Makey Makey Graphite Drawing Instructions




Introduction: Makey Makey Graphite Drawing Instructions

Are you looking for a Makey Makey interactive art project? Well, check out this Makey Makey graphite drawing tutorial where I’ll show you the essentials of bringing a work out art to life through Scratch and sound. Educators, check out a link to the mailing list for news and resources:

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  1. Makey Makey (5 Alligator Cables)
  2. 6B and 8B + Graphite Pencils
  3. Sketch Pad
  4. Coloured Pencils
  5. Paper Clips
  6. Paper Fasteners (Split Pins)
  7. Eraser
  8. Sharpener
  9. 20 Ways to Draw a Tree (if you need support like me)

I've organised a kit where you can pick and choose the materials that you'll need for this project.

Step 1: Do You Need Inspiration?

Sometimes the trickiest part about an art project is coming up with a stimulus. For this tutorial, I went with something fairly basic that can be used in the classroom for all ages: the four seasons.

Interestingly down here in Australia, we've got closer to 6 seasons of weather, which are signalled by the changes in nature.

Anyway, when I'm stuck for drawings, I turn to 20 Ways to Draw a Tree. It has pages of different objects to mimic and learn from. They look super fun and crafty — I just love 'em. There is a whole series that you can check out in the kit for this tutorial.

So now we've got some inspiration, let's dive into what we need to do.

Step 2: Draw an Outline in Light Graphite

It's time to get out the sketch pad and grab a light graphite pencil so that we can plan our drawing.

In the drawing above, I've sectioned my drawing into quarters. Starting in the top right and going clockwise I've done the following:

  1. Summer: Bird to be an interactive object.
  2. Spring: Bee to be an interactive object.
  3. Winter: Mushroom to be an interactive object.
  4. Autumn: Leaf to be an interactive object.

I've also drawn some other shapes but they won't be interactive.

I've also drawn a large tree in the centre of the paper. This will be the earth/ground connection for our project.

Step 3: Colouring With Graphite

As you can see, I've used the 8B & 6B graphite pencils to densely colour in the tree and the bird for our drawing. These MUST be dense as that is what makes it conductive.

Notice in the picture with my finger overlapping the bird, you'll see a small gap between the tree and the bird. We'll use this gap to place a finger later to complete the circuit.

The gap needs to be close enough that we'll be able to press it with a finger but not so close that it touches the tree as that would complete our circuit.

Step 4: RECOMMENDED: Test a Connection First

This step is optional.

Before you go nuts on your piece of art and colour in all your objects, I'd pause first and test to see if this connection works.

I grabbed the Makey Makey and connected 2 alligator cables. I made a connection to space and the earth/ground.

  1. Space Connection: Bird
  2. Earth/ground Connection: Tree

Plugin the Makey Makey to the computer.

Then, place a finger between the branch of the tree and the bird so that a bridge connects the two. You should complete the circuit and it should simulate a space key press.

Step 5: Draw Your Remaining Objects

Now that you've (hopefully) had a successful test, it's time to draw our remaining objects. There are two types of connections:

  1. The Button Connection: this is where you have two objects side-by-side with a gap and you use your body to make a bridge and complete the circuit.
  2. Holding the Earth/Ground Connection: this is where you touch the ground with one hand and use the other hand to touch the conductive material. The benefit of this approach is that you can touch anywhere on the conductive material. The downside is you must hold the ground.

This is the time to add a bit of colour to your art piece.

Step 6: Connect to Makey Makey and Art

You'll see in the first image I've used 4 alligator cables to connect to the arrow keys of the Makey Makey.

On the piece of art, I've used two paper clips to overlap graphite of the tree and the mushroom.

Check out the final image, and you'll see that I have run two alligator cables from the Makey Makey to the paper clips and attached them.

It doesn't matter which arrow keys you use. Just remember which one is which!

Step 7: Connect Other Objects Via Paper Fasteners

I have taken some paper fasteners and inserted them through the paper so that they touch the graphite of our objects. If you're having trouble seeing the paper fasteners on the image, check out the eye of the bird and the head of the bee.

The idea is that, on the back of the paper, we'll connect the alligator clips to the paper fasteners so that they are hidden.

I've used a total of 3 paper fasteners and 4 alligator cables. Remember, the tree is connected to the earth/ground.

Step 8: Hook It Up to Scratch

It's time to head on over to Scratch to hook up our sounds. Check out the image above for the blocks that I used. I also used two sources to obtain my sounds:

  1. ➡️YouTube Audio Library:
  2. ➡️Zapsplat:

You'll need the event block from the events category, which is the "When [the key] pressed" block.

We'll attach the play sound block to it, too.

And that's it! Congratulations, you've created an interactive art piece. This is the entry point for a project like this but it's certainly not the finishing point.

Check out some other materials that you could use with your projects, and you could link up some stories and experiences. We've covered just the basics of getting it working.

1 Person Made This Project!


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2 years ago

Victorian Curriculum:

Identify and explore digital systems (hardware and software components) for a purpose (VCDTDS013)

Follow, describe and represent a sequence of steps and decisions (algorithms) needed to solve simple problems (VCDTCD017)

I was asked to take a Level 2 transition class for 2020 and needed an activity that was fun and also ‘sparky’. I would have the students for 1.5 hours.

High level understanding of how a circuit works, and discover the materials we can use to pass or transfer (conduct) electricity.

Together as a group, we watched the introductory video. I told the students they may not fully understand everything, and that’s okay, but I was curious to hear what information they took from the video.

The group noticed that we would use the Makey Makey to bring a piece of artwork to life. They noticed that the person in the video pressed the pencil colourings to make a sound play. I then used the accompanying resources found here. It contains a few worksheets but I just used the one to get the students to plan their artwork given the time we had available.

It was useful having a plan because one girl wasn’t quite happy with what she initially drew. She asked if she could have a new piece of paper. I mentioned that this was a plan and it’s okay to change and modify on this piece of paper. As soon as I walked away, her face sparked up as she thought of another idea.

I brought the kids back down to the carpet to show them how to make the two graphite lines. For Grade 2 students, this seemed a little tricky, but not impossible as most needed minor clarification that we wanted to draw the lines thick from the edges of the paper so they wouldn’t touch. The rest of the lesson was spent allowing the kids to create their pieces of art. I walked around talking about the pencil lines they were creating and helped some colouring.

The students didn’t code this project, but I set up a Scratch project that would play a random whacky sound when they completed the circuit. The whacky sounds were a hit.

Then it was time to test.

Importantly, I mentioned that there is no guarantee that our projects would work and we may need to try again and that is normal.

Each student had a turn at connecting an alligator clip to their art work and pushing their button. All but one had initial success. We just needed to colour in the lines a bit more to get the last one working.

The kids were super buzzed with this activity (see their work attached). I condensed it down, but it would be nice to break it up over a few lessons to teach the various aspects. Thanks for the lesson!

Surfing Scratcher
Surfing Scratcher

Reply 2 years ago

Hi MarniMS, thanks for posting your note. It's so detailed! So cool to see the project in action with a group of learners. I love reading how buzzed the kids were.