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How to make Graphic Line Drawings

Using simple art supplies like markers, paper and paint, kids draw graphic elements in a grid. Pop art art lesson.

Here are a few ideas to start on graphic line drawings in your classroom! These are great ideas to use especially in the beginning of the year since they involve little prep.

  • Pop Art Drawings
  • Turtles
  • Name Art
  • Animals

How to Make Graphic Line Pop Art Drawings

These graphic illustrations are perfect for fourth grade when many children love to doodle. Instead of leaving the drawings black and white, you can take it a step further and either color in with marker or watercolor paints.

Drawing a Grid

It doesn’t really matter how the kids divide up their paper, but I can tell you what’s easiest. Two straight lines across the paper and two lines down. Simple. Of course, some kids will go a bit crazy adding intersecting lines, but they will figure out that this method is limiting.

Drawing Shapes, Lines and Patterns

Using simple art supplies like markers, paper and paint, kids draw graphic elements in a grid. Pop art art lesson.

This step can either be fun or frustrating. Many kids will go to town creating their lines and patterns, but many won’t. Ideas will expire after the second square, so be a good Girl Scout and be prepared. Have a plethora of squiggles and patterns available to them. You can do this in a couple of ways. Either provide them with a handy-dandy handout (obviously this is not my method or it would be included in this post) or run amok and create some of your own patterns¬†on the white board. Brainstorm. Have fun. Create some lousy patterns and some good ones. Need not be perfect.

Tip: Use a waterproof black marker. Sharpies are the ideal choice but if such pens aren’t available, use Prismacolor markers. Expensive, but are waterproof. To avoid the waterproof problem all together, don’t use watercolor paints in Step 3.

Coloring in

As I mentioned above, you must use a waterproof black marker if you intend to paint the patterns. If you don’t, you will end up with black smears covering the paper. I subjected one such class to this unfortunate blunder, and although the kids were enthusiastic in spirit, I know it caused inner turmoil with my young artists. But let’s face it, using markers is easier and requires less set-up. So dig out your bins of markers and let the kids go at it. This is a great activity for kids to finish up during “free time” so keep the art accessible.

Making the Art Dramatic

To kick this piece up a notch, add strips of black construction paper along the straight lines. Use a glue stick and make sure the kids snip off the ends. I think it finishes the piece well, but it does take some time.

Note: This art project takes longer to complete than you might expect. I allowed two 45-minute sessions for this project and only 25% finished the entire project. Many kids didn’t want to complete it becasue it took so much time, so here’s a thought. Cut your paper in half. I used a 12″ x 18″ piece so reduce it to 9″ x 6″ and you’ll increase your productivity.

Using simple art supplies like markers, paper and paint, kids draw graphic elements in a grid. Pop art art lesson.

How to Make Graphic Line Turtles

Line drawings are a super easy way to start off your art curriculum. I usually do some type of line drawing with all my grade levels at the beginning of the year. Not only is the set-up simple and there is virtually no clean-up, but it gives me a chance to get to get to know my students and their art interest.

This projects may look simple, but in fact, there is a lot going on!
These turtle drawings develop fine motor skills: drawing with a marker, cutting and pasting, establish a sense of freedom with art (mistakes are not only fine; they make great art!) and finally they beautify your classroom during these first few weeks of school which makes parents happy and students proud. What more do you need?

Okay, so here’s how to do it:

Drawing Paper
Black fine-tip marker (Sharpies make a dynamic statement)
Colored construction paper

Instructions: Drawing the Turtle

Directed line drawing for the turtle:

  1. Draw a large upside down letter “U”
  2. Connect the bottom with a slightly curved line. Then, make another line just above the bottom line.
  3. For the belly of the turtle, create a scalloped edge by drawing little upside down bumps along the bottom line.
  4. Add two letter “U’s” for the feet.
  5. Add a sideways “triangle” for the tail.
  6. Then, add a head by putting your marker on the very bottom corner of the shell and drawing a large bubble shape. Make sure to keep the neck thin and the head big and round. If you want, you can add a mouth.
  7. Fill in the turtle shell with lines, connecting the curved lines to make a patchwork of shells.
  8. Now, fill in all the small sections in the shell with different patterns. Use hearts, zig-zags, bubbles, spirals, checkerboards, wavy lines, etc. Be creative!

Now, here’s a tip: When making a pattern of lines, make sure to connect the lines to the outside of the shape. Don’t stop short!

These sweet turtles were done by Kinders! Needless to say, they were very proud. One of the secrets to making the project appear easy, is to draw lots of pattern samples on the board. Ask the children what a line is and then draw some. Point out patterns on classmate’s shirts, on the wall, etc. Get interactive!


How to Make Graphic Line Name Art

Here is another popular line drawing art lesson that I do with my fourth grade students. It’s a play on their name. This lesson teaches how to make block letters and to think a bit outside the box.
Again, like other the other line drawings in earlier posts, I tend to start the year off with this type of lesson. It’s simple, requires little prep and the kids love it. Plus, it helps in learning names!

After I show the kids a sample, there is always one student who points out that their name is too short. I mean, what can you do with “Sam” or “Amy”? Lots, I say. It doesn’t matter how many letters the students use (first name, last name, both), layering and toppling the letters in a random, creative way is what its all about.
I suggest using all capital letters, as their are less round shapes, but that can be decided by the students.

Drawing the Outline

Start with the first letter of your name and place it on the bottom of the page in a block letter format. This letter becomes the “foundation” of the pile.
Then, begin adding the other letters, not necessarily in spelling order, around, behind, in front and on top of the first letter. To help with flow, tell the children to turn their papers around.

Adding Patterns

After the letters are piled high (repeating letters is encouraged!), fill in the spaces with patterns. It helps to have some sample patterns on the board to kick-start creativity.

Adding Color

Once the patterns are filled in, bring out the markers and let the children color in the letters. No color rules here: whatever color they chose is fantastic!



How to Make Graphic Line Art Animals

In keeping with my theme for line drawings, I’m posting a few of my samples that I have done with my students over the years. I don’t like to show “teacher samples” as I don’t feel that helps you much with your expectations, but I’m making an exception here. Hopefully, you’ll get inspired to try a few with your students this fall.

The instructions are simple and are mostly the same for all the line drawings that I do. Start with a directed line drawing (these are great at the beginning of the year because it gives you an idea of how able the kids are at listening) and then progress to showing examples of patterns. Let the students finish up their drawings at their own pace. Many teachers I’ve talked to love to have their students work on these line drawings while reading a book. It gives their hands something to do, while listening intently to a story. Beware though, some kids cannot listen and draw at the same time. Many will stop drawing! Either way, it’s good for the child.
Here are a few samples of cats, owl and fish. As you can see, you can do any animal, even insects (think ladybug!). The focus is to teach children about patterns. To extend this project, cut out the image and paste onto a colorful piece of construction paper. The contrast of the black and white drawings is stunning with a bright color.


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