In this project, student artists learn about how scientists use drawing in their field research. They focus their studies on the ornithologist John Audubon . He was notable for his extensive studies documenting all types of American birds and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats. He eventually produced a book called ‘Birds of North America’ which contained 435 life-sized watercolours of North American birds, all reproduced from hand-engraved prints. Students begin the project by creating ‘field sketches’ through which they learn the basics of observation drawing. They then pick an animal figurine of their choice, draw it from observation, study the habitat of the animal, create an accurate background for their drawing, and then turn the drawings into a series of prints. Note: If an educator is unable to create prints with their students due to budget or space concerns, they can modify the project by using watercolor paper, skipping lesson 4 and instead have their students complete their drawings by adding watercolor.

Scope & Sequence:

Lesson 1: In this lesson, student artists are introduced to the basic characteristics of superheroes, as well as understanding that each superhero had his or her own unique backstory. Student artists brainstorm & generate a backstory for a unique superhero by creating a zine. They leave the cover blank for future lessons.

Lesson 2: In this lesson, student artists learn about line and shape, and create silhouettes of their superhero on their zine’s cover.

Lesson 3: In this lesson, students look at how artists help to define their character through the details in their character’s costume. They then create their own details that reflect their superhero’s backstory.

Lesson 4: A second day for adding details

Lesson 5: Students complete their covers with watercolor.

Lesson 6: Optional. a final day for finishing.

(you can preview the first lesson in a project without enrolling by clicking on ‘lesson 1’ above).



Copy paper, pencils, sharpener, erasers, botanical examples (e.g., flowers, leaves, etc.), copy paper & styrofoam printing plates of equal size, *animal figurines, tape, ball point pens. Group printmaking stations that include: Breyer (one clean and one for inking), **printing tray,*** printing ink, ****a selection of printing paper

*Use a selection of print-outs for students to look at if unable to get animal figurines (figurines can often be found in science kits, or in play sets. Consider asking the science teacher, or having students bring in animal figurines/toys from home).
**Something flat and non-porous, such as a Styrofoam lunch tray, a piece of laminated wood, a piece of plastic or glass, or an extra styrofoam printing plate.
***Your choice of color, although offering black is a good idea ****Printing paper should be paper available in quantity—it can simply be copy paper or construction paper, or you can purchase speciality printing paper from online retailers
Optional Materials: Lesson 1: scissors Lesson 5: watercolor paint, brushes, water containers. Adaptations: In addition to the materials above, if you are making books during lesson 1 include additional copy paper (3-4 pieces per students), colored or construction paper for the covers, & a stapler If you are not having your class do printmaking (see synopsis, then notes in lesson 4 for details), use watercolor paper rather than the copy paper and styrofoam printing plates, and eliminate printing ink, printing paper, and breyers from the supply list.


Books & Media:

Art Elements: 

line, shape/form


Art Principles: 



National Core Visual Art Standards:
VA:Cr1.2.1a, VA:Cr3.1.2a



social studies, science, mathematics, U.S. History, geography


Common Core Standards: 

W.1.7, W.2.7, W.1.8, W.2.8, SL.1.1a,
SL.2.1a, SL.1.1b, SL.2.1b, SL.1.2,  SL.2.2, SL.1.1c,  SL.2.1c, SL.1.3.,  SL.2.3, SL.2.4, SL.1.5, SL.2.5, 2.G.1,



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