How to Design an Album Cover That Makes an Impact

Creating a music album is a lengthy and complex process. You need to write down lyrics, create music, sing your lines, mix it all, and more. However, apart from the music itself, there is another incredibly important thing, which is the cover art. Much like we make our first impression of people, we also evaluate each album by its cover picture. Good cover art should reflect the theme of the album or encapsulate the feelings that listening to these tracks evokes. Luckily, there are many free album cover art options that you can find online. But here are also some tips on how to create your perfect cover.

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The Main Types of Album Covers

Often, music artists and bands use their portraits or group photos as album covers. This is a common practice, which helps you immediately recognize your favorite artist or learn how a new artist looks. Other than that, there are three main types of music album covers:

  • Photos – we are talking about any photos out there. Nature, architecture, people, anything. This can be a random photo taken on your previous tour, which is great for reflecting a part of your life as an artist. Or this can be any new photo taken by a person you have hired or an old picture by someone that made you want to put it on a cover.
  • Art – many musicians use various arts and graphics as their album covers. This includes any type of media from a scanned watercolor picture or pencil drawing to a photo of a sculpture or another art piece. It is a great opportunity to collaborate with your favorite creator and come up with something special for both parties. You can even use a drawing created by your kids – any type of art will do if it reflects your album.
  • Words – sometimes, simplicity is the key. However, not all typography is simple. You can order your album name written in a unique font to form a beautiful typography piece. The sign can be minimalistic or take up all the cover – it is up to you.

While these are some of the most common types of album covers, they are often combined. You can use photos and add typography or combine photos and art to create mixed media works.

Thinking About the Concept

pile of assorted-title vinyl album record sleeves

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Before actually starting developing your album cover, whether it is digital art, a photo, or anything else, it is necessary to brainstorm some ideas. Creating a strong concept will help with designing a great album cover. Here are some tips for finding concepts:

  • Use simple media – when brainstorming ideas, it is not necessary to use digital art programs or expensive cameras. Simply take a notebook and a pencil to scribble various ideas that come to mind.
  • Do not aim for quality – at this stage of coming up with ideas, you do not need to deliver high-quality designs. You have to come up with as many ideas as possible to know in which direction to go and to be able to choose from all the options available.
  • Make small sketches – even though you will need a cover picture in high resolution in the end, try to make your sketches small to see the overall layout and how it will work with the album and on different streaming platforms.

To develop sketches, you can also look at references. It is ok to take inspiration from other album covers you see online, but make sure not to copy ideas.

As for some other design ideas, try following such advice:

  • Go for a certain color scheme – try creating a cover in a specific color scheme instead of using tons of random colors. It might look all over the place if you do not try to limit yourself.
  • Be careful with the text – do not use different fonts or many typefaces because it will look cluttered. You can use different fonts for the name of the album and the artist’s name at most. Make sure that all texts look good together.
  • Try to avoid clutter – do not make your album cover too crowded with imagery and text unless this is your specific concept. In most cases, less is more. A more simple cover will look stylish.
black and white vinyl record

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Conclusions

Cover art or photo for an album is an essential part much like the music itself. A good cover should complement the album and reflect its essence for listeners to form their first impression by looking at it. By designing a unique album cover, you can convey specific messages and even attract new listeners. The greatest albums in history are remembered by their covers as much as the songs, so make it count.