Identity Lesson


Inner Reflection: Fantasy Portraits


Grade Level: 9th

Time Needed:  5-7 Class Periods, 45 minutes each


Focus:  To learn and to understand the importance of identity and the role it plays in our daily lives through the creation of digital fantasy portraits, an exploration into identity.



1.     Students will be able to create a digital portrait using symbols to illustrate their identity. (Productive)

2.     To demonstrate ability to conceptualize object/image placement using the design principles of composition. (Critical)

3.     To develop appreciation for one's own and other's works. (Aesthetics)

4.     To develop skill and demonstrate ability in digital collage building techniques. (Productive)

5.     Incorporate the style of a particular artist that shows understanding of color, technique and harmony. (Productive)


Motivational Resources:

1.     Works by various digital artists that manipulate portrait art into digital art.

a.     Maciej Hajnrich

b.     Jerico Santander "Nereid" & "Own World"

c.     Nik Ainley "Stranger," "Mystic," "Oracle," & "Dream Machine"

2.     Works by famous artists that have a specific style and technique.

a.     Monet      b.  Van Gogh      c.  Georges Braque      d.  Warhol

e.     Picasso      f.   Matisse     

3.     Symbols Worksheet, and a symbol Power Point illustrating how symbols are used within an artwork to create deep meaning and purpose.

4.     Identity Worksheet to help guide them in creating their symbols.


Art Materials:

1.     Computers and Photoshop software

2.     Pencils

3.     Paper/sketchbooks


Introduction to the Lesson:


             Identity is a one of the most importance things when discovering who we are as individuals.  Many artists use identity in their artworks to convey a message or to express a feeling or mood.  Identity is what describes who we are through the means of several elements such as family, friends, hobbies, interests, likes/dislikes, religion, heritage, culture, values/beliefs etc.  It is through looking at all the components of ourselves that we can translate who we are onto paper.  Identity plays a very important role in our daily lives, it tells others who we are, and it is our essence of our individualism. 

            Identity in artwork can be seen in multiple ways, such as portraits.  Portraits have been around for many years and were once solely used for the purpose of showing who we were to others after we had passed away.  Now in today's culture portraits are everywhere and can be seen anywhere.  Portraits can be taken and made with just one touch of the button, but what it lacks is the essence of the person.  Portraits do not need to stand alone they can be brought to life by creating imagery that surrounds the image to give it a message or purpose. 

            One way to give meaning or purpose to a work of art is to add symbolism.  Symbolism is the use of symbols to represent ideas, thoughts or emotions and can be used in a wide variety of ways.  Symbols in artwork has played a key component in portraiture, for instance, in the renaissance period portrait artists would add symbolism to the painting to either tell the onlooker the position or rank of the person, what their career was, where they lived, etc.  The artist could also put hidden meaning about the person in the artwork, like adding a crow to symbolism death, or a lily to symbolize eternal beauty.  Using symbols is a creative way to say what you want yet keeps it secretive and hidden with the painting. 

            Another way to add additional symbolism is color choice.  Each color in the past has had a unique connotation to an emotion or feeling.  Color can represent a person just as literally as an object or words.  Color choice is essential when creating a portrait, it sets the mood of the painting, and it tells the reader what to feel and how to respond.  Even the clashing of two colors can symbolism dichotomy of differences; good versus bad, rain versus snow, anger versus love etc. 

            Portraits can also hold additional meaning and purpose by the way the artist paints the person.  Very distinct techniques or characteristics of the painting can give rise to new meaning and a new outlook towards the person we are viewing.  Many famous artists such as Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh, or Warhol are all artists that have a very particular and unique technique.  It is obvious to see and feel the differences of each style of painting when applied to a portrait.  By adding symbolism through color, symbols/objects and painting techniques we can create a strong sense of self when making our portraits.  By having so many variations to work with we increase our chances of creating a work of art that truly mirrors our inner selves. 


Instructional Procedure for Art Making:


Day 1:


Today the students will be taking what they learned about identity and begin applying it to their ideas.  Here the students are asked to consider some symbols that would be fitting for their imagery by filling out the symbol worksheet (identity worksheet).  There will be a Power Point given to demonstrate the meaning and purpose of symbolism in artwork.  Once they have seen and talked about symbols they are asked to begin sketching out ideas and start working on creating symbols for their work. 

            Students need to be able to follow the criteria given to them for this assignment. They will be challenged to think critically and aesthetically.  The goal for this assignment is to take a simple idea like portraiture and push it beyond itself to make the portrait move and come to life with meaning and purpose.

            Assignment Criteria:

·      Students will have at least 5 symbols used in their portrait.

·      Students will use the elements and principles of design to create a cohesive and well thought out composition.

·      Implement subtle techniques of famous artists to enhance their work. This can be done by either a filter or hand done, whichever works best for achieving this goal.

·      Incorporates different techniques in Photoshop to achieve their goal.


Day 2:


Today the students will be investigating famous artists and how they used different techniques to add or enhance their work.  These famous artists used various techniques to give their portraits further meaning and purpose, which is the focus of this assignment.  Once the students have looked into other artists they will now re-visit their sketches and play with how to incorporate this into their work. 

            If the students managed to get to the point of working in Photoshop then they will be allowed to go ahead and start working on the computer.


Day 3:


Students will now and should be working on their assignments for today.  Follow through with asking them what they remember about creating a project that used the elements and principles of design and what ways they plan on incorporating this into their work.

            Go around the room and ask each student what their plan is and how they plan to achieve the above goal.  If there are any students that are stuck with any aspect of this assignment help them out with some guiding questions about their ideas.


  • What were the symbols that you were planning to use in project?
  • What are some characteristics that you used in planning for your symbols?
  • What are some of the artworks that you found to be interesting? What would you like to incorporate from that artist into your own art? 
  • Which famous artist were you drawn to? Why? What about the technique inspires you?


Day 4-6:


Students will have the opportunity to work on this project for the next 3 days. Again make sure to go around to all the students and reinforce the criteria for this assignment.  Let them know that they will be showing their assignments to the class for a final evaluation.

Day 7:


Final Assessment day, all the students should have their work done today.


Evaluation Assessment:


  1. Today the students will show their work to the rest of the class.  They will discuss the following:
    1. What are some things that you see that you enjoy about the works of your peers?
    2. How did the artist create the imagery using the elements and principles of design?
    3. Does the artist show the importance and value of creating artwork through identity?
    4. What were some important things that you learned while creating this project about identity? Did you enjoy creating work that reflects who you are?


  1. Students should be able to go around the room and briefly talk about their work and why they chose to use the colors they did and how they incorporated the works of a famous artist.
  2. After the students are done discussing they will fill out a personal reflection sheets.


D.B.A.E Checklist


            Art History:  Students will look at the artwork of digital artists and famous artists

            Art Curriculum:  Students will have a group discussion and fill out a reflection.

            Art Production: Students will create an identity inspired portraits.

            Aesthetics:  Students will learn to appreciate the role of Identity in their lives.




Ainley, Nik. "Shiny Binary Art." Shiny Binary. 2009. Web. 15 Dec 2009. <>.


Hajnrich, maciej. "Valp Now." Maciej Hajnrich. 2009. Web. 15 Dec 2009. <>.


Santander, Jerico. "Jerico Santander." Behance Network. 2009. Web. 15 Dec 2009. <>.


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by parke345 published on December 15, 2009 10:19 AM.

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