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How to teach cubes (& order models) without pain

How to teach cubes (& order models) without pain

Drawing a cube is like going to the dentist.

At least that’s what I thought in art school after I had drawn a giant cube on an 18″ x 24″ pad several times a day, 3 days a week for 4 weeks straight.

But then it started to click. Cubes became easy.

So the challenge is a recurring one for art teachers. How to bring the part of that art school experience that was so helpful to us, to our young students, while not seeing them writhe on the floor and moan about how painful and boring art class has become.

The lesson in 2 weeks is a great lesson. It is all about cubes – but without the pain. Really!

We like to intersperse fun and expressive lessons in-between the more insightful lessons, and also perk up the lessons that may seem to be a little dry at first glance. So this cube lesson is just one week. We’ve just had several really expressive lessons, so it’s good to buckle-down and do some exercises. The ability to draw a cube shape is so helpful to artists that it should not be overlooked.

The lesson about perspective (week 12) is full of insights, that are presented in new, and easy-to-understand ways. We use illustrations that often lead to revelations about how things work. Perspective for artists is one of the most difficult things to understand. The cube lesson is a good beginning for perspective. Instead of being about cubes, it is really about drawing in cool and more accurate ways.

We’ve worked hard to make this lesson involve the 2 sides of the brain without conflict. It’s a bit like Italian dressing. Oil and vinegar don’t mix, but if you shake vigorously, you can get it to work long enough to enjoy your salad.  So, we’ve combined a bit of the logic of perspective with the intuitive thinking that artists rely on, to be able to draw visually accurate depictions of the world around us.


So you need a cube to look at.

We will have prints that you can use, but it’s a whole lot better if you can get a clear cube. Even if you only purchase one for a group of 4 or 5 artists, it’s better than a print.

We have found a great cube for this in baseball display boxes. They are not too expensive and work really well. there are several sites where you can buy them online. We do not promote these sites, but we’ve used Amazon and The Container Store. Another one is

Search for “baseball display cube” and you can also use the keyword, “acrylic”. The cubes are about 3 1/4″ on a side, and slide together so there are no seams in the middle of the sides. Some of them have built in stands for baseballs and we avoid these. Get one without a stand or stands that are not attached.

Below is a picture of the baseball display cube we use.



About The Author

Dennas Davis

Dennas is the founder of Firstlight Arts Academy in Nashville, and also of The Art Instructor (formerly ArtSquish). He has been designing, painting, illustrating and teaching in various combinations since he learned how to hold a crayon. He is the illustrator of 24 children's books with over 5 million in print worldwide. See his paintings at

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