Students will investigate how various images can be manipulated using Adobe Photoshop to create interesting and postmodern interpretations.

In these lessons, students will develop their technical knowledge of digital photography following the video tutorial and associated image files on the 'levitation' technique (ZIP 11.96 MB). Once they have mastered the techniques using the supplied sample images, students are then encouraged to take their own photographic images then apply the same techniques to them. This is a part of a lesson sequence that is designed to assist students in creating a folio of images.


  • 5.1 develops range and autonomy in selecting and applying photographic and digital conventions and procedures to make photographic and digital works.
  • 5.3 makes photographic and digital works informed by an understanding of how the frames affect meaning.
  • 5.6 selects appropriate procedures and techniques to make and refine photographic and digital works.


2 weeks.

Driving question

Is a photograph a representation of truth or a staged and manipulated image?



Students will develop their skills and knowledge of photographic practice using still digital images and manipulate them through the Adobe Photoshop program. They will use a digital journal or art book to document their experiments.

Conceptual framework

Students will investigate the relationship between the artist, artwork, world and audience. They will explore the art agencies relating to their own art making as a digital artist and how it is connected to practicing photographers, audiences and the world.


Students will use the postmodern and structural frame to establish different points of view about their photographic practice.

  • Information and communication technology
  • Work, employment and enterprise
  • Numeracy.


All activities require students to demonstrate their learning and are all assessment for learning activities.

Process Diary

Students are to:

  • document the process and technical shortcuts through practical classes in a process diary. This should be a journal, exploring reflections of each practical lesson or section investigating the different techniques. This can be their class workbooks, a photographic and digital media process diary, or an online blog through sites such as Class Notebook or Google classroom.

Teaching and learning activities

Students will need:

  • Adobe Photoshop software on a class set of laptops, or in a computer lab
  • Headphones for each student (optional)
  • Any device that can take a photograph.

Students will:

  • go through the images examples on the levitation Pinterest board
  • discuss and analyse the images through leading questions such as:
    • what do you think the photographer has used to create this?
    • does anyone in the room know some of the Adobe Photoshop techniques the photographer used?
  • watch the Levitation tutorial (08:49)
Levitation tutorial

Anna McCauley

Welcome back everybody my name is Anna McCauley and today we're gonna have a look at doing some levitation. This is the image that we're going to be working on today. I've tweaked it and blurred the background a little and add a little detailing around to make it so look like a much older vintage sort of photo but you of course, don't have to do that. Alright so this is what we're going to be looking for - let's get into it.

So the first thing we're going to do is to load the pictures up so they all both pictures are going to come out on the layers. So we're going to go to file, scripts, load file into stack, file scripts, load file into stack. Then this brings up a browser. You go to browse and the teacher should have put these images in there for you into and on to the network or something for you, so you can get them easily. Alternatively if you're just looking at YouTube, I will have put them on to my Pinterest and you can download load them from there I have got a detailed link on my YouTube underneath it where you can access my Pinterest details. Alright so what we can do these would get what you're going to do is to have a look at background, and person and then we go okay. And you can see how they're coming up there. So they're the two correct files, I hope.

You're gonna go alright once they'veloaded in, you'll see there's two files there and I'll run through the differences. The first photo we're just sorry, yep, the background layer goes on the bottom so just drag that down, will drag the person one up. That's right. Turn the eye off this one, just so you can see the differences. The first image that you do is of the background without the person or most importantly without the object they're sitting on to give them that effect of levitation. The biggest mistake that I've seen by hundreds and hundreds of students is that they leave the stall or whatever in the background shot that means you can't rub it, out because you've got nothing behind it. So really important take the shot without the stool or person in it first.

We can do it secondly, but make sure you remove the stall in person as well. The hardest thing about this is designing your shot. This is what takes the most time. This particular trick in Photoshop doesn't take long at all. So that's your background, no person no stool.

Clicking on my eye, making sure when I click on the person it's blue, then you can see I've got a person there but you can see this stool underneath there. So that's the bit we've got to rub out. Now she's on a ladder or something chunkier then you have to rub out more, but other than that, it's pretty easy to do. So go ahead. So I'm going to go ctrl+ so I can get a close- up and I'm gonna press my spacebar. So there we've got the stool bit here which we have to rub out. I'm going to use a layer mask for this. Click on your third thing down, add layer mask.

You can see it's a layer mask when you get a white square. When you're working in layer masks, you're gonna be working in white and black. So you can see how I can toggle between the white and black.

You also have to use your brush tool for this. So if you press B, it goes to my brush tool or you click up here and that's your brush tool. What you also want to do is you set your brush tool with the fuzzy edge. Oh actually, we might not for this because we've got to cut out some nice sharp angles there. So that's okay we don't need it. I'm just going to right click and make my brush a bit smaller, so I can get into some details. Ctrl+ blowing it up, you just have to take your time cutting it out. If you don't you do that well then it doesn't look real at all. All right so on up make sure you click on the white square, you're on black and you're on your brush tool.

Then, again, I'm gonna go blow it up more, because I like to see what I'm cutting out properly. Now when I cut out I then take my finger off every now and again. So if I've done a good bit, I don't want to have to redo that if I stuff up down here, and I don't only keep my finger on without releasing it it doesn't go it goes back to where you first started. So just nice and carefully they'll take my finger off if it's good before I stuff up. It goes from that spot down there and then i'm then gonna carefully cut all that out. And can you see over on your white thing is a little bit of black starting to come up there again? Just cutting all that out. oh you know what I haven't got? It needs to be on 100% opacity. So all I'm doing is staying on my layer mask using black, cutting out that stool. How easy is that?

The hardest bit is really arranging this composition and getting the person to sit there while you take it with the tripod. That's the hard bit - getting a stool out and or ladder or something. All right, so we've just rubbed all that out, control minus, now she's levitating. It is a simple as that. So you've got your background layer there, with nothing in it, no stool, no person.

The front layer I've now just rubbed the stool out with my layer mask. We're then going to apply this layer, by I'm just going to go control E, which is merging down - so now it's all one lovely lovely layer. Which is what you I'd like you to do. So make sure you always end up with one layer, then file, save as, so 'finished lev' ,you have to say with extras, at this stage, save.

I hope you enjoy that please upload any photos onto my youtube underneath so I me know or send me a Pinterest link or something like, that I'd love to see what you're doing and I'd love to comment on it as well because look some of these techniques see how easy that was in Photoshop? It's just simply a little layer mask and rubbing out and how cool is it? So that's why heaps of people are doing it. The hardest bit with the levitation really is the arrangement of it and getting the person to sit there for long enough and bringing in a tripod and taking two photos that are exactly the same, so that your camera doesn't move - that's the most important thing.

So whenever you rub out the background is just the same. Then it's so easy. So if you follow that, if you don't have a tripod, lean it up on a surface. If you follow that rule of background first, and all set. Set your model ups and have a look at your composition. Then get her to leave, take your background, then bring in a stool or a little table or something - don't go too high - and have some fun! Make sure the model is looking as if they're floating. Point your toes you know, keep your arms waving a little bit. Even have a fan for the hair or someone holds their dress a little bit so that it looks like she's actually got some wind that she or he has got some wind behind them as well. That's what makes a huge difference.

Alright until next time, happy photoshopping!

[End of transcript]

  • discuss the key techniques used.

Allow students to watch the video tutorial again with headphones. This provides students with an opportunity to pace themselves according to their prior knowledge and level.

Students are to complete the tutorial using Adobe Photoshop and save the image for the teacher to assess.

Once completed, students will:

  • photograph two of their own images.

Students will:

  • use a tripod or sturdy surface to take two images; this makes it much easier to edit in Adobe Photoshop later
  • take an image of a background
  • keeping the camera in the same position using a tripod and take the shot with the student sitting on a stool or table with legs and body positioned to look as though they are floating. The most common mistake students initially make is to include the stool or table in their first background shot
  • transfer the images from the camera. This can be done using a card reader, email or Bluetooth
  • follow the video tutorial again using their images as a step by step guide
  • flatten the layers through the Adobe Photoshop command before finishing
  • save the image as a PNG file or JPEG, not a PSD.

Students are to complete a digital or hard copy journal to document their ideas and processes required. This can be completed through one-note.

Teachers are encouraged to communicate online developing their google site or google classroom.



Teachers are encouraged to provide students with acceleration activities if required.

Students could:

  • create a multiple levitation image which includes the person and associated objects that float in the around the subject.

Life skills


  • LS 1 experiences a variety of artmaking activities.
  • LS 2 explores a variety of materials, techniques and processes.
  • LS 9 uses a range of materials, techniques and processes to make artworks.

Students could:

  • discuss where they have seen grids used in their day to day life
  • complete the grid activity from above with assistance
  • print out a grid template from online and get them to colour the different sections in varying colours
  • trace over a magazine inlay, identifying where the main lines fall
  • create a Carson style collage:
    • collage different examples of printed text onto a piece of cardboard, cut and tear
    • cut out simple shapes of animals on black or white paper
    • glue the animal cut-outs over the text collage.

Students will:

  • use the example files provided and attempt the Adobe Photoshop tutorial. Teachers should give students extra time and support where required
  • research a range of photographic images from the internet that use similar techniques, cutting and pasting into OneNote or a powerpoint.


Formative assessment can be used to determine learning progress throughout the lesson sequences. Teachers should informally assess a student's level of understanding and adapt accordingly.

Summative assessment can be used at the end of the lesson sequences. Students could hand in a folio of finished images, either on google classroom or printed out. This could be marked as against a benchmark. Students could also hand in their journal for marking as well.

This sequence and accompanying worksheets are available as word documents below.


Please note:

Syllabus outcomes and content descriptors from Photographic and Digital Media 7–10 Syllabus (2004) © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2017.

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