Low-Relief Landscape Painting

A landscape painting with a 3D quality created by paper formations that raise off of the paper. 


Prior to this activity students should have already practiced perspective drawing and basic color mixing with paints. 

step 1

Students can work from a landscape drawing they will create themselves or from an already existing landscape image.


step 2

Using a pencil, students should lightly draw the landscape image on the card stock paper.  The landscape should be scaled to fill the entire piece of paper.  Students should pay attention to proportions and perspective when drawing.

step 3

Once the initial drawing is finished, have students erase what they don’t want and retrace their final image with thicker lines.

step 4

Have students use pieces of torn paper towel to create the shapes to build land formations onto their painting.  Model examples of paper manipulation: folding, twisting, ripping, pinching, etc.

step 5

Students can now begin the relief building process. First, they should look at their drawing and decide which areas will require thick or thin relief (areas in the foreground should be thicker, while areas in the background should be thinner).  Ask students to also consider which areas need rough or smooth texture, e.g. water, trees, rocks?  Which paper manipulation technique would work best for that particular object or land formation?

step 6

Students can begin molding the paper for each individual part of their landscape.  They should do one section at a time and not glue it to their paper until they are sure it “works”.  Remind students to make sure they are making the background level thinner than the foreground.

step 7

Once the relief building portion of the activity is completed students can now use their painting and color mixing skills to paint the landscape.  Remind students to consider background and foreground - Objects or land formations in the furthest part of the landscape (the background) should be duller in color than those in the closest part of the landscape (the foreground).


Art Making

Paint brush(es)
Paper towels
Practice paper
Palette (wax paper recommended – not pictured)
Card stock