Written by: Ken Rohrer
College faculty and freelance designer
Students will be motivated to create art that relates to their own leisure activities.
Students will learn what surrealism is and view video game images using that style.
Students will create surreal images from their own imagination.
Grade level: 4th and 5th grade
Students love video games and spend hours in front of the television playing friends or people they meet online. With each passing year, video game graphics have a higher resolution and more detail. With some games like Halo 4, students can create their own landscapes and rooms to play in by moving pieces around. Being able to conceptualize a 3-D landscape is the first step. With this project, students are not going to move objects around, they are going to create the entire landscape for their game.
Acquire computer and/or video game catalogs that have large pictures of video game screens. If you can't find a free one laying around or get one from a student, you can usually buy these at stores such as GameStop. Because you ideally want one for each student, ask a local store how they dispose of their old catalogs and see if you can get these free.
Depending on the conservativity of your community and/or parents, you may need to go through these and cut out pages from the catalogs that have especially violent images. Some images may show blood and extreme violence. Scan images from the catalog or download them from online to show on an overhead to the students. This will be especially important if you are unable to find many video game catalogs.
Anticipatory Set / Introduction
Following a unit on surrealism and/or covering a famous artists such as Dali, lead into this lesson with questions such as, "Where have you seen surreal images around you? How many of you play video games? Are there any surreal images seen in any of these games? What games have maps or landscapes that you really like? Why do you like them?" You then go on to tell them that everyone is going to be creating their own video game landscape.
At this point you will show overheads and/or catalog images of popular video games. Point out how the artist used realism to create a fantasy that became a surreal image. Revisit your initial questions such as, "How many of you like this landscape? Why do you like it? Do any of you think it can be improved?" Distribute the catalogs and media to students.
The landscape may include characters but must not have violence
The landscape can not be a copy of an existing map or landscape already on the game.
Depending on your budget, you may not have Acrylic Paint or the time to use them. Ideally the pictures should be done with acrylics but temperas and watercolors will suffice. Students should sketch out their landscapes first before they begin painting. This project might run into two periods with the first period spent on the introduction and sketching and the second period spent painting the image.