Grade Level

5-6, 7-8


3-4 periods, 45-minute periods


Brown bogus paper (kraft paper would be OK too) cut to 9×9 inch squares,, colored pencils, viewfinder,


Color pencils

Lesson Objectives

For the student to…
practice creating dynamic compositions through cropping
For the student to create accurate values through the application of white and black colored pencils on brown paper.
For the student to create emphasis on the eyes by adding a pop of color.

Introductory Activity

This lesson is a great opportunity to make some cross-curricular connections with science by talking about the role owls play in the ecosystem (see link in resource section).

Talk about and demonstrate how to create more dynamic compositions by cropping with a viewfinder.

Lesson Process

Give students 4 pictures of owls printed on a single sheet of paper in black and white. We made 3×3 inch viewfinders with construction paper and cropped them into one view of an owl’s eye. They made 3 thumbnail sketches and the students chose their favorite one. Drawings were scaled up on 10-inch square brown bogus paper. Split the image in half vertically and horizontally for a simple 4-square grid to transfer the image onto the larger brown paper. Students will use the grid as a guide for transferring the lines and shapes they see in the photo to the paper. After the image is transferred accurately, the students then shaded with black and white-colored pencil and a pop of eye color. Encourage students to make their marks in the direction the owl’s feathers suggest for texture and movement.


value, composition, emphasis, movement, Scale, texture, grid, viewfinder, cropping, transfer


Owls in the ecosystem
Photos of Owls to print and use

Author & Website/Blog

Shea Phillips

Supporting Images