MEDIA SUBURBAN SCENE – Foreground, Middleground, Background

Students use crayons to create a suburban scene that gives the illusion of depth and can be used as a backdrop in a stop motion animation.

Required Time

60 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 3 to Grade 8

Subject

Language Arts
Mathematics
Visual Arts
Media Literacy

Vocabulary

background foreground geometric shapes middle ground organic shapes space

Materials

Crayons Drawing Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Rulers Erasers

Steps

MEDIA SUBURBAN SCENE – Foreground, Middleground, Background - Step One

Step One

  1. Divide the paper in half horizontally.
  2. Divide the bottom half of the paper in half horizontally.
    - the space closest to the bottom of the paper is the foreground
    - the space in the middle of the paper is the middle ground
    - the space closest to the top of the paper is the background
MEDIA SUBURBAN SCENE – Foreground, Middleground, Background - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Draw a horizontal line for the foreground.
  2. Draw a horizontal line for the background.
  3. Draw a row of houses along this line.
  4. Let the bottom of 1 house be just below this line.
MEDIA SUBURBAN SCENE – Foreground, Middleground, Background - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Combine organic shapes to create trees, bushes, rocks and gardens.
  2. Combine geometric shapes to create buildings, steps, windows and other details.
MEDIA SUBURBAN SCENE – Foreground, Middleground, Background - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Use a pencil to lightly draw the scene.
  2. Combine shapes to add details to the houses.
  3. Draw trees and bushes in front of the houses. 
  4. Make things closest to the viewer bigger and more detailed. ​
MEDIA SUBURBAN SCENE – Foreground, Middleground, Background - Step Five

Step Five

SIMPLE SUBURBAN SCENE

  1. Use crayons to colour the picture.
  2. Colour the foreground with the brightest colours.
  3. Use 1 or 2 colours in each section.
  4. Gradually change your drawing pressure to make the colour go from dark to light to give the illusion of depth.

MEDIA SUBURBAN SCENE – Foreground, Middleground, Background - Step Six

Step Six

DETAILED SUBURBAN SCENE

  1. Draw lots of organic shapes for trees, bushes and plants. 
  2. Overlap shapes to show depth.
  3. Place them so they move your eye in and around the space.
  4. Use crayons to colour the scene.
  5. Add lots of textures.
  6. Colour the foreground with the brightest colours.
  7. Layer several colours in each section.
  8. Gradually change your drawing pressure to make the colour go from dark to light to give the illusion of depth.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • use crayons to create a suburban scene that is the setting for a story;
  • divide the picture plane into foreground, middle ground and background;
  • use colour and placement of objects to create the illusion of depth;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the artworks.

Extensions

Have students:

  • use their scenes in a stop motion animation;
  • use what they have learned about colour and space to create posters that advertise their films; 
  • organize a film festival to share their work with other students in the school.

Prepare

  1. Prior to this lesson have students:
    - Write an imaginary story that takes place in the suburbs. Guide them to identify the details of the setting for their story.
  2. Prior to this lesson introduce or review the concept of dividing the picture plane into foregroundmiddle ground and background. 
  3. Download and display the Space poster available on this website.
  4. Download the suburban street image. (Downloads - SuburbanStreet.pdf)
  5. Download the Suburban Street Worksheet. (Downloads - SuburbanStreetWorksheet.pdf)

Introduction

  1. View and discuss the suburban street image.
  2. Identify the foreground, middle ground and background and take note of the changes in colour as things recede.
  3. Guide students to see the division of space and things that create the illusion of depth, for example,
    - objects higher on the picture plane appear to be further away than those in the middle ground and foreground
    - objects in the distance appear to be smaller than those in the middle ground and foreground
    - colours in the distance appear to be paler and duller than those in the middle ground and foreground
    - details and colours in the foreground are brighter and sharper than those in the middle ground and background
    - cast shadows make objects seem 3-dimensional
  4. Introduce the challenge.

Activities

The Challenge

  1. Use crayons to create a suburban street scene that is the setting for a story.
  2. Divide the picture plane into foreground, middle ground and background.
  3. Use colour and placement of objects to create the illusion of depth.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity. 
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the artworks.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students. For example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - composed a suburban street scene with foreground, middle ground and background
    - used size of objects to show depth
    - used placement of objects to show depth
    - used colour to show depth
    - kept the paper in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan, or have students follow the written instructions on the worksheet.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.

Sharing

  1. Place students into small groups. 
  2. Ask them to share their work and discuss the things that are especially effective and why.
    Talk about:
    - how the works are similar yet different
    - how colour affects the sense of space
    - how placement and size of objects in the picture plane tricks the eye
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask students to tell how they felt about doing this project.

Assessment

  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss the artworks – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads – SuburbanStreet_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – SuburbanStreet_self-assessment.pdf)