See through frame

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 technique (ZIP 7.3 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

How do post-modern photographers deconstruct and reconstruct compositions to change the original context of the 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 on the See through frames 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 Creating a see through frame (07:58)
Creating a see through frame

Anna McCauley

Hello and welcome to another online tutorial. My name is Anna McCauley and today we're gonna be having a look at doing a see-through frame, and we're actually gonna be creating this image here how cool does it look?

After you've learned how to do these step-by-step instructions you then can apply it to your own images. I have worked a little bit on these images and I'll explain that as I go, and I also want you then to watch another tutorial which explains how to, for example, cut out the fence, and cut out the background and stuff, to prepare your images for this. You'll soon understand what I'm talking about.

So let's get into it. So the first thing you have to do is to go to file, scripts, load file into stack. That comes up with a load layer browser and then you're going to go browse. And that takes us into our my computer folder and you are going to select these three images which is background example, fence example, and portrait clear.

To access these you need to download them onto your computer first. Your teacher can access this through the curriculum website or alternatively I'll try and leave it with the YouTube clip in some way. Now open up all three see how I just highlighted all of those, and then click open. They come up here, all three.

So there you can check that you've got those files there if you're happy with those you go ok. We don't need to attempt to align them automatically because they're not the same sort of image. And we're going to go ok, great. So all three images are in there, now it really depends on which ones you clicked first in what order, so what we're gonna do is

we're going to order them correctly. So if you click onto fence example in your layers palette you're dragging that up to the top, like so. Then click on portrait clear and make sure yeah when you click on it it goes blue, it's in the middle. So our three files are now lined up and we are ready to go. So you can also see here how the fence example is cut out so you can see if I turn off for this one I can see through it and I'll show you how to do that as well. It's not too hard.

So what we're going to do is once again use a layer mask and all we're gonna do is to cut out some of the portrait underneath the fence so we'd have to worry about cutting the fence out I thought that was the easiest way to do it you go to portrait clear background make sure you click on that and you're gonna lay a mask. Here we go.

The third one along, add layer mask, click on that. You can tell you've done that because it produces a white box next to your picture. Once you've done that we are going to work, always in the layer mask - you work with black and white and you're going to work with your brush tool.

So that's where your brush tool is or you can press B. You see the shortcut there? So we're going to work black easily, use the brush tool to rub out what patches I want, so here we go. So hard is it so I'm just holding my mouse down and we're gonna rub out some squares. So you get the idea. So rubbing out some squares. You can choose which ones you want to rub out now if you did something like I just did. The best thing about half doing a layer mask is that you can undo. So if you go ctrl + blows it up, hold your spacebar down, you then can get the opposite colour which is white and rub it out. See? Very cool. So

this is where you can get you know quite detailed. I also have my brush tool you go up here on a hard surface edge because that I want it to be blurry, so I have it on a hard. So we can see I've just changed back to black and I can keep adding. So now I'm holding my spacebar down you can see the hand come up and that helps you drag it down if you want to stay this zoomed up it's probably easier - so you can look at more details. There's a bit of a texture on the surface there and that's fine because sort of adds to it anyway. So now

I'm going to rub out some more. So you get the idea pretty quickly how easy it is because cut out the fence layer first. Should I do, ah why not. Cutting out

fence layer first means we don't have to care about how close were going to that fence because it's up here and we're not it's up here and I'm not touching it at all. Click back down click on your mask whoops, I went over there. So go to my white go back so go click back to you black over again, try and be careful go back to white, back to black, look show you on your brush tool, pop that out too.

As you can see now I added many more squares and that is pretty much it so that's creating it. So what you've got here is over in the layers palette you can see where you've done black, is where it's masking out. So after we do that that's all done and it was as easy as that. So what you need to do then, if you feel really happy with it, you then go to layer flatten image. You always want to have end up with one layer. You see how that's one layer there? I'm just gonna click unlock, and I'm just gonna perhaps tweak it a little bit. So if you go for example control U which is hue/saturation control u, you're just going to add maybe a bit more saturation. Perhaps go easy with that dark Collider you can play around with it.

This is pretty good as I think so I don't need to do too much to it, but you can do a lot. Like you could colorize it for example, all sorts of things in there. Go

OK. And there you have it. Really simple exercise to do a see-through frame. I hope you enjoy it and achieve some good results. So once you are confident with it, you could then go in and work on the other tutorials which is how to easily cut out a background and also how to cut out a fence, or you could just use the same fence file that I gave you on another project, and then you could then take your own photos taking your own portrait and then your own background to make something that is unique and incredible to you. Until next time enjoy Photoshop.

[End of transcript]

  • discuss the key techniques used.

Allow students to watch the 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, take a shot with the student holding the picture frame. This can be over their face or body
  • transfer the images from the camera. This can be done using a card reader, email or Bluetooth
  • follow the 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 changes in perspective, tone or colour using Adobe Photoshop techniques such as transform to modify the person and or the environment around them
  • watch Cutting out a wire fence (09:42) and make their own version
Cutting out a wire fence

Anna McCauley

Hi everyone. Welcome back. Today what we're going to be looking at is creating an example like this, where you have got a metal frame with a chequered dot background and that means that it's simply transparent, so that way we could put that wire image over the top of any other image and it would look like it is see through. That's the goal. So, this is the finished product, so we'll get into doing it from the start. Here we go. So going to go file, open, you're going to find your file. There are heaps of examples of these on the internet, however, you can take your own. So, I've just opened it up. You can take your own. I took this this morning. I just simply put a blind, it actually was sort of a brownish, beige-ish blind, wasn't white, should have been white in the background and took it in low light, so that doesn't have a lot of harsh shadow so you can try that as well. So, this is also goes in combination with your see through frame.

All right, so the first thing we have to do is unlock our background. You can see, over there when I click there is going to be a lock and I've unlocked it. So now instead of it saying background with a lock, it is zero layer zero. Now just to be sure to be sure, what I do is I right click in duplicate layer, or you can go control J, and we're just going to give another copy just to do that just in case you muck up the first one. And so, you're not really working directly on your original at this stage. If you do choose to duplicate your layer you don't have to, click off the eye on the bottom one, that means that we just not looking at that layer. Make sure you're always on the top layer and how you know that, is it's blue where you've clicked.

So, the first thing you have to do, depending on your image, is that you might have to adjust the contrast in some way, because this is a little bit mid tone-ish. So, what I'm going to do is go control L, or levels, adjustment levels, control L. And I'm only going to slightly do this, simply because I don't want to over, make this metal look too non-realistic, and I'm just going to push the blacks up so, you see what I mean, I could go quite crazy. Well that might look quite good. Blacks up a lot. And then bring the whites up down. So, I'm working with this bar here, and this one here. And so, what I'm trying to do is create mid tone in there somehow, and we go, okay. So that was adjusting levels. Now I'm going to show you the difference, I'll put this eye on of what we just did, eye on there, eye off. That was what it was like before. That is like, it's like now, that's after doing levels and I use levels nearly in every photo. So, control L is how you use levels. Always tick your levels in any photos, because it makes a lot of difference. So, eye off the bottom one again. Let's get into it.

So, what would technique we're going to do to take out the white of the background without having to individually rub out every single grid in there, which I really don't like to do and that's really like a waste of time, I'm going to simply show you a technique we can use. Here we go. So, we're going to go up to select. Select, colour range. So, you're going to go select, colour range, and this is the box it gives you here. What at the moment it's showing me is a selection that's the image there. And it's got an eyedropper here, which I'm going to click on. You are then to get your eyedropper, and click it onto the white aspect of it. I'm then going to turn my fuzziness up and when I'm doing that, you can't go too much because it's going to take some of the white out of your wire, so we'll just do it in little stages. So, you can, when I'm taking, so the fuzziness goes up and down, and what that's doing is wherever it's white means that's the bit's going to cut out. Okay, so it's not, if I had it on that, had it on that, it's not going to cut out much because mostly it's blacked, but it's going to cut out a bit here and we are going to do this in stages. So that is maybe fairly good for this image and I'm just going to go, okay. What it's going to do is show me highlight. And sort of like running ants, and that means that that part of it's selected. I'm then going to go control X, control X, which means that it's cut out that white.

Told you it was easy. So, it's going to go control plus, just have a view of it, holding my space bar down, so I can move around, see the hand, so I'm holding my space bar down while I'm clicking my mouse so I can move the picture around. And that looks pretty good. I mean there's a few little bits but bye jeez. Now there might be a little bit more grey in this down that bottom area, so I'm just going to have another go. Select, colour range, click down here. Yeah, see it's going to find a bit of that there and go okay, and then control X. Oh hmm, it might have taken off a bit too much there. It's sort of tapped into the grey, so I'm going to go control Z and take that back. Control D to stop it selecting. So, they're the other shortcuts you can use, control Z is to undo, control D is to de-select, in case you have to go backwards. All right, so we'll try that again. So, I'm just going to go and try and select colour range and pick up some of these if there's any little greys there, not too much though. So, we're just going to see how that goes. See I'm just putting my fuzziness right down because I don't want it to pick up on the greys on the wire. It already is doing that a little bit because you can see and go, okay. And control X to cut. Beautiful. So now you have a see through image. So that's our finished image, that was our original.

So now what I could do, I'm just going to show you is go file, open, there's my background here, go open. I'm going to show you how see through it is, and you can do this to check it too. Drag my original, sorry, not the original fence, where's my background? Is that my, yep, that one. Drag that down. My move tool, click, or press V. See this is what the move tool looks like. Drag and drop that into the image. You can see now, how that is see through. So, there's still a little few bits in there, which you can see, because we didn't, because we didn't pick it up enough. So, I can still work on that. So, what I'm going to do is turn those layers off, and I'm going to try and do that again. So, I'm going to go select colour range. Going to find a couple of those little bits in there maybe. Go plus, err, might be too much. So, if you need to, you can come back and add, do a little bit more, but that's pretty much it. Select colour range and try and tweak it a little bit. Okay, thanks for watching, give that a go. Remember with your select colour range tool, I'll just show you, select colour range. You can use, so just get say the eyedropper that's probably needs a little bit of cutting out anyway, if I want to add an extra tone, extra colour into your colour range selection, you can press the plus, eyedropper and that'll add a second tone to it. So you can see how I'm adding a second tone, if you don't want that, you go minus, and you can minus the tones out of it as well. So, you can see how it's taking it away every time I'm clicking. So that's a really good tool to use. So, there's all of those three there, are exactly what you use. Go okay, and I was going to go control X, see, that's took out a little bit more. And then you're ready to do the see through frame exercise on your own. All right, well I look forward to seeing some of your samples. Please make sure you post some of those on the YouTube link so I can have a look. And I hope you enjoy Photoshop. Until next time, it's Anna McAuley, thank you.

[End of transcript]

  • watch the Cutting out a portrait (10:31) and make their own version.
Cutting out a portrait

Anna McCauley

Welcome back everyone. Today we're going to be looking taking backgrounds out of portraits so that then. you can use them to place in another new background that you'd like. So as you can see here, it's an example of one that I've already done, and you can tell that it's transparent, because of the checkered background that you see there. So I'll just show you what I mean by transparent.

So if I click on layer one here, I've just got another background open, I'm gonna drag that down, click on my move tool (you don't have to do this, but I'm just showing you) close that off. See how there is a background? Now I can put behind her. So that means I've got that image and see how she's transparent? So if you see those grid lines, if you see that grid, that means that it's transparent. And you can do that. So you can also move around if you want to, for example, without the background changing. So that's the goal of today. So let's get into it. Okay we're gonna go, file, open.

So what I'm gonna ask you to do, is to encourage you to (when you're first doing it), to take some portrait shots with just a really plain background. It's much easier to cut things out with the plain background. It's very hard to get a really nice flat, white background without any shadow or change in colour tone. You can see that here it's not all one shade at the background. Often that's why you use a green screen.

So if you have a green background, that's really much easier to cut out than even this white here because this white is quite close to her skin tone, so that's gonna make it a little bit trickier. Whereas if we had green screen, behind the green would be very different than her skin tone and it will be super easy to cut it out. But anyway, this is more reality. Like this is. you know if you're setting it up at home or at school or something like that, to take an image that has just got a colour behind it. So let's go from here. So the first thing we're gonna do is to unlock the background.

So click the unlock. It turns it into 0 layer. You're then going to duplicate that layer by clicking ok, or ctrl J is the shortcut for duplicate layer. All right. So I've got two layers there. The reason why you do two layers is just in case you stuff it up, and we don't have to reopen it all from the start if you don't have to.

So when clicking on our top layer and the eye 'off' at the bottom one, so it ultimately will be see-through. Clicking on a top layer you know you're on the top layer when it is blue. Now as I showed you, if you watched the previous video on cutting out the wire, we need to up the contrast a little in this. So we can give her skin tone a chance to look a little bit different in comparison to the background, how do you do this you ask? You go to levels of course. So that means you just simply go ctrl L (and that's a shortcut for your levels or image adjustment levels). So here we work with this is your black slider, your medium tones, and your white shades. Pump the black up a little, and I do this with nearly every photo as I've said before.

Go down with that mid-tone there a little bit. We don't lose her face too much though and okay that's a little better. We'll go okay. I don't want to over-do it/over push it because I don't want her face tones to look too unnatural. So I'll just show you then, the difference. So I just put the eye on the bottom one, and

I'll click that off the top one. That's without levels, that's with levels. So you can see the contrast of the image is greatly improved. So do that with all your photos that makes them look better.

So clicking on the top layer in the layers palette, on the top layer with blue on the top. We're going to start cutting out this picture. Now to my eye this white does not look all consistent, so I can't just click one select colour and cut it all out. So what I like to do is do it in bits. So what we're gonna do first is go over here, because that's pretty brown so that won't be too hard to cut out. So I'm going to use my lasso tool yeah and what I've done is just gone around her hair a little, bit but mostly the background. Then I'm going to select colour age. What this does is isolates colour. It's not letting me select it, why? Because I've not clicked on a layer.

You can see how I'm not clicked on the layer, so click on the layer. See how it didn't work because I wasn't clicked on a layer? So click on the layer, now it'll work. Select colour range (remember last time we looked at eyedroppers so this is going to pick up the top colour).

So click on that. Now I remember the fuzziness is how much of the colour it's going to pick up. So we're gonna go quite high with that, but we do want to get some of that hair in still. Go ok.

Now that is now going to nicely cut out around her head. So, sorry, I just unselected them. So just re-select, control X, to cut it out. So now I've cut out that background, part one. I'll just turn the eye off the bottom one, so we can see that that's now the grid. Ok, control +, and we'll have a look down at this side. This is easy because that white will cut out quite easily against the black. So what I do is, we'll just do a chunky cut first. So I've just highlighted around there, select colour range, so it's only giving me that area box because that's where I selected with my eyedropper. Click in there. I need another tone click + it's looking pretty good, go okay. Should just give me around that shoulder in it, yep. Control X beautiful. Easy. Now instead of trying to draw around it, it's much easier. Okay so now

I'm gonna do the bit more tricky with her face. I'm gonna go quite close to the edge because I don't want any of those light peachy tones of her face to get highlighted when I do the rest of this. So I've just gone around, quite closely there. Select colour range, eyedropper, yeah, it's looking good. Ok, control X, beautiful it's nearly done. Hold your spacebar down, move it over, Lasso around, just go behind the ear there, select colour age, eyedropper, excellent. Control X to cut it (if you don't remember control X go edit, cut). You can see the shortcut there. And the final piece of the puzzle, around this I'm avoiding the peachy bit of the hair at the front. Go around her earlobe carefully and around to join it up. Select colour range, hit the eyedropper tool, beautiful. Ok. Control X ah.

There we have it. So now you have a portrait that has a transparent background. So then you can put any background you like behind it, and it's the same thing as a green screen uses. So we'll show you the first one, that was that one. Now I've got the transparent. So just get rid of that first layer there. So I've got one layer and it's transparent, fantastic.

So once that's done, just press file, save as, and you can save it as a PNG. That's the best file to save it as, until you want a smaller file. You might save it as a JPEG or a bitmap but PNG is the industry standard. I'll just type in portrait so you can see how I did that one there. Final see-through.

So now every time you open that, that'll have a see-through background, and then you can use it for heaps of things. So good luck with that. Take your own portrait. Try and get some good lighting on the subject and don't be too far away from the subject either or use a zoom a little bit. Have a nice clear background, green if you've got it. Even green paper I good as it makes that process a lot easier. So we had to do several goes to try and get that, and there you have it. How simple is that? Now you can use it a lot. Good luck and again, show me what you've done. Put it up on YouTube. I'd love to see some images portraits that have got that done.

Also show me some of the effects that you're using it for. Until then, happy photoshopping! Bye.

[End of transcript]

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 will:

  • watch Creating a see-through frame (07:58)
  • use 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.


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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