Program: Adobe Illustrator (Vector). Tutorial by Andrei Marius on TutsPlus, found here.
Typically I scour the web looking for interesting tutorials to learn and do myself, then subsequently share with my students. I look for an end-product that catches the eye, then make sure it has a well made tutorial that is at my students level of understanding. Both of my Digital Art classes have done the “Ninja Gang” and “Retro Fox” illustrations with great success (samples below).
I didn’t have my students do the Captain America Shield above because it’s pretty advanced for where they are at. One student, however, wanted the challenge of trying to make the shield above. He had previously been unengaged in the course so I figured there was nothing to lose by him trying. He seemed intent on doing it faster than me, and yes, a bet was made. Although he didn’t win the “free time” for his class – failing to complete the illustration in 3 classes – he surprised me by committing to the process and he completed the project anyways. His product was about 95% accurate (if I had to put a number on it, which I just did), but he did many of the advanced things required and demonstrated his digital art skills. Also, since he knew that I had done it previously, he was asking for my help, and our student-teacher relationship benefitted. Win-win for both of us.
Overall, I love how in Illustrator I can adjust paths and strokes, group and resize elements, create interesting shapes using a variety of tools, and generally, just create cool graphics to be proud of. My students have also been enjoying it a lot. Even as a beginner, Illustrator allows students to create a professional looking graphic without having to have an extensive knowledge of art concepts. Just by following tutorials they have become way more comfortable with the interface and a large array of tools.
The student work below demonstrates some interesting things. One, how shapes can be similar, but unique (fox shapes). Secondly, even when following a tutorial, students may assemble and design their graphics with their own stamp of personalization. Finally, students have been engaged, actively problem solving when things don’t go right, asking questions, and collaborating together to help each other out. It’s been a great creative, learning experience.