The Panda Bear Process March 16, 2012

For my recent portrait of Panda Bear I wanted to experiment and use more digital tools to create the piece. Usually I just clean up the contrast and add a color tint, but this time I wanted to create a full collage in Photoshop.

The music of Panda Bear uses lots of samples to create sound collages. To emulate that process visually I created some smaller images which would act as samples. His music (and Animal Collective’s) has a Beach Boys feel along with carnival sounds; in addition to a straight portrait of him, I used images which evoked his music.

After scanning in the ink drawings, I created a canvas in Photoshop and brought over the images as smart objects. Next I placed a grid on the canvas. I wanted to emulate a 4/4 time signature, so I divided the canvases into rows that mimic tempo. I started with larger samples and and started to break them down smaller using layer masks. I also wanted to show how the samples change tonality musically by altering the color. This also evokes the mood of the music. The above image shows the start of the process.

As several of Panda Bears song progress, they break away from a repetitive structure by echoing and overlaying the sounds, creating a dense collage. In the bottom part of this piece I echoed the images and overlaid lots of samples to create a texture. Finally, the piece ends with a panda bear. Enjoy!

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