Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Grid Project

This is a drawing/painting project that I took from my host teacher and altered to make ‘my own’.

Each student will create a self-portrait using the techniques of drawing with a grid, pen, and watercolor.  Students will utilize value and pattern into their artwork.

Grid Project – Value, Pattern, Watercolor, and Pen Drawing

Part 1: Introduction


  • PowerPoint on value, pattern, and grid
  • Handout on value and pattern – two worksheets to complete before beginning
  • Scratch paper for students to do a rough draft self-portrait
  • Mirrors
  • 18×12 drawing paper
  • Sharpie Pens
  • Watercolors
  • Erasers
  • Pencils
  • Rulers and a Long Straight Edge
  • Camera and Printer


  • Have an understanding of the concept of value and pattern
  • Have an understanding of how to use the grid to draw realistically
  • Create a self-portrait that uses value and pattern


  • Show students PowerPoint(s) on value and pattern
  • Have students work on the worksheet and their self-portrait.  This took 2-3 class periods.
  • While students are working on their worksheets, this is a good time to take their pictures.  I then uploaded them onto a computer and printed them out 6”x4” in black and white.
  • Show students PowerPoint on the grid project
  • Explain to students how to use the grid, and how it is a useful tool to create drawings that are in the correct prop
    ortion without getting hung-up on the subject they are drawing

Part 2: Setting it all up


  • Picture (6×4”)
  • Ruler and Long Straight Edge
  • Pencil
  • 18×12” Sheet of drawing paper


  • Show students how to map out their grid
      • At this point they will need to be given their picture.  They need to mark a border around it.  Starting at one corner of the picture, mark every ½” around the entire picture.  Then, connect the marks across the picture, creating a grid
      • Then, on the 18×12” sheet of paper, starting at the corner, mark every 1.5” around the entire sheet.  Connect all the marks across the picture to create a grid
      • Troubleshooting: Depending on your students, you may need to check their work before they connect their grid lines.  Many students struggled with lining things up straight, or measuring correctly.


  • Show students how to use the grid to draw their design.
    • Black out one square on the picture, and the corresponding square on the large sheet of paper.  Show the student that you are not drawing a ‘nose’ or ‘eye’ or ‘mouth’, but instead just the shape in that particular square.
      • Some students may need extra help with this, or paper to help them block out their squares.
      • Some students may need to divide their squares further, into quarters
        .  This can be especially true for areas such as the eye.
  • Continue to do this until you have an outline of the body, and the face/clothes.  Leave the background empty.
  • After students have drawn their outline, have them go over it with sharpie.  From there, students will start filling in every box with a different pattern using the sharpies (some may be repeated, as long as they are not next to each other, and are ‘changed’ somehow.
    • Remind students to keep ‘value’ in mind.  Some patterns will be darker then others.  The more sharpie/lines in their pattern, the darker it will be.
    • Remind students that they are not filling in the background yet, only the figure.
    • When students believe they are done hold the picture back for them, and have them look at the photograph and tell you where they might need to give it a darker value.  If they are struggling, point out areas that you find.
    • After students have finished filling in the figure, have them draw a motif.  This motif will be repeated in the background to create a single pattern.  The students can use the grid in the background to help them place their motifs.
      • Once they have a motif, have them draw it in the background in pencil, and then outline in sharpie.
      • After students are finished, they may begin filling in the figure and background with watercolor.
        • Note: At this point it is an option to go over ‘color’ with students.  I decided to save that (long) lesson for another project, and talk to them informally about how they would want to use contrasting colors to make the figure ‘pop’.
        • Depending on your students, do a quick demo on watercolor.
          • Remind students that they can use color to help them ‘deepen’ the value they already created with sharpie.  If they are making their face yellow, then they can use orange in the areas around the nose where there is shadow, etc.
  • Check to make sure that students don’t need to ‘touch up’ any areas of their drawing with watercolor.  Let it dry.  Marvel at how awesome they look.


  • Have students answer the following questions on a half sheet of paper to turn in for credit (full sentences!):
    • What grade to you deserve?
    • Why?
    • What are the techniques you used to finish this assignment?
    • Are you proud of the finished artwork?
    • Why?



  • Using the reflection as a guide, assess the students artwork based on your own classroom’s criteria.
  • I grade on the following:
      • Effort-how hard you work
      • Craftsmanship-how good/neat it looks (did you do your best to make it look awesome?)
      • Techniques
      • Creativity