photoshop creative

Art inspired by sounds

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Interviews, by Mark White
July 28, 2017

Nidia Dias wanted to create a playlist cover each month as a personal project. What she ended up creating was a cohesive compilation that would be featured by Behance

While most design projects can seem like they’re taking forever to complete, Nidia Dias decided to purposely challenge herself to a long-term commitment, and embarked on a project that took a whole year to finish. The idea was simple and effective – create album-cover artwork to represent each of her monthly playlists. Once finished, these personal pieces of art were uploaded to her blog.

The reward of this year-long task is a collection of 12 beautiful pieces of art, each representing a segment of Nidia’s life at the time. The covers all vary in style, colour and mood, but come together to show the music that Nidia had been enjoying that year. We wanted to know what the influences for this project were, though, and how Nidia used Photoshop to create the art.

How did the idea for this particular project start?

My graphic-design journey began when I was 16 and I discovered Photoshop and all of its potential. It was a new world for me that felt simple to use and enabled me to express myself. I’ve always loved music and since I now work in design, it felt only natural to go down this route and do something like this as a personal project. I love finding new songs and bands, and I enjoy creating playlists on Spotify. That’s what sparked the idea. I wanted to simply explore different techniques and styles without a solid idea of what the outcome would be.

Was the artwork influenced by the music or did you find it was the other way around?

I tried to choose songs that would suit the month – for example more upbeat music was picked for the summer – but the cover wasn’t influenced by it; it was mostly used as background music while I would work on them. I didn’t want to try and copy the artists’ album covers with this project. I wanted this project to be an exploration of my own style, rather than inspired by other particular artists. I do have a lot of favourite album covers though; covers like Tycho’s album Dive, The xx’s Coexist, FKA Twigs’s LP 1 and Tame Impala’s latest, Currents… the list could go on and on!

Each of the covers is very different – was that intentional?

When I started the project, I wanted them to feel cohesive, but as the project evolved I realised that this wouldn’t be possible. It was a monthly project, so a lot of time would pass between each cover. Also, each of them was influenced by my mood or by a technique I would be using at that time. The July cover, for example, was inspired by UI design, and the November cover I wanted to start in Illustrator rather than Photoshop. The process for each was different, but most started with a photo or an asset from somewhere. I would explore a lot in Photoshop, either by using different blending modes, the Filter Gallery or changing the colours, until I was happy with the result.

How did Photoshop help to tie all these influences and ideas together in the end?

Some of the covers were done entirely in Photoshop, others with a bit of Cinema 4D or Illustrator, but all passed through Photoshop for the final details. I find Photoshop gives me the freedom to go from start to finish in a couple of hours, using just basic tools. Some of my favourite tools to use were Find Edges (I use that a lot!). I used the Filter Gallery a lot too; even if it’s used in a subtle way, it can enhance parts of the piece. I recommend using the High Pass filter as a final touch.

Which other techniques and software packages would you recommend to artists who just use Photoshop at the moment?

I’ve recently been feeling like a kid and trying paper marbling (the June playlist started from that), but 3D software is definitely something people should try, or even Illustrator. So many different resources surround us that it’s now easier than ever to get a good grasp of a new program or technique. I believe as artists we should try to diversify ourselves a bit. Sometimes we may not succeed right away in a software or technique, but it helps us grow.

This project was featured by Behance and had a fantastic reaction online. Are you surprised by the popularity of this, as it was a personal project?

I didn’t expect such a great reaction online! I did post the covers once a month on my blog, but once I finished the one-year cycle I wasn’t sure if I should put it on Behance or not. It was kind of a last-minute decision, but I’m happy I did so. I’m not sure I’ll do many more album covers, and I do miss actually curating playlists and doing this project, but now is time for a new project to come along.