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Creating Variations in MSPaint: Draw Versions of a Character in Microsoft Paint – Challenging!

Drawing many versions of the same character (in this case a monkey) will bring out the creativity of the Art class. This project is a simple way to draw the best out of the MSPaint Programme. MS Paint is a very simple programme and many teachers shy away from it thinking that it is not useful, challenging or interesting for their students.

You might be surprised to find just how challenging the process can be and how many ‘painterly’ effects can be achieved. By doing this project with your class together you will realise the full potential of the programme whilst being pushed to the max yourself.

The project requires that you demonstrate how to draw in MSPaint. Ask the students to follow as you draw the monkey. When they have drawn and painted the simple monkey to the best of their ability – give them licence to ‘go for broke’ in their attempt to create interesting and original variations of the cartoon critter. Keep creating your own version – but tell them you will not accept a copy of the one you do. The wide range of versions possible will surprise the entire class!

Together see how far you can push the programme and how differently they can manifest the same image creatively.

Here is a simple clip art monkey found by searching Google Images. I have asked the students to

  • get started by demonstrating to the students how to cut and paste the small version of the monkey into the top left hand side of the drawing stage
  • capture this image as accurately as possible. This is to hone their drawing skills and to be sure that they can perform a requested task.
  • the next step is to creatively morph the monkey by changing features (you will see mine has shorter arms that are more people like than the original)
  • create (at least) one original cartoon based on the simple original image
  • It is a good idea to use the smallest setting of the Paint Brush tool to outline the monkey. This is so that the lines are thick enough to work with easily. Pencil Lines can be a bit thin and harder for the students to close the shapes completely.
  • Students may choose to use the Circle Shape tool to create the eyes.
  • After filling the monkey with the Paint Bucket Tool show the students how to achieve finer detail and texture with the Pencil and Spray Can Tools.

The illustrations below are shown in the order that they were created.

  1. Image One is the simple copy of the monkey but with its arms a little shorter and more like a humans. By having a good idea of how I would like the final morph to turn out the change of arms came naturally at the beginning.
  2. Image Two: as I demonstrated the monkey changed its character by a change to its clothing.
  3. Image Three: next I added a cane as a simple prop.
  4. Image Four: the bunch of flowers in this picture is the beginning of placing the character in the context of a story. As a Literacy Booster ask the students questions like “What do you think might be happening?’ “What kind of guy do you think this dude might be?”
  5. Image Five: as you add a background the story takes on context and the scene is set for the creation of an animation at a later date. (If you would like your computer art lessons to go in this direction.)

Give the students complete creative licence – the only restriction is that they may not transport the image into any other computer art software package to enhance it. This is so they push the creative potential of MSPaint as far as they can.

Staying with the programme will hone their painterly skills. The experience of first drawing and then painting the images facilitates acquisition of information and skills that can be transferred to the canvas. In this way you could link your computer art lessons to a more practical real world context.

At the end of the lesson have them leave their most creative version of the monkey open on the computer and have a silent walk around so that they can see what other students have created (without comment). Viewers will be amazed at the variation and the talent portrayed.

This display would be well received if presented as a revolving exhibition slideshow in the foyer of the office of your school or community group – if you have a digital frame available.

If you would like to have an Appreciative Inquiry ask the students to name the character saying why they have chosen the name. Naming is an elicitive way of looking into the creation of characters. It can be very revealing about the way creativity evolves and the process is lots of fun.

If you would like to ask questions or to make suggestion about projects you would like to see me describe, please post to the discussion bards