Animal Collage: Practicing Symmetry

This is a multi-step project that was a challenge, while also a project most can do. The collage took a total of six, forty-five minute classes to complete, including the initial day of lecture and demonstration. This project was created for a 7th and 8th grade art class, but can be modified for all age levels. Elementary students could color shapes on a coloring page, cut them out, and glue them down on an animal shape, with an emphasis on arranging the shapes symmetrically. And of course high school students and adults can create the project as is.



Materials: glue stick, pencil, pen, black construction paper, one magazine, symmetrical drawing, zip lock bag


Symmetry is when one or more sides mirror the other. Asymmetry occurs when no side mirrors the other.


Objects may have radial symmetry, like a wagon wheel, a starfish, and the inside of an orange. These objects mirror themselves around a central axis.


Linear symmetry occurs when an object mirrors one side if cut in half one direction, but not if it is divided in another direction. For instance, the human face mirrors itself if you draw a line trough the middle vertically, but the human face does not mirror itself if you draw a line through the middle horizontally.




A flower is an example of radial symmetry. I could draw a line through the center of the flower from multiple directions and each half would mirror the other around the central axis.



A zebra's face has linear symmetry just like a human's, but they also have those beautiful, symmetrical stripes.



Rock formations like this one are an example of asymmetry. Any way I cut this in half, one side will not mirror the other.



For our animal collages, we will first draw the other half to complete the symmetrical image of either a tiger, a giraffe, or a butterfly with a pencil. You can fold the animal's face in half along the dotted line, and place the paper on a window so the light shows through. Then, trace the shapes onto the other side.





Next, we will cut out the largest shapes first. Starting with the shape of the animal itself. Trace this shape with a pen onto a magazine picture of your choice, and then cut out the shape from the magazine. Then, cut the second largest piece, and trace onto a magazine picture and cut this shape out. Continue this method until all pieces have been first cut out from the symmetrical drawing, then traced onto a magazine picture, and then the magazine shape is cut out.


For example, if you are using the tiger, first cut out the tiger from the background, and trace this shape onto a magazine picture, and cut it out. Then, cut the head of the tiger off from the torso. Then, trace the head shape onto a magazine picture, and cut this shape out. Then, cut the muzzle of the tiger out, trace this onto a magazine picture, and cut this shape out. Then, cut the nose and chin. Trace these pieces onto magazine pictures and cut out.


Then, cut the mane shape out, and trace this onto a magazine picture. Then, cut the ears off and trace this shape onto a magazine picture and cut out. Then, the shape inside the ears, cut out, trace, cut out again. Then, the shape of the tiger's face should be cut out now, trace onto a magazine picture and cut out. Then, the stripes, carefully cut these out and trace them onto magazine paper and cut them out. And finally the eyes, cut them out, trace them onto magazine paper and cut them out. Then, the inside shape of the eye or the pupil, cut this shape out, and trace onto magazine paper and cut out.


Store all your pieces in a plastic bag until you are ready to glue them down; so, none of them are lost.


Now, you should have a pile of magazine shapes that will be reassembled and stacked on one another like a puzzle. The largest shapes will be put down on the black paper background first. The smallest shapes will be put down last. Reassemble the pieces first, before gluing down to make sure you have all the pieces and that you know in what order you need to glue the pieces down.


Using a glue stick, glue the largest piece down first onto a sheet of black construction paper. And proceed gluing from largest to smallest.


I hope you enjoy this project as much as we did. Let me know your questions and I would be happy to answer.







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