Tracing Outlines of Famous Art Works

I have often made outline drawings of our art work for art appreciation lessons.  (The Van Gogh picture  “Starry Night”  is one of my most popular downloads!)

Creating an outline is a simple, really easy and frugal method to create an outlined picture which is instantly ready for your child to colour, apply art techniques, experiment with different art mediums, or to make your own version of the art masterpiece.

How to make an outline of a masterpiece tutorial:

  1. You need a tracing pad/ tracing paper (available fairly cheap at stationary or at large department stores) and a photocopiers or printer and prints of art works (postcards, calendars, books, prints).
  2. Select the picture you want to trace.  Size doesn’t really matter.  You can enlarge any small picture on your printer.  If the picture is larger than your tracing paper, just section off the picture and trace each section separately.
  3. Trace the main lines and shapes and outlines with a black pen or fineliner.  (Pencil prints out too faint) You can include major shadows or sketch or paint lines that feature strongly in the painting.)
  4. Draw a frame around the picture and write the artist’s name and the title of the work at the bottom. (I always try give reference and honor to the original artist.)
  5. Place your tracing paper on the printer face down.
  6. Print a copy.  Viola!
  7. Of course, you can enlarge your small tracing to fit the page.  Just experiment with about 120% or more and see if it needs to be made bigger/smaller.
  8. Make several copies for each child or family member.
  9. Have fun on your paper copy!

Why do we use tracings?

  • Create a reference to a famous work and add it to written biographies and narrations.
  • Apply techniques famous artists use
  • Learn to mix colours, do colour washes and paint in layers with details last
  • Make the art work “your own”
  • Focus on the original for clues and details
  • Use the original for some more contemporary art techniques (like a collage/ a mural/ coasters/place mats/ quilt designs/ build a 3D landscape, etc.)
  • Although many adults consider this just “colouring in”,  I encourage them to give it a try!  It is MUCH more difficult than it seems! 🙂

Hope this helps you create fun and easy art appreciation lessons for your family!

Pop over to my Art Page for all my other art appreciation lessons, free downloads and Charlotte Mason Fine Arts ideas.

Update:  I found an easy tutorial at quotidianmoments.blogspot where Willa shares how to make coloring  pages tutorial using Picnik

Blessings, Nadene

Van Gogh “Starry Night” ~ Art Appreciation

We enjoyed another delightful Van Gogh Art Appreciation activity which is suitable for young children and middle schoolers!

Starry Night

I saved the image and used it as a screen saver on our computer.  This is a good way to see the image often during the week.  Also, we could zoom in and really look at his brushstrokes, colours and details full-sized.

Next I traced the Van Gogh Starry Night outline – click the link for your free pdf download.  (Read about how I trace outlines of famous art works here.)   

I used the outline to save the girls time copying the drawing or using a grid, because there is so much detail in the picture and I wanted to spend the lesson time coloring and painting instead.

We used oil pastels.  First the girls coloured only the white and yellow areas on the white outline page with oil pastels.  This was not easy because you can’t see white on white!  And it had to be coloured in little strokes like Van Gogh’s.

Finding and filling all the white and yellow areas

Then we washed the page with black water-colour.  This was to have a dark background between the little strokes and to give a night-time feel to the picture.  The white and yellow moon, stars and windows really stood out!

Washing the page with black water-colour

Now the girls started to fill in areas.  They filled in the rest of the picture with all the blues, greens and other colors, using several different types of oil pastels; some thick and greasy, others with many shades of colours.  We all pressed hard to make thick, short stokes on the paper.  They sat at the computer, zoomed in and really looked to see what colours Van Gogh used.  This took some time, but already they were happy with their art as it began to look more and more like the masterpiece!

The dark greens, blacks and greys of the Cyprus tree

Swirling blues, whites and greys of the sky

All done, in just an hour or so!  They really appreciated how long Van Gogh must have worked on this masterpiece, how many colours he dabbed on the canvas and how these colours created movement and mood.  They loved this lesson!

Van Gogh’s Starry Night by Miss K, 10 years old

Van Gogh’s Starry Night by Miss L 7 years old

Here are some links I used to prepare this lesson:

Pop over to my Art Page for all the other art appreciation lessons.