Horse head: breaking down a photo to simple shapes (this session wit the 5th graders)

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One session – one hour Material
– one colored pencil, one pencil 4B
– a black and white photo of the head of an animal (one copy per student).

The students find the few basic shapes contained in the picture, starting with the large ones. They draw the frame of the photo on a paper (in this case a square).
Then the shapes, with the colored pencil, starting with the larger one.
They then draw on top of the colored pencil lines, to adjust and refined the contour, watching carefully the photo.

This basic exercise helps to understand how to break down to simple shapes a photo of an animal (but it could be pretty much anything) and how to position the subject and to find the proportions inside a frame (how far are the ears from the top?, where does the line of the neck touches the right frame? what is the distance between the nose and the lower left corner?, etc…).

The idea is to train the eye, not necessarily to use this when one draws. And to take the time to look.
To train the eyes to “see” the structures (before the details) and the main lines of a landscape or a subject in a landscape can be very helpful when taking photos for example.