Sketching a portrait

We're not suggesting that you enrol your child in an art class to re-create the human form – but art is a great way for them to learn about different shapes. They could draw their family pet or you could be their muse, and pose for them. With this activity, you'll see that drawing portraits (the face and upper body) is a challenge that actually involves plenty of maths.

1 hour


08 March 2021

Things you need

  • Art materials
  • Drawing paper
  • A subject (the family pet, a sibling, a parent)

The challenge

Step 1

Get your child to choose who they would like to draw.


Step 2

Set them up in a comfortable spot with a good view of their subject.

Get your child to think about all the 2D shapes make up their subject. Your child can use ovals, circles, and other shapes to plan and outline a representation of their subject.

For example, help them notice how:

  • their pet bulldog has a rectangle-shaped body and a triangle-shaped nose, or
  • their sister has oval-shaped eyes and triangle-shaped face, or
  • their fish has pentagon-shaped tail, a rhombus shaped body, a triangle-shaped head.

Step 3

After they've finished drawing the shapes that outline their subject, your child could start to add more detail by drawing over the outline with darker colours to fill in their subject's features.


The conversation

After your child has finished sketching their portrait, here are some questions you can ask:

  • "How did noticing the shapes help you with creating your portrait?"
  • "What's the same about a rhombus and a square? What's different?"
  • "Does everyone in our family have the same shaped face? Whose is the same and whose is different? What similar shaped features do we share?"
  • "I saw another activity about creating a robot [link], let's do that one next."

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