For Students

agenda :: 3/15

today: clone yourself using iMovie!

i recently discovered a pretty cool trick you can use in iMovie to clone yourself! this is a pretty easy special effect once you get the hang of it. today we’ll need to collaborate and shoot some original footage in order to make it work. i’ve got a couple cameras on hand, but feel free to shoot your own footage with your phone.


  1. the first important thing to do is to make sure your camera is stable. the camera will need to stay locked in one position while shooting, so you’ll need to use a tripod (or a d.i.y. one from the binder clips i’ve provided). this will make sure that when we overlap your two shots, everything will match up.
  2. find an interesting scene with no big changes going on in the background. on a bench, against a wall, in a stairwell – all good choices, but feel free to be creative. have your partner set up the camera and direct you to the left side of the frame. act out whatever you’ve planned or improvise something. maybe you’re reading a book, asking yourself questions to be answered by your cloned self, etc. imagine a line in the center of the frame – you can use an element in the background as a reference –  and do not cross it. your clones won’t be able to touch each other (sorry, you can’t high five yourself), but it is possible to suggest interaction through dialogue, gestures, or other creative solutions. these rules will help us make sure the effect works correctly in editing.
  3. keep the camera rolling so that you don’t move the camera. next, move to the right side of the frame and have your partner shoot new footage with a new action (sitting down next to the original you on a bench, answering questions, etc.). again, don’t cross the imaginary center line of the frame.


  1. come back to the lab and open up iMovie (sorry, its gonna be a mac kind of day!)
  2. first, we need to enable the advanced features of iMovie. in the iMovie menu at the top, click on preferences and check the box for “show advanced tools”.
  3. upload your footage to your computer via cable or email. import your footage by either dragging into the “event” panel, or by choosing from the file menu. this event panel shows you what raw footage you have to choose from when creating a new video project.
  4. using the yellow selecting bars, drag and crop your clip so that you have only the action you want to keep surrounded. this time we just want to grab the part of the clip with you on the left side of the frame. drag this selection into the project panel below. this panel is the timeline where you edit your video project together (what the final product will look like). you can swap the position of these by clicking the two arrows in the middle divider (it will probably boot up already preset in the “wrong” way for some reason).
  5. repeat step 2, but this time select the part of the clip when you are on the right side of the frame. drag below to the project panel, and place directly on top of the first clip. a green plus sign should appear, and from the menu that pops up, select “green screen”.
  6. what you should see now is both clips layered on top of each other, but since they are both the full size of the frame only the top layer is visible. to adjust this, click the “cropped” button at the top, and pull the left side of the selection box in to the center. adjust as you need so that both versions of yourself will fit fully in the frame
  7. now you have both clips playing simultaneously, the left-side clone on the left, and the right-side clone on the right. if you kept your camera still and were careful that lighting didn’t change, it should look pretty seamless! last step is to adjust the timing of the clips by dragging to the appropriate place in the timeline.
  8. to save your file, go to the share menu, and choose export movie. any size resolution is good, but the bigger the better!

agenda :: 2/22

today’s mini-lesson: create your own cubeecraft figures!


  • i stumbled across this on the web this week and immediately thought of you guys – this might be a fun way to tinker around with the tools of graphics software like photoshop, illustrator, or gimp and create something that you can print and construct on your own. also, its clearly inspired by the minecraft type games that you are all so into.
  1. to get started, let’s take a look at the cubeecraft website. most of these designs were done by the artist chris beaumont (you can find him on deviantart here). all of these are free to download and print on your own, but i think the most fun part is that he provides a template so you can also design your own cubeecraft character.  here’s the link for the submission guidelines and templates
  2. download the cubeecraft template (psd or pdf format) to your desktop and open with photoshop. think about what kind of character you want to create. is it something from popular culture? a friend? a character you created on your own? browse the internet for images to inspire your creation and serve as a reference in your own design.
  3. create a new layer underneath the template and start designing your character with whatever tools you wish. using simple shapes and color schemes seems to look the best, but also pay attention to what details you can add to your design to make your character recognizable. if you get confused about which part of the template is which, compare with other examples found on the cubeecraft website to make sure everything ends up in the right place. here’s my finished “where the wild things are” template:
  4. once you’re satisfied, you’re ready to print, cut out, and fold! most of these are designed to be printed on standard letter sized paper, but i wanted mine bigger so i went to our computer lab in the art building and printed it out on larger format paper. i’d be happy to do this for you this week if you’d like, just send your design to my email!

agenda :: 2/8

Today’s mini-lesson :: Vector Portraits in Adobe Illustrator

  • A little about vectors: Today, we’re going to try out some basic tools in Adobe Illustrator. This program is a little different than Photoshop, and works by using “vectors” (lines, points, shapes, polygons) to create a drawing or image. It’s not too hard once you get the hang of it, so let’s me show you a fairly simple project you can try out on your own to learn the program a bit more.
  1. First, find a picture that you would like to use as your reference. As always, you can use your own photographs for this process, but I just picked Bieber’s mugshot for demo purposes:
  2. Open this file in Photoshop. Convert the image from “background” to layer like we covered last week so we can use it (right click on the layer in the Layers Panel). Go to the Image menu, and under mode, change to Grayscale.  Feel free to change the Brightness and Contrast under Adjustments to create stronger areas of light and dark.
  3. Next, use the Pen tool to trace around the head. When you come back around to the point you started at, close the path by clicking onto it again. Right click and choose “Make Selection”.
  4. While the selection is glimmering, click the Layer Mask button in the Layers panel. It’s at the bottom and looks like a circle inside a rectangle. This should clip out the background and leave only the head.
  5. Click the adjustment layer icon (circle next to the Layer Mask) and choose Threshold. Drag the slider until the images darkest features just start to appear. Save this image to your desktop as a .jpg file. Drag the slider further right so that the image has more dark areas and save this image as well. Now we’re done with Photoshop, so feel free to close out.
    biebs1 biebs2
  6. Open both of these files with Illustrator. Take the darkest layer and copy it, then past it into the other document. Press command+B to make sure it is pasted directly behind the other image and will line up. Add a rectangular shape in a color of your choice and move it to the back (drag in the Layers panel, or press command+]. You may have to adjust the image settings to make it color, which you can do under by going to Edit >> Edit Colors and selecting RGB or CMYK
  7. Make the back image invisible and select the top image, and find the Image Trace button at the top. Click the Image Trace button and open the tracing options by clicking the Image Trace Panel icon between the Preset and View menus. Check the Preview box, and adjust the Threshold, Paths, Corners, and Noise until you get a result you like. When you’re happy, click Expand from the Live Trace panel on the top. Select the white arrow tool (Direct Selection) and click any white area to select it. We want to only keep the black shapes, so press delete.
  8. Make this layer invisible and repeat step 7 with the other layer. Make both layers visible again, and with the bottom layer selected, change the color to a lighter gray shade.
  9. Use the pen tool to trace a shape around the face. Make this shape white and move it all the way to the back of the layers until it moves behind.
  10. Use the pen tool to delete points that might be too jagged or rough looking, or to add lines for definition. Experiment with the Line Width tool to add line variation. Adjust paths by using the Direct Selection arrow and pulling on handles or moving points. Refine the illustration however you like!
  11. Save a copy by going to File and selecting Save for Web and Devices. You’re done!

AGENDA :: 2/1

MINI-LESSON: Making Mini Planets in Photoshop


Today, I’m going to show you a Photoshop trick that is pretty easy but really fun. I found myself hooked making these this week in Photoshop and think you’ll have a good time with your own today. In short, we’re going to learn how to turn any landscape image into a surreal looking, exaggerated planet by using the “Polar Coordinates” filter in Photoshop. From there you can alter just about any way you want. Just follow these steps and see what you can come up with!

  1. First, locate an image of a landscape that you like. Maybe its a picture from your own backyard, the skyline of your favorite city, a place you want to go someday. Whatever you can find! Panoramas are the best for this project, but just about any photo will work as long is it is wider than it is tall. The best kinds seem to have an even horizon line and a few items that stick out over the top of the horizon. Here’s the one I picked for this demo:
  2. Open this photo in Photoshop, and convert the layer from a “Background” layer to a standard one by right-clicking on the layer in the Layers Panel, and selecting “Layer from Background”.
  3. Now, we want to make sure the photo’s edges match up, so that if you wrapped it around on itself it would create a fairly seamless edge. To do this, select a vertical slice from the right side of the image and copy it to the clipboard (command+c). Paste this onto a new layer (command+v).
  4. With the Rectangular Marquee Tool selected, right-click and select “Free Transform”. Right click again, and select “Flip Horizontal”. Drag this layer over to the opposite side of the photo.
  5. Use the eraser tool (set to a soft brush and light opacity/pressure) to blend out the edge that is visible as seamlessly as possible. Make sure when you’re done the left edge matches the right edge of the photo. Merge your two layers into one (command+e).
  6. Use “Free Transform” again to flip the whole image vertically. It should look upside down when you’re done to get the right result.
  7. Next, go to the Filters menu and find the Distort tab. Select “Polar Coordinates” from the list and approve the pop-up menu.
  8. Almost done. We still have to squeeze this back into proportion and crop it. Right-click to use Free Transform again, and drag the image inward horizontally until it looks right to you. Feel free to rotate and reposition key elements.
  9. Finally, let’s cut out the unused space. Use the Rectagular Marquee tool again to select what area you want to keep, go into the Image menu and select “Crop”.
  10. You’re done! Save your file or keep playing with other tools to alter it!

Here’s some more that I did throughout the week. Like I said, I’m hooked.

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Introduction to GIMP :: An open source (and free) alternative to Photoshop. This software is available for Mac or PC and is free to download – it does pretty much anything you can  do in Photoshop. Check out more here if you’d like:

Details for Tomorrow!

Greetings everyone,

I am excited to have our first session of the Digital Arts Workshop tomorrow and to meet everyone! I sent along an email with this info, but thought I’d post it here as well to cover all bases:
  • We will be meeting at 1-3pm in our lab (Room 289) at the Media Commons, located in the Undergraduate Library. If you’ve never been to the Undergrad, it can be a little tough to find since it was built underground (an interesting story!). Check the schedule and location page on our website for a map and more detailed info about how to get there and where to park or drop off students.
  • Remember to print off and sign the consent letters to participate in the Workshop. Both parents and students will need to read and sign one.
  • For tomorrow’s session, we’re going to be making looping .GIF images. I’ll explain more tomorrow, but this will require students to take a short video clip and import it to Photoshop for editing. If you have a smartphone or other camera that is capable of taking video, I encourage you to bring it (and a connector cable if needed) to our session tomorrow. I should have a few backup devices available, and we will have access to software and computers in the lab, but the Media Commons has encouraged me to try out a “back pocket” model of photo/video taking whenever possible. This means exploring ways of making really cool stuff with tools most of us already have, which I think is a great idea.
I think that’s about it, but please let me know if you have any questions. See everyone tomorrow!

Please answer my student survey!

Hi everyone,

I’ve put together a really simple survey to help gather some preliminary information about what workshop participants are interested in learning. For each day we meet, I would love to present a mini-lesson or project on specific subjects or technology you want to learn or use, so this is a good way to make sure we touch on material that interests you. Please follow link provided or the tab on the menu above to answer this quick survey before we meet to help give me an idea of what you’re interested in! See you all soon!