Earth Day Alphabet

As a project for Earth Day, I wanted my students to create some digital art using natural tools. I had never done this before, but was pretty sure we could manage to create a few letters. A full alphabet though? In the 1 1/2 hour session I had with 6 students we were able to put together a nearly complete alphabet, take pictures, and make some of our names. Here is how:

Equipment:

  • A Digital Camera (I used a Nikon N1 and my Smartphone… both worked fine)
  • A tripod (it keep the light consistent, but is not necessary)
  • A laptop or desktop
  • Software: GIMP and Inkscape
  • A White sheet of art paper
  • Access to lots of bits and bobs from nature

Process:

DSC_3712I started the kids out by creating a simple enough letter from flowers we found as we walked in the classroom. I set up the camera so that the image was slightly overexposed and snapped the shot. Ok, that was one letter… now I challenged them to go and find any additional pieces of stuff in nature and cover the other 25 letters. One student had the idea of writing the letters on the board and crossing them off as we go to them.

After about 15 minutes, I already had about 15 letters on my camera. I hit the pause button, transferred the photos, and showed a couple students how to process the pics so that the white background was equally white between photos. Basically, you have to adjust the fill light. This can be done in most image editing software (on phones I use snapseed, on computers I personally am a big fan of the recently retired Picassa).

After the background had been lighted to be white, each letter was cropped closely to the letter and resized to a standard size (800px width worked well for our purposes). They were then dragged into an Inkscape file and arranged to create words. Voila… digital nature art made simple!

If you are interested in seeing the full alphabet, we originally posted it in a photo album on Green School.

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