Archive for the ‘Photoshop’ Category


How To: Photoshop Magic Lasso

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

I’m not much one for creating “how to” videos, at least not ones that I share publicly on a regular basis, but I felt as though I owed it to some of the people whose blogs I’m following to help out a bit with the monolithic application that is Photoshop. Don’t get too excited though, I am far from being a Photoshop expert, most of my skills having waned since being a heavy Photoshop Contest participant in the early 2000s. When I saw Melanie Barker complete the quick, but fun “Slide Guy” assignment (which coincidentally remind me of a lot of the Fark contests), I was impressed. When she said she did it because she was afraid of Photoshop, I wanted to share just a couple of simple tools that I use for cutting and pasting elements from one image to another. Below is the image I created for the ds106 Slide Guy Visual Assignment using a still from a rather famous movie and a shot of Tim Owens joyously sliding down a child’s playground slide.

Look at that slide guy having so much fun trying to crush poor Dr. Jones!

Again, please bear in mind that I am an absolute novice when it comes to Photoshop, and the tools I show may very well be the worst tools to use for cutting, copying, and pasting images as far as a professional graphic designers are concerned, but these tools are super easy to use, and don’t really require that much to figure out, just a bit of practice to master. If it benefits you at all, please enjoy my 6 minute walkthrough of using the magic lasso tool in Photoshop. You can view it below or click here to watch via YouTube.

An Album Cover

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Screen shot 2012-06-05 at 9.57.36 PM

First, go here: The title of the article is now the name of your band. Next, go here: Go to the bottom of the page. The last four to five words of the last quote are the title of your first album Lastly, go here: Select the 3rd image. It is the picture for your album cover. Manipulate the picture, resize it, add some other color, whatever. Do the same with the band name and album title, put them over top. However you wanna do it. Make it look cool.

Not usually one for the visual assignments, I saw Jeff McClucken’s effort to capture the essence of his new band, Swiss Emigration to Russia, and succinct breakdown of how to create the album cover and went through the brief process of creating a band and finding an image.

After being introduced to the Dactyloceras lucina – a species of moth of the Brahmaeidae family found in central and west Africa – I went a little further with the image search, consulting Flickr’s the Commons under the search tag for Interesting and found my base layer, which I then uploaded into, an online photo editor that let me add text and diffuse the picture to give it the grainy/painting effect.

Other than not creating a square image – as I believe is one of the requirements – I also think I could have done a better job capturing the essence of my randomly generated quotation, which I’ll share in full here as a fond greeting to my camp and bunkmates, but also an acknowledgment of Camp Macguffin’s initial honeymoon period (I mean, not in Bunk X, but for the other campers):

The only thing that lasts longer than a friend’s love is the stupidity that keeps us from knowing any better.

Randy K. Milholland

Remixing Some Sci-Fi Cult Classics

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

While I am already a bit behind and feeling some self-imposed pressure to keep working in DS106, I took on my first visual assignment. I am, after all, still trying to wrap up the school year with my own students … Continue reading

Dear Obstinate Learners

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Sean Astin and Kevin Bacon starred in a film back in the late 80s titled White Water Summer. What starts as a rather innocent summer camping trip meant to help shape a few young men’s outdoor survival skills while teaching important life lessons, turns into a battle of wills. Alan, a teen more focused on sports, computers, and isn’t entirely excited about “roughing it” begins to butt heads with Vic, the lone adult leader of this wilderness adventure. Alan, played by Sean Astin, tries to use his wits and crafts several “smarter” ways of getting things done in the great outdoors, one of the more powerful scenes being his creation of a fishing trap, catching a horde of fish for dinner. Vic, the “do it the right way” leader, admonishes Alan for using his brains rather than his brawn, and after berating him in front of the other campers, he forces Alan to gut all of the fish himself (something Alan doesn’t seem excited about), and leaves him on a small island in the middle of the lake, telling him to signal when he’s done. Alan of course, becomes disgusted, and not only doesn’t signal that he’s finished, but sleeps outside in the rain just to spite Vic’s harsh “life lesson”. The battle between the two only escalates from there, to the point where Vic severely injures himself while trying to teach Alan another lesson. It then turns to Alan to see the entire troop safely down the mountain, using a mix of both Vic’s survival skills and Alan’s ingenuity.

Other than being a rather rudimentary and rushed description of the scene, it’s an excellent metaphor for how I see myself as a learner. It’s not that I want to be obstinate, and purposefully look for ways to “circumvent” what it is that any of my teachers have asked me to do (I asked my 5th grade teacher if I could dress up as an actual flag-pole sitter for our class musical about the roaring 20s rather than dress in a white shirt with a bow tie). I’ve recognized over my 33 years on this planet that I have a fierce independent streak within me, and quite often it shows itself in the learning environment. I want to learn “my way”, reflect upon and build new knowledge in ways that make sense to me, whether they mesh with a given assignment or not, and I’ve butted heads a couple of times with instructors who don’t seem to “get” that what I’m doing is not only helping me learn, but doing so in a much more personal and meaningful way than the assignment they’ve doled out.

That’s not to say that I don’t get along well with my teachers and colleagues, but when your 7th grade science teacher yells out across the room as class is being dismissed, “that’s another nail in the coffin, Rimes” it makes you wonder whether or not you should dial back just how independent you are.

So as I write this letter to any other obstinate learners out there, I say strike a balance! Work with your teacher, but just don’t accept assignments and tasks given to you by your teacher as the simple tasks they may be, completing them without question. Find ways that you can make some of them your own; find ways to inject your own personality into them. Case in point; this letter was supposed to be written as a letter home from camp. Not an actual camp that Alan had to endure under Vic’s leadership, but a virtual one. I’m helping out as a “Camp Counselor” for ds106′s Camp Magic Macguffin for the next 9 weeks (go bunk 5!), and while I was supposed to write this letter to those “back home”, I choose to write it instead as a reflection for those that might struggle with either obstinate learners, or for those that might be obstinate learners themselves. Teachers, please find ways to let your students add their own personality into projects or regular assignments. You might not always get the best academic work out of them, but they’ll be much more engaged in what they’re doing, and the good will you’ll earn usually pays off later when you have to ask them to complete a particular assignment the ways it’s written (because eventually they have to conform at least a bit).

So to all you obstinate learners out there, develop good relationships with your teachers, whether you want to or not. Those relationships will help you in the future. And teachers of obstinate learners, try to find ways to mingle what you need your students to accomplish, with how they want to accomplish it.

Sincerely, Ben

P.S. Camp is great! I already have several baskets woven and more leather punched money pouches that I have pockets!