Teachers must give pupils more freedom if they are to flourish, markers have argued.
In the Standard grade expressive activity exam, the most successful approaches came where candidates had personal choice over composition, scale and technique.
However, some teachers were "too restrictive or formulaic", making it difficult to identify "genuine individual ability".
There was evidence of "fine teaching", with the best work tending to use first-hand sources for still lives and portraiture. In critical activity, "enthusiasm was obvious" where candidates had first-hand experience of their subject. Problems remain where candidates submit work that is "not sufficiently contrasting", with the wallpaper and textiles of William Morris, Charles Rennie Mackintosh (pictured) and Timorous Beasties providing the "greatest trouble".
Candidates also suffered from working to a "very rigid" set of questions - some submissions were "so tightly directed that it was difficult to hear the actual voice of the candidate".
The work produced at Intermediate 1 was generally very good; markers felt a number of candidates were achieving at a higher level. Intermediate 2 candidates produced generally good work, notwithstanding some design submissions showing a "lack of maturity".
The number of Standard grade candidates was down, but there were increases in Intermediate 1 and 2.