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Realistic Self Portraits

Ahhh self portraits! Some kids love em, some kids absolutely hate em.

I start out by teaching basic cartooning. I feel like this loosens kids up a bit, and it also allows them to consider showing emotions. Cartoons have such exaggerated emotions and I feel like it is great practice for students to consider how to show emotions within their own portraits.

After cartooning, we spend some time focusing on each facial feature. We spent a day on eyes, a day on noses, a day on mouths, and a day on ears/hair. I graded these as progress, so I told students that as long as I saw effort, they would get full points. I took off points if they did not consider value or shading, or if they were misusing their cell phones.

I collected the facial features sketches and we moved on to proportion. To switch things up a bit, I decided to have my students do group drawings. Each group started with a face outline. They set up all of the proportions- we looked at an example on the board of where the lines should be. Where the eyes sit on, the noses, how far apart the eyes go, and where the ears go, etc. These can be found online.

I had students set up the face and then draw one realistic eye. After drawing, they were asked to switch with someone else. The second student drew the second realistic eye. Each time they switched, the student had to consider where each facial feature would go. These ending up looking like really creepy mugshots and my kids absolutely loved them!

This took about two days, because we wanted to make them look realistic and shade well. At the end, we did a critique. Students were asked to go around and identify anything that looked proportionally “off”. Comments included things such as “eyes are too far apart,” “ears are too high”, “mouth is too close to nose” etc. Students got the sketch that they had originally started with and they held onto it for reference.

Lastly, I introduced the final assessment. Students drew a realistic photo of themselves. I asked them to bring in a picture of themselves. I opted to do it this way rather than looking at mirrors because I wanted them to be able to compare and contrast the values and progress of their drawings with the actual picture.

Students had two options for this- they could choose to freehand their portrait or use a grid. We had used a grid earlier in the year for realistic animal eyes, the link for that lesson can be found here. http://www.makemesanguine.com/index.php/2016/12/12/animal-eye-value-drawings/

If students wanted to grid, they could either do an outline first, or go square by square and shade everything completely. As a beginning Drawing & Painting and class, I felt that this approach really helped my students understand and be able to take their time throughout this assignment.

Here are the results!

Realistic Self Portraits High School Lesson Plan

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Shape Vs. Form Legos

One of the questions on my Benchmark exam asks the students to identify the difference between Shape and Form. While this is something that I felt is simple, I noticed many of my kids struggled with it!

I wanted to do a project that focused on shape versus form to really help students understand how the two differ. We had done some observational drawings already but I wanted to do something that allowed them to focus on WHY we were shading. I wanted to focus on the illusion of form that is created when you are shading, using highlights, shadows, etc.

As a sketchbook warmup, I had students create themselves as if they were a lego character. We discussed how legos are three dimensional, they can be picked up, held, etc. So I told them to consider that as they were sketching (I didn’t want to see any flat lego people)! Students personalized them according to their physical features, character traits, interests, hobbies, etc.

I then showed students some examples of lego drawings. We talked about two different approaches to this. The first was for the students to construct a composition that was more structured and orderly. I then demonstrated how to set up a composition using two point perspective techniques to create realistic legos. The second option was for students to create a more hap hazard composition, where the legos were not lined up perfectly and were instead kind of thrown onto the surface. If they chose this, they did not need to use perspective techniques and could free hand the legos, as long as the legos were still three dimensional.

I felt that this project was challenging, but as the drawings were finished, I could tell my students were really proud of the hard work they had put into this. I also had them do an exit slip and nearly everyone was able to distinguish the difference between shape versus form, hooray!

Overall, I found this lesson to be really engaging- the students were definitely concentrated and focused throughout the entire time, and also rewarding- I was able to get my classes to identify shape vs. form, and they also ended up being very proud of themselves for completing this assignment!

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Surrealism Perspective Drawings

In high school, I hated perspective drawing. In college, I still even hated perspective drawing. It wasn’t until I actually became an art teacher and had free range to create a perspective lesson in my own way, that I finally found it interesting. I enjoy teaching it, and overall my kids actually enjoy drawing in perspective.

So how did I accomplish such a feat?

I decided to mix One Point Perspective with Surrealism. Since the two are so different, it makes for a very interesting project! We start out learning basic vocabulary and terms in Perspective. Some words include Perspective, Vanishing Point, Vantage Point, Orthogonal Lines, Horizon Line, etc. I gave the students a quiz on vocabulary before we actually began drawing.

The first actual drawing activity we did was having students create 2D bubble letters. They used their name, quote, lyrics, whatever. I demonstrated how to connect their lines from the letters to the vanishing point. Then, students practiced drawing the backs of their letters, and in turn creating a 3D letter.

Then, we practiced by setting up a room using one point perspective. Students practiced floor boards, ceilings, windows, doors, etc. We then discussed tables, chairs, furniture, and how to successfully add objects (referencing the 3D letter exercise throughout).

After about two weeks of that, I knew my students were getting tired of perspective. (I admit, it can be tedious!) So I wanted to give them a little break by introducing them to Surrealism. We created an Exquisite Corpse exercise, which was so fun! My students loved it and they loved working together to create a drawing.

We also watched a documentary on Salvador Dali! I enjoy the Modern Master’s Documentary on BBC, although I did skip through some parts because it talks about sex and I didn’t want that ish in my classroom!

Then, once students had a strong understanding of Surrealism and what it is, they went to their sketchbooks and began sketching out their ideas. They needed an even mix of Surrealism and One Point Perspective.

Overall, this lesson took about a month. From the vocabulary quiz, perspective worksheets, 3D letters, practice room drawings, and surrealism exercises, to the final product where students practiced blending with colored pencils, I’d say these were a success!

I also had students write a reflection, where I asked them questions such as:

  1. Explain how you created depth in your artwork using words like Perspective, Vanishing Point, Vantage Point, Horizon Line, Orthogonal Line, etc.
  2. Explain what elements of Surrealism you included in your artwork.
  3. What was your favorite part about this assignment? What did you feel most proud of?
  4. What was your least favorite part about this assignment? What challenged you?
  5. If you could make any changes to your final artwork, what would you change?

And ta-da! These are some of my final results. Love them!

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Animal Eye Value Drawings

So one of my favorite lessons is a lesson I created using Value. Because kids struggle with value. They are afraid to get too dark. They leave things light.

I spent awhile trying to figure out ways to make them realize the importance of range in value. I played around with different options for subject matter.

I was so set on animal eyes because they are so freaken interesting! Zooming in no an elephant or an owl or an iguana and getting to see all the cool designs, the textures, the range in value. I knew that the students would find them extremely awesome too.

Before introducing them to the actual eyes, I had them create a value scale. They had to create 7 different ranges in value, going from dark to light. They also had to use four different techniques: Hatching, Cross Hatching, Stipple, and Scribble. I graded their value scales as an assignment grade. During this time, we also read some worksheets about shadows, midtones, highlights, etc. This way, students were familiar with the vocabulary and they were able to associate different words to their drawings.

When finished, I discussed how to grid artwork. Since this was the first time students were drawing something, and something realistic at that, I wanted to start slow and let them use the grid method because I really wanted the focus to be on the value. I encouraged them to find the shadows and highlights first, this way they were getting the darkest tones into their drawings.

I gave them the option to either work box by box or to sketch out the basic contour lines and then go back in and shade. Either way, I freaken love the results. My kids understand value and they have really awesome eye drawings that they are proud of!

Animal Eye Value Drawings Art Education
Animal Eye Value Drawings Art Education