Art Lesson Plan: Adobe Photoshop Lesson - Photo Manipulation

Adobe Photoshop Lesson

Submitted by: Kevan Nitzberg,
Anoka High School, Minnesota
UNIT: Technology - Graphic Arts - PhotoShop
Lessons: Adobe Photoshop: Exploration of Digital Photos & Manipulation Techniques
Grade Level: High School (adaptable to middle school)
Video Computer 9 Week Course Summary | Exemplars


Standards Addressed (partial):

Arts Creation
Arts Analysis and Interpretation



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Lesson Objectives:

Create a series of manipulated digital photo images based on the criteria given for successful photo / visual composition.


Disciplinary Concepts:
·   Impact / effect of photographs are determined by both the taking and manipulating of images
·   Close-up, medium, wide and distance are types of photography shots
·   Angle of shots consist of eye level, low angle, high angle and Dutch / diagonal angle
·   Subject matter categories consist of figurative / portrait, landscape / scene, still-life
·   Rule of thirds is the principle of composition that suggests that the most important features of a photograph fall along 2 imaginary vertical lines that divide the length of the photograph into thirds and along 2 imaginary lines that divide the height of the photograph into thirds.

- The image(s) in the center of the grid tend to be associated with stability
- Images at the intersecting points of the lines create interest
- The images that are located in the corners of the grid tend to be associated with tension

·   Elements of visual composition in photography include light, color, line, texture, pattern, shape
·   Analysis / interpretation of images consists of attending to the following aesthetic components:

- Sensory: specific elements of a work that one can see (line, shape, value, texture, color, size, space etc.)
- Formal: the way the elements are put together to form a work of art (unification, variety, dominance, variation, contrast, balance, movement, etc.)
- Technical: discerning how the media and techniques for making an art form contribute to its character (application of paint, chiseling of stone, carving of wood, use of digital technology, etc.)
- Expressive: what the work has to say literally, symbolically and metaphorically (mood).

photoshop imageConditions:
 ·     Learn the operating controls of the digital camera
 ·     Practice taking different types and angles of shots
 ·     Experiment with and utilize tools in Adobe Photoshop for manipulating images
 ·     Create a PowerPoint collection of the final manipulated digital images and accompanying text


Lesson Activity Components:
1)     Draw picture of camera and location of the control functions reviewed in class
2)     Take a series of photograph shots exploring

- subject matter categories
- Types of shots
- Angle of shots

3) Review images in class

- Examine work based upon subject matter, shot type and angle of shot
- Examine work based on elements being utilized

4) Retake pictures as needed

5) Review tools in Photoshop including:

-     Image / Adjust
a)    Levels
b)    Contrast
c)     Brightness / contrast
d)    Curves
e)    Replacement color
f)     Invert
g)    Threshold
h)    Equalize
i)     Posterize

- Layer

a) Opacity level for double exposure
b) Erase effect for combining images

- Filters

a)   Artistic
b)   Distort
c)   Texture
d)  Stylize

- Text

a) Font format
b) Text palette

6) Go over procedure for creating the Power Point
- Importing images
- Creating text
- Number of images

7)  Format for Photo Analysis:

-    Photo image
a)  Size: 6" (15 cm) maximum for either height or width
b)  Resolution: 72 dpi

- Text

·  Description of photo:
·   Photo type
·   Photo angle
·   Discussion of elements used
·   Adobe Photoshop effects employed
·   Emphasis in manipulated image / composition

8) Show Photoshop Exemplars - Selections from Photoshop


Assessment Rubric:





·     Range and successful implementation of effects achieved in photos demonstrated keen command of Photoshop techniques employed

·     Composition of photographs chosen to be included in Power Point Presentation showed exceptional creativity and well developed photographic sense

·     Description of photos and effects showed excellent understanding of processes involved in taking, selection and manipulation of photographs




·     Range and implementation of effects achieved in photos demonstrated a good command of Photoshop techniques employed

·     Presentation were well thought out and demonstrated strong compositional skills

·      Effective description of photos and effects




·     Effects employed in photos selected for collection demonstrated an understanding of the range and purpose of the techniques being used

·     An understanding of composition is beginning to become evident in the work selected

·     Descriptions of photos and effects show some understanding of the principles behind the photographic images that were created




·     An uneven use of Photoshop techniques were evidenced in the digital images that were selected

·     A haphazard demonstration of the understanding of compositional devices was displayed in the work

·     Descriptions of photos and effects were not completely satisfactory


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Submitted by: Kevan Nitzberg Art Instructor Anoka High School Anoka, MN.
Unit: Video - Computer Arts (9 week course summary)
Lesson: Introduction and Personal Self Portraits
Grade level: High school


This is Kevan Nitzberg's experience teaching a Video/Computer Art class that he is now responsible for.


Some observations from Kevan:

Early on I discovered that the high school students I had in this class represented a wide range of ability, from being very knowledgeable about studio production with little computer art background, to those who were extremely adept at using the computer (to the point of possibly running somewhat afoul of the law), but having little or no experience actually creating artwork. As a result, I realized that this class presented an excellent opportunity to teach the aesthetic values inherent in art via the computer in order to enhance the level of creative excellence in all of my students.


How the class began:

We began by examining the basic elements and principles of art in both chart and drawing formats, creating such things as value charts, Color Wheels., complementary / warm & cool color diagrams, geometric and organic shape charts, and the like. We used the tools available on iWork. (formerly Appleworks and ClarisWorks), to create these. In addition, the students had to find existing exemplars of the various elements and principles that we explored using ArtsConnected (the online learning environment facilitated by the Mpls. Institute of Art and the Walker Art Center), to initially make separate collections of master works for reference purposes.


The students then had to prepare Power Points ® to show their projects to the class in order to give everyone a better understanding of the variety of possibilities that could be employed to illustrate these concepts and make engaging artistic compositions. The Power Point format also made grading the work much more doable as the work was saved to the individual student folders on the building server which I have access to. From here we moved on to working with additional tools that were available through the computer to create a variety of special effects that could be used in the creation of their pieces. This phase used the picture effects available on the Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 software. Two photographs were to be selected to explore the various manipulations that were available, both as individual and combination effects. We worked on exploring additional special effects through working with Adobe Photoshop Extended CS6. The effects that were realized here are much more sophisticated in scope and, in addition to creating images, the students were to write down the changes that were created through using the variety of tools that they were utilizing. This provided them with a written record that documented the changes for future use in other projects.


Self Portrait - Five ways - Applying knowledge learned

All of the experimentation with special effects helped to provide practice for a series of 5 self portraits that the students were then to create in class.

The 5 portrait assignments fell into the following categories:

1) Historically styled portrait that effects the characteristics of a particular style or period.

2) Property change portrait that portrays the effect of a significant change in how the face is portrayed, trying to recreate the impression of another material such as stone, water, brick, metal, gas, etc.

3) Expressive / emotional portrait that uses a variety of elements and principles to portray different feelings.

4) Portrait incorporating text that is used as part of the artistry of the portrait, helping to convey more information about the message(s) being communicated.

5) Portrait plus symbols / images of personal significance that further help to define the different aspects of the individual whose image is being pictured.


The initial photographs were taken with a digital camera in class and loaded into their building folders. The best works by each student are printed on glossy stock paper in full color, matted and hung in the art gallery at school.


NOTE FROM KEVAN: In the 2nd running of the video / computer class this year (and the last one that has  been  scheduled until next year), I changed one of the portrait  assignments  from the  images that were to be incorporated with the portrait to a  multicultural portrait where the student needed to be seen  interacting  with another  culture in the manipulated photo. I did this in  conjunction  with the  student teacher I had this term who is  African-American, and it provided  a great opportunity for students to look at examples  of  artwork done by artists from different cultural / ethnic / racial  groups. They were to also create an ArtsConnected collection dealing with  multicultural art and images prior to working on this part of the  assignment. So far the  results I have seen have been pretty good.


Video Poems

Finally, the class breaks up into a series of 6 groups (4-5 per group), to create video poems that are based around a selected piece of poetry or prose that is either generated or selected by each group. Moving and still images, computer art, text and sound (including music), are combined into a 1-2 minute finished video that will be edited in iMovie. As time permits, the best work(s) will have the opportunity to be further enhanced through using Final Cut Pro. The completed projects are imported back into the digital video camera and copied to VCR tapes for students to take home at the end of the term.


Through the sequential approach used in class to understanding the power of the computer in producing successfully generated works of art, a better appreciation of the strategies and processes available through using the computer as an art tool is developed. Also discussed as a component of this course is an introduction to the career opportunities that exist for people who have the necessary training in creating computer generated art. It is hoped that ultimately this approach to working with the computer as yet another tool for creating artwork will help to inspire students to consider the value of this part of their education as it relates to what jobs they consider preparing for as they move both into the working world as well as continuing to be creative individuals.



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