE: Keep the tick marks in place to help guide you as you’re inking in the flake scars and details.
Step 5.
Pen and Ink Outline.

Congratulations, you just completed the most difficult and time consuming part of your drawing! Now’s the fun part. …

Fluted point outlined in ink and detail1
Inking in outlines, the scale, and directional lines.

Using a .25 pen, ink in the directional lines and scale. Also write a description of the artifact at the bottom of the paper. Next, place the artifact to the left and in line with your drawing for referencing back and forth as you ink in the outline.

You may find an area where the edge is a little sharper and indicate that with your pen. Do the same with the profile. It helps to hold the point nearby, on its side, as you ink around and down the center of the profile drawing.

Tip – At this point of the drawing process, I like to scan what I’ve completed thus far, just in case I make a mistake in the final details. This way, I can print out a copy (on art paper) of the inked outline and continue with the illustration without starting completely over.

There’s nothing worse than getting near the end of a drawing and an ink pen (or the artist) decides to malfunction!

Step 6:
Ink in the details.

inking in a point
Inking in the details.

Working from left to right so as not to smear the ink (unless you’re left handed), and top to bottom, lightly, with a .20 pen, draw in the outline of each flaked scar.

Here is where you add detail to the shape of the flaked area that wasn’t reflected in your pencil drawing … maybe you notice an edge is a little more rounded, etc. a magnifying glass or loop is helpful for this process.

Step 7:

Artifact illustrations of points made from smooth shiny materials such as obsidian represent the direction the flintknapper used in making the flakes. This is generally depicted with curved lines. If there had been an area on the stone tool that wasn’t flaked, it wouldn’t be shiny and could be defined by using a stippling technique similar to what is used for drawing groundstone artifacts.

Short Video on Drawing Flaked Scars

Hold the point in the light at different angles to see the direction of the curved lines where flakes were made. Usually, the lines are drawn from the top of the flake scar, in one stroke, feathered down about ½ to ¾ of the way into a fine point. You’ll want to use a super fine or .20 pen. It’s also a good idea to practice on a separate sheet of paper beforehand.

The shallowness of the “flute” area is indicated with fine, curved pen lines but spaced further apart than in the side flaked scars. It’s easier to draw these lines if you turn your paper sideways. See video clip below.

Final Details
Your illustration is taking form but looking rather flat. Hold the point in the light again and notice how some of the flake scars are deeper than other and even in the fluted section there are levels of depth.

To reflect this, go back over the edges and the top portion of some of the curved lines to make them a little thicker and darker. Notice how your drawing is taking on shape.

This is a good time to step away from the drawing. Go do something else for awhile then come back refreshed. Examine the artifact again and compare it to your illustration.

Are there areas that could be a bit darker? Do the edges of the point appear sharper than in your drawing? Go in and make some adjustments with the tip of your pen, you’ll be surprised just what a little more ink here and there can do. …

Completed illustration of the fluted point.

Dun ta dun! You’ve completed your drawing of a fluted point! Now is the most important part … your signature!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this lesson. Feel free to contact me with any questions and keep practicing, you’ll get better and better, I promise!

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