17 October 2012

Build-a-Monster in Illustrator

The students' monsters turned out better than this.
The Idea
I wanted a simple assignment to get students more comfortable with the selection tool and everything you can do with it: select (obviously), move, scale, rotate, copy (hold alt while moving), and then change the fill and stroke colors of the selection.

Enter Class Dojo. It's behavior management software that randomly assigns funny-looking monsters to serve as avatars for students. Students, if they want to, can go in and create their own monster. And that gave me the idea. In fact, all the monster parts I came up with were inspired by Class Dojo. (I haven't been able to contact them to see how they feel about that, but since I'm not making any money off this, and neither will any of you, I hope they will be ok with it.)

This is what appeared to the left of the page in the Illustrator file.
The blue background lets you see white, grey, and black.
The Plan
I created an Illustrator document and put the instructions to the left of the actual page. But to start class off, I randomly handed out coloring pages of monsters that they could color in with crayons old school. Some students complained about doing something that little kids do, but quickly got into it. When they were nearly done coloring, I demonstrated how to complete the Illustrator assignment.

First they choose the body style. They drag it onto the page and scale it up. They can choose a color at this point if they want to. They then lock the body to avoid accidentally selecting it. (What they learn: moving, scaling, locking, changing fill color.)

Second, choose a mouth. They need to click and drag a box around the mouth in order to select all the different elements. (What they learn: selecting multiple objects at the same time by clicking and dragging.)

Third, choose ears or horns to put into place. They will need to rotate them, as well as edit stroke in addition to fill color. (What they learn: rotating, stroke.)

Fourth, the eye(s). If they want to put more than one eye, they can quickly copy with the alt trick. (What they learn: quick copying, solidifying all the other actions.)

The fifth step is to color. If they want, they can change the fill and stroke color during the process, or they can wait until the end.

The Conclusion
I've always had trouble with students not knowing how to click and drag in order to select multiple objects. They also have a lot of trouble with changing the color of vector objects, getting confused by the difference between fill and stroke. This assignment made a huge difference on both counts, and students got really into it.

Another positive to the assignment is that it's automatically gender-neutral.

And, if you want, you can demonstrate the different ways you can save or export Illustrator files. If they save a PDF, it will only show what's inside the page margins. If they export a PNG or JPG, it exports everything on the file, regardless of page margins.

If you want either the coloring pages or the Illustrator document, just contact me.

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