Spread Creativity! Pencil Drawing: Lion

Artists have been drawing portraits around the world for hundreds of years. Chuck Close is an American artist who paints huge portraits using a system of grids.


In this project, you will enlarge a portrait of a lion using grids. You will also practice several shading techniques using a pencil, scratch stick, eraser and paper stub.  You can use these techniques in all of your future drawings.


We recommend reviewing your instruction booklet and viewing the demonstration videos before you begin drawing.


Artists ages 6 to 96 love Art Jams!

Younger artists, 6 to 10 years, may need adult help.

Kits are not recommended for artists younger than 6 years of age.

Demonstration Videos: Drawing & Shading Lion's Face

Setting Up the Grids & Drawing the Lion:

This video briefly explains how to set up the grid on the photograph and on the drawing paper. Once the grids are numbered, the video demonstrates how to create a line drawing of the lion two times the size of the image of the photograph.


Click here to view the video on grids and line drawing of the Lion's face.



Shading the Lion:

Once you have completed your line drawing of the Lion's face, you will create details and textures using a pencil, wooden scratch stick, tortillon (paper stub) and eraser. The video demonstrates techniques by completing one square at a time.


Click the button to the right to view a brief video on shading and adding details to your Lion drawing.

About Drawing

Drawing is simply making a mark on a surface. Usually the surface is paper but it has also been cave walls, stone, animal skins, wood, and many other surfaces. Some drawings are very temporary, for instance, chalkboard drawings.


Human beings have been expressing ideas with drawing throughout history. It is one of the simplest and most efficient ways of communicating thoughts and ideas.


Drawings can also be final works of art, not just sketches and notes. Monks in the Middle Ages illuminated manuscripts using pencil and ink on parchment. When paper became available in the 13th century, drawing became more common.


Today, artists draw with graphite pencils, colored pencils, chalks and inks on many different types of paper.

How Are Pencils Made?

Pencil: A drawing instrument made of a solid core of baked graphite and clay, usually encased in wood. The graphite and clay center can vary from being very soft to very hard. If a pencil’s core has a mixture of more graphite than clay it is softer. If the mixture has less graphite and more clay, then the core is harder. Pencils are numbered to represent their softness or hardness. For example, an 8B pencil is very soft and makes a very dark, black mark. (B stands for black.) A 2B pencil makes a mark that is less dark than an 8B. A pencil labeled 2H leaves a pale mark because its core has more clay than graphite and is harder. (H stands for hard.)



Select this video to visit a factory that makes art pencils.

How is Paper Made?

PaperA thin sheet of material used for writing, printing, and drawing upon. Papers are typically made from wood, cotton, and other plant fibers. The plant fibers are ground into pulp, mixed with water, and pressed together to form thin, flexible sheets.


The word, paper, comes from the Latin word, papyrus. Papyrus is a paper-like material made from the papyrus plant in ancient Egypt. Egyptians and other ancient Mediterranean cultures used papyrus before the introduction of paper from China.


The oldest know true paper fragments are from China and date back to the 2nd century BC. (Over 2,500 years ago.)  Paper production spread from China through the Middle East and on to medieval Europe.



Click here to see how paper is made in a large factory.






This video shows how paper is made by hand in a village in Nepal.





A modern day artist,  Ellen McCord, creates images by painting with paper pulp that has been colored. Click here to view a slide show on how she makes paper pulp paintings.

What is a Grid and a Ratio?


A series of evenly spaced vertical (up and down) and horizontal (left to right) lines that form squares. In art, grids are used to assist artists in accurately enlarging images and keeping the image’s elements in proportion to one another. A grid is used in this project to enlarge the image of a Lion's face.


Click here to view a short video explaining how a grid is set up and used for drawing.





A ratio is the relationship between the numbers of two things. A ration represents, for every amount of one thing, how much there is of another thing. For example, in the drawing of the Lion’s face, the ratio between the grid on the photograph to the grid on the drawing paper is 1:2 (one to two).  For every one-inch square on the photograph, there is a two-inch square on the paper.


To learn how to figure out ratios, take a look at this short video.

Artist: Chuck Close

Chuck Close is a world famous American artist who is known for his huge portraits of people.


Close was born in Washington state, attended Yale university, and now lives in New York City.


To create his extremely large portraits, Close uses photographs and a grid system. He numbers each square of the grids and paints one square at a time.


On December 7, 1988, Close suffered a seizure caused by a blood aneurysm in his spine. He was left paralyzed from the neck down. After several months of therapy, Close was able to gain slight movement in his arms and legs and has relied on a wheelchair ever since.


Close now paints with a special brace strapped to his hand that holds his brush. An assistant helps him to setup grids on photographs and canvases.



This video will introduce you to Chuck Close and how he works.

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Product Safety

All of our projects contain materials that are safe and meet the requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) 2008. Contact Us to request certificates of compliance on any of the products or materials in our project kits.

Show & Tell Us About Your Art

We would love to see your finished work of art and to hear about your Art Jam experience.


Email us an image (jpg) of your pencil drawing and any comments or recommendations you may have.

Art Jams, LLC • PO Box 873 • Thibodaux, LA 70302 • 985.438.1532 • info@artjams.net