Fun with Photoshop

On Friday afternoon, Class 6 students strode into Room 707 and pulled out their laptops, eager to begin a new lesson in their Photoshop unit.

On the docket for the afternoon was to design a magazine cover – a project inspired by a teacher’s trip to a hair salon (Union Beauty), located in Brooklyn. While there, Head of Middle School Technology Trude Goodman hatched an idea for her Technology & Design students.

“I noticed these stunning magazine covers on the wall and I began to think about projects and skills I wanted to teach,” she explained. She discovered that the covers were created as a marketing campaign by the salon’s marketing coordinator, David Phelps, whom Ms. Goodman then interviewed to help bring her ideas to life.

To kick off the project, Ms. Goodman showed the class two short videos. The first explained how to set the size of an image (8 ½ x 11 inches with 300 dpi resolution for this particular project) and orientation in Adobe Photoshop. “You want to make sure you choose the Portrait option,” she said.

The second video demonstrated how to create a background using one of the three available options: Color (one solid color), Gradient (a blend of multiple hues of one color) and Pattern (polka dots, waves, etc.). “All of this is in Academic Manager so you can go back and watch as needed,” Ms. Goodman said.

She also emphasized that students should use their own photography on their covers. “I want it to be personal to you,” she said, noting that their final product should include a magazine title, at least two article titles with authors attributed; and a bold, central image. “If you want to use multiple photos, make sure they are complimentary.”

The students excitedly opened Photoshop and began to work. In previous classes, students used the platform to create collages to showcase their personalities and individuality, so they were fairly familiar with its tools.

“Remember,” Ms. Goodman said, “Your magazine doesn’t have to be current. It can take place in the future or past. Get creative!” She also underscored the importance of choosing a font style and color that is legible over images.

The students’ vast creativity and design skills were on full display as they astutely selected colors and titles. One student chose a baby blue background for her magazine titled “Voyage,” with the letters running down the left side of the page in all caps.

Another eye-catching magazine, titled “The Bookworms,” was enhanced by intriguing article titles ‘Author Advice’ and ‘Write Your Own Book!’ The sixth-grade designer plans to use photographs of her favorite book series to create a collage-like background.

A third, whose magazine was titled “Artistry,” used an image she took of her grandma’s painting as her background. Other work-in-progress covers included “Puparazzi,” “Glamour Goddess,” “Environmental Times,” and “The Art of Fishing.”

One student explained her vision of a magazine cover that focused on Arts and Literature. She plans to have her articles highlight how artists have taken a stand against anti-Asian racism, specifically, celebrities Daniel Dae Kim and Sandra Oh.

Ms. Goodman circled the room, aiding those who had questions, and suggested that students consider their magazine “issue” versus the desired subject. For example, although the creator of “Glamour Goddess” wants her magazine to be about 1950’s fashion, the specific “May issue” will feature Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn.

With endless possibilities at the touch of a button, imaginative designs began to fill each student’s screen. Once completed, the covers will be printed on glossy paper and hung throughout Chapin’s hallways.