Grade Level



12 classes, 45 minutes


White and black cardstock (less black), a variety of media such as color pencil, acrylic paints, etc. craft glue, exacto knives, cutting matts


Mixed media

Lesson Objectives

Student will understand how to create a foreground, middle ground and background
Students will understand how to create a sense of space using perspective, proportion and overlap
Students will use tools such as rulers, scissors, glue, exacto knives safely and with good craftsmanship

Introductory Activity

Look at tunnel books, real and online.
Talk about what technique and artists uses to create a sense of space and how those techniques are used in the tunnel books you look at in class.
Ask students to develop a theme, story, location to illustrate through their tunnel book and to develop sketches of the books “layers.”
Think about how the images attach to the boarder and how the illustrations should stagger so they can all be seen when overlapped and what will ‘fill” the cut out space in the background. Is the scene outside or inside, for example.
Students should also consider media as well. How will they be rendering their scene?
Exacto knife safety should be taught or reviewed.

Lesson Process

After students have an idea, a plan illustrated in sketches, media selected, etc they are then ready to begin. Start with solid sheets of paper of the same size (a teacher could standardize this for an entire class for practicality).
Sketch images and develop with media of choice.
Cut negative space out.
Use the black cardstock to make accordion strips that will bind your pages. This creates the space between each layer of your book. You can just attach them to the sides. Glue the scenes in order to the cardstock.
Covers are optional.


background, foreground, middleground, space, overlap, layers, illustration


Tunnel Books – Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

Author & Website/Blog

Supporting Images