Tag Archive for photoshop

Self-portraits and Photo Booth

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.

MS students

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.

MS arts

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.

Photoshop CS3: Quick Selection Tool

I am so pleased with the “new” Quick Selection tool icon in Adobe Photoshop CS3. At least it’s new to me. Since the rise of Web 2.0, I have been content to adopt only every other version of Photoshop, having found the annual changes minor. I don’t mind if Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft release new versions annually in order to generate revenue for themselves — I just choose not to participate.

The Magic Want tool was pretty brilliant when it came out, but Quick Selection takes the tool a step further. In classic fashion, Adobe improved on the most notable weak spot of the tool — it’s performance when the subject and background are very similar.

I wanted to move my boys upward in this photo, so that you would no longer see the bottom edge of the painting. I wanted to cut them out and move them up the canvas.


In the past, some portions of this image would have required manual cutting. Note the low contrast between the edge of the shirt and the wall in the background.


I was amazed at the performance of Magic Select. It seemed to interpolate from the rest of the selection, and I no longer had to adjust the sensitivity of the wand in order to get the right area. In the rare times that it selected too much area, I just deselected and tried again, and it got the selection right the second time around. Feathering is also extremely effective, as the result shows no seams.

And the final result

Look how great the shirt area looks!

The head blends in perfectly against the green background, but note that Quick Selection actually retained some green edge around the head. If I were moving this shot to a solid color background, then it would have required more work. Then again, I would not have shot it again this painting!

The painting is from the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA, USA.