Class Reflections

With class over, its time to reflect upon what I have learned and experienced this semester.

I went into the class with a pretty basic understand of animation and digital media, but I really feel that I have expanded that knowledge. I've experienced many different ways of animating and through projects, trial and error, I have come to a understanding of how animating should be done.

With the fast advancing digital world, experience with computer technology in a teach situation is something I think I will be using in the future. I grew up and am still apart of this digital generation, but with rapid advances, I could see the technology soon becoming some past me. It is important that I understand how I can use what's available to make the classroom interesting and educational.

The Digital Arts Workshop was an experience that I will be looking back on for a long time. It was first experience within a mentor position and also the first time I was using computer animation techniques and application like Photoshop with students. I hope to build off this experience and share it with other educators. I've started to look into applying for a lecture/talk at a future NAEA National Conference. Although the Baltimore conference is too soon for this, Seattle seems to be promising. 

With all I've learned, I think I would feel comfortable being put into a teaching position where my students were using computer and digital technology. 

Final Project - Digital Animation

For my final project I chose to work with some pretty basic animation. I started with a very elaborate idea, but as finals week demanded more, I found less and less time to be pursuing the ambitious proposal. I tried to keep the same image concept, which I feel I did, but I couldn't make the project what I wanted in such a short time. The images are inspired by the lyrics of a musical artist, Dan Deacon. I am disappointed that I messed up the frame timed and feel short of the required time. I still feel this project is a good example of how simple animation can be, but it also allowed me to face the difficulties of the animating process. I left the animation without a introduction or ending since I would not consider it finished. There is still more inspiration in Deacon's music for me to interpret and with more time I can put more care into the video.

Digital Arts Workshop - Final

The Digital Arts Workshop ended pretty successfully. For the final day we were able to meet with the students and their parents in the Tweed activity gallery on campus. Snacks were had along with conversation and some quick and short animation projects, which allowed the parents to participate and get a hands-on sense of what their kids were doing. After a short time, everyone gathered in the Lecture gallery to view the finished project.


The final products were well received and the project was complete.

The overall workshop was a very good experience. It was good to put us in a position that involved mentoring, while safely in a controlled environment. The experience is something I could not find somewhere else. With experiences like this, I feel more and more prepared for what lies ahead within my future education profession. The students were very proud of their work and seeing it on a large screen with their parents must have been exciting. It was great to see such interesting pieces come from such small groups of students and mentors.

The basic idea behind the project is one that I see as very valuable. While introducing younger students to a fresh form of creative art making, we (the mentors and instructor) learn something about teaching. We can use this workshop as a example to better our teaching methods in the future and more effectively introduce students to media arts. 

Lesson Plan (With Lab)

Here is a lesson plan I created based of a project done earlier this semester (Project 1 Digital Art Collage). This lesson plan assumes that the class will have a complete computer lab at their disposal. The project incorporates digital collage with self-portrait design and focuses on the topics of foreground and background.

Brent Erickson

Art 3814 

Collage Self Portrait/Silhouette 

Grade Level: 8th Grade

Time Needed: 4 45 minute class session

Focus: This lesson will work as an exercise allowing students to further understand the concept of space within an artwork.


a. - Analyze how the principles of media arts such

       as repetition, unity and contrast are used in the

       creation, presentation or response to media artworks.

b. - Demonstrate use of a variety of tools,

                   materials and techniques in media arts based on the characteristics of the                               hardware and software.

c.        Students will demonstrate and understanding of foreground and background

        through use of positive and negative space.

Motivational Resources: Slideshow on collage works (examples can include Robert Rauschenberg, Henri Matisse, Max Ernst, etc...), any text with examples of collage art works, pervious class work on similar or same subject, a digital folder of stock photography and images

Art Materials: Computer lab, Desktop Computer (Mac), Photoshop CS3 (or higher), sketchbook paper, pencil, stock images

Introduction to Lesson

Collage involves the use pre-existing materials, which are incorporated into a two-dimensional surface (Kachur). Through the use of mixed media, the artist is able to create a much more distorted world than possible with other media. This can be beneficial to an artist attempting to achieve an imprecise image in their work. With this, collage work seems most appropriate as being related to the 20th century's fast and sometimes confusing pace (Kachur). Pablo Picasso did the first purposeful use of collage in fine art in 1912 (Kachur). As the technique is somewhat young in the fine art world, it has also branched off into the digital realm.

Intentionally built in the 1940's as war machines (Binkley), computers have become much more useful to the individual and the artist. The computer itself has become an excepted tool within the art community today, but still draws in some critical response. Art can be created seamlessly in a manner that challenges our knowledge of "truth" within a work (Binkley). This can be used to an artist's advantage, creating works that were once confined to his/her imagination due to physical limitations. Since the computer is a machine, the current state of things within our technological society becomes an appropriate subject within all forms of digital art.

Instructional Procedure

Class 1: Begin class with hand out for assignment explaining details and requirements of project (this will consist of a explanation of foreground, background, negative and positive space, self portrait and silhouette). Follow with a spoken explanation having students follow along with the handout. A slideshow with examples of collage art should also be display during the explanation as a source of reference and inspiration for the students. Continue the rest of class with time for sketching and idea formation. Homework will consist of a readied idea for next class.

Class 2: Class will meet and go directly to the computer lab for a short demo on basic Photoshop tools that will be useful for the assignment. After the demo, show students where the stock images can be found on the computer desktop. Allow students to begin working. Students should start creating a space for their portrait to be in, followed by a self-portrait within said space. Answer any questions. Work time will be provided for the next class session.

Class 3: Continue day as workday. Answer any questions. Inform students that next class will be a critique of their works along with a project turn in.

Class 4: Class will meet in computer lab for critique. Students will print their works on lab printer (if no printer, display works on computer screen) and individual critiques will begin. Critiques will consist of constructive feedback (encourage students to point out what works within the image and things that could be improved). The students will then turn in their work at the end of class. The instructor, based of a pre-established rubric, will grade projects. Rubric criteria will consist of timely completion, demonstration of understanding of topics covered (foreground, background, negative and positive space, self-portrait), and participation in class critique. Grades will be given back to students along with works at next class


Student work will be evaluated both in class during a critique by classmates and afterwards by the instructor, based off of a rubric. Grades will be given in an A through F fashion and returned to students after project completion.

DBAE Checklist

Art Production - Students will create self-portraits based off of digital collage

Aesthetics - Students will design a space and self-portrait that echo each other, creating            harmony throughout the work

Art History - Students will learn about collage and digital collage art foundations as well            as artist within each field

Art Criticism - Students will participate in a in-class critique



Binkley, Timothy. "Computer Art." Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. Ed. Michael Kelly.            Oxford Art Online. 5 Dec. 2009            <>.

Kachur, Lewis. "Collage." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. 5 Dec. 2009            <>.

Lesson Plan (No Lab)

Here is a lesson plan based around a classroom with no available computer lab, but rather only one or two computers. The plan is based around a class-wide project where students create a stop motion/claymation music video to a chosen song.

Brent Erickson

Art 3814

Class Claymation Music Video


Grade Level: Grade 5 

Time Needed: 6 30 minute class periods

Focus: The project will focus on the student's ability to artistically interpret a given verse from a musical piece in a small group and as a whole class.


a. - Describe how photo-, video-, and sound-editing are used to create           

      original products for expressive intent.

b. - Create original works of media art to express specific artistic ideas.

c.     Prove that media arts can be used on both a small scale (group) and large scale (class) to accomplish an assigned task with continuity.

Motivational Resources: Claymation videos found on the Internet used as examples


Art Materials: Magic Model Clay, Digital Camera, Tripod, Materials for background (cardboard, construction paper, markers, scissors, pencil, colored pencils, masking tape), miscellaneous materials for character design (plastic eyes, fabric)

Introduction to Lesson

Animation is a form of media art in which visual motion is created by using a series of frames. It is produced frame by frame, which allows the artist to animate inanimate objects, making them appear to move on their own ("Animation").  Claymation introduces clay as the manipulated material for the animation process. Will Vinton was the first person to coin and then trademark the term claymation in 1976 (Vinton). Vinton introduced animation that was 3D to a audience that was only used to 2D animation, thus opening the opportunity for more advancements in animation. From this new form of 3D animation came the 3D CG animation that is largely present in our current animation processes (Vinton).

Instructional Procedure

Class 1: Introduce class to lesson with quick over view of lesson accompanied by a handout further explaining the details and requirements of the project. Inform students through a presentation about the method of stop motion and that they will be choosing a song together as a class to make a claymation music video. The construction will occur in small groups, each being assigned a verse or segment of the song chosen. Songs should be split into at least 5 parts to create a sense of diversity, as should the class be split into an equal amount of small groups. The song will be selected by popular vote, based on 3-5 songs initially chosen by the instructor. After the song and groups are selected, the instructor will provide material such as YouTube videos for references and inspiration. The class will end with homework consisting of material gathering for the next meeting.

Class 2: Class will meet and character design will begin. The small groups will be and be assigned their verses from the song, which will then initiate brainstorming character and scenery design. Students will be asked to collaborate on paper and begin formulating ideas for their designs, which will then begin to be constructed during class. Clean up will be expected within the last 5 to 10 minutes of class.

Class 3: Class will meet and pick up where it left off. Character design and scenery set up with continue. A space in the room for filming will be determined and set up for any groups need reference for sizing. Any groups finishing design are encouraged to start filming. Assist any groups that seem behind. The goal for the day is for all design to be completed, ready for filming next class. Clean up within 10 minutes of class ending.

Class 4: Start class with filming of the animation. Encourage groups waiting to contribute any feedback about the current filming (although enforce the fact that each group has their own interpretation). Continue filming until end of class.

Class 5: Same as Class 4. Once filming is done, Instructor will do any editing outside of class.

Class 6: Class meets for a presentation of the final product. After viewing, each student will be given an evaluation based off a rubric, which entails his/her grade for the project. At a later time the video will be given to each student in a DVD disk format.


Evaluation will be based off of a rubric, constructed before the project is introduced. The criteria the rubric will cover will group participation, demonstration of understanding of assigned verse through animation, and completion in a timely manner. A grade will then be given after each area of the rubric is assessed.

DBAE Checklist

Art production - Students will create a claymation, stop motion animation

Aesthetics - Students will design characters and scenery based off of song interpretation

Art History - Students will explore animation and learn about its founding

Art Criticism - Students will be encourage to provide suggestions and praise for their            own and their classmates works during production



"Animation." Oxford Art Online. Web. 4 Dec. 2009.               <>.

Vinton, Will. "Will Vinton's History (and the History of Claymation and Computer             Animation)." Will Vinton. 2005. Web. 04 Dec. 2009. <>.

Digital Arts Workshop - Day 5

So today involved the actual construction of our group's animation in iMovie. Both of our students had experience within the program before the workshop, so it went pretty smoothly. I helped one student with the ordering of the scenes while the other mentors polished up the clips and helped the other student in Garage Band. Like I said, everything went smoothly, which I would contribute to multiple things. The students experience was nice and our group had done a good amount of work outside the workshop to make sure everything was ready to be imported into iMovie. The program itself was also quite easy to use. I have used it before, but not in such a extensive manner and I was surprised at how easy everything became once we started.

I would still be weary of using this within a classroom for this age group though, as even though things went smoothly, they also take time. We were not able to completely finish the animation with the students in our group, which left a small amount of work to be completed without them. Tis was okay with me though, because next time we meet with the students, they will get to see the completed project with their parents. I think this way it will be more rewarding and exciting for them.

I have the finished video here as well. Hopefully I can also figure out how to upload a isolated track that one of the students created in Garage Band for the animation (which I will post either here or in another post)

Just as a recap, we chose to use the story of Icarus, which tells of him and his father escaping from a prison through the use of wings his father built with wax and feathers. Daedalus (his father) warns Icarus of the dangers of flying too low to the ocean or too high to the sun. Icarus ignores these warnings and eventually flies too high, where the sun melts the wax, thus destroying his wings. Icarus meets his end as he falls to the ocean which ends the story.

We chose to follow the story pretty much as told, expect we used a different theme, thus changing some minor details. The theme focuses on that similar to Tim Burton's artistic style (inspired mostly from the movie 9).

Digital Arts Workshop - Day 4

Today was completely focused on stop motion animation We set up a green screen on a table in the room and shot our movie. We focused on doing the motions from the beginning of the story to the end (this order is not necessary though, as in editing you can move and image around). The students had a little difficultly understanding the relation of the puppets to a fixed position, but we obtained some good shots.


The screen did not work as a more professionally one would have, but it worked well enough. Through some photoshop work after the class had met, we were able to isolate the figures against a void background. 


The day ended with a big gain in work completed for the final product. There isn't much to reflect back on, although stop motion may not be the best choice for students around this age group. Students can get quite excited when undertaking a project like this, especially when the actual figures are in their hands and they are pretending to act out the scenes. This, however, adds maybe too much excitement, which makes the stillness required for stop motion difficult to achieve. 

Digital Arts Workshop - Day 3

So today we had the kids work on the scenes for the Icarus story. We planned to do stop motion animation with our "puppets" over a green screen and later extract the images and animate them over the scenes. 


It was really interesting to see what the students created out of bits and pieces of stock photos of scrap metal (which was chosen to stay within the theme we decided on earlier). We encouraged the students to find interesting parts in each photo and try and think of how it could be used to build our scenes.


It was great that the students even thought of continuity (as seen with the window on the outside and inside of the tower). This showed us that the students were really into the project and the way we chose to approach it.

The students finished most of the scenes today, we just have to do a small amount of work to have the unfinished work ready for next time.

Storyboard animation lesson plan

Storyboarding has become a very important, if not key, part of any sort of visual experience. Anything that has a story can include a storyboard. The concept is simple. In pre-production, the story in its entirety is visualized through panels of stills from the story. This technique allows the creator to view the scene, but in a less costly way. This also opens up the chance to change anything before production starts, making any project more efficient. Disney is credited with first "coining" the storyboard idea in the 1930's (There is also debate that it occurred in the 1920's with the production of Steam Boat Willy). With this explanation, I have a video that can provide visual images to what I'm explaining for a better understanding. 


So now that the idea of a storyboard is understood, we can start to create a lesson plan to incorporate the storyboarding technique into an animation lesson. A general idea for a story is needed first, which can be one you create, one you create with your students, or a pre-existing story you'd like to use. After the story is chosen, break the plot of the story down, so you will can get a better picture of each scene. From here you will need

  • 3x5 notecards (preferably blank)
  • any writing utensil (pencils/pens/colored pencils or markers if you wish to add color)
  • a surface to tack or tape the storyboard cards to
From here, break the story up into sections, and then into scenes. The idea is to break the idea down to close to, but not quite, a frame by frame series of images. Once sections/scenes are assigned, all that remains is illustrating. With all the images complete, tack/tape the cards to the wall to create a linear model of the story. Here is where contemplation can be allowed to make any changes deemed worthy for the story.

The lesson is simple and provides a new insight towards the way one looks at visual narratives. It can be ideal for almost any age group, only image rendering skills are required for production. It is also a quick introduction to a larger production or project, offering a clearer image of what the students aim to create.

Storyboard animation and Animatic

Here is the video from the Storyboard presentation (finally). We had the class create the story board about a fictional character named Guy. We provided the character models and setting/plot and assigned sections of the story to the class. Although the story wasn't their own, they were given the opportunity to create the visual portion of the story. This project could be easily done with kids since it requires more imagination and creative thinking processes rather than technological equipment. I'll include a lesson plan in the next post.