Art Classes: Level IV

Level IV-Lesson 10: Drawing People with Degas

Learn to draw a human figure in proper proportions and use it to show a person in action

The lesson is suitable for students in grade 6 through adult.


Art Lesson Description

In this lesson you will learn to draw a properly proportioned, generic human figure. The lesson provides a simple way to bend the initial drawing into an action figure, add clothes, and color the figure with chalk pencils on textured card stock. You can turn your figure into a dancer, athlete—whatever you like!

Beginners who draw people often get so caught up in minor details that the overall human form gets distorted. This lesson helps people avoid such pitfall in three ways:

  • The lesson provides a simplified way to draw hands and faces,
  • The paintings of Degas are used to inspire a loose, less detailed approach, and
  • Using chalk pencils on card stock frees invites us to use a less detailed style.

Please note: The video version and the PowerPoint version of the lesson use different media. Using chalk pencils—not chalk pastels—and using heavily textured paper like textured card stock are both important to the PowerPoint lesson’s success. Oil pastels are used for the video version of the lesson.

This lesson is appropriate for students aged 6th grade through adult.

This lesson includes both POWERPOINT and VIDEO versions of the lesson plus 2 downloadable printouts: a warmup and a drawing of a generic figure.


List of Supplies for Each Student:

  • 1 copy of the warm-up
  • 1 fine tipped black magic marker
  • 1 scissors
  • 1 roll of masking tape
  • 1 sheet of textured card stock or textured mat board at least 12” x 12” (PowerPoint Version)
  • 1 sheet of 8.5” x 11” copy paper (the kind used in printers) (PowerPoint Version)
  • 1 HB drawing pencil and one charcoal white pencil (PowerPoint Version)
  • 1 set of chalk pencils (PowerPoint Version)
  • 1 sheet of watercolor paper (Video version)
  • 1 sheet of drawing paper (Video version)
  • Oil pastels (Video version)
  • A printout of the generic person (Video version)


Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections:

Videos featuring many of Degas' paintings at these two sites:

Edgar Degas for younger students

Edgar Degas and Impressionism for older students


  • Make Pavlova, a dessert that was created by an Austrian chef in honor of a ballet dancer

Approximate Time to Complete the Art Class:

  • Drawing the generic figure: 25 minutes
  • Tracing the figure onto textured paper and color with chalk pastels: 60+ minutes



The Generic Figure
The Generic Figure
The Action Figure
The Action Figure
A Finished Picture
A Finished Picture

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