Mystery Mural Project

Each and every square must use warm and cool colors

Students will create a large wall drawing using a digital photograph of a staff member as a resource, but each student will only have one square inch of the photo to work from at a time!

With 80 squares to draw and put together, each of the four sections of Visual Art will compete against each other (and the clock) to complete their mural. This is a collaborative project where you the student run the class. I will not be in charge of this project, each class will nominate then vote for class leaders to run the project.

Success requires both: leaders and followers moving towards a common goal!

This project, more than any other, will teach you so many real world skills that you will need for the future. In college, in any job, in all relationships, and for the rest of your life -you will need to learn how to communicate and solve problems in groups, how to manage deadlines, how to overcome breakdowns (this is where your breakthroughs happen) in performance, how to lead and follow directions, and how to succeed.

The project is complete only when you deliver and put up the mural.

This is our first collaborative project – you will succeed only if your classmates succeed! You cannot succeed while they fail, so the task is to find ways to get the whole class moving forward. You will sink or swim together, as a group. Pick a job that fits your personality and challenges you and you will gain valuable experience from this project. Here are all the steps you have to complete in the next week and a half:


1.Drawing- scaling up one inch square perfectly
2.Coloring- matching values to correct colors
3.Connecting- getting the code right
4.Taping- putting the strips, then the whole puzzle together
5.Outlining- adding a strong dark line to the face and features
6.Fixing- turning or replacing missing or wrong squares
7.Delivering- bringing the mural to the client. Done!
Value to Color

get the values right and the image looks right!

Remember to use lighter, warmer colors for the light areas and darker, cooler colors for the darker parts. Just like the Toast Portrait on the left made completely from 1. burned, 2. browned, and 3. white toast we see that all you need to make the face recognizable is correct values- darks and lights! The human brain only needs these shadows, mid-tones, and highlights to “find” the features of the face.

Mystery Mural Jobs

Artist-100 pts-  (everyone in class is an artist)

Production Supervisor-110 pts-nominated by peers

“Key” Master– 115 pts -nominated by peers

Color Supervisor– 110 pts – nominated

Cutters (2)- 105 pts –

Tapers  (4) 105 pts –

Fillers  (4)– 5 pts per square-

“the Boss”– 120 pts -entire class nominates, then votes

A Team Leader- 105 pts-

B Team Leader–105 pts-

C Team Leader–105 pts-

D Team Leader–105 pts-

E Team Leader–105 pts-

F Team Leader–105 pts-

G Team Leader–105 pts-

H Team Leader–105 pts-

Move out of your comfort zone and expose yourself to some new ideas and you will be amazed at how easy it is to get things done. I realize that most students do not crave the idea of working in groups, or running projects w/o teacher direction. I also know that this project will stay with you for your whole life if you really throw yourself into it.


the practice version of this year’s Mystery Mural

5 Responses to Mystery Mural Project

  1. Kimberly says:

    I love this idea and would like to try it with my students! Did you give them a height requirement for the mural? Did you tell them to put each picture into a certain filter or did they have come up with a pattern?

    • Thanks Kimberly! The squares can be any size you choose, I usually do 8 inch squares so the whole full size mural turns out 80 inches tall. They get to pick the filters, and to help them get better with them, they do a practice one- staying away from using the same filter on any square that borders another. They come up with the pattern by trial and error.

  2. Kimberly says:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. Can you explain a little more about how the jobs work?

    • The “Boss” will take your job- they take attendance, give directions. The Boss gets the grade the class gets (if they miss the deadline- the boss gets an “F”).The
      production supervisor is in charge of all the materials (paper, tape, scissors, ect). The Key Master is responsible for making sure the code goes on the back of each piece correctly, the mural gets put together right- it is a tough job. I can send you the docs I wrote up to help if you want…

      • I am an art teacher working with an English teacher who wants to do something like this. I would love to take a look at the docs you wrote up if you don’t mind sharing.

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