Friday, April 23, 2010

Gridded Portraits

I have been teaching this lesson to my 6th graders and they are finally in the home stretch! If I had it to do it over, I would not teach this to 6th graders, but would wait perhaps for 8th or 9th grade when the students have more skills and maturity (and patience). That said, here are some of the results thus far. For those who don't know, drawing from a grid is a great way to enlarge an image and create realistic looking art work with correct proportions. I introduced this project by showing artwork by Chuck Close, the popular artist who works from a grid and creates very large, photo realistic portraits.

I started by taking the student's pictures in a carefully lit room (light coming only from one direction) Then I put each picture in Photoshop, and I adjusted the brightness/contrast, desaturated it, and reduced the number of values to 4 by using the Cutout filter. This gave the students a simplistic portrait of themselves to work from. After printing out the photos on 4 inch x 6 inch paper, each student attached a piece of acetate to the photo and created a 1/2 inch grid on top of the entire photo. Then on a piece of 8 inch x12 inch paper, they created a 1 inch grid. There was a lot of demonstration and one on one explanation on how to create a grid using a ruler (which was surprising, but a learning experience for me... I realized that 6th graders don't have a lot of practice using a ruler, so this was a great lesson to teach some basic measuring and drawing skills) Then the important thing to stress (over and over) is that the key to creating a drawing using a grid is to only look at each individual square as you are drawing. If you attempt to reacreate the image by looking at the picture as a whole, you won't achieve the same results. This by far was the most difficult obstacle for most of the students to over come, as they had never approached drawing in this way before. I will post more of the final results as the students finish, but for now, here are a few that are turning out pretty well!

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