By Scott Waldman


January 27, 2009

Teaching eighth grade technology is a special experience. I typically get a range of skill levels in any one of my classes. Some students are computer experts, some are skillful at drawing and some are just curious. Designing and creating a unit on graphic design is no longer out of the reach of these young teens. Using a template driven approach we are able to successfully explore technology as it applies to careers such as graphic designer, project manager, advertising, account executive, clothing and sports wear design.
Starting with the Nike Sneaker templates from PigMag
students immediately experience success with Photoshop. Students are taught to use and understand the selection tool, layers, layer effects, brushes, shape tools, text, transformations and filters.
Pigmag has made it easy by selecting the elements of these six templates, isolating them to unique layers and then locking the negative space.
See some of our samples:
Classes discuss whether all sneaker designs would end up on someone’s feet. In the American culture the sneaker is an icon representing several ideas. In fact we discussed that the sneaker can be found on t-shirts, clothing, in magazine ads and even as artwork.
Once students have accomplished the various Photoshop skills as evidenced in completing multiple sneaker designs we introduce the skateboard template from Vectorss
This template so easily defines the layers and their functions. There is a layer for coloring the board, a layer for the wheels and hardware and a layer for the skateboard art. The template uses masks to enable accurate deck art transfers.
The template can be found here.
See our samples here:
Finally the unit is further enhanced by the fantastic templates created by the folks at GoMedia and their arsenal of professional design weaponry.
These templates of t-shirts and hoodies do cost a fee but they are well worth it considering the opportunity and analysis that spawn from their use.
See the templates here:
View some of our samples here.

PS I have to add a post script.
As part of this unit it is valuable for the students to explore the larger graphic design community that exists on the web and the exchange of ideas and resources that make up that community. In that vein I share with students websites where they can download Photoshop brushes and shapes as well as fonts. This opens many possibilities for their designs.
We do discuss rules on copyright and the difference between education and commercial production. We also expose the artists of the grade to the possibility for them to become advisers and sources of their own custom brush and shape sets created with Photoshop from their original sketches.
Links for custom brushes and shapes
Link for custom fonts
A blog article and collection of resources on t-shirt design and production and manufacturing opportunities.