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My Shadow & Me

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

In this drawing project students reveal something personal about themselves in their shadows.

Students also demonstrate knowledge of the value scale by using a range of light and dark values in their drawings. Students also create a value scale before starting My Shadow & Me.

Value Scales by elementary students.

My Shadow & Me, art project intro


Art Supply List.

9x12 paper

Ebony pencil

No. 2 pencil

Blending stumps


Glue stick


Carbon paper (1/2 a sheet)




I have taught this art lesson for many years now. Each year I slightly change the lesson plan because my ultimate goal is for ALL of my students to have success with an art lesson. I used to only teach this art lesson to upper elementary, middle school, and high school levels but this art lesson is finally ready for all levels to have success!

These are my notes on how I teach this stunning art lesson.

Art by Grade 5, My Shadow & Me

This is a great art lesson for the beginning of the school year because it will help you, the teacher, to get to know your students. Having A great working relationship with your students is A crucial foundation for a successful year of art education!


Day 1 Drawing Foundations

You will need two or three (45 minute- 1 hour) art classes to teach this art lesson. The first class should be an introduction to drawing pencils, shading techniques, value scales, and how to use texture rubbing plates. Also during this first class you must introduce the art lesson, take pictures of students, and make a list of student shadow ideas. It's a lot of prep work but the results are stunning!

Introduction to art pencils.

Students learn about art pencils, H pencils, B pencils, F pencils, ebony pencils... Students create a pencil scale and experiment with different art pencils, and find their favorite pencils...This is an important foundational art lesson that I teach before My Shadow & Me.

Drawings with strong, dark values that contrast with lighter areas look more three-dimensional while drawings that are shaded only in middle gray look flat... Successful artwork has a full range of Value!

Value scales were created and students experimented with four different styles of shading.

Value Scales and drawing exercises completed before My Shadow & Me.

Students also learned that value not only creates dimension in drawing but also can be used as a design tool!


Day 1 Summary. I introduce the project. Class discussion about shadows. We look at contemporary artists that use shadows in their artwork. Students learn about art pencils and learn about four styles of shading. Students create value scales for pencils and practice using texture rubbing plates. I take notes and ask each student what I might discover in their shadows? I also take photographs of students standing still but in a profile walking pose.


Day 1 Introduction, My Shadow & Me

I start the art lesson by showing these images...

I found these images on the internet and it's a great way to introduce the concept of shadows revealing something about a person... Ask students what is this shadow? Why does this older woman have the shadow of a younger dancer? What does this dancer shadow say about the woman? Maybe...She was once a dancer? OR she always wanted to be a dancer? OR dancing is always on her mind? What do you think?

I ask students what is going on in this shadow?

We have a class discussion about the idea of a shadow revealing something about A person.


Let's look at the work of some contemporary artists that use shadows in their art...

Jason Ratliff creates art that incorporates super hero shadows. In his series, "Super Shadows" children have the shadow of a superhero.

Super Shadows, Art by Jason Ratliff

Six contemporary artists who make art with shadows


Part 1. Taking Notes

Ask students...What does your shadow reveal about you?

This might be too much of a question... I often have to break it down, Do you play soccer? Do you have a favorite sport? Do you play video games? A favorite super hero? What do you want to be when you grow up?

I ask students, what might their shadows reveal about them? I make a list of students names and I walk around the classroom and talk to each one of my students about the project and what I might see in their shadows?

It's important to take notes. This is what my notes look like, a graph with three columns Name/Picture/Shadow Ideas

Going down the list I talk to each student in my class, I take these notes while students are completing drawing pencil exercises and exploring texture rubbing plates.

I ask my students for their shadow ideas, What will your shadow reveal about you?

I suggest asking students for at least two different ideas for shadows (unless you are certain it will be easy to search a silhouette with the first shadow idea.

For this drawing lesson the art teacher will have homework to find the silhouettes of each student's shadow!

The "A" means that student is absent. The "Pic" reminds me that I have that students picture. I need everyone's photograph for this art project to be successful. I'm writing very quickly, I'm trying to write as fast as students are talking so that I get all of their ideas.

If a student is absent I ask several classmates," What do you think we would see in Raviv's shadow?"

*The more you teach this art project the bigger your pile of silhouettes will get. Silhouettes are reusable and it's great to have a pile of extra silhouettes in case a student changes their mind OR a student was absent.

**If you are working with older students they could be given the task of finding silhouettes to work with.

Where do I find the silhouette images?

I do a Google search. For example a student says, "My shadow will show you that I'm a soccer player." I search, "soccer player silhouettes" This is what that Google search looks like...

Sometimes a student will have a specific sports move or position in mind...

This is why it's important to take notes!

My student wanted his shadow to be a basket player but he wanted his shadow in a slam dunk pose!

...Here is a, "Slam Dunk Basketball Player Silhouette."

Since the paper we are using is 9x12

it's important to print the silhouettes no larger than 4x6 so that they will fit on the wall behind the student.

When I print the silhouettes

I can usually fit between 2-4 silhouettes on one 8.5"x11" of printing paper.

*I usually print between 2-4 silhouettes on one sheet of 8.5"x11" copy paper.

Day 1. Taking Pictures

I call students one at a time to the front of the classroom and take a quick photograph of students in a frozen walking pose. It's important to take these pictures on Day 1 of the project so that the next art class we can start the project. While I'm taking pictures students are working on value scales and then they are exploring art pencils and texture rubbing plates.

The pictures are printed in black and white. For my younger students I will cut out the pictures because I don't have a printer in my classroom and if something needs to be reprinted it would not be possible.

I print several students per page. Some students want poses that reflect what you will see in their shadows. It does not matter about the background of the photograph because you are cutting the people out from the background.

Students in a frozen walking pose. Some students want their pictures taken in a specific pose that reflects what their shadow is doing.

I cut out the poses because I don't have a printer in my classroom and if a mistake happens with the cutting it's not possible to get another picture printed in that class period. If you are working with older students they will be able to cut out their own pictures. This is a group of elementary students of all ages. Cutting skills are not equal.

My Shadow & Me


Day 2.

Today you will draw a side walk in one-point perspective, glue your picture to the paper, find a silhouette that says something about you, use carbon paper to transfer the silhouette to the paper, use an ebony pencil to shade in the shadow, and draw lines to connect you to the shadow.

*This is a lot to do in one class period. This may require an additional class to finish all of the steps. It all depends how quickly students work and class dynamics.


Start by drawing the side walk in one-point perspective.

Students will need paper, 9x12, a ruler, and a no.2 HB pencil with eraser.

This art lesson is a great introduction to one-point perspective. Depending on ages and/or class dynamics the sidewalk might take a class anywhere between ten to forty minutes to complete. The students that understand how to draw sidewalks using one-point perspective the quickest will often become my assistants and I ask them to teach it to a classmate that needs help.

This diagram shows all of the sidewalk lines converging into one vanishing point. Notice how the sidewalk lines are always changing direction.

I made a video that explains the process of teaching this art lesson.

How to draw a sidewalk in one-point perspective.


Part 2. Adding Texture and Value to the wall.

It's nice to add texture to the wall because it adds interest to the composition. It also adds another layer of depth to the composition. I also like that it adds more value to the composition. You have a shadow in the darkest value and a wall in a medium value. The more value changes in a drawing the more interesting the drawing will look. Drawings with strong, dark values that contrast with lighter areas look more three-dimensional while drawings that are shaded only in middle gray look flat... Successful artwork has a full range of Value!

Value Scale for pencil.

  • Put the texture rubbing plate under your paper,

  • Use the side of the ebony pencil tip to transfer the texture onto the paper.

  • The background is finished.

Roylco sells Texture Rubbing Plates. They are reusable and last for many years. I use them for many art projects and highly recommend this product. You can buy them from the Roylco website, art supply catalogues, or Amazon. Link above in art supply list.

Put the texture rubbing plate of your choice under your paper. Use the side of your pencil tip to transfer the texture onto your paper. B pencils with a higher number work best for transferring texture because the graphite is softer and blends well.


Part 3. Putting it all together...

  • Glue your photograph to the sidewalk. Leave lots of room on the wall for your shadow

  • Use carbon paper to transfer the silhouette to the paper. The dark side of the carbon paper must touch the paper.

  • Use tape to hold the silhouette and carbon paper in place.

  • Trace the shape of the silhouette.

  • Use an ebony pencil to shade in the silhouette shape.

  • Connect the back of your feet to the shadow on the wall.

Student demonstrates how the carbon paper works.

Students use ebony pencils to shade in their shadows.


My Shadow & Me

Student Gallery

Grade 7

Grade 6

Grade 6

Grade 2

Grade 5

Grade 4

Grade 5

Grade 3

Sometimes students like to add more details to the wall. I encourage embellishment! This student added a door, a window, and graffiti. Sometimes students add cracks in the sidewalk or drains in the street.

Grade 5

My Shadow & Me, Art by Grade 5


If your looking for an art lesson that introduces one-point perspective My Shadow & Me is a great drawing lesson to start with!

This is also the perfect art lesson to get to know your students. I'm always intrigued to see what I will find in everyone's shadow!

Don't forget to tag me on Instagram

I look forward to seeing what your students create!

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