Lesson #4: Assembling the Composition

Part of the unit: Digital Narratives |


How can you assemble images and photographs to create a digital composition?
Students will be able to:
combine images and photographs to create a digital composition
Describe how artists have used layering, scale, and color in selected works.
Students will understand that:
Artists use compositional and design elements.

Computers with AppleWorks and internet access, laptop, printer, projector, scanner;  charts with instructions for using the basic tools of AppleWorks


Images of Bruce Conner's Bombhead, Hannah Hoch's Beautiful Girl,  Man Ray's Installation with Self-Portrait, Peacock Feather and Metronome, Richard Linder's Man Walking a Rooster by a Crested Moon


A set of the images listed above should be placed on each student table and posted on the board.  Direct students to Bombhead and Beautiful Girl. Ask questions such as:

  • What do you see?
  • Where does your eye travel first?
  • What is the biggest object in each image?  Where are they placed?
  •  What do you notice about the scale of these objects?
  • Why do you think the artist chose to make certain objects appear smaller and others larger?

Direct students to Man Ray's Self-Portrait

  • Which objects are in the front? the back?
  • Why do you think the artist placed these objects in this order?

Direct students to Lindner's Man Walking.

  • What do you think this image is about?
  • How could we rearrange this image to change its meaning?
  • How does the artist's use of color make you feel?

Explain that the meaning of your digital collage will change according to how you arrange the objects and what size each object is.


Explain that students will be creating their own digital images by cropping, copying, pasting, selecting and moving objects.  Review the steps for doing this by:

  • Opening a blank canvas, naming it, saving it to a folder
  • Drawing something and selecting a background color
  • Adding a hand from one image to the canvas
  • Adding a portion of a sketch

Emphasize that the easiest way to select an object within an image is to use the magic wand.  If the colors near the section selected are too similar in value, the lasso tool would be a better option.

Ask volunteers to assist with the demonstration until there is a drawing, a colored background and parts of three outside images in the composition.  Ask for suggestions on how to change the composition to improve it.

Students will work individually at their computers to create the first of three digital collages.  Remind students to pull materials from their folders, refer to their storyboard for ideas, select and add any new images brought from home, and draw directly on the computer. 

In pairs, students should share their work and make suggestions for improvement based on questions on the board:

  • How does this image make you feel?
  • How does the artist's choice of color affect the mood?
  • How does the placement of the objects affect the image?

Students may bring more photographs from home and additonal drawings to include in their digital collages.