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??? 

, , ,

35 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.”

    • Cheryl Trowbridge March 20, 2013 at 10:06 am #

      I love that name, Stephanie! Great idea!!

  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


  1. | Tuesday, February 5 - February 5, 2013

    […] Click here to  see the instructions we followed for art last week.  I hope a few students will have time to finish work on it at home. […]

  2. An art-teachers creative class collection | Sanna K Design - September 9, 2013

    […]  Line Design Drawing shapes, Coloring, Shading […]

  3. UN AULA DE VERANO EN CASA | La Cajita Azul - July 9, 2015

    […] […]

  4. 4th grade art – Westwood Homeschool - July 21, 2016

    […] “Line Design with Shading” -draw lines today. Use colored pencils to color design with shading. […]