Just about every day I get an email, a message, or a question on Instagram… “Where’d you get those panels on your classroom wall?”  Well, I made ’em.  I wanted Design Thinking to be emphasized in our new space, and there are several details on these large prints that are customized to our school and our students. IMG_6891

Before I share how to make them, I’ll also share why I’m not just giving them away here or selling the prints.  When you’re designing a school space, it’s not about making it cute.  It’s about designing a space that will inspire the kids you work with to learn, dream, design, and do.  Think about the purpose of YOUR space. Then design walls that will reflect that purpose, or have kids design walls to reflect it. These wall panels are 48 inch squares, printed on a foam core like board and hung with Command Poster Hangers. They show the steps to Design Thinking, They have a rocket that travels it’s way through the frames, in a spinning and struggling motion, just like learning.  They contain the name of our space, “The Launch Pad” and our school logo is hidden among the Lego man.  And they also contain patents of Apple Computer, a robot, a Lego minifig, and a camera… all tools that are part of the every day in the space. Every detail on these posters has meaning to the room around it.  Consider what your space will be and go from there.

Photoshop CC.

1.) Step One 

Create a new file in Photoshop CC.  File –> New.  You’ll be asked to set a few things – shown below.  I chose 48 inches for my width and height, and you can set them to whatever size you will be printing.  If you are printing smaller, 12 inches by 12 inches, or larger, you can set it here.  As for the resolution, 300 will produce a nice quality at a high resolution.

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2.) Step 2:

Pick a Color.  This is my favorite part.  Choose your background color.  The best part? You can pick ANY color that you want to use. Celebrate your school colors, spruce up the wall with a bright color, or choose multiple colors to represent steps in the design cycle.

Layer –> New Layer –> Ok

Layers are super important here, especially if you want to add a variety of details to create depth and texture.  I chose Orange, created a new layer, and added an Orange rectangle.   The Photoshop panel can look like A LOT.  Ignore 95% of it. You literally only need a few tools to make a poster.  Layers are your friend. My layer panel is shown here in the bottom right.  If you’ve never worked with layers, think of it like a hamburger.  The bottom bun is the background. The burger is the colored rectangle.  I’ll add details on a lettuce layer, more shapes on a cheese layer, and font on a tomato.  You can easily move layers up and down to view, hide, or even adjust how transparent they are with the opacity in the layer tools.

You’ll find the rectangle tool on the left hand side of my screen, selected in darker grey.  Drawing a rectangle in Photoshop CC is very similar to other programs where you draw text boxes, like Microsoft Word or Google Drawing.

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Step 3: Add Details

This is where it gets fun! I love searching the Google Patent Gallery for items that are relevant to our students. We’re an Apple school, so the first Apple computer was perfect.  For the sample here, I chose the Lego patent.  Who doesn’t love Lego?

Download the highest level of patent size.  Open it up in Photoshop.  Now you will have your canvas open alongside your patent art.   You’re going to use the selection tool (Dotted box on the far left of my screen) to select around your patent art, or whatever art you choose to use as a layer.  Student drawings would work fabulous, too!   Select the art, then on your Edit menu, choose “Define Brush Preset.”  A brush is basically like a real life rubber stamp.  But the great part in Photoshop is you have unlimited ink colors and layers. Once you have defined the brush, you are ready to stamp it onto your canvas.  But, make a new layer first.  This will give you flexibility in coloring, editing, and even removing later if you want to.

Layer –> New Layer

Take at look at the layer window and you can see there are now three layers. The “opacity” of the layer we have selected is 100%.  Adjust that and you can fade your brush art in and out to your liking.  As you add text to the panel, more layers will add to the box and you can adjust it, too.

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Step 4: Get the Details Right

Once you use the brush tool (8th tool down on the far left of my screen below), you can then stamp your new brush onto your layer.  Don’t worry if it’s not big enough, you can resize it anyway you’d like by dragging it from the corners. And that opacity tool on the layers comes in super handy here. Lighten your brush and it will fade into the back for a nice texture.  This is how I made the grid on the blueprints on my wall prints.  Just turn a grid into a brush and layer it on.  You can make doodles on white paper, snap a pic with your cell phone, and even turn THAT into a brush.  Pretty fun in Photoshop that ANYTHING can be turned into a brush.  NOTE: Be careful that you have permission to use art and that it’s not copyrighted.  Since I do not plan to sell these for commercial use, I’m okay with this here.

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I decided to change the orange to magenta.   All I had to do was head over to the layer window, double click on the “orange” square and select it, and I picked a new color.

Next, I added some text – the big “T” tool on the far left.  You can create any size, use a variety of fonts, and even change your colors on your fonts.  Check out dafont.com for some awesome fonts.   Don’t say I didn’t warn you – downloading fonts is a bit of an, um, addiction.

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I went on to add four more words and pops of color, then I was finished.  Save the final product as a .jpeg file.  There are numerous places to get the posters printed- so check with local copy shops, businesses that might donate printing for your school, or even Costco for large (cheap!) printing.

Happy Creating!