Teaching Proportions in Art to Younger Students

Recently I’ve introduced how to draw objects that are in proportion to each other to younger students. This is a drawing fundamentals class and this lesson is very important. It introduces students to a new measuring technique, thumb-and-pencil method, that they will use, throughout their art journey.

The thumb-and-pencil method is one way you can measure objects that you are drawing. You simply hold out your arm straight in front of you with your pencil in your hand and use your thumb to measure how big something is. You do this by moving your thumb down closer to the object you are measuring.

Like this…
And this.

To keep the lesson engaging and fun we drew a giant octopus next to a human. I asked them to use the eyeball of the octopus to measure out the human body.

As I’m explaining this measuring technique I just kept laughing. I’m saying things like “two octopus eyeballs high” and “be sure your human doesn’t get tangled in the octopus tentacles.” Lol

It’s so funny to me and the students, but for completely different reasons. Their having fun and I’m having fun.

But it’s so opposite to how I was feeling when I first learned to measure proportions back in school. You know…back in the day. Lol

I just keep thinking about when I learned this technique in school, it was a challenge for me. We drew things like buildings/wood figures and I’ve always remembered how difficult it was for me to focus.

So I really didn’t want a repeat any of this for my students. This of course is an introduction to learning how to measure objects so I wanted to keep it light, so students can get the concept. We will continue to learn about this for the next few weeks or so, at least until they are comfortable with it.

Learning about proportion in art is an art element and I’m so glad my students enjoyed learning it in this silly way.

If you are teaching art to younger students and it’s time to learn about proportion, try using objects that interest your students.

At one point while teaching, we measured a Wall-E toy and compared it to a Pokeball. This really helped them to remember the technique, how to use it and why it’s helpful in drawing.

See you next time! 🙂

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