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, October 24, 2020

Create your own 'Skeleton Dance' Animation: Inspired by the 1929 Disney Animated short film


This animation lesson was inspired by the 1929 Disney animated short, The Skeleton Dance:

Click here for the link to the Google Drive folder with all the animation assets for this project. 
Below is the video I created with all the instructions for the project:

Due to the Pandemic my students will be at home doing this lesson on their Chromebooks using Photopea and the Wick Editor websites, however you may also complete this project using Photoshop and Adobe Animate instead. Here are the instructions for using Photoshop and the 'bone tool' in Adobe Animate to create a dancing skeleton or figure:

Step 1: Open up the 'animation assets' folder and download the layered Photoshop file.
Step 2: Open up Photopea, log in to your account and open the file in Photopea
Step 3: Experiment with moving the character to create a dance
Step 4: refer to this 'Walk Cycle Worksheet':

Create a walk cycle, a series of sequential PNG images, for your skeleton.

Step 5: open up each one of your walk cycle images in Photopea and copy and paste them into one PSD. Line the layers of skeletons up so that they are all stacked on top of each other and then crop the PSD to get rid of any extra space on the canvas.
Step 6: Export your the layers of your PSD. This will download as a zipped file, which you will have to extract. 

If you are unable to unzip files on your Chromebook disregard step 5 and 6. Instead, just open up each file in your walk sequence, trim it and then re-download it.

Step 7: Experiment in the Wick editor with making your skeleton dance.

Step 8: Create a storyboard. Invent a story involving a skeleton or skeletons dancing, walking or moving. The storyboard should have at least 6 frames and a beginning, middle and end. Be as original and creative as possible. 

Step 9: Figure out a setting that involves a foreground, middle-ground and background so that your characters can move through three dimensional space and not just from left to right. You may use my skeleton or draw your own. You may include other characters, that you create, in your story. 

You may include any character that you have previously created for my class, as long as the character is original and not based on anything that is copyrighted by another artist.

You may also work with other students (of your choosing) and share each other's characters and backgrounds.

If you work with another student you must EACH create one character and you must EACH create one background that you will BOTH use. You will not be allowed to create the same storyboard or story as each other. Instead you will each create your own episodes or scenes of a story involving both characters. You may collaborate on developing the plot of your story and each animate different scenes that will later be edited together.

If you decide to work collaboratively with another student I will create a breakout room for you to discuss and brainstorm plot and character ideas.

I strongly suggest that you consider reusing characters from previous assignment to save yourself from extra work. 

You may use the characters from your 'turnaround' project.

If you plan on applying to art school or majoring in art in college, I strongly suggest that you create your own cartoon skeleton drawing for this assignment.

Keep your drawings as simple and cartoony as possible for this project so that you do not get so bogged down in details that you do not have time to finish.

Here is a tutorial on using the shape tool in Photopea to design your original characters and turnarounds:


I created the landscape above using the Photopea website on a Chromebook.
All the landscape assets are original. I did not use any clip art.
I was able to create the image using the shape tool, combining shapes, rasterizing them, warping them and transforming them.
The videos below explain how you can create your own setting, step by step:

Part 1: Creating the haunted house:

Part 2: Creating the mountains:

Part 3: Creating custom brushes and assembling the finished composition:

Part 4: Creating trees:

Part 5: Designing an interior space:

Part 6: Create your animation using the Wick Editor. Below is a playlist of instructional Wick Editor videos: 

Student Art Gallery
Below is a compilation of Skeleton Dance videos created by my students at Perth Amboy High School:

Monday, September 7, 2020

Introduction to Animation: The Wick Editor, The 12 Principles of Animation and The Dot and the Line


For this project you will be using the Wick Editor on your Chromebook. You will not be needing any other materials other than your Chromebook to complete this assignment. 

First, watch this video on the first principle of animation, squash and stretch:

Now watch this 1965 Oscar winning animated short, The Dot and the Line. You will be creating a short animation, inspired by The Dot and the Line and the first principle of animation, squash and stretch.

Next, watch the video below for instructions on how you can create your own animated story about a dot and a line, using the Wick Editor. Your story is going to be much simpler and shorter than The Dot and the Line, only about 3 seconds long.

 In your animation, you must demonstrate an understanding of the principle of 'squash and stretch',how frame animation works and how to use layers.

In the bottom layer, the green background, don't forget to drag the frame out so that the background is visible underneath the entire story.

Do not export the video as a GIF. Export it as an MP4 video. Upload both your saved Wick Editor project and your MP4 into Google Classroom. If you use more than one class period to work on the assignment, you will need to save the Wick Editor project to your Chromebook, upload it to Google Classroom and then download it again the next day. 

Do NOT HIT SUBMIT until you have uploaded both your finished Wick Editor project and your MP4 to Google Classroom.

 I can see your progress for a class work grade if you do not hit submit until you are done. This project will probably take 3 class periods to complete but some of you might need to work on it on your own outside of class time in order to get it done by the due date.
Below is a playlist of Wick Editor 'How to' and 'Frequently Asked Questions'
Open the playlist in You Tube to search for the answer to your specific question.


Our "The Dot and the Line" experiments 

Animations by Perth Amboy High School students.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Introduction to Photopea on Chromebook: "What I Want You to Know About Me" Photo-Collage project

The video below explains the process you will follow, step by step, for completing this assignment. 

Do not watch the entire video at once. Watch a few minutes of it at a time as you complete the assignment. 

You will be given four class periods to do this project, but will need to use additional time on your own to complete it and submit it by the deadline.

This project is designed to help you develop Photoshop skills and graphic design skill. 

If you have Photoshop at home you may use it instead for this project. You may NOT use your phone or any other photo-collage app for this project.

 For this project, you will need to use the website Photopea. Log in using Google. Pick your school account. This website is free. You do not need any of the paid services in order to do any of my lessons.

 Throughout this lesson, you will be using various web based applications. In every case, these applications will allow you to do more things if you create a free account. 

You will also be using a site called Background Burner. It also works best if you log in with Google. You wont be using these websites until later but take a moment to create your accounts now, so that your do not forget.

Day 1 and 2

Now, go to the camera roll on your phone. Create a new album called 'Me'. Start adding photographs to the album that illustrate what you want your teachers and classmates to know about you. 

Try to pick photographs that you took or that others took of you. 

Avoid photographs that have any stickers added to them. Avoid photographs that have filters on them. When choosing these photos, think about: 

Things you care about

Ideas that are important to you

Things you are good at

Things that you are interested in

People in your life who inspire you

Places that are meaningful to you

People you love

Now, email these photos to yourself 5 at a time. Do not upload them directly to your Google Drive, especially if you have an iPhone. IPhone uses a photo format that cannot be read on a Chromebook. When you email a photo it automatically converts to a JPEG format, which can universally be read and used on any device. 

Download the images to your Chromebook and then upload them to this assignment in Google Classroom. DO NOT hit submit. Your teacher will be able to see the images. Add a private comment explaining how the images represent you.

Next, gather together your very favorite quotes. Copy and paste them all into a Google Doc. You may use song lyrics but please edit out any curse words. You may use Bible quotes (or quotes from any religious text), quotes from your favorite books, movies, TV show characters, comedians, video games or anything else that inspires you, as long as you delete any profanity. 

I picked lots of  quotes from famous artists and a quote from a science fiction writer.

Next, go to a website called Wordclouds.com and click on word list. A pop up window will appear. Click Paste/Type

A dialogue box will appear. Copy and paste all your quotes together into the dialogue box and click 'Apply'. A word cloud is a design that makes the most frequently repeated words larger and the less frequently repeated words smaller. It eliminates punctuation and words like 'to' 'and' and 'the' so that it can focus mainly on the words that give your text meaning. Because of the quotes you selected your word cloud will look different from every other word cloud in the class.

Click on 'Shape' and pick a simple square or rectangle for this project.

Choose a font that appeals to you. Play around with different fonts to find one you like.

Choose a color scheme. Play around with different color schemes to find one that appeals to you but remember that your word cloud is actually going to be the background for your final photo collage. If you wish to create an effective overall design, you will need to avoid bright and warm colors. Cool or neutral colors work best. I chose a gradient of cool colors.

Click 'Save' and 'Save as image'. You may use a PNG or JPEG. 

Upload both your Word Cloud image and your Google Doc with all your quotes into Google Classroom. Do not hit submit. Your teacher will be able to see your classwork from the first day in Google Classroom even if you do not hit submit.

Your finished word cloud image, your photographs that represent you, your private comment explaining how the images represent you and your Google Doc with your favorite quotes are due by the end of day 2. 

Day 3

Now you are going to start using Photopea. Remember to log in using your school Google account. Right click on the image below and open it in a new tab. It is a guide to all the tools we will be using in this project.  You will be referring to it often until you get used to Photopea. Photopea is very similar to Photoshop, so learning how to use it will also make you more comfortable using Photoshop.

You will now need to refer to the video posted at the beginning of this blog post as you go through the steps. The first thing you will need to do is download your word cloud from Google Classroom and open it in Photopea. Then you will need to re-size it. The default DPI is 72. Start out by changing it to 300. Switch from pixels to inches and change the image size so that the dimensions are much smaller but higher in resolution. 

By the time I was done with the project, I ended up with a file that was 8"x 8", with a DPI of 300. If you make it any smaller it will be blurry when you print it. If you make it much bigger Photopea will not allow you to publish it.

Click Select>Color Range and click on the white background. This will select just the white part and leave the words. Click 'Backspace' on your keyboard and the white will disappear.

Do not click on the magic wand instead because that will leave the white inside all of your letters. This will detract from your finished design.

Follow the instructions in the images below, step by step. If you wish the image to appear larger, right click and open it in a new tab.

Congratulations! You have completed day 3! Now it is time to export your image as a PNG. A PNG is a flat image file.
Upload your PNG to Google Classroom. DO NOT hit submit. Your teacher can see your work even if you do not submit it.

If you are not quite done, you may also wish to save your layered Photoshop file to keep working on tomorrow.  If you have a regular laptop or desktop computer you can just save the file to your downloads and upload it to Photopea tomorrow. If you are working on a Chromebook, this process it a bit more tricky! Below is a video that shows you step by step how to do it. This only works if you are logged in to Photopea and you will need to save the URL so that you can find it later. I suggest pasting it into this assignment in Google Classroom as a private comment :

Day 4

On day 4 you will be using the website Background Burner. Remember that Background Burner works best if you log in with Google, using your school account. You will need to refer to the video at the beginning of this post to see how to use Background Burner. Upload a recent photograph of yourself and delete the background. You may need to make adjustments in Background burner to create the best looking image possible.

When you are done using Background Burner, export your image as a PNG with a transparent background and then upload it to Google Classroom. DO NOT hit submit. 

Watch the rest of the video at the beginning of this post and add more images to your collage. You will find that your work goes faster and you enjoy the process more as you grow more comfortable using Photopea. If you have any questions please add a private comment to this assignment in Google Classroom. If you wish Mrs. Wintemberg to call you and walk you through something confusing, please also leave your phone number. I can also meet with you in Google chat and share my screen with you to show you how to do something.

Create a new Google Doc and use it to describe your finished project. The title of the Doc should be "What I want you to know about me". Describe the quotes you used, and why they are meaningful to you. Describe the photographs you selected and explain why you chose them. Explain any challenges or frustrations that you experienced completing this assignment. This document does not need to be long. 1 or 2 paragraphs is fine. 

Before hitting 'Submit' make sure this Google Doc is attached to the assignment. You must also upload a JPEG or PNG of your finished project. You must also add a private comment with the URL of your finished layered PSD project on the Photopea website.

The finished image must be 8"x8" with a DPI of 300. 

If you have Photoshop at home you may use it instead for this project. You may NOT use your phone or any other photo-collage app for this project.