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Faces: Self Portrait Block Prints

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TEACHER: Billie Sturgiss

Duration: 6 weeks
Level/s: Year 5-6 (can be adapted to year 4)
Curriculum Links: Specific Learning Outcomes:

The Arts

Visual Art

PK: Developing Practical Knowledge
Students will apply knowledge of elements and principles to make objects and images and explore making conventions, using a variety of techniques, tools, materials, processes and procedures.
DI: Developing Ideas in the Visual Arts
Students will generate and develop visual ideas in response to a variety of motivations, using imagination, observation and invention with materials

  • Investigate and discuss printmaking processes used in examples of artists' works
  • Use line to create shapes and convey tone on their images.
  • Use tone to show light in portrait drawings and polystyrene prints based on observation and artists' works
  • Contrast black and white areas in their prints in the style of German expressionist woodcut block prints



  • Use Paint programme to manipulate shapes and colour images.
  • Use the digital camera.
Overall Success Criteria:
  1. Able to observe a light source on a face and use tone to convey this in a polystyrene print.
  2. Able to use the printing process to produce a clear print.
Big Questions/Assessment Focus Question/s:
  1. How can you create tone on a print to convey light on a face?


  • Polystyrene trays slightly smaller than A4 size
  • Rollers
  • Water based printing ink
  • Card or plastic ice-cream lids for rolling up ink
  • White and coloured paper (A4)
Digital Camera

Websites (which do contain advertising pop-ups) relating to artists for examples:


Source books that artwork came from:

  • Andy Warhol posters
  • Ministry of Education (2001). Exploring the Visual Arts in Years 1-6: Printmaking. Wellington: Learning Media (link to Learning Media)
  • Printing - A Step by Step Introduction by Hilary Devonshire

Introduction for Teachers

Teacher needs to be able to understand the process of polystyrene block printing in order to explain to the students. Ensure you have the right resources to demonstrate this to the students.

Have your photos of children in black and white ready for first session.

Teaching and Learning Sequence:


Self Assessment

Teacher Assessment

Next Steps:

Stage Two of 'Faces' unit. The Colour Wheel

  1. Discuss primary colours (red, yellow, blue)
  2. Using pastels, draw two circles on an A4 page one large one and a smaller one inside. Take each of the primary colours in turn, and colour a pie shaped wedge to divide the circle into sixths leaving equal blank gaps between each colour.
  3. Extend adjacent colours so they meet in the middle of each blank area. Overlap the two colours, blending them together so you get an even mix between the two - red mixed with yellow will change to orange in the space between and then change to more yellow orange when near the pure primary yellow and so on. In this way you create secondary colours (orange, green, and violet) from mixing primaries (red yellow, and blue). The main technique word is 'blending'. You should end up with a thick circle showing colours, changing from primaries to secondaries (see photos below).

    Below the colour wheel in small rectangles, match up each primary with its opposite (complementary) colour. Discuss the relationship of complementary colours.

  1. Scan a black and white print of a child's face.
  2. Open the image up in Paint
  3. Reduce size and cut and paste to make four images on screen.
  4. Select different colours from the palette to fill in areas of face, background and body, if included. Some areas may need to be cut off by drawing a line across them or to the edge of the picture to create a solid, more interesting area. During this time, students are to use their colour wheel as a reminder of primary, secondary, and complementary colours. Discuss with students and let them experiment with possible colour combinations, noting the impact they have on the audience.
  5. This activity can be organised as a 'bus-stop' activity so students have the opportunity to view and add to others' works.
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