Making Collages By Superimposing Photos

“Things are not always as they seem; the first appearance deceives many.” – Phaedrus

Superimposing photographs is a technique used to augment and transform a visual reality. This technique is commonly referred to as “photoshopping” named after the original program that made it possible – Adobe Photoshop. Today, superimposing photographs can be accomplished with other apps, including Sketchbook by Autodesk, which my students have readily available on their iPads. Our students are 1:1 with iPads in our district.

This project is the third of three projects designed to introduce my students to most of the tools in the Sketchbook by Autodesk app. You can read about the first, which was a 3-part project, here: Digital Drawings And the second, here: Painting Over Photos (Rotoscoping)

The Pollinators

I prepared a tutorial video to show the superimposing process. As with everything so far this year, this video documents the process and how to use the tools. It is without foresight and vision, and just came together as I worked. I haven’t time this year to create great artwork for demos, so I’m staying focused on the message and clear delivery of information rather than the aesthetic.

This is a relatively quick project – it is designed for two 45 minute sessions – one live with me over Zoom and the other asynchronous. It doesn’t take long to superimpose a couple of photos, yet as always, students are free to take the project as far as it takes them. Here is an example of a student who had a plan and was willing to put in as much time as was needed to realize his artistic vision. Here is Jack C sharing his artwork and method in a class discussion over Zoom.

Something I’ve come to enjoy is viewing student artwork in either Google Classroom or on Artsonia. I am often amazed by the way students use their artwork to share their views and their voices. Below you’ll see work by a student who used the technique to make a clever political statement:

Caelan S – Caelan S – So I saw this meme of trump eating kfc with a fork so it got me thinking I thought it would be funny to have him eat the Declaration of Independence. It not like I don’t like trump but it is just funny hahahaha. But I thought this would fit with the presidential election.

And a student who chose to represent the emotional impact of bullying as an appeal for more love and less hate:

Sadia D. – I made this by using photos that mean something, erasing parts I don’t need and layering the photos. The photos I used were a woman covering her ears and background of words that come from bullies. The theme would be not to bully or else it wrecks self confidence. I feel that we need to stop the hate and spread some love. A couple of surprises that came to me were that how it looks like her shadow is showing a tiny bit in the background. I would change the background to give it a little bit to give it more color to it.

The student artwork below expresses an imaginative thought and also wins the heart of this art teacher:

Avery B – Tell us how you made this.: I got a picture of a paint pallet with a brush, an easel, a cat with a beret, and a landscape painting for what the cat would paint. I also used wood for the background.
Tell us about the photos.: The wood is the background, the cat and the art pallet are together as one to make the cat look like it’s painting.
Tell us about the theme, if there is one.: The theme is an art cat!
Tell us how you feel about it.: I’m very proud of myself for making this.
Tell us if there were any surprises.: I’m surprise how there were pictures of cats with berets on.
Tell us what you would change if you were to do it again.: I wouldn’t change anything! I think it came out nicely.

Enjoy some Doritos with the astronauts having a picnic on the moon:

Emmett K – I made this artwork by using photos of astronauts and picnic objects. If I would change something I would add in a checkered blanket or a basket. I am proud of how this turned out. I was going to add a alien but it did not work out good so I made this.
I hope you like it.

This student, previously a reticent artist, came alive with a depiction of his favorite sport:

Zach C. – I made this by getting the background then grabbing two pictures of football players, The photos are of a football and two football players, The theme is Football, If feel good about my work I think I did a good job, There are no surprises , And I would add a person catching the ball if I were to do this again

And then took it the next step as he pursued his idea:

Proving to be this year’s trend, it seems no assignment this year will be without Among Us CrewMates:

Giacomo G – I made this piece of art by combining a lot of Among Us photos. I did leave another hidden Easter egg but this one is easier. I put a lot of time and effort into this piece and I hope you like it. There was one surprise with this piece because I ended up getting rid of all the real world stuff and switched it to among us things. In the end I hope you really like this piece


Talk about augmenting reality! This one is pretty terrifying:

Jack B – This takes place in New York City. Iron man finds Hulk in Hulk Smash mode. Iron man follows Hulk. They band together to fight crime. They are keeping the peace in New York City while causing destruction.

Especially in comparison with this pastoral woodland creature piece:

Caleb P.

With The Mandalorian streaming a new season on Disney Plus, Star Wars imagery is in a cozy second place for middle school trends this year. I love the effort Jason put in on this one (and the color of the background):

Jason C – I found pictures on safari, cropped them and erased what I didn’t need. There is the Star Destroyer, Death Star, X Wing, ATAT, R2D2, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. This is Star Wars theme.

This piece by Ashley is truly lovely, until you notice the spider. Suddenly the tranquil imagery begins to feel a bit threatening:

Ashley M

These are just ten or so pieces of artwork out of a hundred. Please go see the exhibit in the gallery at Artsonia to see the rest. If there was ever a time to question reality, this is it!

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