I’ve attempted this Lichtenstein project in years past but I think I finally perfected it at the end of the semester in my intro class last year. There are a lot of steps so I’m just going to outline them all!
1. Introduce Lichtenstein- I always show a million examples and talk about the drama of the moment in each painting. We talk about scale, colors, benday dots, and the combination of words and facial expression. I also show them the comics his paintings are based on and let them decide if it was ok for him to steal them for his paintings or not.
2. Pre-planning- Students decide on their facial expression and what they are saying/thinking. They also have to decide what side or corner of the canvas they will be in.
3. Picture Day!- While most of the students are still working on another project I pull them out and take their pictures one at a time. I set them up with a white background and position the camera so they are in the same place in the picture that they will be in the painting (leave room for the bubble). They have to make their expression for the picture.
4. I print the picture 8x10 in black and white. May need to be lightened a bit if shadows are heavy.
5. (It’s really important to have examples to show for these next few steps!) On the printouts of the pictures, students take sharpies and draw over the contours of their face and anything else that is showing. They have the option to change or edit things if they want to. I remind them to add some stylized lines to give their hair texture.
6. This step is so important! I’ve skipped it before and it makes the process too confusing. Using a light box, students trace ONLY the sharpied lines and the 8x10 box onto a clean piece of paper. This is usually when I have them add their bubble and words.
7. Grid Time! Students draw a 1” grid on their paper and a 2” grid on a 16x20 canvas then transfer their drawing, square by square. Include bubble, words, and anything in the background.
8. Once the drawing is transferred, erase grid lines as much as possible. Then I have them map out their color scheme and put in the background and other solid colors. I had this group stick to primary and secondary colors (with a few exceptions).
9. The hardest part, the dots! This time I made 1/2” dot guides (see picture.) They used the back of a small paintbrush or a q-tip and shifted the guide with each line. This part is so frustrating. I encourage them to start in the smallest spaces and seriously take their time.
10. FINALLY the very last step is to paint in the black lines. I demonstrate varying their line thickness for added interest and using a bit of water so the paintbrush moves more smoothly.
I love this project because the students are usually surprised by how well their paintings turn out. They gain confidence in their drawing and painting skills and there is room for embellishment and personalization for those kids who want to take it to the next level! I’ll post some finished paintings next…