The droste effect

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

Still image


2 weeks

Driving question

How could you link the ideas of the art movement surrealism to the postmodern droste effect?


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 'droste effect' technique (ZIP 2.44MB). 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.


Stage 5

A student:

  • 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.

copyright NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2004.



  • 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.

Cross-curriculum content and key competencies

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


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

Teaching and learning activities

Making still images with Photoshop

Equipment required

  • 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:

  • view the images on the Droste effect Pinterest board
  • discuss and analyse the images through leading questions such as:
    • what do you think the photographer has used to create this?
    • how do you think they made it?
    • does anyone in the room know some of the Adobe Photoshop techniques the photographer used?
  • watch the Droste tutorial (00:17:20)
  • 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:

  • take one image that is surrounded by a frame in some way, or they can use their picture frame images that they designed from the see through frame exercise.

Taking the 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 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.

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.



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

Students could:

  • create the droste effect image connecting individual layers together using Adobe Photoshop techniques such as transform to modify the composition so that it loops seamlessly, creating an infinity effect.

Life skills

Life skills outcomes

A student:

  • 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

copyright NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2004.

Students will:

  • watch the Droste tutorial (00:17:20)
  • 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.

  1. The droste effect sequence (DOCX 53.85KB).

Reference list and resources

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