Project #5: Give Yourself a Haircut!

September 22, 2014

One of the hardest things to “get right” when doing special effects is hair. That’s why the original Toy Story was done all with dolls and plastic. The animators knew they couldn’t get the hair to look convincing. Today’s CGI artist are coming close, but hair is still tough to make convincing.

  • Go on the web and find 2 or 3 hairstyles you like or think would look funny on you.
  • Take a “selfie” that has about the right pose and facial angles. This is important in making it look convincing.
  • Use Pixelmator and put the hair in the top layer, yourself underneath. Make the opacity of the top layer about 50% so you can get the size and positioning correct.
  • Start using the eraser on the top hair layer. Slowly and carefully remove as much of the top face as you want to. When you’re near the edge of the hair, you may want to go to “Show Brushes” and make a small brush with a slow flow and limited opacity, so you don’t erase away a hard line. Experiment with this to get the most convincing effect. You want a soft edge between the layers so it doesn’t look like you’re wearing a “helmet.”

The finished project should have two very different hairstyles, and be posted to Voicethread and Google Classroom. I’m looking forward to seeing your work!

Project #3: 5 Principles of Good Design

September 11, 2014

5 Principles of Effective Design
Focus Establish a center of visual interest. The eye only looks at one thing at a time. You can determine where the viewer!s eye starts.
Contrast Don!t be a wimp. Push contrast to extremes, both in choice of fonts, sizes, and other visual interest. Use contrast to help control the focus
Repetition Certain elements should be repeated throughout a good design. Don!t use 5 fonts. Repeat colors, sizes, and font choices to help establish a rhythm and unity in your design.
Alignment Strong lines help make a strong design. Don’t deviate from a line just for variety. You can end up making the design weaker and more confusing. This is another really good reason to avoid centering paragraphs of text. If everything is centered, there are no strong lines. If everything is centered, everything is important. If everything is important, nothing is important.
Proximity Group design elements that should be bunched together. Don’t spread everything out across a page just to fill up space.

Notice how everything above is kind of hard to read?

That’s because it’s not designed. There are no visual cues to tell you how the information is organized, what is important and what is extra, how the parts fit together.

Take these 5 rules, and use Pages to illustrate them.
Make it into one Pages document with 5 or 6 pages. (One for each principle, and one as an introduction.
Your document should

  • Obey the rules of good design, and
  • Show and explain the 5 principles of design.

You can quote the above explanations exactly, or shorten them and put the in your own words.

Use graphics to help illustrate your point! Try to find original graphics. I don’t want everybody to use the same rubber ducks for alignment. The final product can be in exported to PDF, then you can play it as a slideshow and move it into our Google Classroom.

Some examples of pretty good projects from previous classes are already posted at the site.

Project #1: “Do the thing, and you will have the power.”

September 4, 2014

Take this quote, and illustrate it three different ways. Make each example a full page, either portrait (vertical) or landscape (more horizontal).

See the little objects on the far right of the menu, FORMAT and DOCUMENT? Get used to using them. Click them on and off and watch what happens. You will be using the FORMAT inspector A LOT!


  1. You need a place to store your work, because you can’t store it on the Desktop. Go to Documents and create a New Folder. Label it with your name. Go inside that Folder and create another new folder. Label this folder “Project 1 - Power” This is where you’ll store your work.
  2. Do an image search on Google. You could type in “Power” or you could go in another direction, like “Strength” or “Fast Car” or “Muscle”  Or you could pick a great athlete or person that represents power to you. Don’t just go with the first image that comes up.
  3. Got something you like? Make sure the resolution is high enough. At least 400-500 pixels is good enough. Lower than that won’t look good when you blow it up.  Want to make sure you get big images? Click on “More” under the search and choose “Large” or “Larger than.”
  4. Don’t just click on the thumbnail. Go to “View Image” to get the whole high-resolution image.
  5. Think about the focus. Which should be more important, the text or the image? You can’t make the two of them equally important, or the eye can’t focus.
  6. Think about line breaks. Are you going to put all the words on one line, or are you going to break them up? If the words are not all on one line, how are you going to line them up?
  7. Got to Pages>Preferences>Rulers and check off “Enable vertical ruler for documents with body text.” This will help you line things up accurately.
  8. Start playing around with the font, the spacing, the color, and the placement of the text. What works best with the image?
  9. When you’re happy with one solution, label it Power1 and put it in your Project 1 folder in Documents.
  10. There is always more than one good solution. Now go ahead, find two more images and think of two more ways to arrange the words. Label those Power2 and Power3. Put them in the Project 1 folder as well.
  11. Make sure you include an attribution. Add a dash — (option-shift-hyphen),
 and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s name.

Like Power Quotes? Find more Power Quotes here:

Project #12: Making a Mohiba Poster

June 5, 2014

Take all your design skills, and turn them into a real project that will be shown around town.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first trip to America, and their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The Beatles changed rock and roll forever, and they still rock. So Mohiba will be dedicated to them, and we’re going to call it
Make a poster that will be BIG: 20 inches by 30 inches. We really will print and post the best work all around town and in the school.

All posters should include the following:

  1. Beatles images, emphasis on the early ones from the early to mid 60’s
  2. “Morse High School presents”
  3. Location: Montgomery Theatre, Morse High School, 826 High Street, Bath.
  4. Tickets: $7.00 student, $10.00 adult, on sale in school or at the door
  5. Dates: November 21 and 22, 2014
  6. Time: 7:00 PM

You decide what is important, what is not important. You can overlay, blend, and combine images using Pixelmator. (It would be interesting to use some graphics right inside the letters.)

Do the final layout and type design in Pages. Remember, fonts are vector-based and blow up much better if you work in Pages, not Pixelmator.

Click to download the instruction sheet, with special directions about how to make oversize pages with customized dimensions, not just 8 1/2 by 11.
Making a Mohiba Poster

Project #11: Creating a Typographic Portrait

May 27, 2014

The objective here is to get a lot deeper into Pixelmator, see what it can do to manipulate multiple layers and objects, and create something beautiful.

Like this…or maybe better. Click below to see all the instructions.



Before you really get into the project…

1) Take, or find somewhere, a picture of yourself.

2) Think about the words you want floating behind/in front of your portrait. I might suggest a poem, a repeated lyric from a song, maybe a section from a novel you really like. I used a quote from Einstein about imagination.

3) Make the portrait really simple, and try to use a simple background. You probably don’t need to worry about masking the background at this point, but you may need to work on that later.

4) There are 10 steps to the tutorial, and when you’re finished, you will have learned quite a bit about layering, filtering, and some very subtle effects.

5) When the whole thing is finished, post to VoiceThread.

Good luck!