Our middle school visual arts teacher organizes a self-portrait project for his students based on the techniques of Chuck Close. In his classroom, he has the students use Apple Photo Booth to capture a photo of themselves and then modify it in the way they desire. They print the photo, add a grid using pen, and then begin to draw their self-portrait using pastel crayons on a larger, similarly-gridded paper.
I asked whether using Photo Booth’s built-in image filters stunted the students’ creativity in this project. On the contrary, Dale replied, it helped those students who needed a little push be more creative. Other students found plenty of creative space in the drawing portion of the assignment. The digital portion was just a starting point for the project. One student used Photoshop instead of Photo Booth to achieve a more custom effect.
New iMacs with built-in cameras made the digital portion of the project run more easily and faster for a number of students. They were more quickly able to get to the drawing portion than did students in past years. The teacher successfully used the digital tool to assist the creative process while retaining hand drawing as the central component.