Art School | Foreground, Midground, and Background
This art lesson is sponsored by BabbaCo who provide enriching activities custom curated each month for you to engage your kids. Create + Explore + Story Tell + Connect!
Today’s art lesson is going to help children understand how they can draw items that appear closer, or further away. This introduces the concept of foreground, midground, and background.
Most likely, these will be new vocabulary words for your children, but I bet they already know what they mean, they’ve just never used the terminology we will use today. Foreground is where images lie closest, and most likely are at the bottom of a drawing. If we divide our paper into three sections, the bottom 1/3 would be labeled the foreground, the second or middle section would be the midground, and the last 1/3 or top section would be the background.
Images in the foreground are usually the subject or main idea of the drawing, and as you move up your paper, the images depicted are to the rear or behind this main subject. In order for this to make sense to your child and make sure they grasp the concept, you can sketch out a picture for them. (I really think it’s good for children to see their parents draw, even if we think we are terrible at it, it’s encouraging for them to watch) You may want to draw a tree for the main idea, where would the tree go? Would it be near the top of the paper, or off in a corner? Let your child brainstorm and come to the conclusion that the tree should be in front, or near the bottom of your paper since this should be the closest item in your drawing. Also, talk to your child about the size of the tree, if it’s the closest to you what size should it be? Maybe ask them to point out a tree in your yard, and then a tree across the street, which tree is bigger?
Next, maybe add a path. Would the path be the main idea or just a background or midground addition? Based on the answers your children give you, you’ll have a good idea if they understand the differences between these three new vocabulary words.
Now it’s time for them to sketch. We will start with a foreground triangle. Now if this is supposed to be the closest image, it will need to also be the largest. As an image is farther away, it should get smaller on their paper. Your child’s paper can be either vertical or horizontal. If they’d like to make it a little more dimensional, they can sketch it as you see in the following photo. The foreground shape of the triangle can be anywhere along the bottom section of the paper as long as it’s a nice large size.
Next have them draw a second shape somewhere in the midground. This shape will not be the same size as the triangle, since that’s the main subject of our drawing. This shape can be a circle, or a sphere, a cylinder or a square, possibly a cube. But it needs to be slightly smaller to show it’s a little further away or behind our main subject.
The last shape they will draw will be in the background, and this will need to be the smallest shape of all 3. Rectangular prism? Another triangle?
After they’ve completed sketching all three, they can use their crayons to fill in their shapes. They can color their entire paper if they’d like, or use watercolors even.
When finished, you can trim down the paper if you’d like, we cut our finished drawing down to a square. Here’s a completed drawing by a 4th grader with crayon, and the same one after some watercolor filled in.