Lesson Plan Title : Debunking the Advertising

Age Range: Grade 9 through Grade 12 (High School)

Overview and Purpose: Students are bombarded with images of 'perfect' people all the time. This lesson helps them assess what message is being sent when magazines use Photoshop and airbrushing to alter photos.

Objective: The student will be able to assess how realistic magazine photos are and what impact altering them has on young people.


Photoshop and Picnik programs available to students

Several magazine pictures of celebrities

An altered photo of yourself or someone else (and the before photo)

Digital photos the students can manipulate


Ask students what they think about the magazine covers they see in the store. Do they think they truly represent the people shown? Talk about the techniques of airbrushing and using Photoshop to change pictures. Show your students the before and after picture of yourself (or someone else) and have them critique the differences between them.

Pass out the magazine photos and have students study them carefully. What areas look 'too perfect'? Are there any obvious signs that the photograph has been altered?

Have students experiment with changing a photograph to make it look better. They can do some basic changes with Picnik (www.picnik.com) or some more advanced ones with Photoshop. Have them share the before and after pictures with the class.

Wrap Up:

Many students may not realize that photographs are routinely altered by magazine editors. For homework, have students write two paragraphs describing what effect they think altering photos has on young people.