Monday, November 10, 2008

How to make a City Skyline - Art Project

Here is a great art project for November. With no more daylight savings time our evenings are getting darker and our night skylines become more prominent.
We will be recreating this skyline using a few different techniques. AS ALWAYS YOU CAN CLICK ON THE PHOTO FOR A CLOSER LOOK. I usually start off this project by showing the kids some famous skylines. We talk a bit about architecture and how different places in the world will have very different skylines.
This project gives you a lot of flexibility. Skylines can be tied to geography as well as different periods in history. A roman era skyline would be quite different from a modern Paris one for instance.

Materials Required:
white paper or black construction paper
black paint (optional)
white paint
newspaper or other assorted papers
colored Mylar or regular foil
glue stick
pencil and ruler
pencil crayons
There are two ways to do your night sky. You can paint it black the way we are doing here or you can just start with black construction paper.
The next step is to construct a draft of your skyline. Using some white paper or newsprint that is exactly the same size as your background sky, start drawing out your skyline. You want some high points and some low points. You want a mix of structures with different architectural elements.
Have the kids make use of their rulers to get all those straight lines.
You want to be able to cut a skyline from one end of the paper to the other. Here I've marked it out in black marker. This helps the kids to see what they have going on in their skyline.
Remember this is just a draft that we'll use when we splatter our stars in the next step. It doesn't have to have a lot of detail.
When you are happy with it cut it out from one end to the other along the marked out skyline.
When I place it on the black background it looks like this.
Here is a second one we made that is supposed to be a medieval castle scene.
For the next step you may want to go outside or in the garage. At school if the weather is bad I'll use a splatter box. Essentially a box with three sides to splatter into. (see Owl post for an example)
I've taped the skyline draft down on the sides a bit to keep it from moving.
Splatter on white paint with a dry paintbrush. we tried to make a lot of stars as it gives you a better skyline.
When you remove the draft skyline you can see the outline of your city.
Now you get to add detail to this skyline. You can use some newspaper which works well especially the classified section, it kinda of looks like a building with windows already.
Use pencil crayons, your colored Mylar or foil for windows reflecting some light. You could add a moon if you wanted. Some architectural details, street lamps, etc. I've had kids add people walking at street level with cats on fences. Use your imagination.
I have done this with grade 2 up to grade 6. They all love the splatter part and the details seem to get more elaborate with each class. I've had alien skylines to the great pyramids.
You can also use gel pens if you wish. I have tried chalk and pastels put they tend to smear too much on the black paper. Pencil crayons tend to work the best.
Use a glue stick to stick on the different papers and foils.
We added quite a lot of detail in this one.
We are still working on the castle so it didn't make into this post.
Give it a try.
We'll see you next time.


  1. Nice work. looks really good :)

  2. The skylines are great - wish I'd had this blog resource when I was helping teach at my children's artclasses long ago!

  3. we loved this! it was so much fun...i want to make more...:)

    thank you for sharing...