Lesson #6: Light and Shadow

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


How do artists make choices about media?
Students will be able to:
Control media to produce the illusion of volume
Students will understand that:
Artists make aesthetic decisions.
Artists select media to produce specific effects.

Compressed charcoal, white chalk, kneaded erasers, student drawings from lesson 4


12" or 16" wooden manikins in the same actin poses as in lesson 4


Create a single light source by using only window light (turn off the classroom lights) or flood lamps to illuminate one side of the wooden manikins.

  • How does limiting the light source enhance our perception of this manikin?

Using compressed charcoal, the teacher will demonstrate how to shade a portion of his/her mankikin drawing to produce a three-dimensional effect, making sure to let the color of the paper serve as a middle value.  There should be an emphasis on a gradual change in value from dark to light to make the forms look rounded.  After pointing out the highlights seen on the actual manikin, the teacher will demonstrate how to use white chalk to apply the highlights to his/her drawing.

Distribute student drawings from lesson 5, compressed charcoal, kneaded erasers, and white chalk.

Students will work from observation to create the illusion of three-dimensionality in their drawings.  Compressed charcoal should be used first to create the shadows.  The white chalk should be added afterwards to create the highlights.  The teacher should remind students that there should be a gradual change from dark to light to create the illusion of volume.

Exhibit student work.

  • Why was this medium appropriate for the project?

Work with students to co-construct a rubric that includes:

  • Correct proportions
  • Depiction of action
  • Depiction of volume
  • Control of medium

Students should evaluate their work in each area, using a scale of 1-4.




4- Mastery

Invite students to discuss what they enjoyed the most about this unit and what they found challenging.