Welcome to The Helpful Art Teacher, an interdisciplinary website linking visual arts to math, social studies, science and language arts.

Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010


Before we draw the body lets review the proportions of the human head

Drawing yourself accurately

You will need a partner for this activity.

Print out two copies of this handout and take each other's measurements in inches.

Write them down right on the lines so you don't get confused.

Any ruler will work but using a tape measure is easier. Your parents might have one in a tool box or sewing kit.

When you are done measuring, take each measurement and divide it by four.  Write the new, smaller number down next to the old number and circle it. This is very important!

Using your ruler, draw a vertice line on an 18x24 piece of paper. Make the line the same size as your real height divided by four. This is going to be the height of your drawing. You have scaled yourself down.

Now, lightly draw a stick figure. Use your ruler to make sure all the sizes are accurate.

 Use the circled numbers on the handout.

You must make your stick figure the same size as the 1/4 scale measurements. Double check the sizes once you are done.

The arms and legs are going to look freakishly long.

When we did this lesson in class, I made about 1/3 of my students start over because they couldn't resist 'fixing' what looked wrong.

Almost all students, prior to instruction, draw heads too big and arms and legs too short. There is nothing wrong with doing that, if you are creating a cartoon, but the purpose of this lesson is to learn accurate proportions.

Now, have some fun drawing your self portrait. You can get as creative as you want as long as you do not adjust any of the sizes that you have measured.

 Many of my students used additonal measurements, like the size of the hands and feet. Just remember that every measurement you take must be divided by four.

1/4 scale self portrait by a sixth grade boy

This is an A. He accurately measured his dimensions in inches and divided his measurements by four. He then accurately drew a 1/4 scale model of himself and learned about the importance of mathematics in art.

1/4 scale model self portrait by a 7th grade girl
This is an A. She chose to draw herself in her Halloween costume.

Self portrait by  7th grade girl

Congratulations! You have drawn a scale model of yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Do you have any reccomendations for teaching proportion in no-figure subjects (for example a still life, or even for copying from a larger work or photo)? I'm working with talented 4th graders, I find it can get dull working only with fantasy or imaginative drawing. I will check out you 3d forms lessons. Looks like lots of great info and tips here, thank you.