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In this project you will apply your digital painting and layer masking skills to a song or musical composition. The idea is to produce a complex digital image that provides an impression of that song – i.e., no pictures of singers or band members allowed. The finished piece should embody the emotions this particular song invokes when a person hears it – which may or may not have a direct correlation to the song’s lyrics, assuming there are any. In your artist statement, you will need to provide a link to that song so others can refer to it and visualize the connection. Layer masks, digital painting techniques, and making and saving selections are key elements of this project. The end result should be something artistic and compelling, something that makes the viewer take pause to study your design and investigate its multitude of details. No text is allowed in this project, so your message and its connection to the musical piece you’ve selected must be conveyed solely through the digital imaging techniques you utilize. Do not be too literal with the lyrics of the song as it’s the emotional feeling of the piece that you’re trying to convey. Bear in mind this project is about creating a digital painting (using mixer brushes and custom brushes and layer masks and other Photoshop techniques you’ve learned so far) that is an emotive piece of digital art that communicates a feeling. Of warmth. Of sadness. Of jubilation. Of peace. Etc. The emotional feeling that overcomes you, the listener, upon hearing this particular musical piece is what you’re trying to convey.  Begin by creating a new image in Photoshop with dimensions of 8″ by 10″ (or 10″ x 8″), an image resolution of 200 pixels/inch, and CMYK mode. Be careful that the images you use are not copyright protected. The digital images you incorporate into your work may be obtained by (a) saving to your USB drive your own photographs, or (b) copying to your USB drive any of the digital photos available on the MiraCosta College server, or (c) downloading royalty-free images provided in the Digital Stock Photography Resources folder under External Links, or (d) any combination of the above. Do not download any other images from the Internet. Not only is this a copyright violation, but such images are low resolution (72 ppi) and will not work for this output-for-print project. Remember that this project has no title and, therefore, no text layers. Many tools and techniques are required for this project. In particular, the use of layer masks is a key requirement; your ability to utilize layer masks effectively is crucial to the success of this piece. Also, keep in mind that you must use the quick mask selection technique to save at least two selections as their own channels. Use at least two color adjustment layers to adjust the tonal range, remove any color casts, and bring out the highlights, midtones, and shadows of your image. Create and apply a custom paintbrush, the painting of which should be on its own layer for better image control. Be sure to incorporate a painting blending mode, a modification to paint opacity, and some customization to your brush dynamics within the Brushes palette. Use the Mixer Brush in your work and modify its wet, load and mix options. Be sure to explain how and why you did this. Remember to create snapshots as you work and apply at least one Photoshop filter to enrich the appearance of your design. Do not flatten your image. 

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Consider the following when you are painting: 

  • How color schemes can communicate mood (analogous colors can be subtle, complementary colors can “pop” for conflict or excitement, etc.)
  • How color can illustrate characteristics of objects, spaces, or figures (warm colors vs cool colors, soft hues vs vibrant hues, etc.)
  • How changing expected colors of familiar things can unsettle viewers. 
  • How varying the size/scale of elements in the composition can affect the audience’s perception of space, hierarchy, and reality.
  • Line placement, especially with respect to brush strokes. You can communicate feelings via the direction of your painted brush strokes. Some standard associations are as follows:
    • diagonal: dynamic, movement
    • spiral: depression, confusion, anxiety, off-balance
    • crossed lines: fear, anger, frustration, impact
    • vertical: hope, uplifting, peaceful motion
    • horizontal: calmness, stability
    • zig-zag, squiggles: erratic, energy, commotion
  • Making the composition more dynamic by moving design components partially off the picture plane/frame to keep the viewers’ eyes moving in and out of the composition.
  • Compositing images to give a sense of dramatic spacial perspective. Common ways to communicate space in 2-D art is through employing overlapping shapes, using positive/negative space, adjusting value difference, and varying the size of objects.

Write-Up/Artist Statement:

You must attach a typed description (two-page minimum) of how you achieved the stated objectives of this layer masking/photo painting project. The Word template you will use for your write-up/artist statement can be found at the end of the description for Project 1. In your write-up explain how and why you applied the tools and design techniques required of this project, explain why you chose the images you did and how they fit with your artistic goal, and explain how your end result fulfills all the requirements of this project. Use thumbnail-sized copies of your original digital photos and embed these thumbnails into your Word write-up. To do this, create and save a JPG file of all the original images you used (reduced to 72 ppi and thumbnail size), then insert this JPG image into your Word write-up. Be sure to provide photo credit and website source information where applicable. Very important: Within your write-up include a link to the song that inspired this digital art piece. Attach this write-up to the back of your black mat board.

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