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Value Animal Gradation Drawing

MonaSubmitted by: Jan Hillmer, Berkeley Preparatory School
UNIT: Color: value - Science Integration
Grade level: 2nd (good for all elementary grades - through middle school)



12x18 (30.5 x 46 cm) Drawing Paper., black White Glue., Crayons. or Colored Pencils..,Rulers., Drawing Pencils., Handouts of various animals, Paint shirts

(Note: black glue can be made by adding India ink. to glue - or Tempera Paint.. Some paints will gum up the glue so experiment to see if your brand is compatible)


Objectives: Students will

  • Learn that pressure of crayon will create range of values.

  • Show value range with crayons in an art work.

  • Learn about value is used in works of art (to show depth - and arbitrary as in cubism)

  • Learn the importance of animals and their environment. Talk about why we "value" them.

  • Develop drawing skills (note the skill in this drawing)

  • Learn about color planning and color blending/layering of analogous colors.

  • Explore the idea of "subjective color" (note colors!)


Black Sharpie Fine Point Markers. (see note)

jan-value1.jpg (80650 bytes)      1      2


Instructional Resources:

  • Pictures of animals (calendars prints are good)

  • Children’s books illustrating value ranges - Works of art showing a variety of values - such as Cubism (negative space divided in an interesting way)

  • Cubism (Art Revolutions). - Rich, multicolored page layouts highlight artwork, and the simple descriptions will help readers begin to understand why the works of each artist are worth knowing.

Vocabulary: Value, Value range; focal point, contrast, complementary, analogous and/or related colors, neutral, negative space, positive space



  1. Discuss how artists show range a values in art to make objects more or less important (focal point), or to show things closer or farther away. Present some children's book illustrations and works of fine art (prints will depend on your own collection - cubism is good to show negative space - arbitrary values)

  2. Show animals in art - Why do we value animals? Talk a little about their real environment. Talk about how they can combine the real environment with an imaginary one. Talk about observations skills in science. "We are gong to closely observe animals to see how to draw them. We are gong to look at patterns in nature (etc) - and create our own pattern for negative space" (combine with nature as in lines in the water shown in fish image - notice how those lines are not straight lines -- and so what?)

  3. Demonstrate a bit how to draw animals - but don't go over board. Demonstrate skills on shading/changing values - drawing lines - using glue and so forth.

How to Draw 101 Animals. - Says art teacher Jen Evans of Chandler, Arizona- "I use this whole series in my Art Class to Elementary children. They love this extra activity. It builds their confidence that they can draw identifiable things. They even take multiple instructions and create a whole picture. I ripped the book apart and laminated the pages into easy to use cards. Works great!"


Draw 50 Animals. - Part of the popular Draw 50 series, Draw 50 Animals gives simple instructions for drawing all types of animals from the barnyard to the zoo. Ames' easy-to-follow technique shows how to break the subject down and re-build it creating an accurate portrait in a just a few steps.



  1. Have students draw animal of choice, touching all 4 sides of paper. (animal will be "monumental" -Work will say "This animal is important to me") Extension: Have students write about animal and why they chose it. You can get a little bit into symbolism/meaning of animals even with second grade. Art can have meaning even in the younger grades.

  2. Outline in black glue. - this will create contrast - and bring out our "center of interest" - plus develop fine motor skills in controlling glue bottle. (Watch out for sleeves of clothing - black glue does not easily come out of clothes -- paint shirt are recommended)

  3. Using a ruler, draw straight lines in the background area. Keep these line division light (demonstrate how to make a light line against ruler). See how lines disappear in the third example above. Optional - go over lines with black glue (as in middle example) - and with the fish? doesn't wavy lines make sense? (wavy lines are gone over with black glue). Allow for some personal creativity. Look how exciting this work is with lines that are NOT perfectly straight (to me - this work is "perfect")

  4. Color animal - use colors from nature -- or come up with your own. Study the patterns found in nature. Notice how middle image has layered colors on the shark - it isn't just gray - but a variety of colors to make up gray. The fish shows a gradation of oranges from yellow oranges to red-orange.

  5. Color background in value range using lines to change colors. Vary the pressure on crayon (or colored pencils) to go from light to dark. Choose related colors for background - complementary - or what works best for your animal (I keep coming back to this one)

  6. Optional: Write about animal drawing

  • What is this animal important to me?

  • How does my drawing show this animal is important?

  • How does my negative space make my drawing look more interesting?

  • How did I change values in my drawing? and what color plan did I use?

NOTE: For later comers - and students who were absent, Jan had them outline with Black Sharpies. This could be done more quickly and didn't need the day of drying. For Jan, the value shading was the most important objective - the black outlining with glue was secondary. All elementary teachers should find ways around things to accommodate absent students. There are so many ways you can "tweak" your lessons. Decide what is more important - and find a way for all students to "get there".



  1. Review/Discuss how illustrations help to teach art

  2. Review value - and how to change values by varying pressure.


  1. Did students use rulers correctly? (decide for yourself how important this object will be)

  2. Did students show value range in background?

  3. Did student use observation skills to draw animals?

  4. Optional: Did student write about why the animals they chose was important to them? and how their work shows that?



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