This activity suggests ideas for creating a 3D landscape drawing from cut-out shapes and shadows, inspired by where you live.
The activity is based on a workshop led by Scottish artist Mary Bourne at Elgin High School. In the workshop, students created brush and ink preparatory drawings of landscapes, selecting and simplifying landscape elements into shapes which they then used to create paper cut-outs.
The cut-out shapes and the shadows they create look like a drawing – a drawing that inhabits 3D space rather than paper!
It is suitable for KS 2 or KS 3 students or for families to try at home. (Younger children may need some help folding paper and cutting out the landscape features.)
Shapes and shadows in Mary Bourne's sculptures
Shield is a sculpture by Mary Bourne. The patterns on the surface of the sculpture were inspired by the simplified shapes and shadows of trees that she saw at Culloden Moor.
Culloden is the site of the final confrontation during the Jacobite rising where the Jacobite army was defeated by a British government force on the 16th of April 1746.
Two forestry plantations at the site looked like opposing armies, so Mary depicts a 'confrontation' of trees in her sculpture. This symmetrical divide is also inspired by designs on African tribal shields such as this Maasai shield.
Although Shield is a sculpture, the incised patterns on its surface appear like 3D drawings.
Have a go at making a 3D drawing from shapes and shadows
Now it's your turn to use shapes and shadows to create a 3D drawing. Use a landscape or townscape as a starting point.
This could be a landscape or townscape that is local to you such as the view from your window or a landscape, townscape or park near where you live. Mary used the view from her window overlooking the Moray countryside.
Or you may decide to work from a photograph and draw a landscape that you have visited that made an impression or that means something to you. (Google Maps and Street View are a great help if you'd like to find a place and grab photographs to draw from!)
You will need
for the preparatory drawing:
a paintbrush (if possible, a few that are different sizes)
paint pots (jars or empty yoghurt pots)
ink or one colour of paint (or black or blue poster paint)
for the 3D cut-out drawing:
stiff paper (A4 size will do)
card for a base (recycled cereal boxes would work well)
a pen or pencil
Step 1. Make a preparatory drawing
First, create some preparatory drawings for your 3D drawing.
Use a brush and ink to create your drawing. (Or use one colour of poster paint – using monochrome will help to keep the shapes simple).
Experiment with adding water to the ink or paint to create lighter and darker tones and use these to suggest the different features of the landscape.
Don't worry about drawing details but focus on the shapes that you see such as shapes of hills, trees, buildings or other manmade structures.
Step 2. Simplify the landscape elements
Now that you have spent some time looking at and drawing the landscape, select some of the landscape features that are prominent, that you like or that are important to you. You will use these for your 3D landscape.
It may help to make more drawings that focus on these features so that you can see the shapes of these features more clearly.
Step 3. Create 3D versions of your landscape elements
The next step is to translate the basic outlines of the features that have caught your eye into 3D structures.
Fold a piece of stiff paper lengthways into even sections concertina-style.
On the top layer of the folded paper draw the outline of your chosen feature, using your ink drawings as a reference.
Ensure that your outline goes right to the edge of the paper fold in several places – this will mean that each section is connected to the next, which will support the structure.
Once you've completed your design, keep it folded and cut the shape out through all of the layers. You should be able to then unfold it to create a connected 'string' of identical shapes
Repeat this process to add other landscape features to your 3D drawing. (Mary drew a ring of trees and fence to add to her pylons.)
Step 4. Build your 3D drawing
Unfold your paper and create a circle of the shapes, taping the ends together so the whole structure is linked and secure.
You could add extra elements to your 3D drawing. Mary added her house in the centre of her 3D drawing. She made a simple house structure by folding a small strip of paper in half and then folding the ends in to meet the central fold.
Step 5. See your drawing come to life with shadows!
Place your 3D outline structure near a bright window or shine a lamp on it to create shadows. These shadows become part of the 3D drawing, bringing it to life.
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