Computer Graphics - Illustrator, Photoshop, iMovie, iDVD

  • As technology changes and our software evolves, there become many more option for a computer graphics class.  Students are becoming more savvy with technology as well, and there are some occasions where students have dictated the direction of our class.  It is my job to guide and steer us as we complete our journey through the every growing world of technology.


    Students have specific criteria for this project that include many different functions of Adobe Illustrator.  They are expected to keep all 10 sections of the project on 10 separate layers.  This will all be graded.  Students must make sure they answer the 4 questions that accompany the handout as each question is worth 10 points each.


    Students will begin by taking a picture of themselves from the shoulders up and importing to ADOBE PHOTOSHOP.  The image must be 640 x 480 (vertical).  Students will remove the background (making sure that anyone else in the background does not get used in the project).  Students will use FILTERS and blend in downloaded images to make their image of look scary, yet realistic.  Students are reminded not to stretch the image(s) and to use the FILTERS in a way that keeps a realistic looking image.  Students will remain appropriate and keep themselves somewhat recognizable.


    Students are introduced to American Cultural Icons.  They are instructed to create a collage using pics, quotes, symbols that reflect the character or career of the Icon.  I have asked students to use an Icon that is a person.  The assignment is based on the work of Pop Artist Andy Warhol, well known for his Marilyn Monroe paintings.

    #1 • Find Yourself an American Cultural Icon via the Internet.  Examples Include: the Statue of Liberty, the American flag, Coca Cola, Uncle Sam, Muhammad Ali, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and Mickey Mouse.  For this project we will focus on PEOPLE who have become Cultural Icons.  A Cultural Icon is someone or something that has become a part of our culture and would be recognizable to the majority of our population.  (Please remember to cite your web sources.)

     #2 • Based on Andy Warhol’s Pop Art style of altering a pre-existing image, you are to create your own version of an American Cultural Icon in the “Warhol” style (GOOGLE Andy Warhol + American Cultural Icons).  Andy Warhol would repeat images and change colors to create what he thought were new works of art completely independent of the original.  As you found out, deciding at what point a work of art becomes something completely new is a very gray area.

    #3 • You will be using Adobe Photoshop to create your images.  Set up your image at 640 pixels by 480 pixels (your project may be placed vertically or horizontally).  You may use any of the Photoshop filters to alter your image.  Your icon should remain recognizable in the finished product. 

    #4 • Keep in mind the following art elements/principles when creating your image: repetition or rhythm, line, size, and color.  I want you to use some form of typography in your piece.

    #5 • Be prepared to identify at what point (if any) in the creation of your project did the image become your own.   This means that there will be a time during the creation process when your project becomes something completely different from the original picture.

    #6 • There is a notebook (similar to the one we have for the Illustrator Project) with recent student examples of this project.  Please be original in, not only the image you select, but in how you alter it.  Try different filters and different ways of creating your Icon.


    Using the Photoshop skills that you have developed, create a collage which must include 3 generations of your family.  You must include YOURSELF, your MOTHER/FATHER, and your GRANDMOTHER/GRANDFATHER.  You can include any other images from the internet to enhance the creativity of your collage.

    Keys to Creating a Successful Collage

    #1 • I don’t want to see any “floating” heads.  This does not show any creativity at all.  Anyone can cut out a person’s head and slap it on a background.  Be creative with how you organize and build your collage.  NO FLOATING HEADS!

    #2 • Please use the BLEND tool to smooth the rough edges created by the ERASER tool.  The image will look extremely pixelated along the edges if you don’t blend the edges.  BLEND THE EDGES!

    #3 • Incorporate some interesting backgrounds and relating images from the internet that helps your collage tell a story.  Again, please be creative in the designing of your collage.  Computer Graphics is considered an art class and creativity is a HUGE part of your grade.  BE CREATIVE!

    #4 • When using text in your project be very careful of HOW, WHERE, and WHY you put words in your project.  Don’t include words just for the sake of having text in your project.  Make sure that the words have a purpose.  I don’t think that labeling yourself, your mother/father, and grandmother/grandfather is necessary.  This is a GENERATIONS Project and obviously those elements will be included.  Now, TEXT CAN EITHER MAKE OR BREAK YOUR PROJECT!  If you use FONTS, COLORS, or SIZES that don’t complement the rest of the image it could end up hurting the project.  

    #5 • From the beginning of this project I asked you to make sure you START OUT YOUR PROJECT WITH 640 X 480 PIXELS!  If you go to IMAGE and down to the IMAGE SIZE menu it will give you the dimensions of your project.  Make sure that your select CONSTRAIN PROPORTIONS at the bottom of the IMAGE SIZE menu.  This will lock the height and width together so your image won’t be distorted when resized.  It doesn’t matter to me if you have your page set up vertically or horitontally.

    #6 • The most important part of an art project is PURPOSE.  Why did you create your project in that particular manner?  Why did you make certain decisions and what steps led up to your making those decisions?  DOES YOUR PROJECT HAVE PURPOSE?  Does the viewer get anything out of your project other than looking at random images?  When an art project is complex enough to tell a story, I think that it turns a creative corner and becomes successful.

    #7 • Lastly, I think we all know the importance of CRAFTSMANSHIP.  If you don’t take your time to cut out images with your ERASER tool or smooth out edges with the BLEND tool, the project will lose a lot of its integrity.


    This tutorial demonstrates how to make a picture with a thousand words.   This project is easier than it sounds and I would rate the skill level needed (with Photoshop) at just above beginner. The choice of photo you use is also critical.  I would suggest a non dramatic straight forward head shot with little contrast.  *I had to make a couple different versions of this project as the original photos I used didn’t work out.


    Download your image to Photoshop & unlock image in Background (Layer 0) layer palette.  Your portrait image should include a non dramatic straight forward head shot with not too much contrast.


    Go to Select, go to Color Range, Select: Shadows (make sure to choose Selection button, not Image), OK.  Using your keyboard commands, select Command C (copy), Command V (paste) – This will create a Layer 1 with only shadows.


    Return to Layer 0.  Go to Select, go to Color Range, Select: Midtones (make sure to choose the Selection button, not Image), OK.  Using your keyboard commands, select Command C (copy), Command V (paste) – This will create a Layer 2 with only midtones.

    Step 4: FILL LAYER 2 WITH 50% GRAY

    Hide Layer 0 by selecting the eye icon the appears at the left of each layer.  This will make that layer invisible and allows you to work on other layers without the distractions.  Select Layer 2 and fill with 50% Gray.  Go to Edit, Fill, Contents/Use: 50% Gray (make sure Preserve Transparency is selected), OK.


    Select Layer 1.  Go to Edit, Fill, Contents/Use: Black (make sure Preserve Transparency is selected), OK

    Step 6: MERGE LAYERS 1 & 2

    Holding down the Control key select Layers 1 & 2.  Using the layers palette Drop Down Menu select Merge Layers.


    Create a New Blank Photoshop Document that is the same size as your Portrait Image.  Go to Image, Image Size and Copy and Paste document size (width and height) into new document.  Once you are on the new blank document, select Text icon from the Toolbox.  Using any font, change the size of your text (ex: Lucida Calligraphy, 28 pt), paste in your text (poem, phrase, quote) and make sure the Font Color is black.


    Using the Rectangle Marquise tool from the Toolbox, select your text, go to Edit, Define Brush Preset (this makes the text into a brush).  Name the brush and click OK.  The brush (your text) will transfer over to the original document.


    Create 2 Blank Layers (2 and 3).  Got to Layer 2 and Fill with white using the Paint Bucket tool from the Toolbox.  Hide Layer 2.  Go to Layer 1 and select Command A (selects the entire image) and Command C (copy).  Go to Layer 3 and select Paint Brush tool from the Toolbox.  Select the Dropdown Menu at the top and select your Text Brush.  As you are painting (slowly, carefully, and purposefully) make sure you change the brush size each time make sure the brush color is black. 


    Create a Masking Layer on Layer 3 by selecting the icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette that looks like a camera.  Hold down the Alt/Option key and select the New Masking Layer 3.  Select Command V (paste), Command D (deselect), and Command I (invert).  Return to original Text Image on Layer 3.  Hide Layer 1 and turn on Layer 2 (which was hidden) by selecting the eye icon.  The text should become bolder with Layer 2 activated.


    Double Click Layer 3 to bring up the Layer Style Menu.  Go to Gradient Overlay, change Blend Mode to Screen, then change the Gradient Editor to one of the Gradient Presets (ex: blue/red/yellow) and click OK and click OK again.


    If the face image isn’t coming through bold enough, go to Paint Brush tool.  Select a Soft Brush with the size around 125 or less from the Drop Down Menu (make sure the color is black).  Change the Opacity to 33% and use the brush to pull out some of the face’s details (eyes, lips, nose, mouth, and parts of the hair).