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Lesson Plans

Computer Graphics

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Sandra Hildreth (shildret)
Mon, 07 Apr 1997 23:04:08 -0500

Just a few thoughts to all the people eagerly asking questions about
setting up computer graphics classes. I taught a 1/2 year course using 4
computers for 11 students this year. They started out working in pairs,
with specific design topics that basically were teaching them the
various techniques of the software we were using (SuperPaint). Each pair
would work for about half the class, then switch so other pairs could
use the computers. Since many of the students were in other art classes,
we also worked out a system where they would work on their computer
graphics assignments during the other class, and then complete classwork
for the other class during computer graphics. That allowed longer work
periods on the computers.

I don't think it matters a great deal what software you use - but I
would recommend sticking to one and allowing students to thoroughly
understand it and what all its tools can do. Once one is learned, it's a
lot easier to switch to other software, because they all work in similar

To help students thoroughly learn the capabilities of the software, I
came up with a number of design topics that I required them to do,
rather than just let them experiment with the software. Experimenting is
no better than giving someone traditional art media, paint for example,
and saying "paint whatever you like". Few people learn much that way. So
I came up with a sequential list of topics such as: create a color wheel
(this helped them learn how to take a basic shape, copy/paste and repeat
it 12 times in some type of orderly fashion, and then selectively choose
the 12 colors out of the 256 in the basic palette); draw a design
combining 3 geometric shapes and 3 organic shapes - with pencil and
colored with markers - which they then had to recreate using the
computer (again, this helped them learn how to make the tools do what
they needed to make them do); type their name in 10 different fonts in
10 different sizes, then use those 10 elements in a creative design
(this helped them learn how to manipulate text - rotate, stretch, etc.).
One of the projects they had the most fun with was to bring in a sample
logo, in color, of a product or sports team, that they liked the design
of. Then they were to recreate the logo, using the computer, only they
had to use their own name instead of the product name. Another project
involved using scanned or digital photographs and combining them with
original art work for a hypothetical book cover (with their own picture
on the back as the author). They also designed Christmas cards,
combining clip art with their own artwork. The final project was a group
calendar - each student got a month - all used the same calendar
template, but created their own illustrations - their topic was their
top 12 favorite musicians. They learned how to get images off the
Internet and combine them with original graphics for that.

I firmly believe that computer graphics deserve a serious position in
contemporary art, but like any artform, we art educators need to help
our students learn how to discriminate between effective, creative,
original computer graphics and pre-packaged, clip art, poor design

As far as CD-ROM's to purchase - there certainly are some excellent ones
out there - but if you have Internet access, there are thousands of
images available free online, at the various museum and other art sites.

Sandra Hildreth
C.L.A.S.S. (Cultural Literacy through Art & Social Studies)
Art 7-12, Madrid-Waddington Central School, Madrid, NY 13660
Art Methods, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY 13617