Grid Drawing (Level 1)

Goals and Objectives

  1. To become more adept at fill-in / realistic drawing with graphite
  2. To become familiar with photorealism, and specifically with the work of Chuck Close
  3. To understand a method for translating an image to a much larger scale while still maintaining correct proportions
  4. To create a drawing that is as "realistic" as possible

Step by Step

  1. Watch edited version of Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress
  2. Demo tracing of grid from full-size template on to final 18"x24" drawing paper (see below)* - I usually supply 4H pencils for this step
  3. Demo applying grid to photo using copies from the Grid Art Tookit
  4. Demo drawing shapes from photo on to final paper (begin as you write: left to right, top to bottom) - this stage usually takes 3-4 class periods
  5. Demo using fill in shading (again shading left to right, top to bottom) - no smudge shading!!!
  6. Students need approximately 10-12 class periods to complete the shading portion of the drawing
  7. Demo cutting matboard (with the size of grid listed below, students can cut one full size matboard in half and share it to cut their beveled window mat)
  8. Demo attaching drawing to back of matboard with tape

Materials (a few links for the materials listed may be found at the end of this lesson, as well as within the materials list)

  • pencil / eraser
  • drawing paper, 18"x24"
  • 12"x18" (or larger) newsprint (to be used as a cover sheet so the initial shapes drawing doesn't smudge as shading is done)
  • high quality b/w photo(s)
  • pre-measured & drawn grid template (3/4") on several 18"x24" pieces of paper (overall size should be 14"x17 1/2")*
  • light table(s) large enough for tracing grid onto final paper by students
  • matboard (32"x40" sheets; students purchase these late in project)
  • Logan Mat Cutter (or preferred brand)
  • tape (scotch or masking works just fine)
  • Grid Art Tookit + copies of the grids in toolkit for student use
  • Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress DVD


  • This project typically takes approximately 17 class periods of 90 minutes each


If you would like digital copies of examples of this project to download and/or digital files of the grid art tool kit, please email with your request.

This Grid Drawing project is a great setup for students to come in to Level 2 and complete the Monochromatic (Oil) Painting during first semester.

Some select supplies can be found with the below links:

*Note* I have used the size of 14x17 1/2" inches because it works perfectly for cutting a standard piece of matboard in half while allowing for a 3" border all the way around the final drawing. You should use whatever size works best for your students, but with a Level 1 student in high school I have found this works well, is challenging, but isn't too big of a chunk to take on as a second semester assignment*