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Easy Contour Line Drawing Lesson Plan

This lesson plan is perfect for starting out the semester, getting to know your students better, and introducing contour line drawing with a twist. This project works well for anything from a basic drawing class to a portfolio class. In this post I will share the entire project step by step, my grading rubric, and some accommodations for students who may need it. At this point, I have already introduced my students to basic line vocabulary and they have done a simple observational contour line drawing.

Material Needed:

sketchbook or quality drawing paper

pencil, eraser

colored pens such as micron pens, fine sharpies, or gel pens

camera (we use our phones)



Do now: In your sketchbook answer the following: What is your spirit animal? Why do you choose this animal? Where in the world does it come from? How can you relate to it? What about your animal do you find fascinating? What characteristics does it posses that you share? Have you ever encountered your animal? When and where?

Allow the students 5-10 minutes to complete the do now assignment.

Next, I ask the students to use the internet (my students have Chromebooks in the classroom) to find five reference photos of their animal. I walk around the classroom and chat with the students about their animals and help them choose the best of their photos. You can find great free stock images at which is a great site for avoiding copyright issues and exploring lots of images.

Once the students have chosen their animal images the fun really begins. They use their phones to take pictures of themselves posing in a way that aligns with their animal photo. Some students choose to match the gaze, the stance, or the expression of the animal. Then we print both the animal and artist photos.

Next the kids will use sharpie to outline the most prominent lines in the photos. This step is not necessary, but it helps to visualize the placement of the most prominent lines. After that, the students work on a good quality bristol paper for their final image. They draw the animal lightly in pencil, outline in colored pen or sharpies, and then do the same for their facial portraits.

Here is the rubric for the assignment

Hood Art Self Evaluation 2 Spirit Animal
Download PDF • 85KB


  1. You could allow students to use transfer paper

  2. Students could do this digitally with an ipad or tablet

  3. You could allow students to use a projector

  4. Younger students could try this on a transparent paper and trace the shapes to find the contour lines.

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