Art Lesson Plan: Ribbon Letters -Value Shading

3D Ribbon Letters

Submitted by: Norma Allende
UNIT: Value Shading - Art with Text
Lesson: Ed Ruscha 3-D Ribbon Letters - Pencil Shading
Grade Level: Upper Elementary through middle school (examples are 8th grade)


OBJECTIVES: After learning about the art of Edward Ruscha and making a three-dimensional model of a single word students will explore shading and value, and will create a drawing of the model. Student will render ribbon strip letters in varied values to show 3D quality.



  1. Cut strips of white paper 3" (7.6 cm) wide * (After I did the lesson I think 2 inches will be better).

  2. Demonstrate few examples of how to make a 3-D letter. Create individual letters to form the word by bending and folding the paper. Explain to students they can use paper clips to hold the folding in place until it is glued in place.

  3. Once all the letters are finished glue them on colored paper. Explore how the light affects the shading on the letters by moving the 3-D work in different directions.

  4. Choose one point of view and place the work on the desk. Draw the work with lead pencil. Study source of light. Shade drawing light to dark to give illusion of space.

  1. 2

    After the drawing is finished, paint the background matching the background color in the 3-D design.

    Note: Explain that they must keep the model in the same place, otherwise the point of view and the direction of the light will change.

CONCEPT: Value shading: Modern Art Ed Ruscha Changing values can make a form look 3 dimensional. Determining source of light can show feeling of space.

SKILLS: shading, understanding of value and proportion, observation - determining source of light

1 VOCABULARY: Ruscha, perspective, shading, hatching, cross hatching, overlapping, depth, 3-D

MEDIUM/TECHNIQUES: lead pencil and watercolor or tempera

MATERIALS: Visual aids, Drawing Paper., Drawing Pencils., Scissors., White Glue., Colored Construction Paper., heavy weight white paper (Such as Bristol Board.).

MOTIVATION: Students observe some of Ruscha's works and discuss it. How was the work done? Is the work realistic? How did the artist achieve contrast? Where is the light coming from?


SUGGESTIONS: Students could do names - first name, last name, initials, nick name - OR character education words.


Write a reflection in your journal describing the process employed in this project. Include thoughts on the problems encountered and how they were solved.

Here are Mike Sacco's Middle School student examples. There are many works of are linked from this page.


Ed Ruscha feature - National Gallery
Ruscha on ArtCyclopedia



Ed Ruscha: Fifty Years of Painting. - Fifty Years of Painting focuses on Ruscha's majestic oeuvre of paintings. A magnificent publication, it comes in a slipcase that sports the artist's classic painting "Standard Station" (1966), and, alongside fantastic reproductions.


4Tate Modern Artists: Ed Ruscha. - In this overview of Ruscha’s career to date, Mary Richards traces the progression of the artist’s work across five decades. The book also focuses on Ruscha’s techniques, particularly his delicate drawings, prints using organic materials, and process of making art as documented in his notebooks. With reproductions and new interview material, this thought-provoking book probes the internal logic of Ruscha’s oeuvre for words, images, and phrases that resurface time and again.


Ed Ruscha: New Paintings And A Retrospective Of Works On Paper. - This latest catalogue was designed by Peter Willberg a German graphic designer. His typography is excellent and it's printed well- mostly coloured plates throughout.



Art City: DVD Box Set. - Art City: Making It in Manhattan not only covers Ed Ruscha, it is an art tour of New York City, entering galleries and studios and the homes of collectors. Interviewing critics, collectors, and artists--among them Louis Bourgeois, Chuck Close, Elizabeth Murray, and Gary Simmons--director Chris Maybach looks at the contemporary art scene of the 1990s.


Assessment: Modified Rubric

Name ____________________________________________ Date __________


Rubric For Ruscha Ribbon Letters











Created name paper relief with strips of paper so word could easily be read - glued letters securely





Shaded letters with pencil to show 3-D effect and source of light





Painted background to match construction paper - showed cast shadow





Made good use of class time - on task





Demonstrated craftsmanship in gluing and pencil shading








Additional Teacher Comments





National Standards:

1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

2. Using knowledge of structures and functions

3. Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas

4. Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others

Students know the differences between materials, techniques, and processes

Students know the differences among visual characteristics and purposes of art in order to convey ideas

Students explore and understand prospective content for works of art

Students understand there are various purposes for creating works of visual art

Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner

Students describe how different expressive features and organizational principles cause different responses

Students select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning

Students describe how people's experiences influence the development of specific artworks


Students use visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas


Students understand there are different responses to specific artworks



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