Category Archives: Resource

National 5 Compare Questions

exam time management

I have just finished the revision sheets for the comparative questions for the National 5 Pre-lim Exam. They are mainly made for my class, though it will give you an idea of how to make your own revision tables for your own artists and designers. The revision sheets are available for download from THE BOX at the bottom of the right column (They are labelled ‘NAT 5 COMPARE.pdf’), or you can access them HERE.

Holey Moley


I created an exemplar for my S1’s Fanelli/mental health unit. It focused on the idea of taking something bad and turning it into a good thing. Quite a hard concept for S1 pupils to digest, though I think it opened up the ideas for them to be able to conceive their own work. We discussed looks and how their lives were much more focused on image and status through social profiles and networking. We also discussed how bad moments can linger and stay with us, but if you create an artwork about it, it can sometimes help deal with the situation.

My example was focused on my obsession with being too moley. I explained that I hated my skin for being too moley, but that I also love the cosmos. I explained that one day I was looking at my moles and hating them, then spotted that some of them looked exactly like the Big Dipper and other constellations. When I discovered this, I wasn’t upset about my moles anymore.

Art can be an outlet to help us deal with tragic, stressful or embarrassing times in our life. It can help us see the beauty in all moments and things by addressing them with skill and visual beauty.

This unit and exemplar were extremely successful and helped my pupils not only deal with such a moment themselves, but also let them create a beautiful, skilful piece of art. If you are a teacher, it’s worth purchasing a Fanelli book, some pattern and graph paper and giving it a go yourself.

Dazzling Daffies



The astonishing drawing above was created by my friend and colleague, Val Hamilton. She is the Principal Teacher of Art & Design at Oban High School. It was created in the app ProCreate, on an iPad. Val took a photo of some daffodils, imported it into ProCreate, then used the tools available such as smudge, fill, paintbrush and eraser to manipulate and create the detailed and interesting image above. I really like how the image slowly becomes more painterly as your eyes browse across the work, we are forced to look around the work, deciding if the image is a photograph or not, trying to figure out if the image is real or created. Well, it’s both, a sum greater than each of its parts. If you have an iPad, try it out yourself and email me the result.

‘And In The End… I Did It Manray!’

I’m currently teaching Intermediate Photography with a mixture of S5 and S6 pupils. A good starting place is to look at the work of Manray and try to put his ethos into your own photograph. Pupils looked at the way he objectifies parts of the body, often making them look like a still life and how he composes multiple photographs together into a single image. They then have to compose their own Manray image. The image above was my exemplar, taken of my friend and colleague, Miss McInnes (OLSP, PT). It was created by taking a shot of the stool on it’s own, then taking a shot with Miss McInnes and photoshopping the  images together to form a surreal composite.

It Figures…

My friend and colleague, Miss McInnes (OLSP) has sketched this little masterpiece below. We are putting together examples of units for the new National 4 and 5 qualifications. Miss McInnes is working on a figurative unit to show pupils how they would tackle the two sheets and ‘added value’ final piece on that theme. This is a great piece of observation pencil work, it has taken her a few hours to get this far, though it’s definitely worth it.


Guest Reviewer: Narin Chalabi

Narin is an ex-pupil of mine from Notredame High. She is now a university student, a Tumblr and Deviant Art contributor, a Tweeter, an animator and an excellent photographer. She has been featured on the blog previously and continues to impress me with her talents.

iPhone photography or ‘iPhoneography’ has recently become a very popular trend amongst iPhone users. Ever since the iPhone app Instagram came out, it has been a huge hit and the number of people signing up is growing every day. However, it doesn’t just end at Instagram, there are some amazing photo editing apps out there which are just as good as Photoshop (not really).

I’ll be sharing some of the apps I use the most and what I think of them. For the non-free apps I have tried my best to give you as much information about them as possible. I hope this will be useful for you.

Snapseed; (£2.99) ★★★★☆

Snapseed in my opinion is one of the best apps on the iPhone for editing photos. There are many types of different filters in it which allows you to fully bring out the colours of a dull photo. Whenever I edit my photos on the iPhone I always have to use Snapseed first in order to bring out the colours of the photo and make it more attractive to the eye. The price may be a little high, however… be on the lookout as they sometimes do promotions and they make the app free!

This app allows you to:

* Automatically adjust the photo

* Selectively adjust the photo

* Tune image: allows you to change the; Brightness, Ambience, contrast, saturation and white balance

* Straighten

* Crop (free form crop or adjusted sized crops)

* Details: like sharpening your photo or changing its structure (I guess it means bringing out the shapes more)

* Black and white: you can adjust the brightness, contrast and grain. There are also adjusted black and white filters too for you to use.

* Vintage: Lets you change; Brightness, saturation, texture strength, centre size and style strength

* Drama: makes the photo more dramatic

* Grudge

* Centre focus

* Frames

* Tilt and shift

LensLight: (£0.69) ★★★☆☆

I think this app is rather fun to use; you can create some amazing photos with it, especially sunsets where the sun isn’t in the photo. This app lets you add overlays of different light effects which a normal camera would create. It’s got well over 20 different overlays of these effects and it can be fun to play around with at times. The only problem I found with it is that it crashed a lot for me when I first installed it.

Above you’ll find examples of some of the stuff it can do: (the first two photos are the same photo, but just edited differently.)


Juxtaposer: (£1.99) ★★★★☆

With Juxtaposer you can create some of the most amazing photos on iPhone. It can take several tries until you become a pro at it, however this app, to me, is amazing and has a feature on it that Photoshop doesn’t and that’s an “unerase” button. It’s so useful I think the creators of Photoshop could learn something from this app.

This app is mostly used for photomanipulation photos via your iphone. You can also create your own stamps. For example, say you only wanted the moon from the photo so you would cut round the moon and just save the moon as a stamp and it will forever be saved in your app and you can use the stamp whenever you want. It’s very useful. Here are some photos I’ve created with it:

For this photo I cut out one of the eyes in a photo I had taken previously and created a butterfly with it. To create a white background, you need to upload the white background first, then add which ever stamp/photo you want to it.

Combining two photos together to create a prettier photo.

This is a good example which portrays the idea of the stamp tool. First I added the moon in, and then I cut out the birds in this photo and used them as stamps several times to create this composition. (This photo’s been processed through a filter afterward, but just using it to show an example)

FX Photostudio : (£0.69) ★★★★☆

This app is somewhat the whole package if you want to add filters, do a colour splash or adjust your photo a little bit. It has well over 80 filters in it which you can use and all of them are rather good. What I really like about this app is that you can select yourself where the filter effect takes place as you can erase and un-erase some parts of the filter. However you cannot adjust the position of the filter.

An example of its colour splash.

Blurring the background.

Using its symmetry effect.

Water effect overlay with Rainbow filter.

Free apps

After having a look at the free apps, I’ve come to the realisation that the apps that are free to buy change all the time. Many of the editing apps which get released are promotions then later they are priced again. Therefore it’s very difficult to tell you the free apps as it could change by the time you read this and have a look.

However, apps like Pixlr-o-matic, Squaready, Water my Photo and Phototreats have been free for a long time, so they must be free apps and not free promo apps.

Therefore, for free apps, you will always need to have a look out on the free section of “photo & video” category as you never know what might be there. Apps such as Snapseed and add ons for Hipstamatic have been offered free on a limited basis. It is worth checking this section regularly and thanks to this I’ve helped save myself some money.