Photoshop Integration Problem:
"The Highland Pictograph"

Background: We will be creating a short story about Highland High School, and then illustrating that story using a short dictionary of Pictographs developed by the student. Then, we will modify an existing picture to place our pictographic story into a realistic setting.

Part One- The Pictographs

Using only Photoshop’s Lines and Shapes Tools, we will develop a series of pictographs to illustrate the following terms associated with Highland High School:

Highland High School Mr. Yaussi Freshman
Student Senior Locker
Hallway Teacher Lunch
Bathroom Commons Area Gym
Language Arts Class Computers Music
Cell Phone The Office Math Class

Remember, you are thinking like a CAVEMAN! The pictograph that you come up with for each of these items needs to be simple enough to carve into a stone wall with a chisel and complex enough to bring across the ideas listed to ANYONE that sees it. Do not use any letters or numbers!

  • To start, create a new folder on your network space. Call it “lastname_pictograph”. At the completion of this assignment, you will turn in your folder, complete with your pictographic brush set, your Highland Pictographic Story, your trial tutorials and your final product.
  • Then, create a canvas, size 300 x 300, WHITE background. This will be the work area in which you create your pictographs.
  • Use the color BLACK and the Line and Shape Tools (NO CLIPART ICONS!) and the SHAPE LAYER option (see picture right) to put each new line on its own layer than can be moved and sized. Develop a simple, but representative, “pictograph” of one of the terms above. THINK LIKE A CAVEMAN! Use only the idea of PRIMITIVE representations, such as might be seen in caveman days.
  • When you have created your pictograph, merge all layers of your creation.
  • Then select “Edit>Define Brush Preset”, make sure to name this brush appropriately, (highlandhigh, mrward, etc.)
  • Now delete all of your layers except for the background and begin again with the next term. Continue until you have created separate named brushes for each of the terms above.
  • Then, from the “Brushes” subselect menu (tiny arrow in the upper right corner of the Brushes drop down menu) pick “Preset Manager.”
  • Your Highland Brushes are likely at the bottom of the brush listing. CTRL-click each of your brushes and then click “SAVE SET”.
  • Call your Brush Set “HighlandPictographs” and save it to your "lastname_pictograph" Folder.
  • You can now access this brush set anytime you wish, even if the computer erases your Photoshop Brush Presets.
    1. Using only the pictographic brushes that you have created above, you will now ILLUSTRATE the story given to you, entitled “A Highland High School Story.” (Get the link for this story from Mr. B.)
    2. Create your story on a white canvas (at least 800 x 800 pixels) using a black brush.
    3. You will probably need to do some minor modifications (added lines or shapes) to your brushes to make them fit with the exact text of the story, but do you best, be creative!
    4. Remember, your brushes were created on a 300 x300 canvas, but you can RESIZE the brushes as needed to fit into your canvas. When your story is complete, save it as "STORY.JPG"

Video Tutorial: Walkthrough of the Highland Pictograph Brush creation process.

Part Two- Embedding the Story: Using the simple tutorial below (or any other method that you wish to achieve the "embedding the story into a photograph" look), combined with a "stone" or "concrete" photograph, carve a part of your story into a photograph. The goal is to make the photograph look as realistic as possible.

Creating a Carved Stone Effect in Photoshop


Carved Brushstrokes
  1. Open a large-sized (500 x 500 pixels or more) photo that features a flat piece of stone or concrete (see left- any photo is fine: think bridges, monuments, sidewalks, etc.). 
  2. Make a new layer by typing CTRL-SHIFT-N. 
  3. Use the Brush tool on this new layer to create one or more of your Highland Pictographic symbols in the face of the stone. 
  4. Use Edit > Free Transform (CTRL-T) and Command-drag the corners and edges of the selection to fit the angle of the image.  
  5. Description: the brush layer in the Layers palette to load the brushstroke as a selection. 
  6. Use the layer eyeball to turn off the visibility of the Brush layer. 
  7. Now, select the original stone or concrete layer. 
  8. Use EDIT> Copy and the EDIT>Paste on the stone layer.  This will load your original brush on a new layer, Description: the result will be invisible.
  9. Double-click the new layer to open the Layer Style dialog box, select Bevel and Emboss, and set an Inner Bevel in the Structure controls.
  10. Play with the angle and the altitude so that your figure looks to be carved into the stone.  When you are pleased with your results, save your image as “pictograph.jpg” and submit it with the other portions of your project.




Samples from Years Gone By:  There is a gallery of Pictograph Problem solutions from a few years ago here. Some of them are good, some bad. (Keep in mind that in the past, access to online tutorials was much easier and students were given the option to incorporate their story in any way that they wished, from crop circles to graffiti to tattooing.)

Part Three- GRADING

Grading Points:

  • Highland Pictographic Story: 60 Points
  • Final Product- Integrated Pictographic Story: 60 Points.
  • Submission of Highland Pictographic Brush Set: 30 points.

Students should place all three files (story.jpg, pictograph.jpg and highlandpictographs.abr) into their "lastname_pictograph" folder and turn this into the DROPBOX.