Digital Collage

Project 1
Collages and photography
Timing: 5 to 10 hours

Project overview

To produce quality images for print and web, students need to understand essential graphic  design principles and how digital images are created. Media Arts help students analyze, deconstruct, produce, edit, and internalize images and their meaning.

In this project, students learn the basics of digital photography, image composition, and elements of visual design as they create a digital collage.

Students take photos and gather images from various sources, identifying elements of visual design that reflect good composition. They use Photoshop to retouch and manipulate these photos and images to build a collage. Through this process, they learn about copyright issues and document their learning by keeping a sketchbook.

Student product: Digital Collage

Key terms
• framing
• angle of view
• rule of thirds
• close-ups
• tone and sharpness
• arrangement
• emphasis
• balance

California Visual Arts Content Power Standards for Students:
2.1 Solve a visual arts problem that involves the effective use of the elements of art and the principles of design.
2.3 Develop and refine the skill in manipulation of digital imagery (still or video)
2.6 Create a two or three-dimensional work of art that addresses a social issue.
4.1 Articulate how personal beliefs, cultural traditions, current social economics and political contexts influence the interpretation of the meaning or message in a work of art

Project objectives
At the completion of the project, students will have developed the following skills:

Project management skills:
• Planning and creating a collage
• Organizing and managing images
• Managing files and using file-naming

Design skills
• Understanding image composition
• Understanding color correction and effects
• Understanding file formats, resolution, and file size
• Understanding image source

Research and communication skills
• Communicating information clearly, using
correct terminology
• Understanding copyright issues and fair-use
• Analyzing and critiquing photographs

Technical skills
• Using a digital camera
• Scanning images Photoshop
• Understanding the Adobe Photoshop CS3
• Importing and working with various file formats
• Working with layers
• Retouching photos by using selection tools
• Adjusting brightness and contrast
• Adjusting levels and colors
• Cropping, resizing, and straightening images
• Transforming images

Project materials
• Adobe Photoshop CS3 installed on all machines
• Digital cameras
• Scanners

Teacher Guided instruction:
• powerpoint:  How to scan images
• Powerpoint: How to correct color
• Powerpoint: How to retouch photos
• Powerpoint: How to generate different file formats
• Powerpoint: How to resize and crop images
• Teacher guided instruction: How to use selection tools
• Guide: Principles and rules of copyright

Background preparation resources
• Technical and content information
• Key terms
• California Visual Arts Content Standards for Students

Project steps
Introducing photography, color, and design
(Suggested time: 100–200 minutes)

1. Introduce students to the goals of the project:
• Use digital cameras to learn the basics of photography.
• Explore image composition and elements of visual design through photography.
• Use photo manipulation to investigate the potential of color enhancement and retouching.
• Incorporate a variety of image file types into a collage of images.

2. Let students know they will be taking two types of photos: portraits and landscapes. Explain how to use a digital camera. Review tips on good image composition and elements of visual  design and explain their impact by showing examples.
Some tips include:
• Framing: When framing the picture, try to fill the frame with relevant and interesting elements.
• Emphasis: Include a focal point of the photograph, a subject that is emphasized.
• Angle of view: Take pictures from the subject’s eye level to capture it realistically, or change the angle to alter the point of view.
• Balance: Create a sense of weight for the elements within the frame; some objects will have a
large sense of weight and some will have a small sense of weight.
• Rule of thirds: Offset your picture to help focus the viewer’s eyes on the subject.
• Close-ups: Take close-up pictures to capture details and highlight specific objects.
• Tone and sharpness: Use light and shadow to focus attention on or draw attention away from your subject. Have your subject in focus and blur the extraneous elements to draw viewers to the subject.
• Arrangement: Remove objects not essential to the composition, or eliminate them by     changing the camera’s perspective.

3. Have students take pictures of each other, objects in the classroom, and landscapes outside the school.

Have students download their images and compare them to your examples. Use this comparison to continue the discussion of image composition.

4. Explain that students will create and construct their collages in Photoshop. Have them select a theme for their collages.

Note: Since the class title is Advertising and Design the theme for the collage in a product (make, watches, shoes, clothing ect...)

5. Instruct students to retake their photographs, trying to improve on their initial efforts by       applying their knowledge of image composition and elements of visual design.

6. Explain that in addition to photographs, their collages can include images from magazines,
newspapers, and videos.

Constructing the collage
(Suggested time: 100–200 minutes)

7. Because students will be using a variety of images, discuss digital cameras, scanners, and video stills as sources. Point out the differences between scanned images, and digital camera images. Briefly explain how scanners work.

8. Introduce students to the interface, terminology, and basic panels in Photoshop. Discuss and
demonstrate the purpose of layers in Photoshop.

9. Demonstrate how to open and save an image from a digital camera and an image from a scanner in Photoshop, using the photographs students shot and scanned. Discuss the advantages of manipulating a saved copy of an image and explain the various file formats used to save images.

Teacher guided Powerpoint: How to scan images

10. Assessing color: Use the histogram to determine whether to use the levels, curves, and brightness sliders to adjust color in a photograph.
• Adjusting color: Use the auto color-correction tools.
• Retouching: Use the Clone Stamp to remove unwanted elements, use the Spot Healing Brush to touch up small areas, or use the Red Eye tool to remove red eye.
• Selecting: Use selection tools such as the Lasso and Magic Wand tools to correct a blemish, or use selection tools to select a certain element of an image to copy and paste into a collage.
• Cropping and straightening: Use the Crop tool to remove unwanted elements of a photograph.
• Resizing: Use the image and canvas size tools to adjust the size of the image.
• Resolution: Use Resolution Check to prepare the collage for printing on the designated size of paper (minimum for printing for 8x10 is 1600x1200 pixels).
• Experimenting: Experiment and keep track of your changes by using the History palette and remove unwanted steps with the Undo palette.
• Transforming photos: Using Transform tools to scale, rotate, or skew a selection.

Teacher Guided Powerpoint:
How to correct color
How to retouch photos
How to generate different file formats
How to resize and crop images
How to use selection tools

Note: Emphasize to students the importance of using editing and manipulation tools thoughtfully so they do not change the original intent of the photographs. Explain that being able to make changes means they should be careful about what they are creating.

11. Explain that students will begin with a blank document that is a certain size and resolution (usually 8.5 x 11 inches and 300 dpi). They need to move their images into the document and resize and manipulate them. Give students time to manipulate their images and construct their collages.

12. Emphasize the importance of copyright and protecting one’s work by discussing copyright rules, fair use guidelines, and intellectual property. Instruct the students to investigate whether they need permission to use any of their scanned or video imagery. Have them provide the appropriate type of copyright citation and have them copyright their own work.

Note: Depending on your students’ knowledge of copyright issues, you might want to discuss some or all of the following: knowing when permission must be obtained; the difference between
copyrighted material, fair use, intellectual property, and derivative works; and how to indicate that content is copyrighted.

Creating and presenting their work
(Suggested time: 50–100 minutes)

13. Introduce the sketchbook and explain that students that they should include 1–2 paragraphs identifying what they learned and what elements of visual design and image composition they employed in taking and selecting images and constructing their collages.

14. Have a few students present their documents to the class and explain the design choices they made for selecting images and creating their collages.

• See Project rubric

Background preparation resources
• If you do not have enough digital cameras or scanners, have half the class use the digital cameras while the other half is using the scanners. Switch groups during the next class period so all students have a chance to learn both types of equipment.

Lesson adopted and modified from Adobe Systems Incorporated Teacher resources