As the final days of school wound down, junior students learned about pixels – minute areas of illumination on a display screen, together composing an image. Using a template, they created their own designs and also tried to create designs of popular images of characters and other imagery from video games they played.
How It Works
The template is a Google Sheet that uses conditional formatting and has re-sized cells that appear as squares. Due to the conditional formatting, users can type a specific number into any of the square-shaped cells and depending on the value, the cell will change colour: 0 = gray; 1 = red; 2 = orange; 3 = yellow; 4 = green; 5 = blue; 6 = purple; 7 = pink; 8 = brown; and 9 = black. Alternatively, students can use the fill colour feature that allows them to pick the colour they would like for each cell.
Taking Time & Planning
While the task seemed simple enough, it was interesting to see how many students had to reset or restart their designs because they failed to plan and jumped right in, quickly changing the colour of their “pixels” without truly mapping out how their image would unfold. Many said the task was so easy and yet when it came down to actually creating their design, they realized that some planning would be needed. Those who were most successful took time to plan their canvas considering the number of squares that they would need. Some students also quickly learned that they could also add columns and rows in order to fix sizing issues along the way.
Images as a Guide
A few students started looking up images created using pixel art to get ideas of what to make and decided to copy and paste them into their Google Sheet for reference as they began. This caused quite the controversy as some students thought that others were cheating. We then had conversations about how we use information in the classroom to help in our learning and that using an image as a guide might be similar for many. We also had conversations around copywritten images and citing the sources of works of art, encouraging students to create their own works.
Proud to Showcase Our Work
The concentration and effort that went into creating designs were wonderful to watch. As students got down to work, there were moments when you could hear a pin drop in the room. They were focused. When it came time to share their work with others, it was incredible to see how proud students were to share what they had created. Some students were teaching others to create designs like theirs and walked them through the process.
All-in-all pixel art was a great activity that got the creative juices flowing as we wound down the year.