top of page

Abstract Paper Challenge

Updated: Jan 22, 2023

Background Information:

The abstract paper project is popular project that I have seen students complete throughout various photography classes.

My spin on this project is creating a challenge out of such a simple idea.

"Make paper, not look like paper."

Students are given a sheet of paper, 20 minutes, and lights/light gels to make their paper, not look like paper.

I have completed this challenge with multiple levels of digital photography students, with wonderful results.

Learning Objectives:

  • The student will use the elements and principles of art to create an abstract form with paper.

  • The student will use various lighting techniques to manipulate the illusion of various forms.

  • The student will create an abstract photograph using various materials.

  • The student will collaborate with peers to create an abstract photograph.

Anchor Standards:

  • Anchor Standard #1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.

  • Anchor Standard #2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.

  • Anchor Standard #3: Refine and complete artistic work.

  • Anchor Standard #4: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.


  • 2.A. Creative Expression: Create original artwork using multiple solutions from direct observation, original sources, experiences, and imagination in order to expand personal themes that demonstrate artistic intent

Essential Questions:

  • What conditions, attitudes, and behaviors support creativity and innovative thinking? What factors prevent or encourage people to take creative risks?

  • How does collaboration expand the creative process?

  • How do artists work?

  • How do artists and designers determine whether a particular direction in their work is effective?

  • How do artists and designers learn from trial and error?

Enduring Understandings:

  • Creativity and innovative thinking are essential life skills that can be developed.

  • Artists and designers shape artistic investigations, following or breaking with traditions in pursuit of creative artmaking goals.

  • Artists and designers experiment with forms, structures, materials, concepts, media, and art-making approaches.

  • Artist and designers develop excellence through practice and constructive critique, reflecting on, revising, and refining work over time.


  • Students may work in pairs

  • Students may be given examples from previous class periods before beginning

  • Advanced students may use DSLR cameras with various lens options.

  • Assign elements/principles of design or moods to the overall abstract piece.

Project Duration: 1 Day

  • Introduction: 5 Minutes

  • Shooting: 20 Minutes

  • Editing/Uploading: 10 Minutes

  • Critique/Voting: 10 Minutes


  • Students are instructed to make paper not look like paper using only paper and lights.

  • Students may manipulate paper by folding, crumbling, ripping, or tearing.

  • No props are allowed

  • No drawing on paper

Project Extensions:

  • On day one, students were to work by themselves.

  • To extend the project, students were broken up in the small groups to create abstract photographs that illustrated chosen elements and principles of art. Ex: Movement, Repetition, Contrast

  • Students may use the final images as reference images for value and shading exercises.

Reflection Questions:

  • What did you find difficult about this challenge?

  • What did you find easy about this challenge?

  • How could creating a photograph using a mundane and simple object translate into your photography practice?

  • What would you change about this challenge?

  • How could you improve your final artwork if you had limited time and resources?

Student Gallery:

127 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page