Graphics in GarageBand

Graphics in GarageBand

GarageBand does not have an option to add an image to a song but there is a way to do it.

Use the Track Editor | Midi window as your picture viewer. The window is 26 lines high and up to 16 bars wide. 16 bars of 1/8ths note is 128 notes wide. Note velocities are represented by four tones of grey. We can therefore draw a picture of 26 by 128 = 3328 pixels in five colours. That is a reasonable resolution for simple graphics. And you can double that if you don't mind scrolling.
bob marley Les PaulThis is an example of a GarageBand Graphic, a picture of a black Gibson Les Paul (similar to the one Bob Marley plays in the picture on the left).





Les Paul
How to create a GarageBand Graphic

Do this only when you have some free time. There is no quick way of doing it.
  1. Choose an image with clear outlines and good contrast. Open it in an image editor like Photoshop. (iPhoto works as well)
  2. Remove the colour
  3. Push the contrast very high. (you can do this in iPhoto by repeatedly opening the image, turning the contrast up each time)
  4. Save the image in a new size: height = 26 pixels. (iPhoto: export to web). Width is set automatically.
  5. Save the image as a GIF with 5 colors. (if your image software cannot do this, modify contrast/brightness until you are left with 5 shades of grey.
  6. Use this image on screen or in print as your template. Add Grid lines vertically every 8 pixels.
  7. Open GB. Open a new software Instrument track. Double-click, choose Generator:none.
  8. Open Track Editor. Set resolution to 1/8 note. Adjust zoom level so that about 6 bars are visible.
  9. Write, click, copy and paste using the option and command keys to enter all notes/pixels from your template. Use long notes for neighbouring pixels of the same colour, otherwise you'll end up with too much data for GB to handle.
  10. To get the right shades, I use: Light grey: velocity=22. Medium: vel.=44. Dark grey: vel.=66. Black: vel.=111.
  11. If GB starts slowing down too much: closing the Track Editor restores normal speed. To write and edit the image, keep most of the notes outside the viewed area. For example, writing from the top down, only show the last (lowest) two lines.
  12. Zoom all the way out, stand back from the computer and admire your work. You can see more of the image by closing the mixer column and by moving the tracks column to the left off the screen.
  13. If the image is very wide, like my Les Paul, drag the left of the GB window off the screen and use OSX Exposé to show the whole window. You can also use OSX Grab to take a screenshot of the whole window, even the area that is not visible.

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