Sketchbook Cover Constellations

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.” –  Stephen Hawking

Creating constellations on sketchbook covers and editing images for presentation

Sketchbook Covers

We started a new semester (2 terms) on January 23. After making folders to hold artwork for the next few months, we made sketchbooks as we do each term. You can read about the why and how of sketchbooks in my program here. This time, we used a dark blue tag board for the covers. As we had used oil pastels on the first semester covers, I wanted to expose the kids to a different, highly visible medium – metallic Sharpies, and wanted to integrate another subject – science/social studies – so decided to explore constellations.

Marker racks made with 2×4 and drill press

For resources, I provided packets of constellations along with images of city skylines at each table. The students first sketched constellations from the packets in their sketchbooks and experimented with drawing skylines after being encouraged to create their own unique city skylines. I also showed a 5 minute video from BrainPop about constellations and the myths and stories they represent. Once the students had mastered replicating 4 traditional constellations, they were encouraged to create their own constellations to represent themselves or the contemporary world around them. Seeing their inventions was my favorite part.

When they felt ready after growing their confidence by practicing with the materials on scrap cover stock, students opened their sketchbooks to draw on both the front and back covers and sketched everything with white colored pencil, which showed up better than regular pencil. Once they had filled the space to their liking, they added silver Sharpie for the stars and window light, gold to outline the constellations, and bronze for the buildings. Creative constraints included: at least 4 traditional constellations, at least 4 invented constellations, a skyline with windows, and stars to fill the voids. They did a fantastic job!

Editing Images with iOS 

We are a 1:1 iPad school, and as such, students have tremendous technological capabilities, although sometimes the bast options are the simplest. The editing tools within the iOS Photos app have recently been updated, allowing for a big range of editing options that incorporate traditional photography terms such as exposure, highlights, shadows, saturation, etc. Many of my fifth and sixth grade students have never experimented with the editing options and this project was perfect for editing. I demonstrated the tools on my own example for each class, focusing primarily on cropping, highlights, contrast, and vibrance.

My edited example

Students edited their images before uploading them to Artsonia. They also created Artist Statements.

Artist Statements

While I enjoy watching my students develop their art skills and master visual art concepts and I think I know them through observation and conversation, I am always pleased to get to know them even better through their writing. I downloaded the following student work and copied the accompanying artist statements, resisting the urge to edit typos and spelling/grammar issues. I hope you enjoy them:

Alesandria Carneiro

I made some zodiac signs and some things that inspire/inspired me. Such as dogs, smiley faces,rainbows, Kobe Bryant’s Jersey, ballet shoes and much more.I feel ok with it, because I think I could have drew everything better and line up the actual sketch book better. But I really like the lighting, because it looks like a real city at night. I used it out of sharpies, my sketch book, and best of all, my skillz! I really really love art because it inspires me to put my imagination onto my work. I’m getting better at it each day. This scene is supposed to be things that I love as stars in a night sky, in a city. I hope it’s amazing!! – Alesandria Carneiro

Savannah Carr

This is a night sky with lots of constellations and different stars.The constellations that I made up show what things I like. Like, sports, vacations, and personality. I also drew zodiac signs to represent may best friends. This scene makes me feel happy because I see all the things I enjoy. – Savannah Carr

Lyla Hill

I drew this because I thought that it represented me the most. The one I like the most is the wave because during the summer me and my family love going to the beach. It was a little challenging because I did not really think that I was going to think of my own constellations. – Lyla Hill

Samantha Crotty

This project was really fun to do because I really like using sharpies I think it made it look a lot batter and pop out. The constellations I did all have a meaning. The sun means a lot to me because I really like warm weather because I do a lot of camps with my friends and it’s really fun. – Samantha Crotty

Adam Hanna

This was very harsh because I had to be neat. It was also hard because if u mess up u can not erase it. The easy part was drawing down stars. – Adam Hanna

Nick Martin

These are constellations on my sketch book cover. I have an American flag, a truck, a wrench, a Little Dipper and Big Dipper, a bear, my initials and a cross. First I drew everything in white pencil and then I did everything in sharpie. – Nick Martin

Kayleigh Fountain

This project was so fun. I got to see a bunch of constellations that I’ve never seen before. And I even got to make up some of my own. All of the dots were silver, all of the windows and buildings were bronze, and the outline of the constellations were gold. – Kayleigh Fountain

Colton Kelly

First I made all my constellations in my sketch book. Then I put them on my sketchbook cover in white colored pencil. Next I made the building to make it look like a city scene too. Then I traced the white colored pencil with gold and bronze and it came out like this! – Colton Kelly

Kaycie Gardner

I made up some constellations then I copied some real ones and drew some stars and a sky line. – Kaycie Gardner

Bridget LaRue

I really like my artwork. I think it turned out good. If I were to change something I would make my Spongebob better and neater. I like the way my minion turned out. I think I would also add another tiny constellation in the right hand corner. – Bridget LaRue

Sarah LeClaire

I started with sketching 4 or more different constellations and a few of my own on a scrap paper. Then I drew the sky line with white colored pencil, after I traced it with sharpie on my cover. I started by drawing the moon. Then I tried to fill in as much space as I could with different constellations. I drew stars around my folder to look more like a sky. – Sarah LeClaire

Ayden Joseph

This artwork’s difficulty was mediocre. I do not think it was too hard, but it was not easy. I had a lot of fun doing this art project. – Ayden Joseph

All of these artworks and many more have been posted by the artists on Artsonia for your viewing pleasure:


  1. These are beautiful, and the artistry and use of technology is complex. I love the personal expression in each one.

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