Project Five: Ephemeral Connections, Implied Visual Similarities and Texture



To demonstrate the use of software applications in the context of two-dimensional design, specifically Photoshop CC. You will become familiar with a Mac platform, as well as, Photoshop CC, cropping, pasting, layers, flattening, free transform, transform, adjustments, move tool, and alignment tools. To explore how we often see connections between similar visual elements in art and how this can by utilized to carry the viewers’ eye around the composition (Movement) and to create Unity. To continue your study of Line, Balance, Positive and Negative Space, Shape, Contrast, Value, Unity, and Texture. You will also be identifying similarities between disparate visual elements and unifying these elements into a harmonious gridded composition using Photoshop CC.


Project Description:

You will create a 12” x 12” black and white grid with 36 individual 2” square cropped images from different photo sources that you take. Each cropped image will have visual connective elements to the other images around it. For example, a line in one cropped image will connect to a line in another completely different cropped image to carry your eye across both squares. The goal is to have 3 sides of each square visually connect to the image adjacent to it (see example) but at the least you must have at least 2 sides connect.




(I will demonstrate every step of this in class as many times as you need)


Step 1: With a digital camera you will take at least 25-50 black and white photographs looking for interesting lines, textures, shapes, rhythms, spaces and contrasts. The photos must be of similar elements in the physical world. The least complicated way to make this work is to choose one type of element for your subject like: just clothes, just machinery, buildings, tree branches, hallway interiors, etc. (see example) However, if you are Photoshop savvy, or feeling brave I invite you to take photos of things that don’t necessarily relate to one another. This will make the visual connections more difficult to achieve but they are often more interesting. You could always gather source materials for both types of project.


Step 2: Once you have taken your pictures put them on a flashdrive or a CD and bring them to class. If you can take them in black in white, if you can’t no big deal. We will meet during class in an open Mac lab and convert those that are color to b/w and save them to a folder on your flashdrive.


Step 3: You will then create a 12” x 12” Photoshop Document (PSD) by opening Photoshop and going to File (upper left hand corner) and hitting new.  Named, yourlastname, Width and Height 12 inches (you may need to switch the pixels to inches) with a resolution of 300 Pixels/Inch in RGB color mode, with a White background. Once all this is complete hit ok and your PSD document will appear.


Step 4: From this stage on the “>” symbol in this handout means next step. Then you will go to Photoshop (next to File) > Preferences > Guides, Grids & Slices > Grid and enter 2 in Gridline Every ___ inches and enter 4 in Subdivisions ___ hit OK. If your grid is not showing try selecting View in top bar > Extras or if that doesn’t work View> Show > Grid. Now that your document is set up and your grid is showing save the file as a PSD on the desktop (Where) under your lastname.psd by going to File > Save as and selecting the format: Photoshop. Now go to View (top bar) > Snap to > All.


Step 5: We then go to File > Open> and find our photographs and open them in Photoshop, you can select more than one photo at a time by pressing down on the “shift” button and selecting with the mouse. Then hitting ok. Now, if we want we can then manipulate the Brightness/Contrast of each photo by going to: Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast (if you want, try it!). Now, I want you to select the Rectangular Marquee Tool, it’s the tool right under the black arrow (move tool) in the tool bar usually to the left of the screen. If you don’t see a tool bar go to the top bar: Window > tools. With your Rectangular Marquee Tool selected switch your Style (top bar) to fixed size then put 2” in both the width and height options right below the top bar. Make sure the “Feather” option is also set at 0 px.


Step 6: Click on your photo and a perfect 2” square selection box will appear. You can move it around and put it around exactly what you want to select. If your box seems small compared to your photo let me know it’s an easy fix. Once you have an area that interests you go to the top bar and select: Edit > Copy. Then go to your 12” x 12” document by selecting its tab below the top bar. Once your 12” x 12” document is open go to: Edit > Paste and there is the first square in your document! It will automatically paste itself into a new Layer (which I will discuss). You can select the black arrow at the top of the tool bar to move your square around in the document. Remember your History and Edit > Undo ability.


Step 7: You can then manipulate that square as long as you are in the same layer it is in. Try going to: Edit > Free Transform. While holding down the shift key drag one of the highlighted corners of your square with the mouse and you can uniformly change its size! Now try: Edit > Transform > Rotate. You can flip, rotate, etc. each square! Try selecting a few squares from separate photos and pasting them into your document. Each one will be on its own layer. You must have the layer selected to work on a specific square (see right side of the screen) by selecting it, or if “layers” are not visible go to the top bar: Windows > Layers. Whatever layer you are in is highlighted in blue in the layers tab. When in a layer that is the only layer you can manipulate the rest are safe. I will demonstrate this in class.


Step 8:  Now that you have a few squares try identifying some similar 2D design traits: similar lines, textures, values, etc. within your squares. Selecting the layer of the square you wish to work on select the move tool and put your square in the top left hand corner of the document and then begin manipulating the other square around it. If elements are not meeting up just right change the size of your square until it does using Free Transform (remember to hold down the shift key to lock proportions). Now that you have elements meeting up you have to large a square. No problem, just select your Rectangular Marquee Tool and select the area of your square you wish to keep. Then go to: Edit > Copy. Then drag the layer you are working in to the garbage (lower right hand corner of Layers tab) and trash it. Again, I will demonstrate this! Once your square is gone go to: Edit > Paste and just the area you copied will be pasted into the document. It is also helpful to title each layer by double clicking the layers text.


Step 9: Repeat for all 36 squares. Make sure you don’t have any space between any of the squares and that they are lining up properly (I will show you how using an align tool). Try your hardest to make visual connections on all sides of your squares! Every once in a while go up to View > Extras and take a look at your image with the grid off (this is how it will be printed out).


Step 10: We will then save your file as a PSD, a TIFF and a JPEG. You can do this by going to File > Save As > choose format, PSD titled with your lastname.psd. Then go to Save As > choose format > TIFF > check off layers title with your lastname.tif.


Step 11: Create a PSD file that is 16” x 16” with a white background in RGB color mode by opening Photoshop and going to File (upper left hand corner) and hitting new. Once you have this open go back to your TIFF version (you may have to open it) and go to Select > Select All > Edit > Copy. Then come back to your 16” x 16” PSD file and go to Edit > Paste. Your grid should now be pasted directly in the center of your 16” x 16” document leaving a 2” border all the way around the image. Now go to File > Save As > format, TIFF. Save with the title lastnamefinal.tif. Make sure that the Color Mode is Grayscale.  At this stage you should have 3 documents; a PSD, a Jpeg, and a TIFF. Make sure to keep all three files in a safe place! Back them up!


Step 12: You will drop your labeled PSD and TIFF files into our class dropbox and I will have them printed out. We will then critique the actual photographs.




Digital Camera/Cheap Disposable Camera, 27-50 Digital Jpeg Photographs, Flashdrive, Mac Computer and Photoshop CC (provided)

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© 2020 Dustin M. Price