Students use watercolour paints to turn simple shapes into figures.

Required Time

120 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 3 to Grade 10


Art Techniques


detail gesture shape watercolour paint


Crayola Marker & Watercolour Pad - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Washable Watercolour Paints, 8 Count Crayola Round Paint Brushes Water Containers Paper Towels

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Step One


  1. Moisten the watercolour paints by dropping a brush load of water on the colours you want to use.
  2. Pick up a drop of colour and paint it onto the paper in a small blob. 

Step Two


  1. Paint the legs a little longer than usual.
SIMPLE WATERCOLOUR PEOPLE – Shape, Gesture - Step Three

Step Three


  1. Paint the head a little smaller than usual.
  2. Paint the arms long enough to go about half way down the legs.
SIMPLE WATERCOLOUR PEOPLE – Shape, Gesture - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Practice making figures in different poses.
  2. Fill the page.
SIMPLE WATERCOLOUR PEOPLE – Shape, Gesture - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Add a few simple brush strokes to suggest hair and feet.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create 10 simple watercolour figures in a variety of poses;
  • build on their own and others’ discoveries to generate new ideas;
  • explain their process; 
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.


Have students:

  • collect or take their own photographs of people in different poses, for example, playing soccer, hockey or volley ball;
  • continue to practice painting watercolour figures based on the poses in their photos;
  • practice adding more detail to each figure to better identify what the person is doing;
  • paint a scene that includes at least 2 figures.


  1. Download images of figures in watercolour paintings from the Internet, for example,
    Van Gogh
  2. Place students in groups so they can share ideas.
  3. Provide paper towel, water containers and paintbrushes for each student/group.


  1. View and discuss several of the watercolour images.
    - Ask students to describe the people in the images, tell who they think they are, and what they are doing.
    - Ask them to explain what they see that makes them think so.
    - Focus on how simple the figures are, and yet it is still possible to imagine who the people are, and what they are doing.
  2. Ask students to share what they know about using watercolour paints.
  3. Explain that today's class is for learning how to make simple, blob figures with watercolour paints. 
  4. It's a time to simply practice making people in different poses.
  5. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create 10 simple watercolour figures in a variety of poses.
  2. Build on your own and others’ discoveries to generate new ideas.
  3. Explain your process.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Demonstrate how to prime the paints by dropping a small amount of water in the colours you want to use.
  3. Remind students that they will need to clean their water once it gets dirty, because the dirty water will muddy their colours.
  4. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when:
    - I have painted 10 figures in different poses
    - the paper is in good condition
    - I can accurately describe how to paint simple figures
  5. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  6. Observe students as they work. 
  7. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into small groups. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    - Compare their work and describe to each other something they find interesting and why.
    - Discuss the things that are especially effective and why.

    - Talk about what they found difficult and what they found easy to do.
    - Discuss what more they would like to learn about painting figures with watercolours.
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask students to tell how they felt about painting figures with this technique.


  1. Observe students as they work  – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting
  2. Observe students as they discuss the paintings – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads – SimplePeople_tracking.pdf)