Tilt Shift Photography (Grade 5)

Tilt Shift photography is a cool effect where you blur the top and bottom of an photo that is taken from a fair distance away. As your brain is used to seeing backgrounds blurred when looking at a close up macro photo, it tricks your brain into thinking that what you are seeing is a scale model. Here are some cool examples of the technique.

There are attachments you can buy for an SLR camera that makes your lens a little flexible and lets you physically tilt the lens to create the effect in camera. Otherwise, you can just fake it using Photoshop.

So, I started by showing my students some examples and how the technique works. I then took them step by (small) step to achieve the same result in Photoshop by first converting to a smart object, and then applying the Tilt Shift Blur filter in the Blur Gallery.

From there, the students learned how to paint in the layer mask to reveal or conceal the tilt shift blur as they needed. Please watch my video tutorial below.

Here are some of the better examples my students came up with.

Textured Word Art (Grade 5)

This is a simple little project students can do to start learning how layer masks in Photoshop work.

Essentially, the project asks them to take a photo of textured material and to create a new file in Photoshop, type in the name of that texture “ie: Bricks” and have the photo of the bricks come through the text.

This is made possible by putting a layer mask on the type layer that has “BRICKS” written on it, and pasting the photo of the bricks on to the layer mask itself.

This is not typically the way we use layer masks. Usually, as you will see later in the post on the Tilt Shift effect in Photoshop, a layer mask is used to paint in (or paint away) an adjustment, effect or filter. Layer masking allows you to hide or use as much of any one layer as you like. It is a black and white image that cuts out a layer, allowing it to show though wherever the pixels are white, and holds out or hides a layer wherever the mask is black. The common adage to layer masking is that “white reveals, black conceals”. This will be more evident when watching my video tutorial below:

So – quite a simple little project. I started off by sending them out of the classroom for 5-10 minutes to photograph on the iPads a texture they want to use. They then uploaded the photo to the class’ Google Drive folder. Once the project was completed in Photoshop, I asked them to substitute the black background for another image that another group used that was in start contrast to the texture they had used for their type. I also showed the students how to use layer styles to highlight the type more.

Here are some examples:

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Twirl Art using Photoshop CC (Grade 6)

Ideas come from many places. Some come directly from your own imagination, some are inspired by what others done, and some come from ripping off paying homage to others who have done exceptional work.

I had never heard of Twirl Art before. Apparently such a thing has existed before. Where I found about it from was from the exceptional Photoshop/Illustrator instructor Deke McClelland over at Lynda.com. I will admit, and give proper credit, to Deke in that this project was virtually followed word for word, step for step the way he did it.

Twirl Art can start from virtually any photograph. Personally, I find a photo that has a nice mixture of bright and vibrant colours work best. Then, following the steps, you go from this:

to this:

Pretty amazing huh? It takes a lot of work, using a combination of various filters and blending modes in Photoshop to create the final result.

This is an advanced class, but I was really impressed how well the students were able to follow the instructions so well.

The video I have below does go through the steps quickly, I’ll admit. You may need to stop and start to take notes. As I said, it takes a lot of work, but I think the end result is something you could proudly print out professionally and have hanging on your wall.

At least I think so.

Here is the video that explains the process. And again, thanks to Deke for his wonderful project. You can find all of Deke’s videos over at Lynda.com at https://www.lynda.com/Illustrator-tutorials/Dekes-Techniques/76067-2.html

Creating a Planet in a Galaxy in Photoshop CC (Grade 5)

Sometimes I feel like teaching Photoshop (or another big program) is like learning how to cook. When it comes to a big project like this, it’s a matter of following the steps one after the other to get the desired result. In the case of primary school students learning Photoshop, I’ve learned the best way is to model a couple of steps at a time, get them to go off and do it, come back to the screen, and going through the next couple.

This project had it’s genesis in the Grade 5 students studying space later in the year. I had this idea to create an engagement for them by getting them to design their own planet in their own galaxy. With that, they could take their finished image to class and then write up a report about their planet. The name, the kind of atmosphere, what kind of ecosystem, habitats and life their planet would have.

This project goes over two lessons. The first one, creating the galaxy, is relatively short. The second one where they create their planet takes a little longer, but is definitely achieveable in two lessons. Most steps must be done as is, but there is a little flexibility with colours and textures to make it their own.

I will credit upfront the video on YouTube I got most of my “recipe” for this was from Blue Lightning Photoshop TV . My steps are mostly the same, but updated for Photoshop 2017 with a few small tweaks.

The videos below are in two parts: the galaxy and then the planet.

Here are a few examples from the students.

Week 7 – Stop Motion, Scratch and Shots on Film Pt1

Due to a whole day School Concert rehearsal, I didn’t see the Preps this week. The Gr 1-2s had a second go at doing the stop motion photography, the Gr 3-4s started work on their final Scratch project and the Gr 5-6s learned how to create Lower Thirds in Photoshop to bring into their Premiere Pro project.

Stop Motion #2

After having the discussion with the students last week about how to safeguard against having hands (or other extraneous body parts), we reviewed it this week and I modeled how you can work carefully and how you can edit out photos that accidentally have something in it.

The students really took it to heart, and we shared some really fun stop motion animations. We all agreed that if you had a movie that had nothing in it that spoiled it, the illusion works very well. Most movies the kids made didn’t have any particular story to it or anything, but some did and I was very impressed with the imagination and how – with just a couple of small unrelated toys, kids could dream up a universe!

Here are a couple of examples:

Scratch – Final Project

Originally, this was going to be a one lesson thing, done and dusted. But by the end of the first class, the kids begged for another session to finish it off. With such passion and excitement, who was I say no?

There was very little instruction needed. They could build a Scratch project on whatever topic they wanted, with whatever characters. They had (now) two lessons to complete the whole thing, publish it and send me a link.

Like the digital portfolios we did at the end of last term, I had set up a basic Google Form that the students would fill out when they were done, that included fields for their names, class and a space for them to paste the link for their project. This gets imported into a nice Google Sheet that I could then have to refer to when we get to adding to their digital portfolios at the end of the school year.

Next week I will share a couple of examples of what the kids made up.

Shots On Film – Editing Part 1

In this lesson, the Gr 5-6 students learned how to create lower thirds in Photoshop (in one file) and then import their clips and the Photoshop file into a new Premiere project. This is following on from the video they shot last week with the examples of shot compositions. The task was for the students to create lower third “labels” that will match the different shots they took and marry them together in Premiere Pro.

Here is the first of three videos where I talk about this project and what I got the students to do.

Next week. the Gr 5-6s will continue their project and add transitions, titles and music to their project.

 

 

Week 4 – Sticknodes Redux and PuppetWarp

This week the Prep-Gr 2’s discovered the Sticknodes library and consolidated their skills with new characters, the Gr 3-4s looked at the PuppetWarp feature in Photoshop and how it can be used to manipulate and animate a character. The Grade 5-6s were still editing their trailers from last week, and they will be on camp for the next week, so we will catch up with their next project in a couple of posts time.

Sticknodes

Building on what we did last week with the Prep-Gr 2s and Sticknodes, I showed the students how to access the Sticknodes library. It’s a bit of an involved process, choosing to import a character and then add the character to the stage. I decided that I would make up a sheet that showed the characters and, at least for the Preps, they would come up and ask for what they wanted and I would import them in myself.

sticknodes-characters

Some of the characters have such specific pivot points, it’s not easy to choose the right one. The kids had to learn to zoom in and manipulate before zooming out again. Probably not that ideal on an iPad, but they enjoyed it just the same.

Here is a grade 2 example.

PuppetWarp with Photoshop

The lesson – indeed the image as well – for this lesson must be credited to Greg Hodgson who provided it as part of the Adobe Generation Professional: Animation course over at the Adobe Education Exchange. As I mentioned in the last post, the problem with the Simpsons characters from the last class with the grade 3-4s was that the characters couldn’t move any apendages. This lesson, although not using a Simpsons character, works to address this problem.

This actually tied in really nicely, not just with the Photoshop animation we did in the previous class, but with the animations they did with Pivot Animator in the class before. Essentially with PuppetWarp, the students created their own pivot points, manipulated them, and did so frame by frame. I provided them with a Photoshop file that had the image of cat four times, so they could have four different versions of the cat. From there, their animations could jump from one pose to another. This provided an easy way to understand how the process worked. Even though their animations proved extremely short in the end, they did a good job in making some interesting poses. I tried to get them to not make adjustments that were too extreme – we wanted the poses to be at least partly realistic -but kids being kids, some didn’t heed my instruction.

Here is the tutorial, again based heavily on Greg’s tutorial at the Adobe Education Exchange, where I go through the process.

And is one example. Be prepared, it’s only really a second long. On Photoshop it can be looped, but when exported into a video file, it only lasts as long as the frames do.

Week 3 – Sticknodes, Basic Animation in Photoshop and Editing with Premiere Pro

This week the Prep-Gr 2’s used an iPad app called Sticknodes, the Gr 3-4s looked at how you can use Photoshop to create animations, and the Gr 5-6s were introduced to Premiere Pro in order to create trailers for their videos.

Sticknodes

The first thing you’ll notice about Sticknodes is that it is virtually identical to Pivot Animator, and that is true. I’ll admit, I haven’t dived deeply enough into the app to see where the differences lie, but this was a good way of doing the same lesson that I had done with the older kids – using Pivot Animator – to the younger kids using the iPads.

The more I think about, the more I am grateful that I decided to stick to the Prep-Grade 2’s on iPads from the beginning of the year. I find that, even with the Grade 3-4s on desktops, the skill of using a mouse accurately and non destructively has been quite poor. I’ve had students moving files or entire folders by accident and not being able to double click properly. This is what you get in a world of touch screens and touch pads.

Anyway, even the kids as young as Preps could understand the concept of frame by frame animation by using this app. Although I did notice that, without guidance, the movements between each frame can be quite big, causing the animation to flash figures on screen, rather than create an illusion of movement (I mentioned this in the previous post). I let it go with the younger kids, but I did make sure that with the Grade 2’s at least, that I had higher expectations.

This week we just used the stick figures in the app. I didn’t mention the other figures available in the library. Next week we will consolidate our skills and understanding using the app, but with more choice of characters.

Here is a grade 1 example

Frame-by-Frame Animation with Photoshop

Little known fact about Photoshop – you can edit videos and create frame by frame animations as well as the normal image editing and composites. It’s not a fully robust video editor like Premiere Pro, but it gets the job done for basic projects.

I had some fun with the grade 3-4 classes. I sneakily took photos of their empty classrooms during lunchtime, and created a Photoshop file that had the classroom as the background, but then added layers which had Simpsons characters. Within Photoshop it looked like this.

ps

The idea was that the students had to activate the timeline, choose frame by frame animation, and move their characters around, a little bit each frame.

Below is a video tutorial of what I did.

The students were highly engaged with this activity, as you can imagine. There were some things that came up. Firstly, the kids noticed that the animations were quite limited. In other words, you couldn’t move any of the parts of the characters around, just the characters themselves. I knew about this, of course, and assured the kids that in the next lesson we would look at how to achieve something a little more functional.

The second thing is that, like with the Sticknodes, some kids followed the instruction of moving a little at a time, and some didn’t. Those that didn’t tended to do very random animations of characters just flashing about everywhere.

As noted in the video, about half way through, I did call them back to the floor to show them “tweening”. That process of creating a start and end point, and letting the computer fill in the gaps in between. This changed their world and suddenly doing the animation was a lot less tedious. To be honest, I wasn’t too concern with the quality of the animation. I was more trying to get them to understand the process and skill. We can finesse their animations later on.

Here is a couple of examples of what the kids did. You can see where the ability to tween came in!

Next week we will animate a single character in Photoshop using the Puppet Warp feature.

Creating a Trailer in Premiere Pro

Originally I had planned that I would get the grade 5-6s to edit the video they did last week with Screencast-o-Matic. But I decided that a good way to introduce them to Premiere was to cut together a 30 second trailer from that video using clips, titles and music.

Aside from Premiere, a fantastic resource I used and shared with the students is the YouTube audio library. Not many people know that YouTube provide royalty free music and sound effects free of charge to download and use in projects.

Here is a two-part tutorial about how I modelled this process to the students. Note that, of course, we could spend a long time being picky about what clips to show or what transition matches which audio beat, but really it was just an introduction to some features and skills in Premiere Pro.

Here are a couple of examples.

I think their favourite thing was to choose the music. They got a kick out of that.

Next week we dive into learning about shot compositions and filming examples of different kinds of shots.