Line Designs with Shading

I’m not really sure what to call these draw­ings, but my stu­dents love them!  I found this project on Art with Mr. E. (and added to his instruc­tions just a bit) to use with my 4th & 5th graders for some end-of-the-year fun!!    
With this project, you can teach that shad­ing and care­ful use of line can give a 2D draw­ing the “illu­sion” of being 3D I loved the simul­ta­ne­ous “Wow!” I got from my stu­dents when I put my sam­ple up on the board… they were really moti­vated by this project, so it was a per­fect choice for the *crazy* last week of school!
  • White paper
  • Black “F” Sharpies
  • Col­ored pencils

1. Draw a curvy line across your paper.
2. Make about 8 dots, unevenly spaced, on your line.
3. Next, con­nect the dots with curved lines. (The lines from the dots at each end should go off the paper, rather than curve back down to the line.)
4. Then, from each of these curved lines, build up a “col­umn” of more curved lines (or “rings”), stacked on top of each other.  Build one com­plete col­umn at a time across the top half of your paper.  If your columns start to slant or get smaller or larger, all the bet­ter!  We found it eas­i­est to develop every other one, and then con­nect the spaces in between.  (When you fill in these “in-between” columns, make sure that each suc­ces­sive “ring” that you add con­nects at its ends to the ring below it.)
5. When the top half of your paper is fin­ished, spin your paper around and repeat steps 3 and 4 until your entire paper is filled and all your columns are con­nected.
6. Finally, choose a color scheme (I chose “color fam­i­lies”, above) and color each of your columns, press­ing harder on each side and lighter in the mid­dle, to give it more of a 3D look!

This is one of those lessons where a pic­ture is worth a thou­sand words, so if these direc­tions seem con­fus­ing, just fol­low the pic­tures below!

My stu­dents had fun brain­storm­ing pos­si­ble names for the “column-like things” in these draw­ings.… they came up with names like “tor­na­does”, “arms”, “roots”, “Dr. Seuss tow­ers”, and “chubby cater­pil­lars”!  So, what would YOU call them??? 

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34 Responses to Line Designs with Shading

  1. Mr. E June 4, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Looks great! :) Glad the kids love it!!!!!

  2. JennyKay June 6, 2011 at 3:02 am #

    These look won­der­ful– I had a go myself inside a cir­cle– looks great too. Very addic­tive!! Thanks for shar­ing!
    Jenny Kay

  3. alanay June 6, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    harika çal??malar ve harika payla??m…

  4. TeachKidsArt June 6, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    Te?ekkürler, Alanay!

  5. TeachKidsArt June 6, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    I like your cir­cle idea, Jenny Kay! I’ll have to try that!!

  6. Lori Decoite June 7, 2011 at 4:53 am #

    i am soooo try­ing this with my stu­dents next yr!

  7. Art Project Girl June 7, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    My bilin­gual fifth graders are STILL work­ing on this project… you should see how long we’ve just been work­ing on the shad­ing con­cept. The thing is they love to start things…hate to fin­ish them so I’ve been reward­ing any­one who sticks with it and fin­ishes their shad­ing… lame I know! But it’s the last few weeks. It would totally go over well with another class I’m sure. I hope they feel proud when they see what they’ve cre­ated… we’ll see.

  8. TeachKidsArt June 7, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    Hang in there, Art Project Girl! I’m sure your stu­dents will be proud of their fin­ished projects! None of my stu­dents fin­ished in one (50 min.) class, either. But most were moti­vated to fin­ish it on their own, since that was our last art class for the year. I think their class­room teach­ers were happy for them to have a quiet activ­ity (shad­ing their draw­ings) they could keep in their desks and pull out as they fin­ished other stuff!

  9. Anonymous June 9, 2011 at 6:24 am #

    I’m with Lori — I def­i­nitely want to do this next year — it’s already bookmarked.

    K-Sue of

  10. Art Project Girl June 9, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    Thanks for the moral sup­port! I won’t let them aban­don this because at this point I think they need to feel pride in fin­ish­ing:) I’m usu­ally not a stick­ler but… It is art­WORK not art recess right?

  11. TeachKidsArt June 9, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    Hahaha! I love that, Art Project Girl!! I will have to remem­ber that quote next year for my stu­dents… “It is art­WORK not art recess right?” Brilliant!! :)

  12. Calling All Sleepyheads June 12, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    So cool! I’m going to get my own kids to try these this summer.

  13. Lynda @ {ubersavvy} June 21, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    Hello, I am Lynda, an art teacher from Aus­tralia. i have just had a good look around your blog and feel very inspired by it. So, I am now fol­low­ing. I hope you can visit my blog too and see some of the things I do with my boys. By the way have you done any Chi­nese art­works with you classes?

  14. TeachKidsArt June 21, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    Hi Lynda! I enjoyed look­ing around your blog, too! I found some great ideas I’ll def­i­nitely be try­ing out! As for projects inspired by China, I have two right now:
    Stay tuned for more to come!!

  15. Christine June 26, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    I had all three of my kids try this last week– my 11 year old loved it the most and fin­ished but even my 6 year old tried his hand at it. I saw tubu­lar crit­ters in the design and added eye­balls which made it a whole dif­fer­ent cre­ation. Thank you for shar­ing! Let me know if there is a way I can share their work with you…

  16. Danett June 28, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    Love this and I want to try it myself. I have a degree in Art Ed, but I am a stay at home mom and pho­tog­ra­pher. I love these ideas for my kids. I gave your blog an award on my art­blog today. GO check it out!

  17. TeachKidsArt June 29, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    Chris­tine, I would LOVE to see your kids’ work!! You can email me at cbtrowbridge[at]gmail[dot]com. And Danett, I enjoyed look­ing through your blog — what a beau­ti­ful fam­ily! So glad you can share the joy of art with them!! :)

  18. Mr. E July 11, 2011 at 2:35 am #

    were you all talkin turkey up there?? I lived in Istan­bul for a summer…loved it!!

  19. TeachKidsArt July 11, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    Haha — yes, Mr. E.! Thanks to Google translator!! :)

  20. Jerri-Lea August 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    We made these at a Music The­atre Sum­mer Camp, the kids loved them!!! thanks!

  21. Monica Chadwell September 10, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    I will have my kids work on these next week! Can’t wait to share their cre­ations with you. I picked up your email address from a few com­ments up. :)

    Your blog is so well orga­nized and VERY inspir­ing!! Thank you for shar­ing your ideas and talent!


  22. Anonymous September 30, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    Great stuff. Gonna try it!

  23. Anonymous February 22, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    Doing this tonight with my new art stu­dents, just try­ing it myself and it’s fun! I say they look like stripy socks. Thanks for a great blog. Bless­ings. x

  24. Jan Smith March 10, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    Hi Cheryl,

    Really enjoyed doing this my Gr. 6–7 stu­dents (and doing it myself). I appre­ci­ate your excel­lent direc­tions, too. Here are the results of our efforts (and your teach­ing!) on
    our class blog.

    Thanks again for shar­ing so gen­er­ously,

  25. TeachKidsArt March 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    Jan, your stu­dents did a great job! Thanks for sharing!!

  26. Kristen May 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    Saw this on Mr. E’s blog after find­ing it on Pin­ter­est (LOVE!). I teach Mid­dle School Art and the stu­dents love/hate this project. They love the way it looks and how com­pli­cated it SEEMS, but I have them do it on a large scale, as an extra credit assign­ment to work on when­ever they fin­ish their cur­rent project. IT’s very time con­sum­ing, which is great because it keeps them busy for a long time. They refer to it as the “Tor­nado” draw­ing, or “worms” or even “tor­nado worms”. Love your blog btw!

  27. Stephanie March 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    I really like this for my 5th graders who work on 3d looks all year. I call it “Giant Snails and Dragon Tails.”

  28. Kim July 26, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    i think they should be call sta­lag­mites (for the ones that go up) and sta­lac­tites (for the ones that go down) after the rock for­ma­tions that form one “drip” at a time. these are formed sim­i­larly — one line at a time :)

  29. Sanna K October 25, 2013 at 5:37 am #

    I did this class today with my 10 year olds.
    The lost inter­est when we did shad­ing with pen­cils after fin­ish­ing all the base­lines. But the oth­ers teach­ers and par­ents loved it! So when the kids lost focus and got bored with the task of shad­ing, I had four super­con­te­trated par­ents instead :)
    Sanna K recently posted..Street­bank – An awe­some idea!My Profile


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