Elements of Design lesson

I’ve been getting a lot of requests for the lesson plan for this Element of Design Booklet lesson, so here’s a little explanation of how I teach this lesson. This is an Advanced class lesson, since I’ve taught these students before, I know that they have gone through the 7 Elements of Design with me in the previous Intermediate year, so this also makes a great review for a beginning of the year lesson. I saw a similar image on Pinterest a few years ago that had a similar accordion book of an image and thought this would make a neat project to showcase the elements.

1. To begin, I let the kids choose  a simple silhouette that they can easily draw and create a stencil with using poster board. We then create an accordion booklet using heavy weight watercolor paper. I usually have the paper precut for them to a specific size (21″x 4.5″)and they can measure and fold the booklet themselves. Of course, you can use any size you please, but this size works best for me considering the time frame I have for this lesson, which is about 2 weeks.

2. I spend about 1-2 days on each panel and allow make up time at the end of the 2 weeks for the students to go back and finish up and fine tune their work. Some students will finish an element in less than and day while some elements require more materials and time. But I prefer to teach or review each element every other day during the 2 week course.

Here is the breakdown of what I usually teach and look for when grading the booklets. Each panel needs to showcase the student’s chosen silhouette along with the element of design. They can use any medium they desire, but pen, colored pencils, and watercolor are the most efficient materials that I recommend.

LINE: Using only lines, illustrate your silhouette. Show a variety of lines, diagonal, curly, wavy, zigzag, parallel, dashed, etc…

COLOR: Create a color scheme using your silhouette. You can showcase Warm Colors, Analogous Colors, Complimentary Colors, Monochromatic Colors in your panel. Label your color scheme on the backside of your panel. We usually review these color schemes together first.

VALUE: Turn your 2D silhouette into a 3D form by shading with either a pencil or Prisma color. Show light, medium and dark tones in your work.

TEXTURE:  Create texture in your panel. I remind students that Texture is something you can see and feel so they have a variety of options to create texture, either by illustrating it or actually creating the texture using construction paper. Some students get really creative at this point!

SHAPE: Using only 2D shapes, recreate your silhouette. II review Geometric and Organic shapes with them and encourage them to create an interesting composition using only shapes. Some students find it easier to actually cut out shapes with construction paper and form their silhouette like a puzzle while others prefer to illustrate. I also tell them that it is ok for their panel to look a bit abstract!

SPACE: Showcase Background, Middle Ground and Foreground in your panel. Overlap is the key technique here and I love how this panel always ends up with the most creative solutions!

FORM: Using only 3D forms, illustrate your silhouette.


I hope this answers a lot of your questions, if not please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to share my thoughts! I love that you can adjust this project accordingly to your classroom. I think it would also be a great way to even teach this lesson throughout the course of the school year and you can make even larger booklets!

5 thoughts on “Elements of Design lesson

    • We used poster board this year to make this boooklet and the dimensions are 28″x5.5″ and each panel is 4″ wide

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