Cobra Certification


Every 6 months, the battery must recertify in their specific job.  This serves as a time to relearn basic tasks, as well as validating the key competencies that a firing battery must have to fully support a maneuver unit’s mission.  I chose to focus on the individual portions of certification for this Photoshop project.

For inspiration, I researched images already created by Army SOF Recruiting ( and images from  I noticed a major component to military imagery was action, as in a Soldier was doing something active or a part of something that was moving. Another thing I noticed was that some or all of the components of pictures added to these images are dark.  I used a combination of action and darkness to stay within the style of Army publications that have already been made.

I started the process of creating this image by making a landscape background upon which I used the paint bucket tool to color it red.  I then added an image that I found on ( I set the opacity to 25%. I then applied a gradient to create a tapered effect of color from black to red to black. I then added the main images.

Each image was chosen to show a different aspect of the certification process based on the position that a Soldier holds within the unit.  On the far left, is a cannoneer training for the Gunner’s Test. This task includes using the telescope site on the M777 to accurately input firing angles on the gun.  This event is timed and demands expert knowledge of the equipment to precisely aim the gun.

In the middle is the Fire Direction Center section, training for their written safety exam. This test involves calculating all of the firing data that the gun teams need to fire at the target.  A fire direction team must be able to compute all of this data safely and accurately for rounds to fall exactly where maneuver units need the rounds.

The far right image is a platoon sergeant within the battery conducting and validating air assault capabilities. This was the final event of leadership certifications and served to validate proper rigging techniques for the M777 so that it may be air lifted by helicopters.

I chose these 3 photos that serve as the anchor of the image to show the 3 main groups of jobs within the unit: the gun section, the fire direction center, and the leadership.  The image above the 3 is a photo of a Chinook Helicopter lifting a M777, as this was the culminating event for leadership I felt is served as a piece of unity for the other photos.  To make the Chinook stand out which was critique from my peers and instructor, I made it a bit bigger than the other pictures, as well as shrinking the 3 bottom images.

For each of the lower images, I made them roughly the same size and equidistant from each other.  I also added a frame around them using the “stroke” effect.  One suggestion given by a classmate was to make the initial frame smaller, this was extremely helpful as I now see that a less defined frame allows the images in greater hierarchy get looked at first. From my own review, I felt that it may be confusing to people not in the artillery world to understand the images on the bottom.  I then added titles to each image and centered them.

For the helicopter, I used the pen select tool to select all of the area around the howitzer and helicopter to delete, leaving the outline.  I used the hard light effect on this image to create a darker image that also seemed to dissolve into the background.

The final thing I added was the text of the title for the image.  I chose this as a title so that the image may be used for various communications within the unit as well as for the purpose of this blog.  I created a text box, typed the lettering and then placed the bevel and emboss tab to put texture on the text. The original text size didn’t allow for the title to be the first thing a viewer looked at.  From the suggestion of my instructor, I decided to allow for the text to have the highest precedence in the overall image.  To do this I made the lettering a bit larger while cutting down the original title to just “Cobra Certification.” I feel this title change allows for an easier read and allows for the other images to also be important to the overall composition.

The individual testing for Cobra battery is nearing its’ end.  Once all tasks are complete for the individual teams will begin working together to tackle team certifications, followed by platoon, and finally battery certifications.  Each task is a different stepping stone of proficiency for the battery and serves to better train the Red Legs of the US Army.


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