Getting / Making Art For Your Music / Media Library (Your Tips, Tricks & Methods)
#1
Probably like a lot of other people here, soon after I started using Library Mode in XBMC, I became kind of obsessed with making it as nice looking as possible. For media, this means getting the art and metadata all into shape. For movies and TV shows this has become a relatively painless task since there's half a dozen different dedicated programs that will download and generate the XBMC-specific files for your TV shows and movies. (I use Ember Media Manager and love it)

But what about music? For a variety of reasons, music is still a lot trickier than it used to be. I'm going to attempt to collate all the stuff I have learned to a single thread to make it easier for other people who may be just getting started with this stuff. I've been collecting music for about 10 years and have amassed about 200GB of it in digital formats.

Sooo, first of all, the laziest methods possible:

1-Let XBMC Do It For You!
If you're not a big perfectionist and you want to get stuff working quickly & easily, at this point there are services set up to allow XBMC to get the art for you. You need at a bare minimum, music files with tags correctly identifying the artist and album names. This info, plus even mostly-correct song titles will allow XBMC to probably download and use an artist thumbnail, an artist fanart background picture, and album cover art as well.

XBMC can and will download art from htbackdrops.com (which has per-artist thumbnails and fanart backdrops), discogs.com (some artist thumbnail-type stuff and most album cover art), and last.fm (usually at least one decent artist thumbnail and most album cover art). You basically just need to go into Music, highlight the folder where your music files are, bring up the context menu and choose "Scan Item To Library". You may need to check your Settings (Settings > Music > Library) to ensure XBMC downloads everything you want it to.

The main drawback from this is, aside from HTBackdrops, you never know what kind of images you'll get. In the case of artist thumbs, this often means rectangular thumbs of all shapes and sizes, and in the case of both artist thumbs and cover art, a wide variety of resolutions. If you take a 130x130 pixel square cover art picture and blow it up to fill half of a 1080P screen, it's going to look terrible.

This leads us to

2-Do It Yourself
I highly recommend you scan in maybe a dozen or so artists and then fiddle around with XBMC so you can learn what works and doesn't work for you. You may find you can't live without having fanart on every single artist, or you may decide to completely ignore it. There's no accounting for taste, after all Smile Aside from deciding how to handle Fanart, you should also probably decide what your minimum and maximum art file sizes should be for both artist thumbnails and album art thumbnails. Part of what makes this process so annoying is there really is not universal standard size. I personally settled on 500x500 square images for both.
1-Its big enough to look decent in most views and at most resolutions
2-Its not so huge that it bloats your music files too much
3-Its fairly middle of the road so you can generally find images big enough for use in this standard.
4-Its a nice round number Smile

Artist Thumbnails
Since its currently the only site dedicated to this topic, you're going to want to check htbackdrops.com first. I've personally uploaded over 300 backdrops and thumbnails to this site, and there are over 800 thumbnails there at the moment, so most of the popular bands are covered already, just download and you're good to go Smile

Once you either have downloaded or made an artist thumbnail, you will want to place it in your library. The most common method of organizing music is to have one folder for each artist in your collection. If you do this, just place the artist thumbnail inside that artist's folder and named it "folder.jpg" (without quotes) and XBMC will automatically detecte and use it when that artist is scanned to your library.

Making New Images From Scratch
If you can't find an artist thumbnail, fanart, or cover art that meets your standards, you'll have to make one yourself. "Oh crap, I don't have / can't afford / don't want to learn Photoshop! What am I supposed to do?" I used Photoshop for a few years and it is honestly really, really nice, but for this kind of thing you won't use 90% of the features. So, instead I use Pixlr.

Pixlr is a free, Flash-based app that runs exclusively in your web browser and gives you like 90% of the functionality of Photoshop instantly. One of my favorite features is its ability to open an image from a URL. This makes it ideal (IMO) for editing / mangling images you found online. Mostly what you're going to be doing is finding an image that is either already perfect for your needs, or almost there. I am uncreative so to locate images I use Google Image Search. In case you didn't know, you can actually specify the general size of images that will show up in the results. This allows you to filter out everything but the big huge images when you're trying to make Fanart.

For fanart and artist thumbs, often its as dumb as doing a Large Image Search for the artist's name. Random Example: Moby

If you click that you will see that Google does show you the pixel dimensions of each image. If you're going for Fanart, it basically must be at least 1280 x 720 (the standard dimensions for a 720P resolution screen). Aside from size the other general rules for choosing an image are:
-Do not use an album cover as Fanart or an artist thumb. This will result in a dumb looking library because the same image will likely recur at least twice, plus it will cause your library to lack variety. You CAN do this, but I only do this if I simply can't find any other good images at all
-For artist thumbnails get something that will fit into a square image. This can be hard for bands with 3+ people, because the standard photos are usually like 4 guys standing side by side, which results in a rectangular image.
-Along the same lines, if you're going for fanart, you will need something that either is already a wide rectangle, or can be cropped as needed.
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#2
Great thread, thanks. Another small hint: Flickr! Let's say you need a fanart for Hallucinogen. Go to http://www.flickr.com/search/advanced/ and search for Hallucinogen, Photos, Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content. Very first hit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssandars/67520231/ > all sizes > download the biggest > crop/resize > done! Smile
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#3
so continuing with my random example (Moby), I chose this image from my results:
http://www.freiheit-fuer-tiere.de/images/moby4.jpg
Because I have the URL, I can actually just do "Open Image From URL" in Pixlr. If you're using tabbed browsing this is a fairly easy / efficient process because you can keep Google Image search, your image(s) to be worked on, Pixlr, and HTBackdrops.com all open at once and then switch around as needed.

I have taken a bunch of screenshots to try and guide you through the process of doing a basic crop job. First you need to open the file in Pixlr. Copy the URL and then click on the appropriate button:
Image

It will open this dialog box, where you paste the URL:
Image

Then it'll download the image (it doesn't go to a file, its loaded into memory only)
Image

Towards the top right corner of the Pixlr window is the navigator control, where you'll want to zoom out so that the big picture of Moby fits properly in your workspace
Image

So now your workspace looks like this:

Image
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#4
Since the image looks pretty acceptable as-is, we just need to chop it down to size. Just like Photoshop, your image menu has resizing and canvas size options
Image

Clicking on Canvas size will allow you to crop numerically as opposed to just highlighting stuff by hand. I recommend using both methods together to get your images precisely the right size. However, since the freehand crop is the Windows-standard "Draw a dotted rectangle around stuff to select it" method, you already know how to do that. The Canvas tool allows you to select an "ancor" point. In this case we want to keep Moby himself, so we put the anchor point in the middle
Image
I eyeballed this and figured I could drop it down to 700x700, which results in this:
Image

That's pretty decent, so you could either just resize that, or, using the canvas tool settings shown, turn out a 500x500 pic likeso:

Image

Its not super amazing, but it works enough to illustrate how to do this stuff, I hope...


-EDIT-
Sorry stokedfish, I just took a while to finish posting cuz of all the screencaps I needed to do.. Tongue Will be posting some more links and useful crap (like Mycroft search plugins).
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#5
Along the lines of what StokedFish was saying, one of the ways to speed things up is to give yourself fast access to other searches.
There is a Firefox extension called CustomizeGoogle which does a lot of handy stuff. One of the options is to add links to other search engines, like the ones I have circled here:
Image

Those links will open the same search terms run through the search engine specified Smile

Also, if you use Firefox (or IE) you can get more search engines to use in the search box up at the top right of your browser. They're called MyCroft plugins. Get Google Image Search here:
http://mycroft.mozdev.org/search-engines...age+search
and Flickr:
http://mycroft.mozdev.org/search-engines...ame=Flickr

Album Cover Art
In addition to Google Image search, there are a few other sites (that do NOT turn up on Google) I have found that are generally pretty good:
http://www.discogs.com/ All user-submitted files, so they vary a lot, but you can often find 400x400+ covers here
http://www.allcdcovers.com/ This site is pretty annoying and is far from comprehensive, but what they DO have on file is very high resolution.
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#6
Thanks for the "How To" !!!

Looks really great. This is exactly what I was looking for - the resolution to use etc..

I will start collecting my artist pics and resizing them to 500 x 500.

Once I am finished, I would like to upload them to htbackdrops.com or someplace similar so others can benefit from my work.

How can I do that?
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#7
just go to http://www.htbackdrops.com and create a user account. Its super easy.
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#8
I realized a few of my other things are missing from here, so I thought I'd do a post just about album cover art.

Online Sources For Cover Art
Google Image Search: This one is fairly effective, but it can be annoying and doesn't always produce high quality images
Discogs.com: A very straightforward site in terms of searching and downloading images, but since all images are user-submitted, they vary a lot in terms of quality
Covers.to: This is a search engine that searches a bunch of cover sites. The sites themselves can be annoying to navigate, like some require a user sign up. However, you can find almost any album cover around, and generally results are large (600+ pixels square) high quality scans.

Music File Tag Editors / Tools
Tag & Rename: This is my main general-purpose tool. It can do filenames-to-tags operations, tag-based file & folder renaming, batch editing, and has a good set of cover art-related features. The best one is its ability to fetch info (including cover art) from amazon.com. Most results are around 300 pixels square, so for a lot of people its "good enough" and requires almost no effort.
This program is for Windows.
This program is not free, but has a fully functional time-limited demo.

SongBird: Probably best described as the bastard son of iTunes and Firefox, this is an open source media player / manager. The killer aspect of this program is its extensions. Just like Firefox, there are many extensions available which add all sorts of additional functionality to this app. This app has a decent set of full tag editing capabilities, and can be used to fetch & embed album art. I mostly use it as my day-to-day music player, and also to add embedded lyrics to my files (The LyricMaster extension makes this easy). This program can be used to do almost everything that Tag & Rename does, I'm just more used to T&R so I primarily use that.
This is cross platform and available on Windows, Mac, and Linux
This program is free and open source.

MusicBrainz Picard Tagger: This program is primarily used to get and embed information from the MusicBrainz database. This is really only "necessary" if you are into having as many tags filled in as possible. MusicBrainz has an insane level of detail for most tracks, like the record label, composer, lyricist, Amazon.com link, etc. Probably not something most people will ever user or need.
This is cross platform and available on Windows, Mac, and Linux
This program is free and open source.

Mp3tag: This is another full featured tag editor. This one lets you view & edit pretty much all the tags present in files, not just the standard ones. I honestly haven't taught myself how to use it too much, but its free and very capable, so its worth looking into if you want an alternative.
This program is only available for Windows.
This program is free.
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#9
for album art try :

http://sourceforge.net/projects/album-art/

it fetches albumart from a hughe base of ressources, shops, websites and so on ... its very easy to masstag your whole collection in a short period of time!
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#10
And just for good measure, here's a fairly concise Lifehacker post on the subject:
http://lifehacker.com/397258/find-and-em...collection
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#11
Thanks sleepy, music art feels like a slightly neglected area sometimes.
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#12
mason Wrote:for album art try :

http://sourceforge.net/projects/album-art/

it fetches albumart from a hughe base of ressources, shops, websites and so on ... its very easy to masstag your whole collection in a short period of time!

Seconded
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#13
Question 
I am collecting images for my list of 1000 music artists or so.Eek I am saving them to a single folder using the artist name i.e. "\artists\Beatles, The.jpg".

Doing this I hope to eventually finish getting images for all of the artists and then upload them to htbackdrops.com.Cool

After I finish with this, I need to put the matching artist picture file in the proper directory of my library. That is, I need to move

\artists\Beatles, The.jpg"

to

"\Music\Beatles, The\"

and then I need to rename the file from "Beatles, The.jpg" to "Folder.jpg".


I am wondering if there is a way to write a script to do this or if there is a program that will do it for me.

Another option would be to do it step wise. For example, if there was a script or program that would simply move the "artist.jpg" file to the matching "artist" directory. Then another script of program to batch rename all "*.jpg" files to "folder.jpg".

Any ideas?
CPU:Intel 2100 3.1 Ghz RAM:Corsair 4 GB DD3-133 Mobo: Gigabyte H67M-D2-B3 mATX OS HDD: Corsair Nova Series 32GB SSD Storage HDD: WD Green 2 TB Video Card: ASUS EN210 SILENT ODD:
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#14
I have found an answer to thisNod (thanks to the folks at http://www.unix.com, especially sysrenan and thegeek). Here are two shell scripts (I tested them under Ubuntu and they work fantastic):

Code:
#!/bin/bash

for image in `ls -t /home/artists/`
do
        ARTISTNAME=$(echo $image | sed 's/.jpg//g')
        MOVARTIST="/home/artists/$image"
        MOVDESTINATION="/home/Music/$ARTISTNAME/folder.jpg"

        # moving the file
        /bin/mv $MOVARTIST $MOVDESTINATION;
done

or

Code:
# do the following for each jpg file ( hopefully execute this from artists directory, else give path to find command ).
for i in `find . -type f -name '*.jpg'`
do
# extract the folder name
foldername=`basename $i .jpg`;

# move the file as you specified. ( give correct path in the following. )
# mv $i /home/music/$foldername/folder.jpg;
done

Just copy and past this into a new text file and save it as "whatever.sh".

Then, in the terminal window, change to the directory you have saved "whatever.sh" and make the file executable:
Code:
sudo chmod +x whatever.sh

Hope this helps anyone else doing the same crazy project as myself.Big Grin

marcozd Wrote:I am collecting images for my list of 1000 music artists or so.Eek I am saving them to a single folder using the artist name i.e. "\artists\Beatles, The.jpg".

Doing this I hope to eventually finish getting images for all of the artists and then upload them to htbackdrops.com.Cool

After I finish with this, I need to put the matching artist picture file in the proper directory of my library. That is, I need to move

\artists\Beatles, The.jpg"

to

"\Music\Beatles, The\"

and then I need to rename the file from "Beatles, The.jpg" to "Folder.jpg".


I am wondering if there is a way to write a script to do this or if there is a program that will do it for me.

Another option would be to do it step wise. For example, if there was a script or program that would simply move the "artist.jpg" file to the matching "artist" directory. Then another script of program to batch rename all "*.jpg" files to "folder.jpg".

Any ideas?
CPU:Intel 2100 3.1 Ghz RAM:Corsair 4 GB DD3-133 Mobo: Gigabyte H67M-D2-B3 mATX OS HDD: Corsair Nova Series 32GB SSD Storage HDD: WD Green 2 TB Video Card: ASUS EN210 SILENT ODD:
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#15
you could probably use XBMC get the already-existing images from HTBackDrops.com. There are currently over 4000 backdrops and 944 thumbnails for artists, so there's a good chance that some of your collection will return matches and save you some work. I've personally uploaded about 500 images to that site so far, and I know me and several other guys on the forums are all working to "artify" our various music collections and adding to HTBackdrops, so welcome to the club Smile
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Getting / Making Art For Your Music / Media Library (Your Tips, Tricks & Methods)51