For this visual assignment, I chose to give the world a Graphic Gift (three and a half stars). This prompt was about taking a vintage advertisement and extracting the product to create an old-school kind of clip art. I really enjoyed the concept and aesthetic of this assignment, so I decided I would give it a shot.

Here was the original ad:

For this project, I used Photoshop. First, I cropped the canvas so that it was only focused on the Jim Beam bottle. Next, I bumped up the resolution of the selection so that it would come out at an even higher quality (being relatively small in size within the ad). Finally, I used the quick selection tool and selected the bottle. After some cleaning up, I had it extracted from the image. I exported it as a .png, to preserve the transparency, and I ended up with this:

Graphic Gift

Here is a picture of a vintage microwave that a cleaned up. (I think its from the 80’s!) This would make great clip art.

Visual Assignment – Graphic Gift

For this assignment, you are supposed to find an old advertisement or graphic, and cut out an element of that as a transparent png as a resource. Now, considering we were supposed to link one of these assignments to our western character, I deviated slightly from the assignment. I wanted a transparent image of the weapon I imagine my character using, which is a Winchester Model 1886. I did find some advertisements for this gun, but they were incredibly small and low quality, so instead I went with a photograph of one for sale, which you can see below.

For the process itself, I used Photoshop, and mainly the pen tool. I see the pen tool as the superior method to cutting out anything from any photograph, maybe except frizzy hair, and used it almost exclusively in my Graphic Arts classes. I like it because you’re given more precise control over what you’re trying to select, and can capture curves pretty effortlessly. This is what the actual selection looks like, with the squares along the lines being the anchor points that the lines cling to.

Photoshop_2016-02-03_14-49-39And once you have your selection, it’s as simple as inverting it, and then deleting the picture around it. The end result is below.

winchester 1886 cut out

Hat Attack

Well, Groom inspired me to tackle this particular ds106 assignment: Graphic Gift, added to the Assignment Bank by the inimitable Michael Branson-Smith. A summary:

Find or scan an old advertisement (high resolution) and create a piece of cool clip art by extracting and cleaning up a particular element. Be sure to use a PNG file type to preserve transparencies, and try to make a high and medium resolution version. Inspired by Phil A Go’s awesome Toyota Corona Graphic Gift.

Groom got fancy and deposited a whole animated Jack Nicholson in the back pocket of his graphic gift. I went for a simpler idea, and I’ll admit I caved and used Photoshop. I fully endorse Groom’s advice to experiment with the free and full-featured open-source image editing tool, GIMP, but I don’t have it installed on this particular computer.

I knew that what I wanted to work with was a standard icon of our noir exploration, and a quick Google search found me a page from the 1956-1957 Fall/Winter Sears Roebuck catalog.

Isn't he dapper?
Isn’t he dapper?

I pulled this into Photoshop, and quickly used the magic lasso tool to outline that gorgeous hat.


Once I had the whole thing selected, I copied it, created a new layer, and pasted it n.


I turned off visibility of that original layer, and used the Transform tool to add a jaunty angle.


And now I can offer everyone in #noir106 this fedora icon, angled perfectly for you to use in all your visual assignments.


I wish I had found a higher resolution version of the page, so that I could offer a larger version.

I will say that I found tons of amazing hats in old Sears Roebuck catalogs, so I think I’m going to keep doing this until I have a huge collection of vintage hats tosshare.

Note: The top version will work well on a light background. The bottom will look okay on a dark background, but I’m still playing around with getting the matte correct. 



Graphic Gift: Bodiless Starched Jeans on a Desert Road with Animated Back Pockets

I finished up my second visual assignment of the week last night, but things got too crazy for me to post it earlier. Michael Branson Smith‘s “Graphic Gift” assignment is one I really appreciated because it forced me to dig in a bit on my image editing skills.

Find or scan an old advertisement (high resolution) and create a piece of cool clip art by extracting and cleaning up a particular element. Be sure to use a PNG file type to preserve transparencies, and try to make a high and medium resolution version. Inspired by Phil A Go’s awesome Toyota Corona Graphic Gift.

Smith writes about the value of assignment on his own blog, and I think he’s right on:

This exercise would be a great ds106 assignment for a couple reasons. One it’s a great for working on digital imaging skills. A good graphic gift would require a student to work with selections, the eraser tool, image touch ups (via contrast, sharpening, and possibly the clone stamp to remove scratches), and image resizing to create different versions. Also to maintain transparency and post to the web the image should likely be a PNG file.

Given we’ll be doing some more image editing intensive work during the design week of noir106 soon enough, I figured this would be a good assignment to help me shake off some of the dust. I’m a total hack when it comes to GIMP, but as a result of teaching this class for five years my skills are almost passable….almost.

On a related note, I refuse to use Photoshop for ds106 assignments on principle. First, it’s costly, and while you can get a free trial, why use something that you won’t be willing or able to afford long term? Second, and more importantly, ds106 is not about a specific tool, but about wrapping your head around certain elements crucial to digital media editing, such as layering, scaling, cloning. recombining, distorting, etc. If you want to use Photoshop, you can. Although providing free, open source options that teach you these basic image editing concepts, such as GIMP, helps level the playing field and lighten the financial burden. That said, we never tell students what tool they should use, that’s not ds106—we teach freedom!

Anyway, I started looking for catalogue products to make a graphic gift, and I consulted the Flickr WishBook account, which has scans of the old school Sears Christmas Wishbooks. I chose a mid-1980s catalog thinking I would grab a toy, but it didn’t work out that way. I got stuck on this image of Roebucks men’s jeans.

1985-xx-xx Sears Christmas Catalog P258

I don’t think I have ever seen such beautifully starched jeans. I got inspired to not only cut out the jeans, but also one of the back pockets. I needed to employ all the tools Smith suggested, selections (lasso and magic wand), the eraser, clone, blur, and more. It was a workout, and my final product is far from perfect.

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 4.28.07 PM

My idea was to have a new background image, and then something animated in the back pocket for fun. Then, like a diamond through my forehead, I remembered a dream I had long ago wherein a pair of bodiless, well-starched jeans were standing on a desert road with Jack Nicholson’s character from The Shining animated in the back pocket. I then knew this is what I had to do. Think of it as therapy.

I found the following image of Jack Nicholson animated:


And this image of a desert road on Wikipedia:


I spent some time combining these layers, pushing some to the front, and others to the back. The transparency of my graphic gift—which I accomplished thanks to the eraser— made these other elements of my Dali-esque dream possible.


I don’t know how I feel about the actual creation, but I do feel better that I finally got this monstrosity out of my psyche for the low, low cost of 3 stars. That’s 6 down, and 4 more to go.

Dancing Jim All Over The World

I did this assignment for a number of reasons, but mostly because only one other person has done it and it’s one-star, so it’s unlikely anyone else will. I thought it might be fun to up the game a little. Earlier this semester Jim riffed an assignment by Brian Bennett, here, where he took Brian Bennett’s version of this assignment and expanded it into a gif enclosed in an old ad. So, he made a Visual Assignment into an AnimatedGIFAssignment.

Well I took Jim’s Assignment and riffed it, don’t worry I have screenshots for a tutorial later, I added another layer and a whole separate process for combining the layers so that you can have Jim dancing in poor Norma’s mouth as she lets out one final scream in agony.

First of all, if you want to do this one you’re going to need to grab the .gif of Jim dancing a fool from this assignment. You should know how to make a .gif and what a .gif is at an image file level, this tutorial will help you understand that if you don’t already. You will need Brian Bennett’s .xcf of the TV with the transparent screen, found here.  Here’s a link to Norma’s mouth, should you ever need that for anything else. And finally you should read Jim’s method of using a gif behind another layer of image, link here, specifically the section about duplicating image layer that will sit on top of the .gif.  I know that’s a lot of information, but it’s easier to understand if you’ve read that stuff, because I would just be copy-and-pasting their instructions anyway and this way you can see multiple assignments.

So, my method is a lot like Jim’s. Except I add another layer underneath the dancing Jim Groom. Thus there are three main sets of layers that need to be created. Two of the sets are the same across every frame and one of the changes, fortunately you only need to pull the image of Jim Groom into the frame (much easier).

You will need to ‘Merge Visible Layers’. This is done from the layers window in GIMP. Also, we’re using GIMP. Should’ve said that earlier. First you get your layer on the same workspace. Then create a duplicate layer for every gif layer in both the front and back image sets. So, if your .gif image set is 12 images, then you should have 12 front images and 12 back images.

Now we layer, just like Jim shows us in his walkthrough. After you have arranged them correctly, click all the eyes so that no frames except those you want to marge are visable, like this:

Now click Merge Visible Layers, this will prompt a pop-up window, which may be hidden by the multiple windowed GIMP software, so look for it. It should look like this:

Make sure you click ‘clipped to image’ or it may rearrange the layers. Click okay and you should have a single layer in place of the previously visible three layers:

And then you will have the final product:

One Star? I feel like this was more than one star’s worth of work…

Graphic Gift, featuring our lady friend from the Invaders.

Instead of staring at a horrifying extra terrestrial in total fear and anguish, our friend is now gazing upon at the new technology of refrigeration with amazement. graphicgift

“This is just the Bee’s Knee’s, Mrs. Jones! Why, is that an icebox in there?”

“And how, Susie! Also, PENICILLIN.”

This was really easy to make after I erased the background footage and added a layer mask in gimp.

Link to Original Assignment

Classic Twilight Zone Animated Vintage Clipart

Riffing on Brian Bennett’s awesome version on the “Graphic Gift” assignment, I downloaded his template and put in the reveal moment for of the classic “The Invaders” episode for a quick three stars (recommended):


This was pretty simple (standing on the shoulders of giants is allowed ;) ), I just opened Brian’s clipart-high.xcf file in GIMP, and then imported the screenshot of the US Airforce as another layer.

After that, I dragged the layer with the TV transparency to the top.

Screen Shot 2013-05-25 at 10.13.00 AM

Then, I made sure the US Airforce image layer was selected and scaled it to fit in the transparency area cleanly by going to Layer–>Scale and changin the size dimensions.

Screen Shot 2013-05-25 at 10.13.14 AM

Now, after doing that I got the idea of animating a GIF in that space, which led me to this and earned me 3 and a half more stars (that makes 8 and half counting my “Real-life 8-bit art” submission ;) I made the following GIF, see how here.

tz_the_invaders 1

And then merged each of the nine layers of the GIF with a copy of the vintage template layer. Here is what I mean. I duplicated the layer of guys sitting around the TV nine times and put each one above a layer of the alien I animated.

Screen shot 2013-05-25 at 8.38.53 AM

Screen shot 2013-05-25 at 8.39.06 AM

I then went to Layer–>Merge Down while selecting the layer above the alien (namely the guys around the TV). I merged each of the TV layers on top of each of the aliens.

Screen shot 2013-05-25 at 8.39.24 AM


After that, I saved the image as a GIF. Just be sure you scale the original animated GIF you import to map with the vintage image so that the two are roughly the same size. Trying to scale each layer image for size individually will quickly become a pain in the ass.

And, here is the final product:


Vintage Clipart

Rounding out my assignments for the week, I’ve got a brand-spankin-new piece of vintage clip art for you to use in your next PowerPoint (because PPT is so much fun).

The original image came from a SONY ad for a projection TV from the 1980′s. I found this on, which has ads from the early 1900′s, categorized by ad type. It’s pretty awesome.

You can grab the HIGH RES PNG if you want to use it for some ds106 fun:

I am Talky Tina...


…or the smaller file for something easier to use.

This one was mostly about selecting out the original baseball image, and then cleaning up around the hands still in the frame. If you want to change the resolution, here’s the .xcf for your riffing pleasure.