Intro to Computing Art // OMG American Gods

For students to refine their skills using Adobe Illustrator’s Pen Tool, my students accepted the challenge of the OMG project, as in “Oh my gosh, this is so challenging and time consuming!” But the effort is well worth the outcome.

The theme was to recreate a god or goddess in modern society. Students researched Greek, Roman, and Aztec mythological figures to learn about their core characteristics, and brainstormed how to apply them in our current culture.

They photographed themselves, friends, or family as their models. Then they used that photo as a template to make a vector illustration in Adobe Illustrator.  Tiny solid shapes make up the entirety of the photo to make a realistic representation.  They spent about three weeks on the project. The process is like creating a digital painting! Below are some examples that were turned in. I also included the outline imagery of a couple illustrations to show the number of shapes that were created to make up the compositions. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results! These illustrations are sure to blow your mind!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.


Aditi by Madison Wigginton

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 3.49.17 PM

(Outline of shapes)


Hera by Carson Brantley


Venus by Caylee Hubbard


Apollo by Darren Cheairs


Hecate by Elizabeth Gammill

Grayson Brown_American Gods_Athena

Athena by Grayson Brown

American Gods

Loki by Rebecca Bailey


Apollo by Whitney White

Intermediate Computing for Design // Reinterpret a Cliché

The third project for Intermediate Computing for Design class was called Reinterpret a Cliché. Imagery seen too frequently is often not seen at all. This is the case with overused design symbols and everyday objects. Overuse renders them ineffective, and they lose their power to communicate. It is the function of the designer to revitalize these clichéd symbols and objects by interpreting them in individual and personal ways.

Students picked 6 of the following 12 examples of typically clichéd objects to be reinterpreted:

  1. Heart
  2. Key
  3. Apple
  4. Sun
  5. Stars
  6. Mouth
  7. Light Bulb
  8. Tree
  9. Cloud
  10. Eye
  11. Rose
  12. Nuts & Bolts

Then they chose a theme all 6 illustrations would have in common. Not only were they to work stylistically, but conceptually, as well. The final product had to be black & white. They scanned their sketchbook designs into Photoshop or Illustrator to continue rendering them to completion, either using the Pen Tool or Live Trace option.

Below are some designs that were turned in. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.


by Bethany Smith; insects


by Cara Moore; flowers


by Carly Bond; fairy-tales


by Connor Booth; under the sea


by Gerald Wicks; Harry Potter


by Imani Smith; dancers


by Ques Nevels; fighters


by Sarah Ferguson; fruits & veggies


by Stephen Latham; bit-syle Mario characters


by Taylor Knight; stereotypes


by Laura Leigh Hicks; facial hair

Intro to Computing // Creature Cartoon

In Intro to Computing, students learn the basics of Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. This Spring semester, I teach one section of the class. During the Fall it is primarily students who are trying out for the graphic design program in November, but during the Spring it is mostly fine art students who are taking the class as an elective.

This is the second semester I have implemented this project as an introduction to Adobe Illustrator. For Creature Cartoon, each student pulled words out of separate bags– one for a physical trait, one for an action, and one for an emotion. The end goal is to illustrate a unique creature that accompanies all these traits successfully in Illustrator.

After receiving their words, students brainstormed and submitted a series of thumbnails of their ideas, which were then narrowed down to their top three when I visited them in class one-on-one. Those three were turned into well-drawn comps that were drawn with Sharpies and Micron pens, and critiqued by their entire class. The best drawing was scanned into Illustrator, and vector shapes were placed on top. The focus of this Illustrator project was learning the Pen Tool and conducting organized layer management.

For even MORE fun, my students will turn their illustrations into animated GIFs when we start the Photoshop segment. Stay tuned to see those later this semester!

Below are some illustrations that were turned in. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.


by Carson Brantley: anxious, fly, antlers


by Elizabeth Gammill: crawl, giggly, long tail

Monster Illustration

by Grayson Brown: mellow, shell, exercise

Basic RGB

by Jacquelyn Mullins: bored, whiskers, jumping


by Shannon Shepherd: big feet, running, sad


by Whitney White: afraid, mane, asleep

UPDATE: See GIFs created later during the semester here.

Design I // Line Explosion

This semester I teach 2 sections of Design I. A new experience for me is teaching an overwhelming number of Landscape Architecture majors, along with Fine Art, Photo, Interior Design, and Floral Management. Also in semesters past I have taught more girls than boys, but this semester’s numbers even out more.

For their first project, we focused on line and the psychological meanings of straight and curvy line work. Students chose 1-3 adjectives to illustrate using line, creating a “line explosion.” The medium used to depict these lines included Sharpies and Micron pens of different thicknesses, and good craftsmanship was emphasized. They were to also implement the elements and principles of design in their work.

Elements: line, shape, mass/form/volume, space, value, color, texture, time/motion.
Principles: balance, rhythm, repetition, unity, variety, size/scale/proportion, emphasis/focal point.

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.


by Abby Jenkins: bold, loud


by Breanna Rochelle: wrinkled, awkward, gooey


by Dylan Turner: sharp, tight


by Kaleb Baker: gooey, wild, prickly


by Lexi Bennett: whimsical, confusing, flat


by Paige Davis: steady, suspicious, wrinkled


by Taylor Fikes: sharp, bold, tight


by Willie Griffin: sharp, awkward, suspicious

Intermediate Computing for Design // Oh What a Character

It is a brand new semester!

Intermediate Computing for Design is for students who submitted their portfolios for the graphic design review in November and were accepted into the program.  All of these students took my Intro to Computing class in the previous semesters. The last time I taught Intermediate was 2 years ago and I really enjoyed it, so I am excited to have the opportunity again.

Their first Intermediate project was called “Oh What a Character!” They found an image online of a celebrity, changed it to black and white, placed it in Illustrator, and worked on top of it like a template to create their own caricature of the person.  The requirement of the illustration?  It had to be completed using a maximum of 7 letters and 2 symbols in black only from one typeface on their computer.  Yes, a typeface!  They could rotate and resize typeface items as needed.

Below are some designs that were turned in. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.


Jackie Chan by Ques Nevels


Princess Diana by Cara Moore


Miley Cyrus by Carly Bond


Bette Midler (Hocus Pocus) by Connor Booth


Chance the Rapper by Darby Taylor


The Weekend by Gerald Wicks


Connor McGregor by Trent Furr

Design I // Suddeth Elementary School Installation

Fall 2016: For Design I’s final project, I wanted to do a collaborative vinyl installation similar to one my class did a couple years ago as blogged about HERE, but in a location with more permanency to be enjoyed by the public. Getting students outside of the classroom to put their skills to use opens them up to the realization that the things they are learning in this freshman level class has meaning and a place in the world.

I contacted Suddeth Elementary School in Starkville, MS to gauge their interest in the project. They happily accepted, and they considered windows throughout their campus that would be an inviting place for colorful vinyl stickers. This hallway with two sets of windows was chosen by their faculty committee for this project:

Next we had to determine a theme. Suddeth’s faculty committee decided to illustrate quotes based on kindness per set of windows: Plant Kindness, Grow Love and Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti.

My class was split so half were to work on one quote, and the other half focusing on the other quote. Each student brainstormed with a series of thumbnails, and I helped them narrow down to their best idea to be drawn in more detail on proportionally gridded spaces on typing paper in relation to the window dimensions. Then my students voted on the strongest sketches in the class, 3 designs for each quote for a total of 6 ideas.

I invited Principle Mosley to come to our class for a presentation of the top 6 sketches to choose the top theme for each quote. School counselor Mrs. Caradine joined her. After the presentations, they consulted their faculty committee and chose the final designs (labeled as WINNERs below).

Below are images of the top 6 sketches and presentations :

Plant Kindness, Grow Love


Anna Terry’s sketch


Anna Terry’s presentation


Caroline Fitzwater’s sketch


Caroline Fitzwater’s presentation


WINNER: Meghan Norman’s sketch


WINNER: Meghan Norman’s presentation

Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti


Savannah Martinez’s sketch


Savannah Martinez’s presentation


Megan Henry’s sketch


Megan Henry’s presentation


WINNER: Melissa Sones’ sketch


WINNER: Melissa Sones’ presentation

Meghan and Melissa were so excited to have their designs chosen!

I scanned in their designs and worked on various color combinations using Adobe Illustrator, only using yellow, blue, red, and green. I also added a fun elementary-feel typeface for the text in place of their sketched handwriting.


Meghan Norman’s design with color


Melissa Sones’ design with color

The vinyl was ordered and shipped, so it was time to cut out the stickers! The digital images were projected to scale onto our classroom wall. Students traced off the shapes onto the corresponding colors of vinyl with Sharpies, and handed them off to another group  who cut out the shapes with an X-acto knife and peeled away the unnecessary background vinyl. Then large-surface masking tape was applied on top of the vinyl sticker and labeled to be fully prepped to operate as a sticker for installation day.

Finally it was installation day! Students carpooled over to the school that rainy morning and we got to work.


Organizing (and sometimes improvising) stickers


Photo by Megan Bean, MSU Public Affairs Photographer


Photo by Megan Bean, MSU Public Affairs Photographer


Working together to separate, organize, and install stickers


Photo by Megan Bean, MSU Public Affairs Photographer


Photo by Megan Bean, MSU Public Affairs Photographer


The finished product!


The finished product!


The whole crew: (Top left–right) Mary Katherine Swindoll, me, Tess Frazier, Savannah Martinez, Meghan Norman, Karleigh Harfst, Anna Terry, Hayden Hunt, Dee Triplett & Eric Lindsey. (Bottom left–right) Ashtyn Carpenter, Melissa Sones, Megan Henry, Caroline Fitzwater, Haley Lawrence & Elise Sears.

The project was featured on Mississippi State University’s “State Spotlight” blog on December 8th and MSU’s College of Architecture, Art + Design blog on December 7th.

We greatly appreciate the opportunity of Suddeth Elementary School opening up their hallway for us to use as canvases, and hope the children and faculty enjoy these art installations for many years to come!


Intro to Computing // Pen & Pixel

Fall 2016: My students’ next Photoshop project was entitled “Pen & Pixel,” in which they had to construct a self portrait. It was a requirement to scan in textures, drawings, paintings, or items they could edit to become a part of the image. Many students demonstrated impressive concepts about themselves. Below are some examples that were turned in. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.


by Carly Bond


by April Porter


by Bethany Smith


by Gerald Wicks


by Laura Leigh Hicks


by Mary Emily Moore


by Milly Rone


by Olivia Ketchum


by Parker Webb


by Allie Hanson


by Katherine Jenkins


by Josie Goodman


by Meredith Morris


by Morgan Helton

Design I // Value

Fall 2016: For Design I’s fifth project, we focused on value. Students chose a photograph, magazine ad, or calendar photo, and were challenged to extract color from their chosen area, leaving only value. They painted 20–25% of the photo with white, black, and grey acrylic paint, following the original values so closely that their painted shape fit seamlessly on top of its unpainted photograph. This challenge was much like a “paint-by-number” activity. If a well-done solution is photographed or Xeroxed in black and white, it should be difficult to distinguish the area painted in greys from the original.

Below are some of the pieces that were submitted. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.


by Anna Terry


by Ashtyn Carpenter


by Haley Lawrence


by Karleigh Harfst


by Megan Henry


by Meghan Norman

Intro to Computing // Creature Cartoon GIF

Fall 2016: As an added continuation of their first Creature Cartoon project done in Adobe Illustrator, I challenged my students to turn it into a GIF after we started learning Photoshop. There are many ways to make a GIF, but in my research I found it was best to form their creature in Illustrator, and pull the file into Photoshop to put it into action.

Since I had not made a GIF before, I had my own homework in figuring this out so I could teach my students. I read and watched many demos until I found a system that seemed to work well. I even recorded and posted my own Part I and Part II tutorial YouTube videos demonstrating the steps on my laptop screen so students could reference them outside of class to produce their own GIF.

Students had to implement at least 3 actions in their GIF to receive full credit– for example eyes blinking, arms moving, and feet tapping. The number of frames they incorporated depended on their actions and how many they personally needed to see the actions to smooth completion.

It was so fun seeing these little guys and gals come to life!

Below are some GIFs that were turned in. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results.

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.

by Kaitlyn Upton: angry, fly, whiskers ^

by Josie Goodman: squishy cheeks, joyful, upside down ^

by Mary Emily Moore: big eyes, broken-hearted, eat ^

by Ques Nevels: grumpy, webbed feet, skate ^

by Meredith Morris: tentacles, mellow, float ^

by Ashley Rude: curious, climb, short legs ^

by April Porter: webbed feet, anxious, float ^

by Gerald Wicks: excited, climbing, long tail ^

by Ryan Guillory: horns, exercise, lazy ^

by Brittany Riland: mad, long arms, swing ^

by Laura Leigh Hicks: squishy cheeks, afraid, smell flower ^

by Olivia Ketchum: happy, sharp teeth, read ^

by Morgan Helton:  beak, sleepy, read ^


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