Popcorn Drawing – Observation & Imagination

Have you ever looked at a cloud and seen an animal or some other random image?  Most everyone has used their imagination to “find” things in clouds, and popcorn offers this same creative experience!  This is a great lesson for 5th grade and up.  Make sure you create a sample to illustrate the steps… a picture is worth a thousand words here!  After doing this lesson, your students (and you!) will never look at a piece of popcorn (or a bear sitting on a rock, wearing a red bandana!) the same way again!

  • 9×12 black construction paper
  • popcorn (at least 2 pieces per student)
  • white craft glue (Aleene’s Tacky Glue is my favorite)
  • white charcoal pencil or Prismacolor drawing pencil
  • Magic Rub eraser
  • 9×12 tracing paper
  • No.2 graphite pencil
  • fine point marker, any color except black (I like to use a colored “F” Sharpie or a Crayola water base marker.)
  • 9×12 white construction paper
1. Pass out 2 (or more) pieces of popcorn to each student.  Let them choose one to draw and one (or more) to eat!

2. Squirt a dime size blob of glue near the top of your 9×12 black paper. (I went around and did this as students were “examining” their popcorn for the most interesting side to draw!)  Place popcorn on the glue.

3. Use a white pencil to draw the popcorn (as large as possible) below the popcorn you glued to the paper.  Press harder on the lightest areas and less hard in the shadowed areas. (It can be helpful to make a value scale using a white pencil on black paper to practice making a range of values. Explain to students that this is the opposite of working with a graphite pencil, where pressing harder produces a darker value. You may also need to review contour drawing principles if you haven’t done any observation drawing in a while.) 

4. Then, lay tracing paper on top of your white on black drawing.  Use a colored marker to trace the outside shape (contour) and any important lines on the inside.

5. Next, turn your tracing paper over to the back.  You’ll be able to see your colored marker lines through it.  Trace over the top of these lines with a regular No.2 graphite pencil.  Press hard so your lines will be nice and dark.

6. Now, lay your tracing paper, pencil side down, on top of your white paper.  Trace over your marker lines using your No.2 pencil.  If you used a colored marker for step #4, it will be easy to see where you’ve traced and where you still need to!

7. Lift off the tracing paper and you’ll see a faint copy of your drawing on the white paper.  Turn your paper different directions and use your imagination to find an interesting image in your popcorn, if you haven’t already!

8. Finally, use colored pencils to finish your drawing, adding any details you need so your viewer can see what you saw in your popcorn!

What types of objects have you used to do observation-imagination drawings?

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4 Responses to Popcorn Drawing – Observation & Imagination

  1. Hope Hunter Knight July 2, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    I've done a popcorn drawing lesson where I put a small plate of popcorn in the middle of each work table and each student chooses one popped kernel to draw. After drawing the kernel several times from various views, we toss our “popcorn friends” back in the plate and I come around and mix the kernels back up. Then we see who can find their “friend”, and everyone always does! It's amazing how well you get to know something once you've see it through drawing.

    • Nancy Scoble, Washington, NC September 19, 2012 at 8:00 am #

      I believe it.

  2. Art Project Girl July 2, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    Hope that sounds so cool. Do you have it posted on your blog?

  3. TeachKidsArt July 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    Great idea, Hope! I do that when I teach observational drawing to my 3rd graders, only we use peanuts in the shell. They're always amazed at how they know right away which one is theirs…. super fun!!