Monday, December 24, 2012

New Inspiration for Photoshop Hoaxes

Hoax Photoshop work can get tedious to those of us who have to grade it. If you introduce the concepts of surrealism and narrative art you can get more thoughtful work. This set of flickr photos by J.R. Benzel (Justin Benzel) should be a good starting place to inspire your students. The one above is titled: "Handheld Teleporter Blues".

This would be easy to do with Photoshop. Demonstrate cutting and pasting, adjusting the light of the new pieces to match the original, and then how to use the clone tool.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

There's an App for That? Part 1

A friend of mine who teaches at a nearby high school gave a workshop on iPad apps at our state conference for art teachers. I asked if I could share them with you and she agreed.  She has tested all of these, although I haven't because I'm still waiting to get an iPad...maybe Christmas?  Some are very useful in the classroom even if you are the only one with the iPad. Some are fun, but I imagine only useful as a teaching tool if the students had iPads as well, which might soon be part of every classroom. I'm going to share some of her recommended apps tonight, and maybe as she learns of more, I'll share them as well.  How about you share some of your favorites as well?

TeacherKit (free)  This is one for all teachers and one of her favorites. You can take a picture (with your iPad of course) of each student and then place that photo on a seating chart. For each student you can also write notes and log behaviors, and of course there is a gradebook. I believe she said you can enter family contact information and send global emails.

Notability (.99) She uses this app for her daily acitivity. Each document can contain text, photos, web clips, and even doodles. It links to Dropbox and you can export your documents as pdfs and email them.

Sketchbook Express (free) and Sketchbook Pro (4.99) This is made by Autodesk and her favorite drawing app. Sketchbook Pro has extra brushes, tools and layers.

Socrative (also available for your computer)  An awesome tool for all teachers. Sign up for a free account online and create questions and quizzes. Students join your "room" and answer questions at your pace or theirs. Live responses are recorded and can be exported.

Wooden Doll (free) A fun one. It's our favorite free model, now digitized. You can move his joints and even the angle you view him from. Start drawing.

Ukiyoe Woodcut (free)  Plug your iPad into your projector and virtually demonstrate how to carve a woodblock. It seemed to me to be a great intro to the process.

iPastels  (free) Draw freely and blend away. You can even choose to work on the foreground, middleground or background layer.

Photoshop (free until you want more effects)  Of course Adobe would be in on this. Basic photo editing, but the extras cost extra.

Palettes (free or 5.99) Create and store color palettes. You can pull palette colors from a photograph. Sounds sort of like kulor.

Pottery HD (free or 4.99) Now this one is just fun, amazing and slightly addictive. Thanks to 3D animation you can "throw" and paint your own pottery. My husband, a 3D animator used to make me pottery in Cinema 4D on his downtime. This is even one step beyond because it spins and you shape it with your fingers.  It even "fires" it. You get to save photos of your work and "sell" it.

iDraw (8.99) Create vector graphics, export them via email and use them in Adobe Illustrator.

MyRealFont (free or .99) or iFontMaker (6.99) My friend recommended the former, but my son loves the latter. With iFontMaker you can convert your fonts into ttf files to use in Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Word on both Macs and Windows.

Sto Mo  (free) (suggested by a different teacher)  Create simple stop motion animations.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Have You Discovered This Yet?

The Free To Use group on Flickr.  The above is from Becky F.  'Nough said. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Amazing Kickstarter

Ok, so it's my son's graphic novel and clothing line design. But other than sheer maternal pride, why have I been showing this to my students?  Here is the link to the actual page.

1. Culture. They are sooooo lucky to have crowd investing (and the internet) available to them when they have a  fantastic creative business idea. (If only this had been around when I was in my 20s...)  Students need to be able to compare their culture to those of the past in order to appreciate it and to see what could come in the future. They need to understand the effect facebook, twitter, Kickstarter, etc. have on spreading ideas, and just how much they could benefit from them.

2. Careers, folks, opportunity. Are you creative? A budding entrepreneur? How are you going to be true to yourself after graduation? Explain how Kickstarter works. Show some successful examples. There is a link to the "most funded". One graphic designer designed a deck of playing cards. He asked for less than $7,000 but he already has $77,000 and is just half-way through his time on Kickstarter. Another was a sculptor who was accepted to be part of a show and wanted to raise $27,000 to cast his sculpture in bronze. His video was so moving. I wanted to help him, but I found it the day after it was over, and he succeeded. Don't let anyone tell you your idea isn't going to work.  Give it a try. Maybe it will.

3. There are many visual art examples you can show in the classroom. My son's is a graphic novel with a clothing line that creates teasers to the next edition of the novel. I have spent hours looking at others and am so amazed at how many creative, inspired, hardworking folks are out there. I think I will have students collaborate to come up with a creative business idea, video and plan on how they would promote it in addition to just placing it on Kickstarter.

4. From this video you can see a little of how a graphic novel is created. Ideas constantly recorded in skechbook, pages drawn and inked by hand (which is most of what you see on the above video), color added in Illustrator and Photoshop. Of course, the hardest part is tapping into your inspiration for the idea.

4. The marketing teacher at my school never heard of it. Things happen so fast, we need to help each other be aware of the great things out there.

5. Maybe this will give them hope that there is a career for artists.

Thank you for tolerating my maternal bragging. Check out the amazing creative people on Kickstarter, if you haven't already.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Student Teacher and the Paper Crane

Being a student teacher is overwhelming, I remember. I had a student teacher the first half of last year who showed great courage, innovation and was open to all I had to share.  He had a lot of enthusiasm, energy, a positive attitude, and, well...youth.  He has an MFA in painting, but of course, he had to come up with digital lessons for me.  With very little experience with photography, he came up with a lesson that was very successful.  [Note: Our dedicated classroom server crashed last year and the images are now lost in the great ether of memory. Some students were actually listening to me and backing up their work, but until I track them down or do this again, there is no example at this time.]

One of the challenges of teaching is how to add enough surprises and variety to keep the students motivated and excited, while at the same time not creating anxiety with too much to think about, and my student teacher pondered all those.

He came up with the idea of taking the students away from the computers for a little bit to make large white origami paper cranes out of the large 80# drawing paper. Origami paper cranes, the little exercise that seems to have a meaningful connection to humans, the subjects of great children's books and legends, still a subject of contemporary art.  The students got to practice their listening skills, because if you don't pay attention, the crane doesn't turn out right. And they laughed and got to know each other a lot more than just sitting at their computers.  

These paper cranes were now the subjects of their next black and white photo assignment that was simple and elegant: The paper crane must be in one of the rule of thirds power points or grid lines. You must have conscious and interesting lighting effects and shadows, with one being strong sunlight, one being soft, diffused sunlight,  and one being artificial lighting .  (Large white paper cranes make good subjects for demonstrating lighting.) And you must use interesting angles of view. 

I think giving them all a predetermined subject that was portable and cooperative created great innovation and enthusiasm and every student was successful.  This lesson idea is a keeper. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Maggie Taylor: A Photoshop Master

Adobe Photoshop Master Class: Maggie Taylor's Landscape of Dreams

Seems like I'm catching up on making sure I share all my favorite books. I have done a Maggie Taylor project for several years with my Photo II and my Computer Graphics I students. Taylor is magnificent and she is an official Adobe Master.  She's married to the great photographer Jerry Uelsmann who creates amazing surreal photography in the traditional darkroom, but she has fully embraced Photoshop as her darkroom. Her work is intriguing. She does not tell concrete stories, but has snippets of connections to memories, leaving you wondering what the story could be.

The way I approach this project is that I ask my students to remember, or ask a family member to tell them, a family story. We discuss how family stories morph over the years and how surreal they almost seem. The students must then collect images that will help tell the story and use blending modes, tinting, and brushwork like Taylor does to pull it all together.  The results that I've had have been beautiful, and some of them very moving. Last year a student's image had two men in a boat on a humongous wave, with beautiful Photoshop brushwork creating a dark and stormy, frightening scene. I don't ask about the story until the end, and we all were aghast when she explained that her father and uncle failed 3 times to escape North Vietnam in a small row boat. Each time they were caught and imprisoned. The fourth time they succeeded, and she and her siblings were born here in the US.

My lesson plan for this project is now available on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Hand Lettering

Handwritten: Expressive Lettering in the Digital Age

I think the subheading of the top book really explains it. Our culture has developed a fondness for hand lettering again. I even see exquisite hand lettering on chalk boards in coffee shops. It's become part of hip business's identity.  It is independent, expressive and full of character, like we all secretly want to be. My students love these books. The second book has an unfortunate title for high school, but has an inspiring variety of hand lettered type faces.

I do hand lettering projects with my traditional media class, but you could also scan student hand lettering to a final document for a digital class.  This is also yet another connection to the popular nostalgia of the late 60s and early 70s when hand lettered posters were everywhere. Do I age myself if I tell you I still remember how cool doing my name in bubble lettering was?

So, last week I put up my hand lettering bulletin board and one student said, "Hand lettering. My favorite project!" So, then I realized I had to not just do it in Art 1, but in Art 2 as well.  

There are so many concepts to tie hand lettering to. I've done character education: design a poster with hand lettering with a quote about compassion; social commentary: What do you want to tell society? Say it in a hand lettered poster. Another I will do soon is hand lettering inside a shape.

Another good resource to inspire them is the website. Some of the fonts are first hand lettered. Remember that when you click on the name of the font, you usually can see the complete alphabet.

Caution: One of my senior students used all her amazing hand lettering skills to do a poster for the Art Club. One of the administrators saw it and then insisted that she do a very large banner for an administrative retreat...which took her a whole month to finish.  So, beware, this could lead to a side business.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Great Resource for Design Information and Projects

Victoria Torf at SOMA  (School of Media Arts) has a wonderful site of graphic design units, including introductory information including videos as well as projects.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Stop Motion Animation Examples

Every year there are more wonderful stop-motion animation examples that inspire creative thinking. But the old ones are still great because even though we may have watched one enough times to no longer be excited, this might be the first time our students have seen it. I love to watch their faces and hear their comments.

This year, my favorites are:
"Tony vs. Paul"   One of my favorite. I usually start with this one.
"Gulp" by Sumo Science and Aardman (Wallace and Grommit folks)
Make sure you also show "Gulp:The Making Of..."
"Lost Things"   which is a music video animation
"Sorry I'm Late"
"Tee Shirt Wars"
"Erbert & Gerbert's: Human Flipbook"  and the making of it
"Muto", an animation by Blu.  I've watched this dozens of times but I still love it.
"Tony vs. Paul"   One of my favorite. I usually start with this one.
"Minilogue"  White board animation
Post it Note animation  (there are a lot of them out there)

Basic Steps for Stop Motion Project

1. Show and discuss examples.
2. Show examples of storyboarding. (The Incredible Adventures of Wallace and Grommit DVD from Aardman has storyboard examples in their Special Features section.)
3. Ask them to get into groups of 3 or fewer. (Doing it solo is very difficult. More than 3 you often have someone who doesn't actually take part. Three seems to be the magic number.)
4. Give them a theme or concept (this year our theme is "summer vacation" or "graduation" because we are going to show them the last week of school, but you could use deeper concepts, like "hope" or "challenge") Have them get into their groups and  brainstorm their story and method. Remind them that a good story needs several surprises to keep us interested and feel glad we watched it. If it is predictable it becomes ho hum no matter how much fun they had making it. (This seems to be a very difficult concept.)
5. Give them storyboard paper and approve their storyboards before they start. I suggest they aim for a minimum of 15 seconds.
6. Provide the materials for their idea or tell them to bring the materials. I have several small white boards on hand for this project, but they can use anything they can get their hands on. (Well, except for a wall and paint.)
7. Show them how to put the camera on a tripod and explain how to control lighting, turn flash off, turn off auto zoom, etc. Conscious, consistent lighting is essential.
8. Have them do a short test of at least 24 photos that they bring into the video editing software so they can get a basic understanding of how this works if they are taking the photos correctly.
9. Let 'em at it!

I've done this with both middle and high school students with great success. Everyone seems to get into it. One of my students this year even has a stop-motion app for his cell phone camera that has, for example, the onion-skin effect where there is a faint image of the position you just had to allow you to reposition correctly for the next shot.