Lesson #4: Developing a Sustained Investigation of an Action Figure

Part of the unit: The Figure at Rest and at Play |


How does a sustained investigation of a subject help us develop as artists?
Students will be able to:
Engage in a sustained investigation of a subject
Students will understand that:
Artists engage in sustained investigations of a subject to develop deeper understandings.

12"x18" colored construction paper in brown, gray, or other mid-value color, ebony pencils, erasers


Several 12" or 16" wooden manikins positioned in action poses



Review prior learnings:  capturing the pose of the figure by working rapidly and using expressive line.  Explain that today's lesson will incorporate prior learnings to create a longer and more formal drawing of the manikin. 

Display a student drawing from the last session and the manikin from which it was drawn.

  • How can we create a more realistic representation of our subject?

Explain that they will be drawing on colored paper rather than on white paper because they will be making the figure look three-dimensional by rendering with black and white during another lesson.



Using a large piece of colored construction paper, the teacher will demonstrate how to lightly draw the shape of the head, torso, limbs, and joints, emphasizing their rounded contours.  The teacher should remind students to use the head as the unit of measurement to determine the height of the figure. If necessary, students can draw light guidelines.

Distribute 12"x18" colored construction paper, ebony pencils, and erasers.  Students will select a manikin to draw.  Remind the students to draw lightly to make erasing easier.

Invite a few students to discuss their drawings with the class.

  • What was challenging about drawing from observation?
  • How did you meet the challenge?


Ask students to go online to research an Edgar Degas figure drawing on colored paper that uses black and white to create a  three-dimensional effect.  Print-out and bring to class.