COLLAGE SELF-PORTRAIT – Shape, Texture, Contrast

Students use photo editing software to posterize a photo of themselves and use it to create a self-portrait collage using papers they have painted. Once they are satisfied with their self-portrait they write an artist statement about it.

Required Time

120 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 7 to Grade 9


Language Arts
Visual Arts


collage contrast self-portrait shape texture


Crayola Washable Glue Sticks Crayola Scissors Crayola Construction Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") - variety of colours Crayola Paint Brushes Crayola Washable Paint Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Colours of the World Crayons or Coloured Pencils Water Containers Paper Towels Recycled Magazines and Newspapers

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COLLAGE SELF-PORTRAIT – Shape, Texture, Contrast - Step One

Step One

  1. Use a picture of yourself you like or take a new one.
  2. Resize the photo so your head and shoulders fit in a box about 15 cm x 17 cm.
  3. Convert the photo to Grayscale.
  4. Use a photo editing program such as Photoshop to posterize your photo.
  5. Print 2 copies - 1 for the portrait and 1 for cutting out shapes.
COLLAGE SELF-PORTRAIT – Shape, Texture, Contrast - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Use Crayola Colours of the World crayons or coloured pencils to colour ONLY the face of your photo.
COLLAGE SELF-PORTRAIT – Shape, Texture, Contrast - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Choose 3 pieces of coloured construction paper.
  2. Paint over the paper with loose free strokes.
  3. Let some of the paper show through.
  4. Make some areas darker than others.
  5. Set the papers aside to dry.
COLLAGE SELF-PORTRAIT – Shape, Texture, Contrast - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Cut a shape out of the 2nd photo to use as a pattern.
  2. Place the pattern shape on top of the construction paper and cut it out.
  3. Glue the shape to the photo you coloured.
  4. Continue in this way until the figure is completed.
  5. Cut out the figure.
COLLAGE SELF-PORTRAIT – Shape, Texture, Contrast - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Tear pieces of text to use as the background.
  2. Glue overlapping pieces of the text to a piece of drawing paper.
  3. Place the figure on top of the text background to see if you like the way it looks.
  4. Fill the whole space.
  5. Glue the figure to the background.
  6. Add a symbol and words to communicate things that are important to you.
COLLAGE SELF-PORTRAIT – Shape, Texture, Contrast - Step Six

Step Six

  1. View your self-portrait with fresh eyes.
    - What do you like best about it? Why?
    - What message does it communicate about you?
    - What do you see that makes you say that?
  2. Use the worksheet to write an artist statement about your work. (Downloads - WriteArtistStatement.pdf)

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • use a photo editing program to posterize a photo of themselves;
  • create a self-portrait collage that communicates things that are important to them;
  • ​create textured papers with washable paint;
  • write an artist statement;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity;
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the artworks.


Have students:

  • explore other ways to use collage techniques to create new artworks, e.g., using the Mini Story Squares lesson plan available on this website;
  • share their work with others.


  1. ​Teach/review how to use a photo editing software program such as Photoshop to resize, convert to grayscale and posterize an image. 
  2. Gather and make available picture books about identity, for example, The Boy & the Bindi, by Vivek Shraya, and Rajni Perera: Where Are You From?, by Yamile Saied Méndez, and Jaime Kim; The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family, by Ibtihaj Muhammad, and Hatem Aly; Sidekicked, by John David Anderson; and Minion, by John David Anderson. 
  3. Download images of portraits from the Internet, for example,
    Paul Trappen
    La Belle Otero
  4. Download and display the Shape, Texture, and Contrast posters available on this website.
  5. - review or teach the elements of shape and texture – positive and negative shapes, the way something feels or looks as if it feels
    - review or teach the principle of contrast – extreme differences
  6. Gather a variety of magazines and/or newspapers with lots of text.
  7. Download and copy the Write an Artist's Statement form - enough for each student to have one. (Downloads - WriteArtistStatement.pdf)


  1. View and discuss several images of portraits.
    Ask students to tell what the portraits tell them about the person, and what they see that makes them think that.
  2. Ask students to think of 5 words and 1 symbol that best describes them.
  3. Ask students to think about how they would communicate those ideas in a self-portrait, e.g.,
    - a specific pose
    - hat
    - hair
    - objects such as jewelry or medals
    - facial expression
  4. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Use a photo editing program to posterize a photo of yourself.
  2. Create a self-portrait collage that communicates things that are important to you.
  3. Create textured papers with washable paint.
  4. Use contrast, text and symbol to communicate a message.
  5. Write an artist statement.
  6. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  7. Support your ideas with evidence found in the artworks.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students. For example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created a collage self-portrait
    - communicated things about myself that are important to me
    - communicated my ideas using symbols and text
    - created a composition that moves the viewer's eye through the picture plane
    - created textured papers using washable paint 
    - kept the artwork in good condition
  3. Discuss how the placement of objects can create areas of interest and emphasis that move the viewer's eye through the picture plane. 
  4. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  5. Observe students as they work. 
  6. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Display the self-portraits and artist statements as a ‘body of work’.
  2. Ask students to gather in front of the display and look at the works thoughtfully.
  3. Ask them to find 3 things they find interesting about one of them.
  4. During the discussion include references to:
    - composition - placement of elements to create movement
    - use of text and symbol - how they add to the overall effectiveness of the work
    - contrast - how contrast is used to move the viewer's eye through the composition
    - feelings the work evokes
    - communication - what the self-portrait tells the viewer about the artist
  5. Display the images in and around the classroom so students can view them as a body of work throughout the next few weeks.



  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their self-portraits – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the self-portrait, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads – CollageSelf-Portrait_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – CollageSelf-Portrait_self-assessment.pdf)