Perspective. The younger students typically learn about vanishing points and draw a road. Another popular one I’ve seen in recent years is an aerial view of the tops of buildings, each of them disappearing into a vanishing point on the ground. My challenge in teaching the oldest students (9-12 year olds) in Foundations for Classical Conversations is presenting them a different kind of project for perspective.
The entire drawing unit begins with the idea of basic shapes. In my lesson 1, I take it to the next step with the basic geometric shapes that are formed by the OiLs (basic shape components). So when we get to perspective, the key skill remains being able to observe the basic shapes as they are, and not how we think they are, when our perspective changes them.
For this project, I wanted something for students to draw to apply perspective to things other than landscapes. I’d asked students what things they loved, and I got answers that included Legos, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. For this lesson, I incorporated all three in the choices I gave them.
Step 1. I list on the board the skills we’ve learned so far by asking ask the students as I write. The list is 1. Trace oiLs nad basic geometric shapes, 2. Measure–with whatever you have on hand, to get proportion right, 3. Turn the image in another direction to help you see it differently, if that helps.
Step 2. Give students an orignal to copy. Below you see one option I gave: Arwen from Lord of th rings, Lego figurine. After weeks of everyone drawing male characters from history and literature, I thought it was about time for a female! (The girls in class thought so too.)
I normally use coloring pages, but alas, I couldn’t find one. So I did give them the image below.
Step 3: I ask them, what do we do first when we approach a new thing to draw? Answer: observe and TRACE the basic shapes/geometric shapes. On the paper, I have kids trace the shapes they see in the two sides of her skirt, those hands, her hair, ear, etc. Just the basics, no details.
I said this lesson is about how perspective changes our perception of shapes. Kids know how blocky Lego figures are; they know what shapes the hands are. But having to trace them makes them see that, sometimes, that perfect “C” curve is altered and not perfectly symetrical. Or maybe they find what they know is always a square or rectangle is suddenly showing up on paper as a diamond shape. THAT is perspective–how the vantage point changes our perception of a shape.
For instance, last year, during cycle 2, we worked on a castle. When students traced one of the walls, they saw that what they KNEW t be a rectangle was actually a parallelogram. So yes, even on lesson 5, I still ask them to trace the shapes. A habit to help discipline our observational skills.
Many boys preferred drawing Yoda. I found this image of Yoda here.
Step 4. Hand out blank paper. On it, instruct kids to duplicate the basic shapes they traced, using the skill of measuring how big those shapes are to help get them the right size and in proportion. (Check out my lesson on measuring/mirror-image for clarification.) As always, I remind them to keep their pencil lines light and loose–we can erase lines we don’t want later then.
TIP: If you have students whose drawings do not evidence actual observation of the shapes, I suggest walking everyone through a small part of the drawing. I’d focus on the hand or an arm. I’d show my tracings, then what I transfor to my paper–or even better, draw it on the board. After direct instruction of each step, I’d check on the students. Some students need this slowed-down, direct approach or they are content to glide by all the instructions and draw the way they’ve always drawn. Encourage and applaud any tiny change that reveals they are approahcing the task differnetly and getting any increment closer to repersenting what they see!
Below step 5 is my drawing. While my other lessons have had drawings broken down in these steps, this one I did in class with the students, so I don’t have a photo of the drawing at only step 4. My drawing shows step 5 work done as well.
Step 5. After basic geometric shapes are done, then it’s time for details: what specific shape are those eyes and eyelashes, etc.? (My drawing is violating what is now one of my big “rules”: don’t do the details until you have the basic shapes of the whole image done. According to that, I should finish her skirt’s basic contours before doing her facial details. (In my defense, this was from 3 years ago, first year tutoring, and I’d not refined my method yet.)
This is how far I got in class, while instructing. Students got further than I did, if I remember correctly.
Ste p 6. Finish at home, if interested, adding color even!
I like this lesson for perspective because I feel they’ve had years of looking at perspective in landscapes and it’s often not applied to other types of images. Students need to see how perspective change the expected shapes of many every day objects.
Anyone have any other ideas for good applications for perspective?