Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Monster Mash: A 'Soup' Recipe*

horse2dog anim
A Classroom Smash...
Summary :  Make a monster by combining images from a         
search.Teaches the basics of layering in an image editor.
Equipment: Image editor capable of layering, internet access
Time: 1 - 2 hours
Credits:  Charlotte (10 years)

Whenever I have led this session, I start by showing students this picture. 

Then I ask them the, seemingly innocent, question.   Where is the cat?  The ‘correct’ answer is ... in my friend's kitchen. The cat is a layer on top of the hedge background.

At its simplest, using layers is montage. You cut bits out of pictures, lay them on top of a background and, when you are satisfied, stick them down (flattening). Few of the graphic images on this blog would be possible without the ability to make layers.

With an image search all kinds of strange combinations are possible - hence the concept of the Monster Mash.  This creature originally mashed up Charlotte's two favourite animals - a dog and a horse. She knew part of her success was due to the colour similarities between the  creatures. She enjoyed the process so much she added a wowsp and a meercroc.

This activity could make a good start to a longer project. Since most students enjoy this activity and want to be able mash images together in this way, motivation carries them along on what could easily be quite a tricky process.

The technique is far simpler than moving-image manipulation and can be incorporated into movies using screenshots from the video. Several students suggested this (unprompted) as a way of completing The Gamer scenario (which calls for a dramatic or surprising ending). Captures before, during and after the making process, could be combined with transitions to create a simple animation. The gif I made above serves only to illustrate the changes that have taken place but saving images as they are altered would allow a the creation of a 'monster morph'.

It might also easily lead into serious study of representation in the media. The now much-watched Dove Evolution video rather dramatically highlights the way we can digitally mess with reality to create 'perfection'.

Photomontage has a long and interesting history too. The Anti-Nazi propaganda by John Heartfield might lead on from a session like this... or even to this:


*This post is from my forthcoming ebook ' The Digital Glue Cookbook'
‘Soups’ mainly require the remixing of ready-made assets from elsewhere - a film trailer might be an example of this