The harris effect

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

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 10.29 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 can a photographic artist create illusion?



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 explored. 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

  • 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 still image examples on the Harris effect Pinterest page
  • discuss and analyse the images through leading questions such as:
    • what do you think the photographer has used to create this?
    • how many colours do you make up this image?
    • does anyone in the room know some of the Adobe Photoshop techniques the photographer used?
  • watch the Harris effect tutorial (10:54)
Harris effect tutorial

Anna McAuley

Welcome back everybody. My name is Anna McAuley and today we are going

to be looking at an online tutorial on the Harris effect. Now I did record for you a previous vide that was looking at and understanding channels and if you didn't watch that, my recommendation to you, to make this whole process a lot easier is to go back and just have a watch of it. All you have to do is watch through that one. Um you're not actually doing anything, its just a quick video on how to, explaining what the difference is between layers and channels and thus you would understand this effect much easier.

So today we are going to be having a look at doing this image here which is my dog Teddy, and as you can see there's a range of different colours in it. Um and this is what we are going to be doing.

So, the first thing I want to do is to show you channels and to show you the images that we have placed on channels as I explained earlier. Your picture is a normal picture and is made up of certain groups of colours, this particular picture is made up of RGB or a Red green blue set of colours.

Just like a colour printer has, you've got to put in different colour cartridge's for your different printers. But what we've done with this image is, I've pasted (that's a word) on the red channel, one certain picture on the green one, a slightly different picture, and on the blue one slightly different picture again. So all 3 of them in combination, go to this image here where he is slightly moving a little bit and every time you move, the colour changes.

So that's the effect we are going to do today, so let's get into it. I am just going to close that off. So the first thing we're gonna do is go file, scripts, load file into stack, file, scripts, load file into stack.

Then we go to Browse. Now, I have a Teddy 1, 2 and 3 for you on my Pinterest, Ms McAuely and there is a link below on the YouTube for you to find or your teacher may have put this onto the network for you and downloaded it for you so that it they are ready.

Alternatively, you can just take your own portrait of someone or your dog or whatever in just 3 slightly different variations of them moving. It's much easier to start with that, rather than doing something where it's completely different in size and scale and things. So, we are gonna just, I am gonna hold my mouse down and I am highlighting Teddy 1, 2 , 3, and go 'OK'. So as you can see, they've come up there, Teddy 1, 2, 3 and then I'm going to go, that's all good that's what we wanted. I am gonna go OK.

So we are just waiting for that to come through on the layers. Great. So as you can see we have Teddy 1, Teddy 2, Teddy 3. And they're, it's really we just loaded them, those files and just stacked for convenience, so that they are there. Um, but we are really not going to be using them in the same way as we would use the layer. The first thing I want you to do is to click on Teddy 1 and you are going to go Ctrl 'a' or 'select all'. So that will bring up a box. You are then go to 'Ctrl c' which is to copy that.

So we went clicked on Teddy 1 on the layers went Ctrl 'a' and Ctrl 'c'. So we've just all we have done select all we've copied it. And we've copied it to a clipboard. Because we copied it to a clipboard, its going to understand, its gonna remember the ratio of this particular picture.

So I'm gonna go file 'new, and because we did that first, it remembers it. See how its coming from the clipboard? And its gonna default to that size, that's one of the convenient things about it. And I'm gonna write Teddy Harris 1 or something like that. And go ok.

So now, it's just given me a new file with Teddy Harris 1. So we are gonna be working between an untitled one and Teddy Harris 1. Alright so that's what we've gotta get used to clicking up on the top bar between those two. So as we have already copied Teddy 1 onto our clipboard by Ctrl 'C''ing it, go on to Teddy Harris 1, now instead of pasting it onto layers which is what we are so used to doing and we really want to do that, you know without thinking, you're going to click on 'channels'.

Now if you can not see channels there, on your palette you need to go to 'window', 'channels' and click on 'channels'. Let's bring mine back up because when I clicked on it I took it off. So you need to make sure that's on.

Now at the moment it's got nothing there because we don't have an image in there yet. So its saying there's no colours, for us to put into that. So what I am going to do is instead of clicking on a layer I just want you to think of it as layer red , we are going to be clicking onto.

So channel red, layer red. So we are going to paste into channel red and I'm going to go Ctrl 'V'. Da'dah!

So that's the first image. When you've done that, so what you've done first, the untiled one. We have Ctrl 'a''d it, we Ctrl 'c''d it, we made a new file, then we went into the 'channels' part of the new file and 'paste' into the red channel.

So far so good? And the short cuts we were using Ctrl 'a', was select all, Ctrl 'c' was copy and Ctrl 'v' was paste.

If you get lost and you've forgotten those, you'll find them up under 'edit'. Except for select all, select all is under 'select'.


So they're all under edit. So now, you've just gotta remember to click onto 'layers' first before you go back to untitled one. Then go to untitled one, click on Teddy 2, because its already selected you can tell that because of the worms are all around, the ants are dancing around the outside, we are just gonna go Ctrl 'c', and copy Teddy 2 onto our clipboard now, then I am going to click on Teddy Harris 1 and new file that we are making, instead of on layers we don't paste it into there no no no no no layers, we paste into 'channels', and before we paste it into our red you paste into there again, it will just overwrite it.

It will just put a new image on there. You can do that of course later on if you want to play around with it. Um but I am going to put it into the green channel now. SO see how I've clicked on the green? And what was the shortcut to paste? Ctrl 'V'. Ah huh.

So now we've got two different images gone into our two different channels. Before you move off Teddy Harris 1, you make sure you click onto 'layers'. Then you go back to untiled 1 and click on Teddy 3. Ctrl 'c', click back on Teddy Harris 1, back onto 'channels', and then we are going to put it into the blue part because that's the bit that's missing. And the short cut was to paste? Ctrl 'V'.

So now have an image that has got red, green and blue but they are all different images gone into the 'channels' palette. I am going to click on the RGB and that's the result.

Now, that looks pretty cool. You can move for example if you click on the red one and you're on your move tool up here or press 'v', you can move Mr Red around a little bit or just go Ctrl 'D', de-select it first, you can move the red one around or blow him up or make him different, so see how I have put his red one down there for a moment?

The red one is down there for a moment. So see how its sort of down there? Um, I'll just move that back again, so I'll just, see how he's there? So I'll just, sorry just give me one second. I'll go Ctrl 'z', Ctrl alt 'z' which is un-doing it, see you can move them around a little bit but just beware it will crop it off.

So there are some images. See you can for example if you just wanted to, not have all of the red, green and blue, you might not want the blue. So see how now that's just red and green? Looks cool. You could do a different combo, you could go blue and red and just save that. See how when I click on my layers that just then that image? So it really depends on what you want in terms of the image itself. So we will just leave it at that. And that's already flattened so I don't need to do anything with the layers, or flatten the layers and I am just going to go 'file', 'save as', Teddy Harris effect, yep fantastic one 'save'. And that's it.

So the shortcuts Ctrl 'a', just select all, Ctrl 'c' to copy, new image in the channels palette paste into individual channel colours. And there it is. It is that easy. So, you know, keep practising, um, just do it step by step and in no time you'll just think that it is just so easy, you don't even know why you thought it was hard.

Um, until next time, happy photo shopping.

[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:

  • take three images of a person or landscape.
  • If taking a landscape take the three images that are only slightly different in angle to start with. This makes it easier
  • If taking a portrait the photographer should place the person against a white or black background, such as a school white board. The photographer should encourage the model to move their head and arms while taking three different compositional images.

Students will:

  • take an image in good light to avoid blurry photos or using the cameras ISO settings if possible to adjust for low light needs by increasing it.
  • transfer the images from the camera. This can be done using a card reader, email or Bluetooth
  • follow the Adobe Photoshop 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 will:

  • create changes in perspective using Adobe Photoshop techniques such as transform to modify the person and or the environment around them.

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 the Harris effect tutorial (10:54)
  • 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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