Transparent Dragons

Lesson Plan, Grades 7-12, History, Art, Science, Math, Language Arts, Painting, Mixed Media


Lesson Plan & Artwork by: Phyllis M. Annett

This lesson shows students how to create transparencies over a black canvas using media other than traditional paint. To spark imaginations, dragons will be the subject of this exercise in line drawing. By using a square format (12" x 12" Black Canvas), students will learn how to make a well-balanced line design on something different than the usual rectangular work surface. Texture will be added to the work by the use of a special three-dimensional adhesive, which is also a type of paint. This will lend a leaded line quality to the work reminiscent of the glass work of Louis C. Tiffany. The Pearl-Ex mica powders will be mixed with varnish to become a transparent paint over the black canvas, allowing the surface color to show through. The lesson links the Visual Art to Science in its study of animal proportions of mythical Dragons and also through Color Theory in color choices and application. This lesson relates to math because the student has to design within a square shape and balance the work to fit that specific dimension. Language Arts come into play, in the study of illustrations from oldbooks and current work such as current Science Fiction.


  • Student will appreciate the effectiveness of a clean, simple line drawing in a square format.
  • Animal proportions will be studied from century old images of dragons from mythology.
  • Students will experience the use of mixed media, techniques and processes.
  • Students will have first hand knowledge of how to create transparencies over a black canvas using materials other than traditional paint.
  • Student will realize that this project links the Visual Arts with History, Science and Math.

Supplies Needed

Fredrix Value Series Cut Edge Canvas Panels, 12" x 12" Square, Pack of 25 1473572
Jacquard Pearl-Ex Metallic Pigment, 32 Color Set 402180

Lumiere 3D Adhesive & Dimensional Paint
Pearl 1440177
Bright Gold 1440178
Steel 1440179
Bright Copper 1440180
Rich Red 1440181
Purple 1440182
Blue 1440183
Emerald 1440211
Sharpie® Metallic Permanent Markers, Assorted, Set of 36 1440657
Sax® Optimum Golden Taklon Bushes, 72 Brush Canister, Flats and Rounds 404637
*Here are the supplies needed for this lesson plan for reference. Find a convenient carousel of shoppable products for this lesson below.


Standard #1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
Standard #2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
Standard #7: Perceive and analyze artistic work.
Standard #8: Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.
Standard #10: Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.
Standard #11: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.



Inform students that they will be creating a line drawing of a dragon in a square format on black canvas and painting it with both 3Dimensional paint and mica powders to create a transparent look.


Show students various examples of mythical animal illustrations from books and the internet. Also show examples of Louis C. Tiffany's leaded line glass work and the work of current artists doing beautiful line drawings in their Science Fiction stories.


Demonstrate how to create transparencies from a mixture of Pearl-Ex Metallic mica powders with Sax Varnish to paint over the open areas of black canvas to allow the canvas to show through the colors.


Demonstrate how to make clean, thin lines over line drawings from the 3D paint.


Advise students to keep their line drawing designs simple and open because they will be applying 3D paint to them. Have students be conscious of the negative space around the dragon to balance the drawing in this square format.


After students have done a couple of trial designs on paper, have them draw their line designs of the dragon lightly with pencil directly onto the black square canvas.


Let students mix the Pearl-Ex pigments in small mounts with the varnish. It dries very quickly. Then paint the open areas of the dragon with it. Use painterly methods to create shadow and depth with the Pearl-Ex Metallic powders.


After the entire dragon is painted, have students practice making clean long lines using the 3D paint to be able to get the feel of the product.


Have students apply the dimensional paint to the lines of the drawing. Allow the 3D Paint to dry and cure for 72 hours.


Use clear varnish, if desired, for the background of the painting or use a mixture of Pearl-Ex Metallic Pigments and Varnish to create a background of transparencies. Have students evaluate their dragon designs and those of others.

Educator Tips: Pearl-Ex Metallic Pigments go a long way and dry very fast with the Varnish. Mix very small amount as you move to each open section of the drawing. Pearl-Ex Metallic Pigments have many iridescent qualities about them which are enhanced by the use of the Black Canvas.