Monthly Archives: August 2010

Source Material (Project 02)


First of all, you need to keep track of the origins of source materials, the same way you would create a bibliography for a research paper. In creating a project for this class, any imagery not in the Public Domain that you use will be legal via the policy/doctrine of Fair Use, or through the fact that you are creating this work for educational reasons.

Still, you should keep a list somewhere of your sources – nothing too systematic, but just enough to back yourself up if challenged. Get into the habit of staying aware of what you are using, especially if you are using copyrighted material.


If you use scanned photos for this project, just try to keep in mind that we want to think more about the photos as objects than as images. For example, a scanned photo of your great-grandfather will read more as an object, where a scan of a photo you took and printed out in the lab is likely to read as simply a digital image (unless the print has been distressed in some way before scanning.)

Print Sources

The best sources for this project will be images that you scan from books, magazines, or other printed matter. If there are particular subjects you are looking for, go to the library stacks and poke around – especially in the OVERSIZED shelves, where the big picture books tend to be.

Our library has some good, scan-nable books for clip art, which sometimes means simply old engravings that are in the Public Domain. Sometimes you have to scan these in the library, because they are non-circulating. Dover’s book series is especially good. For future reference, most any public library has many of the Dover books, as do most Borders and Barnes&Noble stores.

Most artists, designers and illustrators who work in collage keep massive amounts of clipped material around, and archive it. If you think you’re gonna work from such things in the future, start a collection! (Even better, SHARE IT!)

Digital Sources

These are sources for online scans from print material. BE CAREFUL about resolution here, much of this may not be usable:

Many universities now have publicly-accessible digital archives, including scanned books with illustrations. Check these out, or search for “Digital Library” or “Digital Collection” on Google.


Important Reminder

Hey people – when you’re shooting, make sure you set your camera to save at the MAXIMUM size – you need all the pixels you can get for this project.

You can always downsample to get a large digital file smaller, but you can’t upsample without sacrificing quality.

Here’s a longer exploration of these terms, if you haven’t encountered them before.

Tech Session 8/25: Compositing

You’ll need these to work with in class:

Methods to be covered today:

  • adding part of one image to another image
  • erasing part of an image

Tech to be covered today:

  • Opening a New Document
  • Opening an Existing document
  • Saving
  • Resolution and Size
  • Adjusting the image
  • Selection
  • Erasing stuff
  • Copy, paste
  • Transform, distort
  • History

Required Bookmarking/Scrapbooking

For this class, you should keep an online scrapbook of links related to our course material: technical tips, artists’ pages, thematic interests. You don’t have to use your real name for this, but you should post 2-3 links per week, with comments. Tag your links for this class with the tag 2010arts341 so we can see your stuff.

At semester’s end, you will be asked to submit you scrapbook to the instructor as part of your grade.

I recommend you use Tumblr or delicious. If you have something else you’ld rather use, please ask.

Compositing: Quick Cheats and Dirty Tricks

1. When shooting two pictures to combine, pay attention to linear perspective. If you shoot both pictures from the same angle you’ll have an easier time combining them.

2. Images with greater depth-of-field can be easier to composite – especially if the foreground elements go off the page. So Picture 01 below will be harder to achieve than Picture 02.

Picture 01 - Less depth-of-field

Picture 02 - more depth-of-field

3. You can even use the blur filter to exaggerate the depth-of-field.

closer and blurred for exaggerated depth of field

4. Don’t forget shadows. You can select and paste them from other pictures, even if the ground doesn’t match. Then use them to create selections you can use to darken the ground in your new background.

with shadow added

5. Play with the hue, saturation, lightness and darkness of your two images to get a match.

elephant darkened to match background

6. By adjusting the hue or saturation of both images, you can create the illusion that they were both shot in the same conditions.

Blurred, with hue adjustment for both images

7. Be creative about your imagined photo opportunity. For some scenarios, you can actually make the image look more convincing by decreasing the image quality.

"accidental" image


Convergence, or more specifically “Media Convergence” is a term frequently associated with scholar Henry Jenkins:

Jenkins describes his use of the term this way:

By convergence, I mean the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who would go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they wanted. (link)

You can read more about Jenkins’ take on this if you like:

You might also be curious to read some reviews and critiques of his approach, here or here. It’s worth noting that people were using the term before Jenkins coined it, and it is typically applied more to technologies, rather than to communication forms or social spaces. (i.e., The convergence of power supplies and networking into power-over-ethernet technology)

Key to Jenkins’ use of the term – and to our first project – is that convergence can refer not solely to the merging of disparate technologies into a single technology, but also to such things as :

  • one architectural space fulfilling a function formerly¬† served by two or more different types of spaces
  • one social group assuming a function previously served by multiple social groups
  • one company, service, or business providing a single offering that fills the needs of multiple business areas
  • integrated media outlets – information from multiple sources delivered as one
  • disparate occupations replaced by a single position
  • the merging of different, distinct social roles into a single new position

Project 01 / Compositing

image: Joseph Ford, for Nintendo's "If I Were President" campaign

Bring two or more images that you shoot yourself into Photoshop to create a single, new Composite Image. Your end result should be as seamless and believable as possible – at least in appearance, if not in content.

Your final product should be recognizable to our class as a variation or alteration of some existing feature of Illinois’ campus. This variation should in some way address the theme of Convergence, as discussed in class and on this page.

The final image should measure at least 9″x12″, at a resolution of 300 pixels-per-inch.


Monday 8/30: Photographs and Design Worksheets due for 2-3 of your ideas. Bring in worksheets printed and photographs on a portable disk drive (Ideally, you’ve already started working on a Photoshop document as well.)

Wednesday 9/01: Final version due printed for beginning of class