Category Archives: Learning Summary

The Dragon

Three months ago, when I looked at “Realistifying” a student’s drawing, I had some high expectations for myself. As a fairly tech-savvy person, I thought I would be able to do 4 or 5 drawings and that it would look like a movie poster… Well, was I wrong!

Although the overall Dragon did not turn out movie quality, I have gained an enormous respect for people who use Photoshop seamlessly. I attempted to make several videos of myself working on the Dragon. However, after a few hours and only a tiny portion of progress, I didn’t think they would be delightful to watch. Not only was I having to pause and watch a 30-40 minute Youtube video, but I was also having to slow it down and re-watch small portions several times to try and mimic their movement or see what tool they had selected.

A massive takeaway from attempting this is how frustrating it can be for a student to put hours into something to only come up with what many would mark as “approaching.” Every day in the classroom, I see students put in extra effort, seek additional support, and are still frustrated at the outcome. As a professional development tactic, I think this is the only way to put yourself in the shoes of a student. To try, struggle, try again, and in the end, know that other people have better outcomes and make it look way easier!

Back to my Dragon. I was very fortunate that I had a young man in grade 7 lend me the picture of his Dragon and allow me to post it all over my blog. There is a piece of me that feels like I have failed him because I thought it would be movie quality, and I believe that is what he expected.

This is the original drawing I had to work from

As I was going through, I had ideas on how to texture things based on what I think a dragon would look like. I will admit that my ability did get in the way of my overall vision; I was still able to learn along the way. Below is an early picture of the progress I was making.

Scales added

At this point, I had been working on this Dragon for a long while. I was several hours of Youtube videos in. I was able to make the general shape. I had a scale texture I used and masked into the shape. Also, with several frustrating attempts, I changed the colour! These were all small successes for me!

Although my overall goal was to “Realistify” this Dragon, I was very curious about many parts of what photoshop had to offer. Learning the layers in themselves was a challenge. The basic premise of if it is on top of the list, it is the top thing. However, when dealing even with this Dragon, there were hundreds of layers to work with. I found myself following Youtube tutorials and working through different projects to learn the tools, which can be found in my Give the People What They Want blog post. There I was able to create some different ones of which I use as my computer background for the time being. I would suggest that new Photoshop users follow tutorials to learn some of the complex tools.

Desktop Background

As I felt more comfortable with these tools, I would go back to work on the Dragon and found myself getting more frustrated because I just felt success in many of the tutorials I followed along with. Patients were a definite need when learning Photoshop. I knew just because I did it 5 minutes ago does not mean I could replicate it again. The Dragon did not turn out exactly how I envisioned when I began this journey three months ago, but here is the grand reveal!

The final product

Things I wish I could have done better would have been the shading on the scales. I messed around with the upper neck for hours trying to blend. I could not figure it out. The spikes are something that looks good but took many, many, many hours. Each one was pasted, sized, and shaded to give an effect. The back spikes are the things I am most excited about. I wish they could have been attached to a cooler-looking Dragon, which was my fault. You will also be able to tell I had to omit some things from the original design because I did not know how to incorporate it with a texture. Looking back, I may have done feathers.

As you can guess, I am no pro when it comes to photoshop. I tried to add a little flair with the castle and moonlighting. Perhaps it was a flop, but I did have fun in the process, although I was testing my patients at times. I can say in the end. I learned more than just Photoshop through my learning project!

I appreciate if you took the time to read my blog throughout this process. Have a great holiday and hopefully you’ll catch me in the next class!

Durston McKenna

EC&I 831 Learning Summary

Hello Everyone,

I had a great time in this class! It has been around eight years since I was able to take Alec’s class, and I enjoyed it as much this time as I have in the past. As someone who enjoys technology and utilizing it as an aid in the classroom to enhance learning, I find it rewarding to be around like-minded people. It gives me a chance to learn and grow in my own understanding and implementation. I was able to take many things away from this class.

To name a few here. Blooket is one that I have been using in my class since week one. The students love it, and I have been able to incorporate it as both a fun, competitive activity and an assessment in my classroom when teaching a new concept. TikTok is another app that was fun to hear from others in the class, like Curtis Norman (Twitter/blog), on how they are implementing it in their class for learning instead of a distraction. There is an ever-growing number of resources, so this list could go on forever, but for my last one, Desmos is another tool that has been added to my kit. Although previously thought of as only a graphing calculator, you can use it for check-ins and so much more in your classroom.

A bonus thing I have to mention is Virtual Vacation. Every second day I put on a new monument or city. The kids instantly come in and start speculating where it is, based on what they are seeing. After 10 minutes I take guesses, and then we talk about the place and some other things that the city would have to offer. I find it a great way to start the day and expand the horizon for students if traveling is ever something they want to do.

As you watch the video, I was fortunate enough to partner with Jocelyn Wigmore on her last class in her Master’s journey. As colleagues, teammates, and friends, I enjoyed working with Jocelyn on this as we could bounce ideas off each other and were able to do several takes because one of us laughed or stumbled through our part. You will see in the video we featured other colleagues such as Chris Brennan, Gillian Crocker, and others.

I hope you enjoy the video, and if you ever have the chance to take an Alec Couros class, I highly recommend you seize the opportunity!

Photoshop Transfers to Illustrator

For this week I wanted to do something a little different which is showing how the skills in Photoshop can transfer over to Illustrator. One of the big differences from Photoshop to Illustrator is the ability to create vectors. Vectors are paths that can be made into any size and will not pixelate. When a company is creating a logo they are generally vectors. This way they could put it on a semi-trailer or business card with no distortion.

This week you will see me take an image, recreate it on illustrator, and utilize my photoshop skills in order to show a preview before then creating it. I apologize in advance for the longer video. As I have said in previous posts I am no wizard so it does take a little longer.

Creation process
Preview picture of what they’d like
Re-created vectors on Illustrator
Used Photoshop to show a rendering of what it will look like
Engraving Process

Using Photoshop in order to be able to create a realistic looking preview makes it easier for the client to approve the design. When sending the vector on the white and black it can make it challenging to imagine what it will look like. Although these skills do seem small as you can see they do take a beginner a while to navigate.

When screen recording on my computer I use Streamlab OBS. Streamlabs was popular for streamers. It was a way they could show their game play while showing their webcam and sharing their voice. It has many capabilities, and would definatly be something I would use if I were to teach virtually again. Also, there is several tutorials on Youtube which makes it easy to follow along.

As always thanks for taking the time to read my blog, hope you’re having a great week!

Step in the Right Direction?

Hello Everyone,
Thank you for checking in with my blog and I hope you are having a great week!

Welcome back to the journey that is me learning Photoshop! After many hours of messing around with the tools and ever-growing features photoshop has to offer, I created something that I was excited about. I want to warn you I was not excited because it was good, but because it was a step in the correct direction for my end goal: to “Realistify” a kid’s drawing.
I also showed the awesome dragon a student drew for me to try and realistify in Photoshop at 4:02. I told him that I could butcher it, but I will do my best!

The real question is does anyone like the sound of their own voice in videos!?

Stay tuned for a list of videos and tools that I have been using through this journey to help me improve!

Give the People What They Want

Although it was only five responses. I wanted to leave it in other people’s hands. I would have thoroughly enjoyed learning any of these five skills. The results are in… *drumroll*

Forms response chart. Question title: What should I learn. Number of responses: 5 responses.

60% voted for me to learn photoshop and “realistify” drawings or things! I am excited about this. The videos I shared in my previous post from Benny Productions did inspire me to explore this option. Another interesting thing about Benny is that he is a 19-year-old kid from the Netherlands who has exploded on YouTube in the last year. He said he had always been creating but was able to turn his hobby into a career, which I find amazing about the internet.

where am i now?

Since the vote, I thought it would be vital for me to learn some of the ins and outs of Photoshop. However, I do use Adobe Illustrator causally for a side hustle of mine. I am by no means a professional or proficient at it. I learned very quickly that Illustrator to Photoshop, although made by Adobe, function differently even to navigate around. This will take some getting used to.

The last week I have spent time following along with tutorials closely to learn some skills and get more proficient at things that I have seen in Benny’s videos that make things come to life. Skills like illuminating, shading, and overall colour in the photos. Below are some of my creations with the linked videos that I followed.

I hope by next update I will have followed along with more tutorials and become a little I hope by the next update, I will have followed along with more tutorials and become a little more comfortable navigating through Photoshop tools and all the layers I am creating. There are some tutorials around warping and exposure shading that I will need to dive into if I want to make a drawing realistic.

I have a few students at school that create drawings of scary and creative monsters. They build them almost like Pokémon. They have great details, and they outline the strengths and weaknesses of their creations. It would be cool if I could incorporate those into the final product as well.

I look forward to continuing this journey and sharing my creations with you!