Peter Max Contour Assignment


You may click on the image above to see more Peter Max inspired work.

I love contour line drawing. Sometimes, however, these drawings, while fun to make and view, just get tossed aside in art and end up in the recycling bin. So searching on the internet I found this awesome lesson by Ken Schwab, Leigh High School San Jose, CA. You can create a finished work of art with your contours drawings! I have adapted his plan for my Intro to Art class but you may read his whole lesson at the Incredible @rt Department – Peter Max Inspired Lesson Plan.

  1. Students draw 3 different people contour studies (on only one side of newsprint or plain paper)
  2. 3 hand contour studies
  3. 1 profile view study
  4. They then pick 3 of these or more if they wish to create a composition (Do what works for you!). They must use at least 1 hand and one person the third may be of his/her choosing.
  5. They then cut their chosen contour drawings off their paper with a small margin (not cutting on the line). They arrange them in a composition onto of the final project paper and lightly use a pencil to trace around the edges of the cut paper to indicate where each contour drawing will be placed.
  6. Students then use a window and masking tape to trace the contour drawing onto his/her final paper. They may use sharpe right away or trace all the contour lines or use pencil then go over with sharpe (depends on how confortable they feel).
  7. I also say, “No severed heads or hands!” Hands should have continued wrists/arms to go to the edge of the paper if needed or necks to profile drawings.
  8. They create 8 different patterns on a sheet that they may choose to use in his/her final. I give them a simple pattern packet for when they get stuck.
  9. Students draw patterns on their contour composition. I try to emphasize using more than one pattern in each part of the hand or person, using a light source, and trying to make the patterns flow into one another.

Some tips for newcomers (figure drawing posing): I do not have any “standing poses” anymore because students get light-headed when standing even if they are not locking their knees. I have lying down poses and seated poses. If you do standing poses I would suggest no more than 7-10 minutes. I find really good contours take 15-20 minutes so lying down works well for those and so does sitting. Having some pillows and blankets also help.

>> Ken Schwab’s Lesson Plan from – Incredible @rt Department
>> My PowerPoint and Worksheets for this Lesson

-Shalanah Backus