Visual journals are always my students' favorite project of the year. It is a space for them to express themselves, experiment with materials, and take a break from regular projects. It is a great project for middle school and high school age students.
This worksheet is a great guide for how to create a magazine fade, transition from light to dark. It is an easy way to create an interesting background, and covers important collaging techniques.
On the back of this how to worksheet are a range of magazine fade examples. If you have the resources to print this on the back of the worksheet for each student, it is a great visual guide. If you are tight on color printing you can project this image while explaining the project or print a single version students can look at.
Check out my visual journal how to PowerPoint here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/High-School-or-Middle-School-Visual-Journal-Art-Journal-Introduction-and-How-To-1210913
Check out my visual journal resource sheet here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Middle-or-High-School-Art-Project-Visual-Journals-or-Art-Journals-Information-1210926