Smash Mouth Portraits

Students will learn how to use value with their graphite pencil, and how to create a non-traditional portrait of themselves using a grid. Using a grid, students will draw their edited photos. The distorted drawing aspect works well because of the way it changes facial features and keeps kids from trying to make things perfect. When you distort features, change proportions, and alter visual cues, there’s not a lot of ‘perfect’ left; you can only draw what’s there. These changes can take away the mental block that often holds kids back while they’re working on portraits. They can work on softening shading, using and blending values, sharpening details, and whatever other drawing techniques you (or they) may see fit.

Objective: Focusing on value, students will create untraditional portraits based on the work of Ana Mendieta.

Elements of Art: Value, Line

Design Principles: Contrast

Students will be able to:

  • Take a photo of themselves, distorted, and crop the picture on their cellphones before sending the photo to be printed.
  • Draw a distorted portrait of themselves using graphite pencils and shading techniques.

Artistic Language:

  • Value – Value deals with the lightness or darkness of a color.
  • Shape: Element, shape is an enclosed space.
  • Contrast- Contrast is a principle of art. light vs. dark colors, create visual interest, excitement and drama.
  • Proportion-Proportion refers to how one part of an object relates to whole object in size,
  • Composition-is the placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art.
  • Tonal Range- Various shades of grey between absolute black and absolute white.


Value Worksheet: value scale worksheet copy

Materials: 6×9” or 5×7 “drawing paper, drawing pencils in various types (6B,4B,2B, HB,2H)

Assessments: SmashMouth Rubric



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