Mark Finlayson
Leader Of Creative Arts

Using Photoshop in Visual Arts classes

I'm interested to hear how other people use Photoshop in Visual Arts classes. I am the Leader Of Creative Arts at my school (old terminology read Coordinator) and have been working at integrating Photoshop into our programs to meat mandatory ICT requirements, but Photoshop can be used in so many ways as part of an artistic process rather than an end in itself, so I'd love to hear the experience of others. If you check my resources you'll find a number of tutorials which hare used in both Art and Photography classes, but which have strong links to studying artists practices, so you can see where we've been going.

We have a 1 to 1 laptop rollout and have just moved over to Macbook Airs (Yrs 7 & 10) from Lenovo PC's (due to weight and battery life considerations) We are using CS5 with a site licence for the Master Collection on the Macs, some of the Lenovo's have CS3, so I'm constantly dealing with multiple versions (and I use CC myself to complicate matters)

What are others doing?

What is your experience?

What IT set up are you using?

Looking forward to seeing what you have to say.

5 / 5 • 3 Ratings

Comments (12)

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Jessica Gauci

Posted on 12/9/15 6:16:23 AM Permalink

I love using Photoshop in Visual Arts classes. From character and environment design to appropriation and manipulation, students love it!

Mark Finlayson

Posted on 12/7/15 5:19:48 AM Permalink

We have found that it can be incorporated into the creative process as a way of preparing and playing with source imagery for paintings and drawings,as well as by using it to manipulate imagery, then printing on Stonehenge paper and drawing/painting over the printed image and incorporating that into a multimedia work....we have also used it to manipulate and edit scanned drawn works, then reprint as above. The key is not to think of it always as an ends in itself,Mather than a tool to be used. It opens up many avenues in the creative process.

Louisa Li

Posted on 12/7/15 2:30:04 AM Permalink

or should I can say "how the Photoshop works in innovative art education?"

Louisa Li

Posted on 12/7/15 2:27:51 AM Permalink

question: How do you understand the Photoshop works in innovative teaching?

Mark Finlayson

Posted on 4/29/15 2:27:06 AM Permalink

I will be presenting at the Adobe Live Event at 6.00pm on August 13th with a focus on Adobe in the Visual Arts classroom. I will show examples of students work using some of the tasks I have shared via the exchange and have road tested with students different classes from Years 7-10.

Jody Campbell

Posted on 8/15/14 9:45:45 PM Permalink

PS's primary function is a photo editing tool but it has become so much more...I really enjoy seeing it used as a "painting" tool. A scanned sketch is placed in PS and than painted over using the brush tool and many....many....many layers. If you use a something like a Wacom it experience is very much like traditional media.

Mark Finlayson

Posted on 5/1/14 11:44:00 PM Permalink

Hi Colin, thanks for the link, it dovetails beautifully into what we are doing with our vis Arts classes...I have passed it onto the other staff

Colin Byers

Posted on 5/1/14 10:22:36 PM Permalink

Hi Mark you may want to check out the following site:

I teach Media Arts in Airdrie, Alberta and we have a traditional art class as well. The art teacher and I often collaborate to create works that require photographic references (for sketching) and for compositing (like the projects in the link above). We use Adobe CC Master collection and my experience is that the skills we learn in my class are directly transferable to art and vice versa.

Mark Finlayson

Posted on 7/8/14 7:05:13 AM Permalink

Meant to mention before that my fellow VisArts staff loved this one.

Mark Finlayson

Posted on 5/1/14 9:43:28 AM Permalink

BTW Gary, thanks for the tip about Twisted Whiskers...very cool

Mark Finlayson

Posted on 5/1/14 9:42:07 AM Permalink

Hi Gary, my students love it, and many don't want to move onto other Art activities! It has a bit of a steep learning curve, which in my opinion is typical of Adobe software..but once you are there, the possibilities are endless. I also use Liquify as a starter...and get students to attack the Mona Lisa, a bit like Salvador Dali meet Leonardo Da Vinci.

One thing i always remind students is that 'with great power comes great responsibility"...I attributed that quote to Superman's dad and got shot down...apparently its spiderman's dad who said that...but the bottom line is..don't use it to bully, tease, pay out anyone....never use staff photos (you'll get in lots of trouble), and only use images of people you know with their permission...celebrities are fair game...except Michael Jackson...he's done enough without our help1 (always gets a laugh)

Gary Hill

Posted on 4/27/14 1:05:45 PM Permalink

Hi Mark, as you said there are so many ways that Photoshop can be used. It depends a lot on the age group and year level. I first introduce Photoshop to middle school students by showing them how to use the Liquify filter to manipulate an image. This always proves to be a success as the students have a lot of fun. I get them to use the camera on their laptop to get a photo of themselves. They then have to save it and open it in Photoshop which gives them a basic intro to the software. Before using the filter I show students some of the 'Twisted Whiskers' images. If you are not familiar with these images you will be able to find them through Google.

We also teach a unit on metamorphosis using the work of M.C. Escher. Students need to chose two or more animals and then morph them together. Photoshop is perfect for this. The end result can then be drawn or even a guide for a ceramic sculpture.

I have also used Photoshop to make stencils. With senior students we would research new arts media and then use Photoshop to produce their own work by incorporating several images to form a digital artwork. I also teach photography so Photoshop is extremely valuable in this area.

I have some students prefer using Photoshop to conventional media where others shy away from it. I explain that it is just another medium that is available to them.

Hope this is some help. I am interested to know how you got on and ways that you are using it as well as the response from the students.