Since the establishment of the training academies in the 18th century, the military have taught drawing as a navigation and exploratory tool. At Woolwich, Dartmouth and Great Marlow in England, gentlemen cadets and sailors were trained to analyse and record landscape and coastline as a means of neutralizing and controlling enemy space. 

Military drawing was an element of the curriculum at the first military academy set up at Woolwich in 1741. The Rules and Orders required the Drawing Master to 'teach the method of Sketching Ground, the taking of Views, the drawing of Civil Architecture and the Practice of Perspective.'
Probably the most eminent artist associated with Woolwich was the watercolourist Paul Sandby, who served as Drawing Master from 1768 until 1796. Sandby was then at the height of his fame, and his appointment at a military academy reflects the importance of drawing in the training of the artillery and engineer cadets. Under his guidance the quality of observation and draughtsmanship was consistently high, and a number of his pupils went on to prove themselves as expert front-line draughtsmen, often making crucially important reconnaissance drawings and finely illustrated reports. His principles of sketching, the ‘tame delineation’ of a vista were practiced on the Great War battlegrounds, and again on every theatre in the Second World War. 
Perhaps surprisingly, the practice is maintained today; the quality of drawing made by field gunners and reconnaissance scouts may lack the artistry of their 18th century forebears, but it has in common the desire to schematize the act of looking, and to reduce drawing and note-taking to the essentials, using basic but tested methods of measuring and calibration by eye and hand. In the closing pages of Jarhead, Anthony Swofford’s 1991 Gulf War memoir, the members of the Surveillance and Target Acquisition team actually make line drawings of their targets instead of relying on GPS and other technologies.
This blog explores how soldiers were trained to ‘calculate the distance’, how they were taught to use graphic language to indicate targets and to break ground, and how they were able to ‘control' the future.

This blog is created and maintained by Paul Gough
Contact him at Paul.Gough@uwe.ac.uk

Professor Paul Gough studied at the Royal College of Art, London. He lives in Bristol and works at the University of the West of England where he is Deputy Vice Chancellor, and formerly Executive Dean in the Faculty of Creative Arts.  He has also been a broadcaster and a writer, and has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad. He is represented in several art collections, including the permanent collection of the Imperial War Museum, London, the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, the National War Memorial, New Zealand.

His most recent exhibitions have been in Melbourne, London, and New Zealand. a one person show was held in Bath in late 2012.

He was founding director of the Bristol-based research centre PLaCe. Amongst his recent publications is a monograph on the British artist Stanley Spencer, and A TerribleBeauty, an extensive study of British art of the Great War. An edited volume of correspondence between Stanley Spencer and Desmond Chute was published in 2011, and a book on the street artist Banksy, Banksy: A Bristol Legacy, was published in April, 2012.