Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New take on an old trick

I was helping a friend decorate her classroom today, or rather, the wall in the hallway outside her classroom, when I was shown a new trick (Thanks, Adriane!). Actually, its not really a new trick, but more of a new take on an old trick. For years teachers have been creating wonderful decorations for their wall or bulletin board by projecting an image on the wall and tracing it. The old way that I remember of doing this, and have used for years, has been to sort through books or coloring books for a picture you like and use an opaque projector, or an overhead projector. If using an overhead projector, you had to make a transparency of the picture you wanted to use. This took some time, not only in the actual creation of the decoration, but also in the prep work. Time was spent rifling through books and copying the image first onto a piece of acetate.

I was sort of expecting my friend to show me a file that had some cute images already copied onto transparency film, or books to use, when she instead opened up her Internet browser and Googled for cow clip art. I thought of printing the image out and using the ELMO (or other document camera), but she told me that wasn't necessary. All we needed to do was to hook the computer (ibook) up to the projector and voila! No printer was necessary! (Why waste more paper, right?)

After doing a "web search" on Google, we then decided to look through AppleWorks clip art instead and found just the cow we were looking for. She was using her laptop at the time, so I opened up AppleWorks on another ibook and found the same image. We made the image to fit a full standard size sheet of paper, hooked up the projector and I was in business. I also did another Google search, this time using the "image search" and found a perfect mate for the other cow. I had a blank page open in AppleWorks in the window right behind my browser window, so I just dragged the image onto my AW document and I was set to create the other cow.

For those that have never done this before, I taped a piece of brown bulletin board paper to the whiteboard which I was using as my drawing surface. It's hard and extremely smooth so it makes for a good tracing surface rather than a bumpy painted wall. I used brown because it was my base color. Once I had the outline of the cow, or bull, traced with a black marker (I chose to use a regular Crayola marker rather than a Sharpie so it didn't bleed through the thin paper and mark up her white board), I taped, or in some cases, held up pieces of other colors for the spots, nose, horns, and eyes and traced the details. Afterwards, I cut out those pieces and glued them in place while I still had the projected image up. (Glue sticks are such a marvelous invention! No mess or wrinkles in the paper. Now if only we can come up with an easier method for cutting these large figures out!)

Tomorrow I'm making pigs for her using the same method, and adding more grass around the cows that I hung in the hallway. I'll have to take some pictures of the completed scene and post them in here.


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