Design students creating sounds from images

Byron Bay

15 Oct 2018

pictures to sound



Design students creating sounds from images

15 Oct 2018

Design students often live entirely in the realm of pixels, colour, code and type but SAE students often collaborate with other departments in new and exciting ways. At SAE Byron Bay, 3rd and 4th Trimester design students participated in a workshop where they reconstructed images into an abstraction that could compose a musical score. In other words, they transformed Picture to Sound.

Picture to Sound Workshop

Design Lecturer, Racheal Shea conceived and led the workshop for the students in May this year. We spoke to Racheal about how the workshop came about.

"[In Trimester One] Design students worked on a large collaborative project with audio students. Students were allocated a space on campus that they had to bring to life with images (projected and printed) and a soundscape.” Racheal explained. “I wanted to introduce some ideas about how images could be related to music and to give background for this larger project."


Iannis Xenakis, a Romanian-born, Greek-French composer was one theorist presented by Audio Lecturer Kevin Hay.

Working on the project with Audio Lecturer Kevin Hay Rachael said “We explored other ways this has been done through the work of composers and theorists, then we created our own sound composition from an image.”


Image manipulation and sound arrangements

Students sourced meaningful images and manipulated them in Photoshop using a mosaic filter. The process reduced the images to large squares of colour based on the original image i.e. a colour grid.

Barking Irons App by Sleepyhead Studio

The grid was reduced to include 5 basic colours. This allowed students to map each colour tone to a musical tone from the C major scale. These were arranged into notes into bars of 8 beats to create the musical score and allowed them to be performed.

Using Adobe PhotoShop, Adobe Illustrator, a basic ‘song’ from the image was created in GarageBand by Rachael and the students.

The final results are transfixing and fascinating.



Design Lecturer Rachael Shea Article facilitated by Rachael Shea, lecturer in design at SAE (diploma, degree and masters).


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