Drawing the Nativity scene is an engaging way to teach children about the story. It also helps with learning the basics of composition, because the picture involves a building, as well as characters and animals. Younger children might have fun drawing the scene from their imagination, using a range of materials. You could also add other elements for older children and adults, such as practicing observational drawing from a still life.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Sheet of paper
- Coloured pencils or coloured pens
Establish the basic stable background for the Nativity. This is often pictured as a simple pitched roof, and is an ideal way to start with a simple perspective that forms an obvious central focal point in the picture.
Draw a horizontal line to represent the horizon, then pick a centre spot to start the pitched roof of the stable. Draw the roof as a simple triangle that covers two horizontal walls and rub out the horizon line inside this shape.
Draw the important characters in the story, paying attention to composition. A bright star in the sky might be right above the stable. The Virgin Mary and Child are usually the focal point in the stable, with Joseph and the Magi looking on. Mary is usually pictured wearing blue, with a white head covering. The Magi might have more lavish clothing, and are usually pictured kneeling before the baby Jesus.
Add some animals in the stable, such as sheep or goats. You might also draw angels in the sky. The background could include mountains, palm trees or just a starry night.
Colour in the drawing, starting with the background. This ensures neater lines, when you come to colour in the characters.
Tips and warnings
- Advanced drawers could experiment using two point perspective when making the shape of the stable. Choose two points somewhere along the horizon, then draw the lines of the roof to meet these, forming the building around this. This usually gives the effect of seeing the building slightly more from one side, and will also change the central nature of the composition.
- Children might enjoy doing a basic pencil or pen drawing, then colouring in with paints.
- Do an observational drawing by setting up a still life of the nativity, using figurines of characters and animals. This creates a more representational looking picture, and really helps engage in advanced drawing practice that includes creating shapes, realistic proportions and proper perspective.
- Experiment with different drawing materials, such as charcoal, pastels and crayon. These give you different marks, which can be used to create texture or shape, and are a good way to get expression in to a simple picture.
- A stable in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago probably wasn’t built like today’s wooden structures, and many nativity images make the scene more rounded and cave like. Or you could use decorative Arabian shaped arches.
- Fun drawing materials for kids include glitter pens, metallic pens, water soluble pencils and oil pastel sticks. These all help to create a bright, cheery composition of the Christmas story.
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