Lesson Plan

Illuminated laser cut landscapes

In this art-centered assignment, students will gain an understanding of how to create a vector designed image in Illustrator that simulates depth by creating multiple layers that will "printed" on a laser cutter.
Rebeccah S.
Classroom teacher
Wheeling High School
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My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects Arts

Students will be able to...

  • Plan ahead by creating multiple iterations of a depth concept through thumbnail sketching.
  • Utilize concepts such as foreground, middle ground, and background.  Also, understand some basic rules of perspective (scale, value, etc.). 
  • Think about how to effectively manipulate positive and negative space. 
  • Understand the difference between fair use and  copyright laws.  Referencing is ok, but copying is not. 
  • Critique each thumbnail sketch and modify designs to improve composition and depth simulation.
  • Understand HOW a laser cutter works to understand the limitations of the machine.  
  • Set up a "template dimension" that best works with the chosen thumbnail.
  • Utilize a variety of tools in illustrator (pen tool, shape builder, pathfinder) to create each layer.
  • Understand the importance of registration of vector files. 
  • "Print" on the laser cutter
  • Assemble layers and document final results.
  • Critique the process and brainstorm further ways that this technology can be used to explore form and function. 
Grades 9 – 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Illuminated Manuscript presentation, worksheets, rubric, and instructions

I have attached a google slide presentation that includes student examples, links to a professional artist site that inspired this lesson, and explanations on some of the concepts students will need to know of be reviewing. 

There is also a link in the presentation that takes you to a video presentation I've made (screen cast) using a student's work as an example.  

There is a handout included I use for a student peer critique and a handout used as a rubric/reflective statement which students would fill-out on google docs when they are finished. 

1.  HOOK: The lesson would begin by looking at some examples designed by both students and teachers.  When I show this to students, I also have a physical example that we look at in class to analyze as well.

2.  DIRECT INSTRUCTION After a quick discussion of what we're going to make, we talk briefly about perspective and how to create the illusion of depth  in the piece.  

3.  GUIDED PRACTICE  Once students are familiar with the concept and some limitations of the materials we are using , I ask them to sketch out several designs.  As with any design, I ask them to consider composition as a fundamental in how they choose to lay-out their subject matter. 

The designs are peer reviewed by other students using the worksheet I've given before students start working on their design on the computer.

4.  INDEPENDENT PRACTICE &  GUIDED INDIVIDUAL PRACTICE: Once on the computer, I'll usually ask them to refer to the video at this point and assist each other in the design process, checking for understanding along the way with each individual.   Based on their thumbnail sketches, they need to decide the number of layers, and dimensions and to use. 

Once they are ready to print, they need to format the image for the laser cutter.

When the students are ready to assemble their pieces, I show them and then let them assist each other.

5.  WRAP-UP The final portion of this project usually involves documenting the pieces, filling out a rubric, and reflecting on the the process and how to use the skills learned to continue to innovate future designs. 

Also, I LOVE putting these pieces on display in art shows and in display cases.  It's fantastic to see people stop and admire them and ask HOW they were made and if they can buy them!



Student Instructions

Same as teacher's instructions.