GRAPHIC DESIGN: "The Abstract Emulation"

BACKGROUND: This is a two part assignment. In one part of the assignment, the student will be using their Photoshop skills to emulate the work of an artist working in the Abstract Expressionist style. In the second part of the assignment, the student will be completing a short research paper regarding the artist, their background, their motivations and inspirations.

THE ARTWORK: Below are the two thumbnails for the two Graphic Design Class Abstract Art Galleries:

Abstract Emulation Gallery, Green 2nd Period, 2009-2010
Abstract Emulation Gallery, White 1st Period, 2009-2010

Part One: Research

In the first part of this assignment, the student will research the original artist that created their work. In all of the samples used for this assignment, the artist is still alive and working today. In almost each case, the artwork from the artists was taken from one of the links below. Be sure to check each page, as there may be multiple links on different pages:

The picture that you select to work with will have a very specific filename, which will give you some artist and artwork information, as follows:

Search the pages above to find your artist. In most cases, the links on those pages will show links to actual artist websites, where you can do some more in-depth research as to your artist and their work. Most websites will allow you to send emails to the artist in their "Contact" page.

  • The student will attempt to contact the artist (Using their Professional Email created in the Professional Email Assignment) by email using their new "Professional Email Address." Explain to the artist that they are a high school student in a Graphic Design course and that the student is studying their work for a research paper. Please, please use your best grammar on this email!
  • I DO NOT recommend giving out any of your personal information in this email. You can tell them that you are from a High School in Colorado, working on a research paper. Do not tell them anything else.
  • The student will ask at least one question of the artist regarding their artwork. The standard question that the student is looking to answer from the artist is “What was your inspiration for this piece of art?”, but other questions might be appropriate, as well.
  • The student will complete a one page (at least) essay on their artist, paying particular attention to the career of the artist and what the motivations and inspirations for the artist were in the creation of their work.
  • Questions that could and should be answered in the essay:
    • What is the background of this artist?
    • Where did this artist attend school or get their artistic training?
    • What are their inspirations for creating their artwork?
    • What are the influences on their art?
    • Has their work been shown in exhibits or galleries?
    • Is their work for sale and how much does it cost?
  • In the event that the artist DOES NOT reply to your email questions, do your best to research the answers above using any online resources, such as the artist's websites, magazine articles, etc.
  • Should you be COMPLETELY UNABLE to find ANYTHING on your artist, you will then need to complete a paper regarding ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM in general. You will try to answer the questions below on your paper:
    • When was the first Abstract Expressionism artwork created?
    • Who are some of the most influential Abstract Expressionists?
    • What type of things inspire Abstract Expressionists to create their artwork?
    • Where can you see the work of famous Abstract Expressionist painters at exhibits or museums?
    • Is Abstract Expressionist artwork ever for sale and how much does it cost?

Students will be graded on the quality of their essay according to CSAP writing standards.

Part Two: Emulation


Students will be given a piece of abstract artwork which they will emulate. Students will download their artwork to their project folder and will use it for frequent review during their emulation.

Using any and all Photoshop skills learned, students will faithfully recreate their piece of artwork as exactly as possible. It will be expected that each texture, color and shape will be recreated on the student’s piece of artwork. The student may NOT do any direct copying and pasting or cloning to complete this assignment. Tracing of general shapes with a pen tool, etc. are permitted. In the past, students have set up their original work as a layer in Photoshop and creating new layers on top of the original to assist with their emulation.I would like the emulation to be AT LEAST 750 to a 1000 pixels on the long side!

If you are attempting to recreate your emulation on top of the original work in layers, you may need to use IMAGE>IMAGE SIZE to resize your picture to the proper height or width. Your original may pixelate, but this is ok, as you will not be seeing the original in the final work anyway.

The emulation will be graded based not just upon the exactitude of the recreation, but also the amount of effort placed into the assignment and the demonstration of various Photoshop skills learned.

Student will need to rely heavily on the use of the following Photoshop techniques to complete this part of their assignment:

  • Brush Tool
  • Layers and Opacity
  • Patterns
  • Shapes
  • Blending modes
  • Filters

GRADING: Each portion of this assignment (Written and Photoshop Emulation) will be given equal weight. The works will be graded as follows:

  • Abstract Art Paper:
    • 75 points for proper use of grammar, sentences, paragraphs, etc. I will be using CSAP grading standards on this.
    • 75 points for paper content, how well does the student answer the questions listed above regarding inspiration, training, prices, etc.
  • Abstract Emulation:
    • 50 points for proper use of Brush Techniques.
    • 100 points for the quality of the emulation, how closely does the emulation match the look of the original?