🎨 Unit 1 Final Project: Abstract Album Art

How can I use my skills in p5 to convey a specific mood or theme?

Overview && Teacher Feedback

This culminating project of Unit 1 is meant as a showcase for all skills students have learned up until this point. It is equally meant to be a creative exploration that allows students to try their skills at art and design and justify their decisions.
Emphasis should be placed on the justification, as many students have anxiety when asked to produce work judged on artistic merit. For students who do not feel they can connect with music, encourage them to think of something in their life they can represent abstractly.
This project is a great way for students to open up and take advantage of their creative freedom!
The launch for this project can utilize one of two (or both, or none) videos found in the resources folder. One of them videos gives a humorous look into the benefits of abstract art; the other is a more scientific look into synesthesia and should provide a grounding for students as to how shapes can convey more than just ‘round’ or ‘pointy.’ Read your class to decide what type of motivation they might need!
This project is best assessed with a written accompaniment where students justify their design decisions. You may want to provide sentence starters for this activity.


Students should be able to:
  • Showcase skills learned in Unit 1
  • Create an abstract representation of a mood or theme using p5.js

Suggested Duration

1-2 45 minute periods for launch & Planning 2-3 45 minute periods for work time
This is all quite subjective; in early projects, you should adjust pace to suit your students so they can make something they are proud of. But this project should take about a week.

Planning Notes

Planning Notes
Materials Needed
See above for timing - students should be held accountable for getting things done each day through a series of check ins, but they also need a chance to make something meaningful to them.
No extra materials required, but you may want extra paper or coloring materials for planning purposes.



This project serves as the final summative Assessment for Unit 1.

Do Now/Warm Up (5 - 10 Minutes)

Display the table of images above. Ask students: what do you think it means for be less or more abstract? (Note: This is probably going to be a big challenge for them to describe, as many students have inaccurate definitions of abstraction floating around in their heads!)
Discuss that abstraction is generally a way to simplify things, to make it easier to depict or understand by removing details. Things that are more abstract have been more simplified, and things that are less abstract are more detailed.
As we go through the year, you will learn that computer science also uses abstraction to simplify repeated process in our code, but today we will focus on abstractions in art.

Prompt Introduction

In the fine art world, abstraction is often used to simplify complex ideas or themes by representing moods, emotions, and feelings with colors, shapes, and patterns. There are even some artists who specialize in abstract art.
You might want to show students this video to get them motivated to try abstract art. A useful (but optional) launch activity between this video and the project is to have students practice drawing abstract art. Ask them to split their paper into three or four equal sections, and then explain that they will practice making abstract art based on songs that you play for them. Try to pick songs that they may not be familiar with and that each have a different mood/pace so they have to be in the moment! Ask students to create an abstract art piece for each song (give only 1-2 minutes for this process) that captures the mood and feeling of the piece.
Another interesting approach to get students to think about creating abstract art for albums, in particular, is to have them watch this video on synesthesia. (You could also play this video during/right before planning**.)**
Show examples of abstract album art as you introduce the prompt.
Before students get started, plan on having them draw out their ideas. It might be useful to create a planning sheet where students can draw their ideas but also record things like color palette, where they’ll use variables, etc, etc. Plan on a solid period of paper wireframing before students move to computers.

Wrap Up

A good practice, especially during long-term projects, is to have students share their progress. You can do this through volunteers, or as is my preference, through random selection.
This share-out method can be used outside of project time, as well. Use a calendar to sign up 1-2 students per day, working your way through your roster (and then repeating once you reach the end). Each day, be sure to conference or check-in with students who will share so they are aware they are sharing and also know what they will talk about. Students can share successes or struggles - if they share a success, they should focus on what they did to make it happen (so the class can learn). If they share a struggle, they should ask questions that the class can then assist them. Allow about 5 minutes for both shares.

Culturally Responsive Best Practices

Within this design-based challenge, there are many prompts you can give students to make the project seem more relevant to them and the cultures of communities that they are a part of. (Please recall that communities can refer to a lot of things, including just the culture of being a teen, a Minecraft player, or a KPop fan - be mindful that you are allowing students to explore choice in their creations in a way that is authentic to them!)
Allowing for student choice in this project is one of the best ways to be culturally responsive! Allow students freedom to pick the song/poem/whatever that is most meaningful to them - if they say it is important, accept it as important.


Students can complete and justify an album art cover.
Level 1 AND…
Students leave thoughtful comments in their code that make it easier for an outsider to read.
Level 2 AND…
Student code is free from superfluous lines (every line of code has a purpose) and is efficient.
Students can create an ‘album launch’ website to house their project. Research HTML and CSS on their own!