Lesson #1: How do illustrators use letters in pictures?

Part of the unit: Creating Accordion Books |


Students will be able to:
Look at the book, Alphabet City, and make observations about letter shapes. Redesign the same letter in many different ways using lines, shapes, colors, and patterns.
Cray-pas, paper.
Explain that there is a particular kind of artist, called an illustrator, who creates the images for books. Ask:
  • Do you have any books that are your favorites because of the pictures inside?
  • What books are your favorites? Why?
Show the book Alphabet City by Stephen T. Johnson. Ask:
  • What do you think we will see in this book?
Call on 2-3 students to respond. Slowly show each picture. Ask,
  • Where did the artist get the idea for this book?
  • How are these letters different from the letters that we write in school?
  • Why do you think he took these pictures?
Explain that artists look at the world to get ideas about making art.
  • If I sketch the first letter of my name on this paper, what are some ways that I could change it using cray-pas?
  • Could I cover it with a pattern?
  • How could I make a pattern using bright colors or interesting shapes?
  • How could I put those together to make a letter?
Show students the cray-pas and ask:
  • What makes these different from crayons?
Using two colors, demonstrate how a third color can be mixed by overlapping and rubbing, using fingers or a cloth. Ask:
  • How could we make and change letters using these materials?
  • What types of lines can we use?
Have a student come up front and draw a letter using straight, curvy, and dotted lines.
  • What can we do with the background?
Use cray-pas to sketch letter shapes and change them five or six times. Ask students to draw six squares on white paper and redesign the same letter in a different way for each box. Use line, shape, pattern, and color. Create a colorful background in each box.
Have students circle around a seating area. Select 3 people to share their work. Ask them:
  • What letter did you choose?
  • How many times did you sketch it?
  • Show us how you used different lines. Colors. Shapes. Patterns.