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Skyscraper Line Drawing

Inspired by Illustrator Marz Jr and pictures of New York skyscrapers, kids draw a retro line drawing

Inspired by illustrator, Marz Jr. 5th grade students looked at pictures of skyscrapers and created a retro line drawing of their observations.

Inspired by Illustrator Marz Jr and pictures of New York skyscrapers, kids draw a retro line drawing

The students used a black Sharpie marker to draw the contour lines of a skyscraper (we looked at famous New York landmarks) and then got busy adding the dozens and dozens of extra windows and doors. I suggested drawing 2-3 skyscrapers on the colored paper and leaving enough room for a 4th skyscraper somewhere on the paper.

Inspired by Illustrator Marz Jr and pictures of New York skyscrapers, kids draw a retro line drawing

After drawing the skyscrapers on colored paper, I handed out sheets of 12″ x 9″ sulphite paper so the student could draw a final building. They cut the building from the white paper and glued to the colored paper. Stunning results!

Inspired by Illustrator Marz Jr and pictures of New York skyscrapers, kids draw a retro line drawing. Fifth grade gallery


  1. Hi Patty

    I love this! Simple materials, but hey look so sophisticated they could be pro illustrations!


    March 17, 2013

  2. I wonder how young you can have kids do this project. Maybe even first have them create backgrounds that are painted to put the skyscrapers on?I guess with the time limit that would only work for parents doing this with their kids at home


    March 17, 2013

    • There is no time limit. I had 50 minutes but you could take as long as you like. A painted background would be very cool!

      Patty Palmer

      March 17, 2013

  3. Hi Patty, the “retro-ness” rocks! Black and white with a single colour is so effective too : )


    March 18, 2013

  4. Hi Patty,
    Love this project! I needed a quick lesson for some pretty sophisticated 4th graders and this is perfect! Trying it in the morning! Thanks so much!


    March 18, 2013

  5. Wow nice Line drawing… i like acent color..


    March 18, 2013

  6. I love your site! I always find good projects to do with my kids! THANK YOU!!!! 🙂

    sara's art house

    March 19, 2013

  7. Wow, very cool! My 7 year old loves to draw and make art at home so we will definitely be trying this. It looks like it would be fun for me too. 🙂


    March 20, 2013

  8. love the cut out here-what a difference that makes!


    March 20, 2013

  9. These are so great, Patty! Could make a collaborative 3D version of them, Barbara Gilhooly style! Have a unit on built environments coming up… might just try that! Thanks, yet again!


    March 23, 2013

  10. Patty,
    I did this lesson, as I mentioned above, with my talented 4th graders and one of them one a Silver medal at out regional art show! This is an amazing lesson with fabulous results!

    Renee Adams

    April 13, 2013

  11. I did this but with the London skyline. Impressive results.

    Afeni Neville

    January 16, 2014

  12. Did you do any work with perspective before this lesson?


    January 29, 2014

    • Only as far as drawing a second side to a building. We mostly talked about skyscraper shapes and how to draw with lines.

      Patty Palmer

      January 29, 2014

  13. I love these! I want to try this with my fifth graders this week, but I am worried about how to teach them to draw the buildings. I like how your students seemed to use free lines. Do I just ban rulers?

    Jennifer Eagle

    January 16, 2016

    • Yes, don’t use rulers. It prevents the student from moving freely throughout the project. Rulers would add rigidity to the skyscrapers but that would also be interesting. Two different projects. If you wanted to incorporate math into the lesson, I would use rules. If you want to create art, I would do without them!

      Patty Palmer

      January 16, 2016


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