Monday, May 30, 2016

Computer Graphics Lessons, 1st Semester

One of the high school classes I teach is Computer Graphics. It's basically what I would have called Graphic Design (the name of 3 other classes is Graphic Design so that was confusing at first!) and it's part of the Career Tech Ed (CTE) program. This means that I'm trying to balance hitting the CTE competencies for the class with the national arts standards. This class has been really interesting to teach. I wasn't as excited about it as my other classes at first, though I have probably done more graphic design commissions than any other media or process, but though it's sometimes been a struggle to find that balance, I've enjoyed it quite a bit.

Our first big task at the beginning of the year was to prepare to take school pictures. The school district made the decision to have the art classes handle school pictures several years ago both as a financial decision and to give students experience. Pictures were scheduled for I think the second full week of school so we jumped right in to learning photography basics and practicing in the studio. We did some more fun photography practice with "light writing" and forced perspective, which we did not master by the way, before doing a trial run with the students posing, directing, and photographing.
After school pictures, we jumped into other design projects.

  • Fall sports posters- I had students design posters with the fall sports team pictures and a schedule. It seemed like a simple task but there were many students who had never used any version of Photoshop before, so it was good to import a photo, resize, add text, etc.
  • PTO shirt design- The elementary school principal asked me about designing a shirt for the PTO to sell for the elementary students and I passed that on to the Computer Graphics class since working with clients is a big part of the CTE program. This is when I first realized that the majority of the students didn't know how to come up with an idea that wasn't a copy of something off the internet.
  • Recovering the Classics-  I loved this project. Students designed new covers for books in the public domain.
  • Client Projects- I wanted students to get some real world design experience working with clients. They had several options from which to choose: designing a logo and program for the school musical, designing a business card for the director of transportation in the district, or designing a logo for the fitness center in one of the district's communities (they were having a logo design contest).
  • Design for Awareness and Change- Students chose from a list of topics (or got another approved) and created posters that would raise awareness and/or inspire people to change. I will share more about this one later.
  • Coloring Books for Adults- I wanted to play off of the popularity of coloring books geared toward adults and challenged students to create a page. The plan was to compile the designs into a book that we could print at school and even sell, but we just never got around to printing. I also learned that if you say "adult coloring books" teenagers tend to think of the inappropriate interpretation!
  • Font choice and creation- Students learned about font choices and then created their own.
  • 12 Days of Photoshop- I was inspired by Ian Sands here and did something similar to his 12 Days of Photoshop at the end of the semester.  I used some of the ideas that had been shared on AOE or the Art of Apex, but threw in some of my own. Here are the challenges students did (a couple took more than a day): Hand colored photo, Newimal, Type Mask Tool (post coming soon), It's Alive, Literal Interpretation, Disappearing with the Clone Stamp (post coming soon), creating masks or stencils.
I will be posting my 2nd semester projects soon.

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