Friday, November 11, 2016

Using Pixlr to Combine Images in Creative Ways

I love using Pixlr to combine pictures to make silly photographs! My students do several projects using Pixlr editor that require removing the background on a photo and combining it with another. Removing backgrounds and combining images are pretty simple starter tasks for learning how to manipulate digital images. Here is a breakdown of how we have used Pixlr in class.

Me on a Wheaties Box (left), and Mr Gail-nimals (right)
Visual Puns (left), and Animal Mash-Ups Alliteration Poem (right)

Past projects have included putting ourselves on a Wheaties box, creating animal mash-ups and writing alliteration peoms to accompany them, and visual puns. Just for fun (we had a couple of extra days one term!), we put our assistant principal's head on a variety of animals and called them "Mr. Gail-nimals."

What's great about these projects is that it gets students comfortable with the idea of layers and how to manipulate them, as well as file type limitations (like how a .jpg cannot have a transparent background!) and sizing/re-sizing of images.

We use Pixlr as our image manipulation tool because it is a pretty good FREE resource that works on our Chromebook devices - it's not as user-friendly as fancy Photoshop software would be, but since we can't install software anyway, this suits us quite well. Students need to get used to using the "Free Transform" tool to re-size images and create a selection box with anchor points - they're used to just clicking on an object in Photoshop - but most of the functions are so very similar that the transition from one digital manipulation software/application to another is pretty easy.

This last quarter in 8th grade classes, we made a "Mount FaceMore" project where (as you can guess) we swapped out the faces on Mount Rushmore. After walking around the room and providing assistance to students, I realized that I kept answering the same questions over and over again. So, I decided to make a video all about the process. The first half is about about removing backgrounds using Pixlr, and the second half shows how to manipulate the layers and file types to save as:

This turned out to be pretty helpful in class, as students could refer back to the video (just skipping to the point that they needed help with), but also could get help if they worked from home, or were absent on the day that the project was first introduced or demonstrated. Win!

I really like teaching digital imaging, as it combines my love of art and computers in one happy place. The skills and concepts that students experience in this project are extremely helpful for future applications and across classes, when custom graphics or images can help demonstrate knowledge in other areas.

Do you have a favorite digital imaging project?

- Mrs. L.

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