Setting images to music

  • All drawings I’ve made so far have been independent pieces and I've never really illustrated something. None of them were part of some form of larger project, sequence, book, graphic novel or anything nor had a previously defined theme or purpose.

    Now I had the idea of illustrating a piece of instrumental music for children I made a while ago. The song (not really a song, but it’s easier to call it this way) always had sort of a loose story for me, so I thought it’d be fun to try my hand at illustrating it as a way to get my feet wet.

    At first I figured it would be somewhat of a simple project. Right at the level of my amateurism: something like five or six images to be shown in sequence with the music. Then I put the song to play and started imagining what I’d draw for which part and the number of images started to grow. I got into thumbnailing (because it seems that’s what you do to plan your stuff) and now I have a feeling that this is going to be a much more complex endeavor than I at first imagined and that I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time.

    Well, does anyone out there have suggestions of SVS courses and/or other resources that can help me with this? Not even sure what exactly is the culprit… maybe the storytelling aspect of it? I don’t know.

    In case anyone is curious, here’s the song:

    I even thought of writing to 3PP with this question, but I felt the music part of it would be lacking... or maybe I'm just shy... Anyway, thank you for any advice!

  • @fmb well, I figured I'd overcome timidity, self-consciousness, pride and all that and share the thumbnails I've decided to go with to see if someone has some input to offer. I still have to go on with the story, as these are all images related to parts before the 2 minute mark.

    Importações - 2 de 5.jpeg Importações - 5 de 5.jpeg Importações - 1 de 5.jpeg Importações - 3 de 5.jpeg Importações - 4 de 5.jpeg

  • Sounds like an interesting project. Drawing music is a tough challenege for anyone. Perhaps you can benefit from studying Synesthetic Art (visual art inspired by sound). I can’t find the original article I read on this matter, but here’s one by NPR and another on VICE.

    Perhaps instead of thumbnails, doing blind painting can help capture the fluidity, abstraction, and energy of the story you wish to tell. If you can zone out into the music, I think the beats will dictate visuals.

  • That's interesting. It's just that in this case I sort of have a story more or less defined in my head - which I actually was following when composing the music. But I think that your suggestions can help me go a bit more loose or even abstract with the illustrations. Will definitely keep this in mind. Thank you!

  • Got'cha, the story is not the issue. Do you continue to have concerns with the storytelling (or have you identified another culprit?) and are you able to elaborate?

    To help you diagnose the issue in the process, check out this 'making of' series:
    The Making of Cloud Country (a children's book by Pixar Animation Studios artist, Noah Klocek.)
    Part 1:
    Part 2:
    Part 3:

    Maybe this panel talk can help as well:
    Lightbox Expo: Art of Storytelling Panel

    You shouldn't feel your process is 'amateurism'. I don't think there's any successful project that has ever stuck to the original plan. It's maturing organically 🧐

    As for your thumbnails, here are one person's thoughts…

    • I think the 1st is a nice establishing shot.
    • For scene 2, is there a reason why the viewer is placed so distant from the characters? We want to see kitties😽 😺 Can the image be cropped or are we meant to see something in the backyard and alleyway? Are the cat’s tails suppose to be linked?
    • Since this is a book format, have you considered putting scenes 3 and 4 onto one page? When separate, it was difficult to make the correlation between the two actions. But, if you plan to add narration then that’ll resolve it.
    • Scene 5 looks too rough, but I want to say it could benefit from having more suspense🙀 It's interesting how the objects crowd and are angled towards the girls, creating tension. Is that your intent?

    Hope this helps.

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