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Basic Drawing Skill – Exploring the Use of Lines: Showing Children How to Create Mood in Artwork

Imagine drawing a picture of a feather with a thick, chisel-tip marker. The image, no matter how nicely drawn, may seem wrong for an indescribable reason. Yet, with further thought, the viewer may realize that the lines are too thick for a subject so light, airy, and delicate.

An artist can control the thickness of the lines used by altering the pressure placed on the drawing implement against the paper or by using materials with thicker or thinner tips. The art project here explores altering the weight, or thickness, of a line.

Materials for Drawing

  • White drawing paper or photocopy paper
  • Pencil with eraser
  • Stencils
  • Markers

Exploring Line through Drawing

  1. Trace the same stencil shape four times over the paper, two shapes to a row.
  2. If the stencil breaks the image down into small areas, you can connect the areas so that you are emphasizing the outline of the object.
  3. With the tip of a marker, follow the lines of the first image. It is okay to turn the page as you color the line so you aren’t contorting your arm as you go around the edges with the marker.
  4. Move to the second image. Color the pencil line with marker. Next, go back and color another line inside the first so the line appears to be thicker. Use the same color marker.
  5. On the third image, make the line thicker than the previous two lines by tracing within the shape three times. Make certain to draw the lines to one another so the outline appears to be one thick line.
  6. On the fourth image, trace the image. Switch to a different marker color and trace within the first line. Keep your lines as uniform in thickness as possible. For this image only, change the color of the marker each time you draw a line. Keep going until you’ve colored in the image with lines.

Evaluating Line in Drawing

Look at the completed artwork. What was the stenciled image? Which line thickness best evoked the idea or the mood of the object? Consider whether a car would look better with thin, delicate lines or wider, bolder lines. How would other objects look?

Young artists may want to repeat this project with different types of images to get the feel of using line to call forth a feeling in a picture. Although this project uses stencils, children can transfer the information learned in this lesson when drawing a picture freehand.

Although the child artist may not have thought of generating a feeling or mood with the artwork, varying the thickness of the lines in drawings can help her onto the path of creating more interesting artwork.