SchoolArts Room

Drawing in the Round

By Annemarie Baldauf, posted on Jan 14, 2020

Drawing on a cylindrical curved surface such as a paper cup has endless possibilities and creative results. Drawing on a 3D surface has its unique challenges and students learn, improve, and grow from such an experience. This is an open-ended project that you can adapt as desired, emphasizing different themes or techniques each time you present it.

For this project, we have used plain white paper cups and donated cups from Starbucks. Some themes have included red cup drawings for the holidays, drawing people in correct proportions, black-and-white drawings with thin permanent markers, and adding color to the black-and-white drawings. Students can create abstract or realistic images on their cups, and I encourage the use of patterned line designs.


Choosing an Approach
Students complete two cups. With their first cup, they generally complete one side first instead of drawing continuously around the entire cup. I leave that up to them. I share approaches to drawing on a cylindrical or circular surface and point out that there can be a front and back for a two-sided drawing or one continuous drawing around the cup. Students may also consider illustrating a story through the cup.


The popularity of this project is evident as students, on their own initiative, often work on them out of class and spend hours on the drawings.

Decide on a theme or Big Idea to start this project. I have students first draw multiple designs or ideas in their sketchbooks within a long rectangle, like the cup. I also ask them to write a sentence or two about what the have planned. Once the design is chosen, students draw it in pencil around the cup and then outline it with black permanent markers. If color is desired, they can add that with markers or colored pencils.

Students photograph their cups from various viewpoints and upload their images to their online digital portfolios. They include a reflective written statement on their likes, dislikes, what they might do differently, or what they might repeat. Then they start their second cup. Not surprisingly, the second cup is usually their favorite.


Annemarie Baldauf is an art teacher at Riverview Middle School in Baypoint, California. annemariebaldauf@sbcglobal.nety

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