Costume Drawing Lesson Plan for High School: Charcol Drawings of Live Models

Costume Drawing Lesson Plan for High School: Charcol Drawings of Live Models
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Objective: Students will gain practice in life drawing and depicting clothing by drawing live costumed models in class.

Materials: Art boards, large drawing paper, charcoal or black pastel, 3-4 live models in costumes or historically significant clothing

Lesson Procedure:


Step One: Select student models (makes a great reward) from a list of interested students or arrange to bring in models prior to introducing lesson. Costumes can range from full coverage (such as those a mascot might wear) to regular clothing items and accessories, but should conform to school rules and dress code policies.

Step Two: After students have taped large paper to their boards and chosen drawing materials, explain that the class will be drawing from live models. If students have no previous experience with life drawing, demonstrate a few basic tips to remember:

  • Students should use as much of the paper as possible (large composition)
  • Students should focus on the basic shapes (sphere for the head, cylinders for arms and legs) and angles—shoulders, elbows, and knees should be drawn more angular than they appear to the artist’s eye
  • Students should draw he basic head and body shapes before adding hair, hats, clothing, and accessories, and should keep details to a minimum
  • Don’t forget lights and shadows!

402px-Giuseppe Arcimboldo - Costume drawing of a woman with torch - WGA00898

Step Three: Teacher will arrange models for 20-30 minute drawing sessions, giving students enough time to get basic sketches for each model. If students become frustrated with parts of costumes, teacher will stop the drawing session and demonstrate how to draw unique items (such as hats or large swaths of fabric) by breaking them down into basic shapes, then restart the drawing sessions.

Teacher should discourage students from excessively erasing (charcoal doesn’t erase well anyway) and instead to redraw over their lines to find what they see as the “correct” lines as they draw.

Assessment: Allow students to post and compare drawings, looking for basic shapes, lights and shadows, and noting strengths and weaknesses in their own works.

Extension: Let students choose their most successful drawings to turn into finished costume illustrations on smaller paper, using the mediums of their choice and adding colors or their own unique details.


  • 3rd image by Nicole Hilsabeck.
  • 1st image by Eustache Lorsay [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  • 2nd Image by Giuseppe Arcimboldo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons