Art Lesson Plan: High School Drawing Lessons

Illustrated Words

Submitted by: Wendy Free, formerly at Eastside High School, Gainesville, Florida (Now at Suwanee, GA)
Lesson: Illustrated Words - colored pencils
Grade: High School (adaptable to middle school)
(See more images) Scroll down for more lessons from Wendy Free

Also see Line Drawing by Donna Rodeghiero below.



  • Use images and lettering style to communicate the meaning of a specific word chosen for the composition.

  • Consider elements and principles in design.

  • Colored pencil technique: create value by blending light and darkanalogous colors and complement with main object color. Make rich, smooth, layered areas of color using colored pencils.


12" x 18" (30.5 x 46 cm) Drawing Paper. (or desired size), Newsprint., Drawing Pencils., Kneaded Rubber Erasers., Saral Transfer Paper., Colored Pencils...


wendy-light.jpg (29457 bytes)Resources:

Jaune Quick-To-See Smith,.Barbara Kruger,. computer icons, pictograms – brief history of evolution of language from pictures to alphabet/words (image resource sheet available).



  1. Brainstorm ideas for subject – words that are personally meaningful and interesting. Make a list of images that can be associated with the chosen word.

  2. Sketch rough draft in pencil. Design "font" to communicate aspect of word, too. Refine and enlarge for final composition.

  3. Practice a tonal scale from light to dark with choice of colored pencil – main color first, then mix with light analogous, dark analogous, and complement. Review Color Wheels. relationships and colored pencil techniques for layering, blending, and creating value.

  4. Finish final composition by adding color according to the assigned/selected "scheme."


  • Does composition convey meaning of word? Is font creative - does it enhance meaning?

  • Did student effectively use elements and principles of design?

  • Did student use blending techniques and show awareness of color planning?


Submitted by: Wendy Free, formerly at Eastside High School, Gainesville, Florida (Now at Suwanee, GA)
Unit: Drawing - Surrealism
Lesson: Monochromatic Surrealism with Rainbows (color spectrum)
Grade: High School (adaptable to middle school)
(See additional examples)


wendy-surrealtree.jpg (25048 bytes)Objectives/Goals:

  • Student choice of subject for picture (we keep ideas and favorite photos in our portfolios for this type of project) with additional image(s) to make surreal composition - combine images.

  • Colored pencil techniques: creation of value using one color and layering, blending, varied pressure; making a "rainbow" (spectrum) of colors in order by mixing primaries.


12" x 18" (30.5 x 46 cm) Drawing Paper. (or desired size), Newsprint., Drawing Pencils., Magic Rub Erasers., Saral Transfer Paper., Colored Pencils... Photograph file



Discussion of surrealism – realistic style of depiction – nearly photographic – combined with unexpected combinations of imagery. Humor, fantasy, pun, "creepy" tie-in opportunities.



  1. Students choose subject and additional images to create surreal composition. Rough sketch in pencil.

  2. Enlarged and refined final composition.

  3. Practice value scale using choice of color and at least six distinct values created by layering and varying pressure of colored pencil.

  4. Final composition filled in using choice of color with variety of values employed to create definition and details.

  5. Element(s) of composition filled in using blended spectrum of colors to create focal point(s) and contrast to monochromatic background.


  1. Did students show creativity in creating a Surreal composition by combining images?

  2. Did students effectively use elements and principles of design?

  3. Did students show skill in using colored pencils - creating values of one color and understanding of color spectrum used as center of interest?


Submitted by: Wendy Free, formerly at Eastside High School, Gainesville, Florida (Now at Suwanee, GA)
Unit: Drawing -Ink
Lesson: Peppers -drawing from life - Crow Quill Pens. and India ink./ink wash
Grade: High School (adaptable to middle school)
(See more images)

wendy-peppers.jpg (23745 bytes) Resources/Introduction:

Georgia O’Keeffe flower paintings; Vincent Van Gogh landscape drawings; Chinese brush paintings (image resource sheet available)Materials: Real bell peppers, newsprint, white drawing paper (desired size), pencils, erasers, pen, ink brushes, Mixing Trays. for washes, water dishes.


Georgia O'Keeffe Flower Paintings

Vincent Van Gogh Landscapes


  • Create a variety of realistic, detailed drawn representations of peppers from carefully observing real life models.

  • Select and combine portions of drawings to create a large abstract composition that focuses upon and expresses personally appealing design qualities of peppers.

  • Use ink and watercolor techniques inspired by exploration of style of Van Gogh and Traditional Chinese Brush Painting, as well as stippling, to fill abstracted composition with value and texture.


Students drew several views of peppers from life then combined the drawings to make one larger that life composition. A variety of pen and ink techniques were explored. The goal was to somewhat abstract the peppers.

  1. View O’Keeffe’s work and discuss outstanding features of her flower representations. Also look at contemporary artists’ (online) renditions of bell peppers and talk about options for representation.

  2. Beginning with whole bell peppers (one per two students, labeled with masking tape), draw and shade realistic representations – top, bottom, and side view.

  3. Slice peppers in half lengthwise and into cross sections (trade halves so each team has one of each). Draw these, too. Then cut into single slices and draw – total of six drawings.

  4. When realistic drawings are complete, use a viewfinder to select most appealing sections of the pepper representations (at least three). Redraw these elements, enlarging them and combining them into a unified composition.

  5. Look at and discuss Van Gogh landscape drawings and Chinese brush paintings. Create value scales using ink stippling, watercolor washes, and watercolor brush strokes in Van Gogh’s "concentric line" style. Employ these techniques to complete large abstracted pepper composition by filling in values and textures.

  6. Critique work


  1. Did students show observation skills in drawing peppers from life?

  2. Did students show skill in using pen, ink and brush to create values - using a variety of techniques (Chinese and Van Gogh's)

  3. Did students create a interesting composition combining elements of several drawings - utilizing elements and principles of design?


Submitted by: Wendy Free, formerly at Eastside High School, Gainesville, Florida (Now at Suwanee, GA)
Unit: Drawing - Hands
Lesson: Drawing hands - drawing from life - pencil value studies
Grade: High School (adaptable to middle school)
wendy-hands.jpg (12395 bytes)



Durer’s Praying Hands,.Michaelangelo’s Hand of Adam,. other classical and contemporary artists’ depictions of hands (image resource sheet available).



Newsprint., Drawing Pencils., Magic Rub Erasers., white Drawing Paper. (desired size).



  • Introduction to life drawing - learn to draw using careful observation of a model, representation of the model’s basic shapes, refinement, and addition of details.

  • Create a composition that begins with hands as a subject but that continues to develop to include personally meaningful, creative ideas of the individual artist.

  • Define abstraction and surrealism.

  • Practice creating value and employ pencil shading to add realism to models.


  1. View and discuss realistic representations of hands by different artists. Talk about potential for hands as a subject.

  2. Practice drawing outstretched hand together – look at own, draw basic shape of square for palm, determine proportion of fingers by measuring and comparing middle finger to palm and then adding other fingers using middle as a guide and draw lines of appropriate length. Refine drawing by fleshing out palm and fingers through observation of tapered digits, curved palm contours.

  3. Identify darkest areas and shade. Use directional lines to fill in skin tone and erase for highlights. Add details like nails, wrinkles, scars, etc.

  4. Students draw three more pictures of their hand in different poses.

  5. Whole class and small group brainstorming for ideas for creative hand compositions – what could a hand turn into? What does it remind you of? What could it hold or do? What would you least expect to be in a picture with a hand? What is your favorite thing to draw? and how could you incorporate a hand into a picture of that subject?

  6. Students do two rough sketches of compositional ideas and get help from table-mates and the instructor in choosing the strongest.

  7. The final choice is enlarged, refined, and filled in with values to create depth, detail, and realism.

  8. Critique work


Submitted by: Wendy Free, formerly at Eastside High School, Gainesville, Florida (Now at Suwanee, GA)
Unit: Drawing - Landscape -Careers in art (greeting card illustration)
Lesson: Winter landscape - illustration - crayon as medium
Grade: High School (adaptable to middle school)
wendy-snow.jpg (30368 bytes)
Resources/Introduction:; Google image search; classic and contemporary artists who represent winter scenes (image resource sheet available) Art of Jeffrey Robert



White Drawing Paper. (desired size), Drawing Pencils., Magic Rub Erasers., Crayons., greeting cards



  • Use brainstorming and online image sources to generate a unique, interesting idea for a snowy wintertime scene.

  • Include perspective techniques into composition.

  • Review color theory and employ crayon blending and layering techniques to create a wintertime color scheme (complements, cool colors, tones...).


  1. View artwork and photographs of winter landscapes and discuss perspective techniques and elements of the artwork that "grab" the viewer.

  2. Brainstorm ideas and view online image sources for elements of a snowy landscape that are unique and interesting. Think of winter sports, activities, creatures, stories, personal experiences, fantasies… Discuss reasons for NOT directly copying any type of image that is not yours – photos or artwork.

  3. Draw pencil sketch of winter scene. Enlarge and refine.

  4. Practice using crayon to create a snow-topped pine tree. Green is combined with red to dull it down for a winter-y tone; purple is added for shadows. Snow on top is shaded with blend of cool colors as is the shadow of the tree cast upon snow below it.

  5. Complete final composition by using similar crayon techniques.

  6. Critique work

Fashion Figure Drawing: See Figures Folder and Inked Figure Drawing


illustrated word illustrated word

Figure drawings in pencil (Click images for larger views) Figures in ink


Figures by Design
Art 1 – High School level

illustrated word Objectives:

Draw figures using proportional guidelines (8 heads = 1 body).  Create accurately drawn figures from photographic models using contour and gesture drawing techniques.  Compose artwork with figures and basic perspective methods (varied size, overlapping, and drawing off the page).  Design patterns to fill composition using ink.

Optional: Use figure drawings from observation - student models.


Phase 1: Demonstration and practice.  Students draw along with teacher using photographic model.  Instructor shows "8 heads" guidelines followed by stick figure on top with neck, shoulders, torso with tapered waist and flared hips, arms, legs, hands, and feet.  Stick figure is fleshed out with tapering arms and legs.  Contour outline refines and completes figure.  Instructor demonstrates using proportion relationships to draw models in different poses.


Phase 2: Students choose 6 photographic models from magazines to draw in pencil according to demonstrated/practiced methods.  Instructor monitors and assists.


Phase 3: Students select their best 5 out of the above 6 drawings and create a composition with them using the following perspective guidelines: enlarge figures at the bottom of the composition, draw medium-sized figures in the middle of the paper, place small figures at the top; show at least one figure overlapping part of another; draw at least one figure leaving the picture plane.


Phase 4: Still using pencil, students divide their figure composition into several sections, aiming for a visually balanced composition.


Phase 5: Students transfer and enlarge above drawing to final composition size.  Using sources from imagination and observation students create patterns consisting of repeating shapes to fill in both figures and background and attending to balancing positive and negative space and different values with ink.  Students are strongly encouraged to introduce personal creative elements into representations of figures and backgrounds. Da Vinci (proportion), Klimt, Haring, Erte, and Britto are some artists to study for inspiration.


Submitted by: Donna Rodeghiero
Unit: Drawing
Lesson: Line creates values
Grade Level: High School (adaptable to middle school)




  • Create value with line - vary pressure, width and distance between lines.


Still life objects (students' choice), Drawing Pencils., Rulers., Drawing Paper

Click image above for larger view. See detail

From Donna: The students have an object in front of them of their own choice that they bring from home or can select from still life objects I have in my back room.  The entire drawing is done using vertical lines that are placed closer together or farther apart to make it darker or lighter.  Another thing they do is control the pencil on the way down the ruler by pushing it harder to make the line darker and thicker or by barely pushing it at all to make the much needed lights and darks.  They are to look for the changes of tones and it is a test of their skills in observing from life. The project is tedious, but they all seemed to have a genuine sense of pride in their work upon completion of it. (See detail)


One of the boys took the piece he did (cow's skull shown above) on a visit to one of the Chicago art colleges, and the person he met with was intrigued by this particular piece of all the ones he brought.



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