Clay Selfies

About this unit:

This project will be a representational self-portrait (it will show a realistic likeness of your face).  There are many steps involved, and we will use photography techniques as well as clay techniques.  We will begin by learning about the “Rule of Thirds” (check out this video), which is a guideline that photographers use to add visual interest to their compositions.  Using that rule, we will then take selfies, trying to capture both your likeness and your personality – not an easy thing!  We will then trace over the contour lines on your selfie and transfer them to slabs of clay, which we will incise and darken with black underglaze.  As the clay slabs are drying, we will explore some advanced color schemes, learning how artists can use them to emphasize the mood or feeling of an artwork.  When the clay has been fired in the kiln, you will add color to your clay selfies with underglazes – one selfie will show a color scheme, the other one is free choice color!  The underglazes are completely mixable, so custom colors can easily be made, and very realistic colors are possible.

Graded assignments:

Selfies: follow the Rule of Thirds, avoid distracting backgrounds, express your personality, face should fill the frame, trace the contour lines (Classwork grade)
Color scheme painting practice worksheet: ColorSchemePractice (Classwork grade)
Final Project:  ClaySelfieRubric (Project grade)


  • Stages of clay: soft, leather hard, bisque
  • Rule of Thirds
  • Composition
  • Representational
  • Contour lines
  • Incising
  • Color Schemes: Analagous, Monochromatic, Complementary
  • Underglaze


SelfieSharpie Contour Lines  Sharpie Contour Lines Back Trace Onto Slab Incised Contour Lines Underglazing Two slabs incised one black