Project: Mystery Mural Photos (MuralLastFirst.psd)

This was the very first Mystery Mural winner from 12 years ago!

For this project students will go out and take portrait shots of staff members to use for the 3rd annual Mystery Mural Contest!

jaurez and mural optimized

Last year’s winner was period 6- they created this amazing work of collborative art for the late Coach Juarez. This pic captures his excellent energy and spirit, we all miss him.

Each student will take at least 3 portraits of  at least 3 different staff members, then choose their favorite one to be edited using all the filters and effects in Adobe Photoshop.

artist: Jamaica Amurao

The practice version (PMuralLastFirst- 50 pts) is due next Tuesday the 11th of March.

Your final version is due ???????(100 points).

Here is a list of staff that I need photos of:

Clara Galvez, Randy Ortiz, Carly Jones, Jaclyn Hamer, any counselor, new teachers, the school nurse, office workers, AVID, BFA Academy, campus supervisors, new teachers, teachers aids, campus cops, coaches, SPED teachers, school psychologist, did I mention new teachers, janitors, ??????, ?????? – students, please find and talk to these staff members about being part of this project!

What makes this such a great portrait?

The purpose of this project is to create incredible digital portraits that the students in Visual Art can use to make huge mural drawings from. The better your photos, the better their murals! Each period will be given one of your photos to use to make their large-scale drawings, but they will not know who they are working on until they put it together.

Now find a celebrity portrait (head or face only) and begin learning about this project.

Change the image size to exactly 8 inches by 10 inches using the Crop Tool while the rulers are visible.


  1. Make an appointment or ask the staff members you know or want to use for the time in or out of class to take at least three portraits (from the shoulders up) of them. DO NOT JUST GO TO THEIR CLASS UNANNOUNCED!!!!
  2. Here are some ideas to help you get better, more candid, photos of them: A. Take at least 10-12 photos of each person! B. have them close, then open their eyes right before you take some of the photos. C. have them turn away from the camera, then turn right back on your count to get them relaxed and comfortable for the  photo.
  3. For the practice version, you may choose the image of Steve Jobs or go online to find any image of a portrait (just the head) that you wish. Save the practice version as PMuralLastFirst.jpg. For the final version, choose the staff portrait that has the most interest, drama, or artistic flair to it –Save this final image as MuralLastFirst.psd. Double click the background layer to unlock it, then make a duplicate layer, but turn the visibility of this layer off by clicking the eye icon in the layers palette so that it disappears.
  4. Now turn on the rulers by selecting View – Rulers (see image below). You should see the measurements of the image displayed on the left and top of the interface in inches.
  5. Crop the photo so that it is exactly 8 inches by 10 inches, either portrait or landscape format. This will give you exactly 80 one inch squares.
  6. Now slide the cursor over to the ruler, click on the edge and drag out towards the middle of the image. You will see a light blue line (see above image) that you are carrying, and can place every inch. If the line is not where you wish, simply switch to the Move Tool (V) and move it. Make a grid of blue guidelines that is one inch high and wide.
  7. Select and wipe out the background parts of any portrait you may have taken of a staff member. We want the background to be minimized if possible, so you may have to also crop your portrait to cut out any dead space in the background.
  8. Do a Levels Adjustment on the photo (Control + L) and make sure the photo has enough lights and darks. Look at the image of Mr. Kellogg above – this image won the 1st Mystery Mural Contest 14 years ago. Notice how each square is treated differently.  As you make and save a perfectly 1 inch square selection, you will be experimenting with all of the Filters available in the Photoshop menu. Starting with the square in the top left, go to Filter in the menu on the top of the interface, choose one of the Artistic Filters for starters and watch what happens as you filter the selection you chose.
  9. Keep moving your one inch selection over to the right, and each time choose a new filter (or series of filters) until the image is completely altered. Let no square look like any other square touching it, so that we get lots of variety in our Mystery Mural. Do not use the same filter or combination of filters in any two squares that border each other.
  10. Do this for each of the 80 squares.
  11. Inside the background, you may use a common pattern or filter (see example above).
  12. Turn in this image as a JPEG called PMuralLastFirst.jpg for the practice version (to be saved to the same folder you got the Mystery Practice file from), then the final version is called MuralLastFirst and it will be saved to your Edmodo as a PSD.
before editing
after editing

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