Welcome to The Helpful Art Teacher, an interdisciplinary website linking visual arts to math, social studies, science and language arts.

Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

Please click on my page to see my personal artwork and artist statement: http://thehelpfulartteacher.blogspot.com/p/the-art-of-rachel-wintembe.html

Please contact me at thehelpfulartteacher@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Creating Fantasy Architecture in Photoshop: Take your marker drawings to the next level

In this tutorial you will learn how to take an ordinary drawing, created on paper with a Sharpie marker

Upload it to Photoshop and transform it

into an elaborate, layered, fantasy cityscape.

Please watch the tutorial below:

Here are some helpful tips and tools, created from screenshots of the video, to help you on your creative journey:

When drawing with sharpie, be sure to close all the gaps where the lines meet. Otherwise you will run into trouble once you try to manipulate your image is in Photoshop.

Photoshop usually defaults to a resolution of 72 pixels per square inch because that is the resolution most photos need to be for Internet viewing. However, if you plan to ever print your pictures you will need to use 300 pixels per inch. Otherwise your images will look grainy. You must change this in the beginning before you do anything else to your picture.  

Once I had my image in Photoshop, I noticed it was slightly crooked. Using the rectangular Marquis tool was difficult because I kept accidentally cropping part of my drawing. The solution is to click edit, transform and rotate. 

No matter what I did, I was still left with extra 'noise' in my image when I tried to get rid of the background. Noise is unwanted pixels of the wrong color making my picture look sloppy. The solution is to select only the black lines and paste them into a new document.

If the image is in the background layer you will have to click 'layer' and then create a layer from the background. You can then use the magic wand to cut the background out completely. You will know you did it correctly if a gray and white checkerboard appears where the background used to be. Saving the picture as a portable network graphic without a background will enable you to use it over and over again in countless ways. 

Your picture is about to get very big. Don't worry. We will shrink it later.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The History of Animation and what you need to know to get started

From the earliest cave paintings flickering in firelight humans have been fascinated by the moving image. But how did we get to the point today where anyone can download a few apps and create seamless green screen animations on their phones? In this 5 minute video you will learn the history of animation. If you keep watching until the end, I will show you exactly how you can create your own green screen animations using nothing more than a tablet or smart phone and a couple of inexpensive apps.

This video takes you through human kind's earliest fascination with the moving image. In the flickering firelight of caves, paintings on the walls appeared to move, adding dramatic illustrations to oral narratives of great hunting adventures.

In the 1800's the magic lantern became a widely popular form of entertainment. In the 1820's the wide availability of mass produced printed and hand colored glass slides increased the lantern's popularity. A kerosene lamp lit up the slide which was then projected through a magnifying lens onto a screen. This was the precursor to the first film projectors.  

In the 1860's Milton Bradley began selling a new toy called the zoetrope. The zoetrope enabled children to create simple hand drawn animations on strips of paper and bring them to life by spinning the carousel and looking through the slots. While there were other earlier similar designs, the wide distribution of the Milton Bradley toy is credited with inspiring the first early animators.

In 1878 a horse breeder hired the photographer, 

Eadweard Muybridge to help him settle a bet. When a horse is running, do all four hooves ever leave the ground at once? Nobody knew. Muybridge set up 12 cameras and attached the shutters to trip wires. As the horse ran by 12 pictures would be taken in sequence. Have you ever taken a 'burst' of photographs with your phone? It was much more complicated in 1878 then it is now. No one had done it before. Muybridge went on to publish entire books on human and animal locomotion. To this day, modern animators constantly refer to his work when drawing and regard it as a priceless reference tool. 

In 1908 the French artist Ă‰mile Cohl created the first animated cartoon film Fantasmagorie from 700 hand drawn pictures. He photographed each drawing with negative film to simulate a chalkboard effect. And thus, animated cartooning, as we know it today, was born.

Before we create our own computer animations in this class, we are going to spend some time learning how to draw people. First we will learn proportion and then we will learn how to represent gesture and movement. 

Next you will learn how to use Adobe Photoshop to create your own animation assets. Assets are the images, characters, backgrounds and sounds that go into your animation library before you even open an animation program.

The first two animations you create in my class will be GIFS (graphic interchange format) that you will be able to email to friends or post on the web. 
GIFS can be created using Adobe Photoshop, without using any other animation programs. 
Here is a GIF created using Muybridge's original sequence of photographs. 

The first GIF you create will be a human face that changes expressions:

The second GIF you create will be a moving human figure:

Below is a GIF I created entirely in Photoshop. First I created the assets (depicted on the sprite sheet above) and then stacked them and exported them as a GIF (for step by step  instructions click here)

Learning how to draw people will be a very important skill to develop before we start using the computers.

However, that should not stop you from exploring animation on your own. You can actually begin animating right from your smart phone. Here are a few easy to use apps to get you started if you are interested:

We will not be using Animation Creator in class. In this class we will be learning how to use the desktop program Adobe Animate. However, if you are interested on learning how to use the app on your own, here is a tutorial:

Later in the year we will be using the film editing app Final Cut Pro to finalize our work and experiment with green screen technology. If you are interested in learning how to use a green screen on your phone or tablet, I suggest this app: 
You will need to create videos with green backgrounds in order for the app to work properly. Download this image and set it as the background when you are done animating, prior to saving an animation to your phone's camera roll:

The green screen app is very easy to use. Simply put the animation in the top layer and a movie from your camera roll in the bottom layer, preview and save to camera roll.

Are you ready to get started animating? Let's begin by drawing people using correct proportions: 
For my lesson introducing the proportions of the human face, click here.
For my lesson introducing figure drawing, click here
For my lesson introducing gesture drawing, click here.

Some useful worksheets:

Human movement cycles gathered from around the web:

Some human movement cycles from my own animations:

Some animal movement cycles:

If the stories above about the birth of animation teach you nothing else, it is my hope that you at least come away with the understanding that you do not need fancy equipment or outrageously expensive software to begin animating. My first animations, as a child, were simple flip books. To create a flip book, all you need are felt markers and a memo pad.

 Here is one created by my daughter when she was in 6th grade:

 Since 2012 I have taught the basic principles of cell and stop motion animation to my middle school students using a class set of old iPad 2 devices. 

Professional digital art, animation and editing software and a fast computer will enable my high school students to create excellent quality HD videos but a simple pencil and paper are all you need to begin to develop the skills you need to be a great animator. A smart phone or tablet with a few inexpensive apps is all that is necessary to create animated videos to post on social media and share with your friends. The more exploring and experimenting you do on your own, by drawing and animating on your phone, the more quickly you will master the software we will be using in class so you can create artwork you are truly proud of.

As you develop your artistic skills, please keep in mind that you will eventually need to use your newfound artistic superpowers to tell an animated story. What is important to you? We all have unique stories to share. Tell us some of yours. To help you get started, here are a few storyboard templates that you can download:

The more you put into this class the more you will get out of it.