Picture-Perfect Portraits


Research Renaissance artist Raphael, then take a closer look at the details of a face to create your won picture-perfect portrait.


1. Raphael, a Renaissance master born in Urbino, Italy, on April 6, 1483, was known for his exceptional portraiture. His work, following that of Michelangelo and Leonardo daVinci, was perfectly realistic, and in great demand. Raphael's painting The School of Athens adorns the Vatican, and rivals Michelangelo's work on the Sistine Chapel. The School of Athens portrays the great philosophers of the time in flawless and expressive portraits. Raphael is also known for his Madonnas and his Saint George Fighting the Dragon series.

2. Carefully study the portraits created by Raphael during the Renaissance, such as his Maddalena or Bindo Altoviti. To create a portrait in the manner of Raphael, choose a person to be your subject. Look closely at the subject, or a photograph of that person. Notice details: eye color, hair length, eyebrow shape, clothing color and texture. When you have spent some time observing this person, you are ready to begin your portrait.

3. On white paper, use Crayola® Fine Tip Markers to draw a realistic portrait of your subject. Include everything that you see.

4. Cover a table with recycled newspaper. Paint the portrait with Crayola Watercolors and Watercolor Brushes, using realistic colors. Dry.

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

Crayola Washable Paints—Not for use as body/face paint.


  • Raphael's The School of Athens portrayed great philosophers of his time. If you were to paint a group portrait of the great minds of your time, who would you include? List five people, alive today, whom you admire. Research these people, find photographs of them, then paint them in an appropriate setting.
  • Read the story of Saint George Fighting the Dragon. Do you envision the dragon as Raphael painted it? Paint your own dragon using Crayola® Watercolor Pencils. When your dragon is dry, decorate it with Crayola® Glitter Glue.
  • Research portraits by other painters. Compare painting styles, subjects, and media. How are paintings and photographs different? Similar?

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

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crayola supplies
  • Fine Line Markers
  • Washable Watercolors
  • Watercolor Brushes with Plastic Handle
  • Giant Marker and Watercolor Pad
household supplies
  • recycled newspaper
  • paper towels
  • container(s) of water



  • Grades 1 to 3
  • Grades 4 to 6
  • Grades 7 to 12


  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Visual Arts


  • Less than 1/2 hour
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Multiple Sessions


  • Students research the paintings of Italian artist Raphael, and compare them to the works of Michelangelo and Leonardo daVinci.

  • Children engage in close observation of one person to prepare to paint a portrait.

  • Children create original, realistic portraits that reflect their observations of details about their subjects.


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