Foodscapes with Mixed Media- by Anjum Razaq

At first glance the pictures look like beautifully created landscapes including verdant grass, luscious waterfalls and ominous looking mountains. However closer examination will show you that these are not paintings at all but wonderfully arranged food items carefully and precisely photographed. These pictures are the work of the London based artist Carl Warner who specialises in food landscapes.

Using Carl as an example the children in year 9 made food art or ‘foodscapes’ if you will, using the techniques practiced by Carl Warner. The children had to think carefully about their composition and lighting. Once the food was photographed (thanks Charli) the children then went about manipulating and editing the images in Photoshop to create some wonderful landscapes. Here are a few examples of the children work. I’m sure Carl would be very impressed, I am! This sequence of lesson plans could easily be adjusted for younger year groups and once children have a basic knowledge of Photoshop there is nothing here that is overly complex, but it does help to develop knowledge of composition.

Fantasy Landscapes Using Photoshop- by Anjum Razaq

Creating fantasy artwork requires a lot of imagination as well as expertise in softwares which are used to create such amazing pictures. Anything is possible; whether it’s a demons lair, a floating castle in the sky or even an old witch in the woods. However to know how to use the software well enough in order to achieve these images is daunting and very little software is as daunting as Adobe Photoshop. Having been the industry standard for over 25 years being an expert in Photoshop takes a lot of practice and time, but I wanted to be able to use it to a good standard to teach it to my pupils. I used a variety of video tutorials and written guides I found online and practiced for a few hours over the summer until I felt I was confident enough to teach the children, this with no prior experience with the software at all.

As teachers we want our children to be creative and imaginative individuals. We use a variety of ways to encourage our pupil’s artistic side including images, books and music. However often the children will think of common ideas they have read in books, seen in films or even played on computer games. In those media the characters may be well rounded and have personality but often the children will insert a character they know and assume you will know their back-story and history through a process of osmosis. I’m sure we have all been there, marking a writing assessment when a famous character pops up- be it James Bond, Harry Potter or Master Chief! The name drop aside many of the characters in the children’s stories are one dimensional ciphers with very little personality or characterisation.

I thought that if the children could create an image of their story world using high end tools it would encourage them to make a more consistent, deeper and richer world. In year 7 none of the children had used Photoshop at all. I introduced the children to the basics of Photoshop using the Influence Map lesson plans I created for year 8. The children were then asked to find a wide variety of images they wanted to use for their fantasy landscape and use the tools taught to them to create a fantasy setting. I taught some of the more complex tools including layer masks, opacity, colours, curves and filters. This is the result after 6 sessions with Photoshop and I think you’ll agree that the work produced is very impressive.

Influence Maps- by Anjum Razaq

I am a huge fan of Deviantart and came across the meme called the Influence Map, where you fill in various sized squares on a gridded template with various things that influence you as a person. You can literally put anything in these squares-- photos of locations or people, artist's work, computer games, TV shows, music, movies and books. You name it, you can put it in there. Fill the grid by placing more prominent influences as larger images. These are all personal and not all the choices are obvious, but I did limit the children to just one computer game and one cartoon otherwise you don’t get a nice mix of influences.. It is a fun activity and great as an introduction to Photoshop. I used this to teach myself some of the Photoshop basic and once confident I did it as a lesson with the children. For those people who do not have Photoshop there is a freeware available that does the same job called gimp, download and enjoy!

Here are a few examples of the work I and the children did: