Art Lesson Plan: Crayon Resist Illumination

Crayon Resist Illumination

Submitted by: Ken Schwab, formerly of Leigh High School, San Jose CA
Unit: Painting/Design - Illumination
Grade Level: High school 9 through 12 (adaptable to middle school)
Ken's Web Site:

Alternate Lesson - Illumination - Calligraphy Self Portrait


Teacher Preparation:

Make some handouts of Illuminated Manuscripts for students. Font style handouts can easily be made using various fonts on your computer. Dover Publications have some nice books on border designs (See below for list)

Click on the images for full size.



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Newsprint. (18 x 24 (46 x 61 cm) - or whatever size you wish)
HB Drawing Pencils. - Graphite Sticks. (or Saral Transfer Paper.) Thick felt Colored Markers.
Good Drawing Paper. 80# (18" x 24" (46 x 61 cm)
Set of Crayons., 24 colors
Black Tempera Paint. - Water
Soft Sable Brushes. #5 or better


Border Design Books

New Art Deco Borders and Motifs. - This collection of 72 full-page Art Deco designs offers artists and craftspeople copyright-free, ready-to-use borders, frames and motifs. Abstract geometric forms contrast with foliate and floral elements in dynamic designs.

Full-Color Frames and Borders CD-ROM and Book. - 12 full-page and 24 half-page designs incorporate a rich profusion of flowers, butterflies, fans, and other Victorian images. Each border devoted to specific themes: Christmas, music, gardens, birthdays, and more, with several topic-related images included with the frame. Over 200 copyright-free designs for art.


What is a Crayon resist?

The word resist is used to describe the action in which two materials or media repeal each other either chemically or physically. In this art piece we are using wax and water based paint to resist each other and repel. The repelling of the water in the paint with the wax of the crayon allows paint to be used between shapes of crayon and shows a black line around the edges of the crayon. This mixed media work is using the black paint to show a contrast between the shapes of crayon and gives the illusion of a stained glass window. Some artists apply the paint over the entire crayon area and scrape the paint off. We will be leaving a space between shapes and then painted in the lines the paint will resist the wax and only go onto the raw paper.


Stylized design

The mode of design called stylization means to simplify things to their most basic components. Cartoons are stylized and simplified versions of real things. Sometimes when we stylize you can use less detail to show the same thing. For instance, if you were stylizing a bird and the feathers in the wing, you would simplify the number of feathers to a smaller number in order to see that it is a wing but not have to show every feather. Make some thumbnail sketches on newsprint - Create a letter design on newsprint with stylized objects to illustrate the letter. Use the handouts for ideas. Work on border designs. Borders should relate to the letter in some way.


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Click on the images for full size.


Creating a space between shapes

Materials needed:

Black Felt tip pens. - Graphite Sticks. - Ballpoint pen - Good Drawing Paper. 80#

1. After the design is finished as an outline we want to make the line thick and create a space between shapes. An easy way to do this is with a large felt tip pen.

2. Go over the pencil lines with the marker making a 1/8" to ¼" (3 mm to 6 mm) wide line around each shape. This dark, thick line will be the space between each shape.

3. Transfer the design onto a piece of good drawing paper around 80# by using graphite on the back and tracing over the newsprint with a ball point pen onto the white paper. Place the drawing paper on Drawing Boards. or flat surface. Next tape the newsprint with graphite on the back over the drawing paper and tape it down on the top edge in two places. (Seral Transfer Paper may be used to transfer if available)

4. Trace over the edge of the black line with a ballpoint pen on both sides of the line. When you are finished and remove the newsprint you should have a space between each shape and you are ready to apply the crayon.


Applying the Crayon and using a color scheme

Materials needed:

Crayons. - 24 color set - X-acto Knives.

1. You can choose any color scheme to work with I am going to use a double complement scheme for this picture that will use two complementary pairs of colors as well as black and white. The complementary pairs have a warm color and a cool color to use. These will be my contrast between the background and the foreground.

2. By using a Color Wheels. I will be using red-orange-Blue green and Orange-Blue. I will be trying to use warm colors for the objects and cool colors for the background.

3. Applying the crayon is going to be done with layers of soft color followed by white crayon and the use of greater pressure to finally have a good amount of wax for the resist. Start with the lighter colors first and apply a layer softly creating a gradation or slow change between colors. Overlapping the colors to change between one color and another should be a slow transition.

4. You can use white crayon to keep a color at the intensity that you like or add more layers of crayon to make it deeper in color. We are using the crayon like a Colored Pencils.. or paint in that you can blend and mix colors. The complimentary pairs will make browns and grays with careful mixing these can show darker areas and shadows as well as give a variety of colors to be used.

5. Use the wax of the crayons in every shape so that they are thick and shiny. Use enough wax to be as thick as possible. Check the edges of the shapes for stray crayon lines and clean it off with an X-acto knife.


Making the resist

Materials needed:

Palettes. -- Water -- #5 red Sable Brushes. -- Paper towels

1. In a palette for mixing paint add a small amount of black tempera and add a small amount of water to thin it down to a milky consistency. It should be able to drip of a loaded brush slowly.

2. With a brush, usually a #5 red sable brush, dip it into the paint to charge the brush and lightly apply the paint into the spaces between the crayon. It should resist the wax and pull away, only going into the spaces that don’t have any crayon. Make sure that the paint covers the space with a good black line. If it is too thin add more paint. Don’t press hard with the brush and go back for paint often to keeping the brush full and touching the paper lightly. Do this over the entire paper and paint outside the circle for a small distance.



Submitted by: Ken Schwab
UNIT: Design - Lettering
Lesson: Illumination - Self Portrait Name
Grade Level: High School (adaptable to lower grades)


illuminated script      illuminated script
Click images for larger views



Illustration Board. (or heavy drawing paper), Drawing Pencils., Newsprint. (for planning), Saral Transfer Paper. (or Graphite Sticks. for transferring), Tempera Paint. (or Watercolor Paint.), assorted Brushes., Ultra-Fine Point Markers. (or Crow Quill Pens. and India ink.). Gold Metallic Markers..



Create a name design that reflects self through images and symbols.



  1. Students brainstorm on images and symbols that represent who they are. Make sketches on newsprint.

  2. Decide on using first or last name for Illumination lettering assignment.

  3. Design first letter of name incorporating the images and symbols. Plan remaining letters to blend with the first initial.

  4. Transfer initial to illustration board - transfer symbols images to create a pleasing arrangement (remembering principles of design).

  5. Draw in remaining letters of name. Embellish negative space if desired - adding border

  6. Paint with thinned tempera paint or watercolors

  7. Render lines with pen and ink or ultra fine point Sharpies... Add interest with cross hatching and parallel line shading.

  8. Student write a reflection on meaning of work. Meaning of names could be included.



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