Blog Archives

Tilt Shift Photography in Photoshop CC (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 in Photoshop CC (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:

Having Fun with Adobe Photoshop Fix (Grade 2)

The mobile app Adobe Photoshop Fix is an incredibly powerful mobile app that lets you do much of the retouching and editing functions that the desktop Photoshop CC does. You can remove things from backgrounds, heal areas and blend layers. All sorts of goodness.

But with great power comes great responsibility. How much is too far? Where is the point where your photo becomes a distortion of what came before? And is this a good or bad thing?

This are interesting questions of ethics that would suit older students. But when introducing this app to younger students (as a sneaky precursor in introducing Photoshop proper next year to these kids) it’s all about the fun. And without doubt, the most fun you can have with this is the face liquify function.

Essentially, the app detects your face (assuming it’s an ubobstructed close up headshot) and the edit points on the face. The nose, eyes, cheeks, jawline, chin, forehead, mouth and lips. And with each edit point there are a number of options you can change. Obviously professional “serious” photographers use this to make slight subtle changes to the models they shoot, but with these kids, it’s all about distorting features.

I also got them to do a little bit of blended painting, so they could colour their hair as well.

The video here better explains the process.

Here are some examples from my Grade 2 students:

Shots On Film – Part 2

In part two on this unit of editing their Shots on Film project, students were asked to import their Photoshop file into Premiere Pro as individual layers and match them up in the sequence with their corresponding clip. Once that was done, they had to add transition effects. The second part of the tutorial is here below.

As always, please leave a comment!

Shots On Film – A New Project for Premiere Pro

The week prior to this one, the Grade 5-6s learned about shot composition and different camera angles. They then had to go outside and film short 4 second examples of each one. You can read more about it and the lesson at my other blog Confessions of a Media Arts Teacher.

This week, the students were shown how to create Lower Thirds in Photoshop and then import them as well as their clips into Premiere Pro to set up their project.

This is part one of three in the unit where I go through various editing techniques to achieve the final product – a movie they cut together called Shots On Film.

Below is the first part in that series. Leave a comment below if you have any suggestions or if this is something you think you can use in your classroom.

Using Photoshop PuppetWarp to Animate a Character

The problem with the last activity I posted is that the characters can’t move any parts. There are no legs or arms to move around. This can be achieved using the PuppetWarp feature in Photoshop to pin pivot points on to an image and manipulate it that way.

This lesson below is almost exactly the same as one done by Mark Shufflebottom and Greg Hodgson as part of the Adobe Generation Pro: Animation course on the Adobe Education Exchange. If you’re interested, there is a new Animation course starting very soon here at this link . I highly recommend it!

Enjoy this. Leave me a comment if this is something you think you can use in your classroom!

Animating in Photoshop

Here is a little tutorial I did for my main blog on animating in Photoshop. Whilst Photoshop might not be the most obvious choice to do animations, it has for a few years now, had some basic video and frame animation capabilities. I found it a good way to introduce frame-by-frame animations to younger children without diving into Adobe Animate straight away.

The project involved a picture of the students’ empty classroom and the Simpsons kids coming for a visit. You can see how the responsibilities fire the kids’ imagination!


Creating Simple Composites in Photoshop

With my older students now practised in selecting and deleting backgrounds, I now wanted to show how you can copy that image and paste it on a background image. My example here is deliberately very simple, but it shows the basic technique.

Selecting and Deleting Backgrounds in Photoshop CC

Once my older students had finished doing their Lower Third projects, they had a basic understanding of how layers worked. Now – to have fun with it! I want the students ultimately to come up with their own composites, but I wanted a lesson for them to practise using the selection tools, to adjust as they went, so they could end up with a character on a transparent background (layer). For this, I chose superheros as the theme. I started with Superman – a very easy image with a clean white background. I then showed them how to do the next one – Batman – when your background is a little more challenging. The students loved this, even though some of the other pictures were quite challenging.

The video below details how I modelled the skills in Photoshop.

Introduction to Photoshop (Middle-Upper Primary)

Yes, yes, I’m aware it’s been a very long time since I’ve posted to the blog. But many exciting things have been happening in my professional life, and I wanted to make sure I had something to share before I posted again.

The long and short of it is that I have been given the new role in my school of Media Arts specialist teacher. Media Arts is a brand new subject in the curriculum, and it means that I am teaching all year levels from Foundation (K) to Year 6. Much of that will be using Adobe Creative Cloud tools.

I have a website up called Confessions of a Media Arts Teacher which details my journey in how I set up my studio, plan my lessons, integrate the curriculum and deal with the general highs and lows of the job.

This blog, however, is focussed solely on Adobe tools. Now that this week I have started introducing my grade 3-6s in the basics of Photoshop, I wanted to upload a video showing how I taught my first lesson.

So here it is – An Introduction to Photoshop by teaching the students how to create a Lower Third on an image. Through this, we discuss how layers work in Photoshop, which I think is absolutely key in getting them started with Photoshop.

Hope you enjoy!