QR Code Self Portraits

Nothing inspires a love/hate relationship between drawing technique and the young artist than the self portrait–a staple of any drawing class. There’s very little middle ground when producing a self portrait, at best a mirror image of the artist, at worst a caricature of a distant cousin.

I was inspired by a video I saw of an interactive street art QR code and saw it as a perfect connection to my students’ iPads and the QR codes that are posted in our building for various purposes.

Pencil & eraser
12″x18″ paper
Schoology app


Photoshop layer structure for gridded self portraits.

Step 1 – Submit a selfie
1/2 a class period
Through Schoology, students submit an expressive selfie to which I overlay a 6×9 grid with Photoshop and re-share. I’m still searching for an app that allows students to do this themselves.

Step 2 – Grid layout & drawing
5-8 45 min class periods
Students measure out a 6×9 grid on 12″x18″ paper, and create their selfie using using any of the 5 shading shading techniques–smooth gradient, hatching, crosshatching, jumble, and stipple.

Step 3 – 30 second video
1-2 45 min class periods, concurrent with drawing portion
In partners, students create a 30s minimum video sharing important details about themselves. This can be in any form, a story, a list of facts, a poem they wrote, etc. The video must be zoomed into their mouth, so remind them to brush and floss ;-D The video is submitted to Schoology. I have them work on their video when they need a break from drawing.

Step 4 – QR code
While students are completing their portraits, I upload their videos to a private Youtube channel and create the QR code using qrstuff.com. I put the QR code on an instructional sticker that students put on either the mouth of their portrait or the frame when completed.

Here’s the rubric used for assessment. It is self graded by students and includes reflection questions aligned with Colorado Art Standards.

I’ve observed students, admin and parents interacting with the displayed work, and I like how it engages the viewer beyond just observation. One future goal for this assignment is to hand off the QR code generation and video sharing to students. Although students have access to Google Drive, the sharing process from there requires viewers to log into their Google account (if they have one) which adds at least 30 seconds to the process, which as we know from advertising, is an eternity and in most cases discourages interaction.

This project was profiled by the St. Vrain School District! Happy to share more info with anyone that would like to do this with their students.