Black History


Grade Level:

8th Grade


Acrylic paint on transparency with bleeding tissue paper backgrounds

Objective: Students will learn how to create a value scale while also learning about important Black people in History. (Feel free to expand this project to ALL People of Color if you would like).

First either you or students will need to pick a person for this project and posterize their image in Photoshop. You will also need to change your image to black and white in Photoshop. You will want to posterize your image using 6 values. Students will need to put in the number 6 when they go to posterize it. This will ensure that only 6 values are used for the portraits. A link for the instructions to the left. Students will also need to enlarge their picture to full-page size and print out.

Once that is complete, students will use a pencil and mark each value like a paint by number. They will number all of the lightest values (white) #1, the next darkest #2….all the way to the darkest value (Black) #6. Then students will use the Six-Step Value Scale (in the left column) and using acrylic black and white paint fill in the value scale so that all of the values match the 6 values found in their portraits (going from light to dark). Black will be the darkest value. White will be the lightest. This will leave 4 other values that will need to be mixed so that it matches the darks and lights in the portrait.

Students will keep this value scale. Each class, they will use this value scale to help remix and match the colors so their portraits are accurate. They can test their remixed colors right on the paper.

Lay the posterized portrait underneath a transparency and tape it down so it doesn’t move. Students will begin painting their portraits only using the six values they found.

When they are done, they will create a background on a piece of watercolor paper. They will wet the paper and lay squares of bleeding tissue paper on it and paint over the top of the tissue paper with a paintbrush and water. Let this dry and then the tissue papers can be removed leaving a spectacular looking background. Cut out the transparency portrait. Use liquid white glue and paint the glue onto the transparency portrait and glue it down to the background.

Have students write on a piece of paper:
Birth/Death(?) date
Contributions to history or the world
Inspiring quote (if possible)
(This will be attached below the portraits.)

Learn more about this lesson here and here.

Work in Progress