Marcia Beales' Class in Graphic Communications

Students in the Graphic Communications department's Beginning Photoshop class (GRPH 98A, digital Imaging) were asked to create a digital collage based on the mural as part of their final exam. Required to include at least one image from the mural, students assembled a multi-image collage to illustrate the theme, "Pan-American Unity 2000." The assignment sparked a great deal of interest in the mural. Many who'd visited it casually returned to examine Rivera's rich imagery much more closely. Students who had never seen the mural visited it for the first time. As part of their preparation for the project, many students attended Professor Lozano's lectures on Mexican Modernism, and researched and read about Rivera's life and work.

Students interpreted the assigned theme quite loosely - it was meant to be an inspiration, not a straitjacket. Many created sharply political images; others understood the idea of unity much more personally. The figure of Frida Kahlo was a popular choice for inclusion in students' final collages. But Rivera's graceful swimmer arching over the Bay seemed to have special meaning for San Franciscans; it was the most frequently chosen image for the project.

click here to see some of the students' projects:    page one    page two



FINAL PROJECT DUE DECEMBER 12 (beginning of class)

200 Points Total (20% of class grade)

Create a photocollage in Photoshop on the theme,

Pan American Unity 2000. Interpret the theme however you like - it's a starting point, not a straitjacket.

The following are minimum requirements:

1. A minimum of seven (7) varied images. One of these must be a portion of Diego Rivera's mural, Pan American Unity. An electronic version of the mural is on the file server. The other images can be anything at all - photographs of yourself, family, friends, pets, etc. You may use images from printed books or magazines, or from clip art or stock photo libraries. However, you must use at least one original image.

2. One gradient using the gradient tool. It can be any opacity, on any layer, or may even be used as part of an adjustment layer or mask.

3. One adjustment layer using one of the color adjustments you learned in class (curves, levels, etc.).

4. One layer mask.

S. One clipping group. One way to fulfill this requirement is to use a clipping group to confine the effects of an adjustment layer to certain layers of your image only.

6. Some text: this can be as little as one or two letters or as much as one sentence. This is a good chance to create some interesting looking text.

7. The final size of your artwork must be 7 inches by 1 0 inches (or 1 0 x 7). The final resolution must be 225 ppi.


1. With many layers, your file size will be large; you may find that your image is 100 MB or more. If you can't fit your image on a single ZIP disk, merge layers aa!ggt e"l and minimally to reduce document size. Merge layers pnly to the extent needed to fit on an empty ZIP disk. Make sure that you retain the layers necessary to show that you have met the minimum requirements.

2. DO NOT flatten (i.e., merge all layers of) your file, You MUST bring a layered Photoshop file to the final class. If you flatten to export to another application (such as Quark XPress), flatten a COPY of the file.

3. If you scan printed images, be sure to use the scanner's "descreen" setting. This allows the scanning software to compensate for the printed dot pattern. I have a screen finder to help you measure the original screen. You may need to make further adjustments to such scans in Photoshop. See me for more tips.

4. Save often and make a back-up copy.


1. Produce a good quality color print of your file. Use your own color printer ONLY if its resolution and color quality are good. If your home printer is of low quality, you should go to a place like Kinko's or Vogue Graphics to output. Check your phone book for locations.

Total cost should be under $15. Take a friend with you and split the cost by placing two images on one page in Quark or Pagemaker.

If you make Fiery prints, remember that output can be dark, and may come out with color casts. You may want to plan to do some quick color correction once you see a first proof off the device you will use.

2. Trim the print and mount it TEMPORARILY to a black mat board. Any art supply store sells mat board for about $2-3 each.

3. You'll need to turn in an UNMOUNTED copy of your final project, so if you make only one color print, be sure you can remove it from the black mat board to turn it in.

4. Bring your mounted art with you to class on December 12th. We will display them in class for all to view.

5. Bring the layered Photoshop file of your collage to class so I can check that you have met the minimum project requirements.


Grading will be based on how big a challenge you set yourself, and how well it is executed. A diff icult job done well will earn a better grade than an easy project done perfectly.

Technical execution 100 points

Minimum requirements met 100 points

TOTAL 200 points

You will have class time during the Nov. 28th and Dec. 5th classes to work on your final project, but you should plan to spend much more time on it than that. This project represents a large part of your final grade. Give yourself plenty of time to make it wonderful.


The deadline cannot be extended

If you do not have your project ready by December 12th, you will get NO CREDIT for the project.