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Leonardo Da Vinci Art Lesson: Having Fun with Lines

Here’s a fun Leonardo da Vinci art lesson, starting with a very famous face and then filling in your own background with lines, just for contrast.

Finish the Da Vinci Painting

An easy Leonardo da Vinci art lesson, using a lesson about patterns.

The Origin of this da Vinci Project

So what’s the inspiration for this Leonardo da Vinci art lesson? Well, it all started with some very cool images that were floating all over Pinterest years ago. Some artists were finding some beautiful photographs of women’s faces in magazines, cutting them out, and then creating their own new backgrounds. The catch was doing it only with lots and lots of lines. As you can see, the contrast with the skin makes a really interesting work of art. It also encourages all kinds of original thinking as well!

The idea got me wondering as to how I could bring this idea into a classroom setting. Having students find their own image would of course be ideal, but never practical. You could never count of getting even a few good images, let alone 25 or so. And don’t even get me started on how much time that would take, and how many students you would lose to distractions along the way. (Not to blame them, I get distracted when thumbing through magazines myself!)

Bringing it to the Classroom

The solution was to use my graphic design background, find one really great image, remove everything but the face, and print a color copy for each student to start with. Add to that the idea of using a classic fine art photo, one that features amazing skin tones, and you have the birth of a new project! Not only did it get every student off and running with making their line art at the beginning of class, it also allowed the media to seamlessly blend together. No messy cutting a gluing and wrinkly magazine shape to work around. Having the color image and line art of the same surface helps them blend together so you can just admire the art, and not get distracted by any less than perfect cutting and glueing skills.

Some Extra Help to Get Started

After trying this project out in classrooms for a few weeks, the only addition that I found was needed was some help in seeing how to draw the basic framework for the head and shoulders. Hence, the four step examples that come with this download, so that you can post them as a reference to help them get started. Encourage them to make their own variations, of course, but it does help to see the basic scale of that the head and those shoulders should look like. I hope your students enjoy this Leonardo da Vinci project. Please send me any artwork you are especially proud of and I’d love to share it below for some extra inspiration to others!

Use the Button below to Download a PDF Tutorial

A step by step tutorial for a Leonardo da Vinci art lesson.

Materials for a Da Vinci Art Lesson

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  • Drawing Paper. Don’t substitute it with copy paper or construction paper. The surface will get fuzzy, erasing might cause holes, and the colors will generally not look as bright.
  • Pencil. The Ticonderoga brand are the most reliable, make nice dark lines when you need them, and are the easiest to erase.
  • Eraser. Large ones you can hold in your hand do a much better job than just the pencil tips.
  • Black Sharpie Marker. These fine point permanent markers make nice black lines, have a good tip for coloring, and never bleed when they get wet. Use them in areas with good ventilation and add extra paper underneath for table protection.

Directions for a Da Vinci Project

Time needed: 45 minutes

Easy Da Vinci Art Lesson

  1. View the Da Vinci painting for reference.

  2. Print the template on drawing paper.

  3. Sketch and trace the basic outlines. Trace with a thick marker.

  4. Add lots and lots of patterns with a thin black marker.

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