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Students develop basic image manipulation skills in a raster-based computer environment. Emphasis is placed on mastering the fundamentals of scanning, color management, photo retouching, imaging, special effects and filters and masks.

The deliberate separation of fine art and design initializes an unnecessary rift in the creative process. Dividing classes or even projects along those lines presupposes their mutual exclusivity. In creating the curriculum for Image Manipulation , a class centered around the creation of photo-based digital illustration, I sought to provide students with opportunities to display their creative prowess in a professional environment. I also wanted to create projects that utilized reading comprehension of source material. Through these assignment students would benefit from the cross-pollination of art, design and academic methods.

Concept is an important skill in understanding photographic manipulation. Using the filters and tools of Photoshop for a purpose other than creating something that “looks cool” and deciding on the intended effects before sampling the power of the application are the goals of this class. The curriculum is divided into skill-building tutorials and long-term creative projects. The first and second of these projects involve the short story "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut, a futurist tale about the perils of censorship. In the first part of the project, students illustrate a specific scene from the story and in the second, convert that illustration into a book jacket. When approaching the reading intself, I noticed that the students latched onto the more dramatic scenes or to individual characters, but did not seem to fully comprehend the message of the story. I alleviated some of the confusion with a participatory exercise. Instead of reading in the traditional way, I suggested they read with the book upside down and one eye closed. While tentative in their inability to read, they soon got the idea- everyone would be reading poorly and therefore at the same level. While this exercise seemed silly, and the reading took quite some time, the premise of the story and the idea of forced ineptitude made more sense.

The final project involves designing a cover for a tabloid magazine. Using the "Weekly World News" as a model, students brainstorm headlines and then create the appropriate proof of authenticity through manipulated photographs. Designing with a grid is discussed and students trace over existing tabloid layouts to create their templates. The content of this project is lighthearted and the students enjoy both inventing unbelievable stories and using their newly acquired digital skills to illustrate them. Throughout the quarter, skill-based tutorials support the learning of the software and the improvement in the creative projects can be seen tangibly through critique and presentation.

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