They are saying to by no means decide a e-book by its cowl, and whereas we’d prefer to suppose that the identical goes for albums—it’s the music on the within that counts—there’s one thing to be stated for a well-designed album cowl. It’s your probability to be a focus for new listeners and provides a visible illustration of the music inside. A fantastic album cowl can encourage somebody to fish your vinyl out of the stack, encourage a streaming listener to study extra about you, and add a complete new layer of artistry to your work.

Though having an unique and expressive album cowl design is necessary, the method itself doesn’t should be daunting. We’ve assembled a complete information to designing your album cowl, from the early brainstorming phases to discovering the design type that syncs completely along with your music.


  • Earlier than you begin your design course of
    • Go on an id quest
    • Discover inspiration
  • Key parts of designing your cowl
    • Coloration
    • Typography
    • Imagery and elegance
    • Don’t overlook the main points
    • Assume massive…and small
  • Discovering the fitting designer/artist
  • What’s subsequent?
An attention grabbing album cowl from designer Shwin

Earlier than you begin your design course of

You may be tempted to instantly begin sketching your imaginative and prescient in your album cowl, however step one in any design course of ought to at all times be to take a couple of steps away from the design totally. As a substitute of launching proper into concepts in your cowl, deal with doing a little bit id quest first—it should assist you to later in relation to fascinated about design.

Go on an id quest

1. Who’re you?

You may get as existential with this one as you want, however actually deal with who you’re as an artist, band, musician, and many others. How would you outline your self?

2. Who’s your viewers?

Earlier than you bounce to reply “everyone,” take into consideration this one a little bit extra deeply. Who’re you making an attempt to succeed in along with your songs? Who’re the varieties of individuals standing within the entrance row of your present? Whereas it’s an incredible objective to succeed in everybody along with your music, you seemingly have a barely narrower viewers. Determining who that’s will help you cater your album design to their pursuits.

Each picture and typography pushed, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours cowl is a traditional. Through Rhino Information.

3. What would you like your listeners to really feel once they hear your music?

Music can typically really feel intangible—how may you describe it in phrases? However at any time when somebody makes music, they’ve an concept of how they need individuals to answer it. Take into consideration the feelings you need your listeners to have once they hear your album.

4. Elevator pitch your sound: what are the important thing phrases?

The elevator pitch is simply as necessary for a band or artist as it’s for the founding father of an organization—you need to be capable to succinctly describe what it’s you do. So, if you happen to’re in an elevator with somebody and also you’ve obtained 30 seconds to explain what your music is like, what would you inform them?

Take notes

Take some notes out of your id query session. Write down the phrases which have essentially the most that means for you in order that in relation to fascinated about design components, you’ll have already got a great sense of what you’re hoping to perform. Finally, your album cowl is a means so that you can categorical your band’s id—similar to you do along with your music—so it ought to be in keeping with your sound.

Discover inspiration

Nirvana’s photo-heavy Nevermind album cowl is immediately recognizeable. Through Geffen Information.
Pink Floyd’s traditional graphic calls to the album title whereas nonetheless being minimalist. Through Pink Floyd Information.

As a musician, you realize that inspiration is necessary. Music doesn’t simply happen out of nothing; it must be pulled from someplace. In terms of tune writing, you might be impressed by an occasion, a chunk of artwork, a picture, a sound, a sense, and many others. You’ll be able to take into consideration designing your album cowl in an analogous means—what’s inspiring that visible illustration? Maybe you’ll take into consideration the identical inspirations that struck you in your tune writing, successfully translating that musical inspiration into photographs.

Along with fascinated about the inspiration in your personal work, it’s at all times useful to consider who you admire and draw concepts from their work. What are some album covers that you’re drawn to? What do you want about them? You’ll want to take some notes—mixed along with your id notes, these will assist you to slim your design course of.

Key parts of designing your cowl

This contest successful design by danc balances distinct typography, coloration, and imagery.

There are a number of components that come into play for each album cowl, from the colours and imagery used on the entrance cowl to the typography and textual content on the again. Isolating every element will assist you to take issues step-by-step, slightly than getting overwhelmed with the entire design .

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Coloration choice is a crucial facet to all design, and the identical is true of album covers. Even a black- or white-heavy album cowl represents a considerate resolution on coloration: it evokes a special feeling than a vibrant, multicolored cowl, proper? With so many colours to select from within the spectrum, we’ve provide you with a couple of alternative ways that can assist you establish what colours to make use of in your design.

Coloration psychology

There may be much more to paint than may meet the attention, and to study extra about coloration idea and the way it’s utilized in branding, make sure to try this in-depth information. However for now, the short clarification is that colours could make us really feel a sure means. They’ve emotional attachments, which is why corporations typically use particular colours of their logos or product packaging. The identical may be utilized to album covers, as a result of as a musician, you need your viewers to really feel a sure means once they hear your music. The album cowl—a visible illustration of your music—permits you to implement that feeling in one other means. If, for instance, you need your listeners to really feel pleased and playful once they take heed to your music, you may need to lean into yellow and orange in your cowl design. For extra subdued and melancholy music, darker colours, particularly darkish blue and grey, will assist set the tone in your album cowl design.

This cowl design by ichnjisan makes use of splashes of coloration over a black and white picture.
Monochrome album cowl by gilangmhrrm .
This cowl is outlined by the colour orange, with a pop of pink. For braedon328 by JesuelM

Coloration scheme

For those who’ve recognized a coloration that you just’d like to make use of in your album cowl, you might need to keep it up all through—if it labored for The Beatles with the White Album, it may give you the results you want too—however you is probably not on the lookout for a minimalist, monochrome search for your cowl. Fortuitously, coloration idea additionally identifies complementary colours that can assist you choose secondary and tertiary hues to go together with your dominant coloration.

Monochromatic mainly means utilizing all one coloration—however it may be one coloration in lots of shades to supply some extra dimension. The overwhelming feeling of a monochrome cowl is considered one of simplicity and minimalism. It may be chosen to faucet right into a sure temper, or can be utilized as a means for the artist to have the music communicate for itself. This will find yourself being a really daring alternative.

You’ve in all probability seen a coloration wheel earlier than, which is a superb key into selecting colours that work effectively collectively. For complementary colours, the rule is, the colour straight throughout from the colour on the wheel is essentially the most complementary—so if you happen to’ve chosen yellow, violet would naturally correspond. Complementary colours convey out the perfect in one another, and may create dynamic visuals.

It’s also possible to go for analogous colours—colours which can be shut to one another on the wheel, so that they naturally work in concord. This offers you extra dimension than monochrome colours, however they will nonetheless have a mixing impact—they might not stand out as a lot as complementary colours.

Another choice is choosing triadic colours, which successfully draw from three equal sections on the colour wheel. These are usually extra stimulating than analogous colours, however the coloration meanings might not mesh as effectively if you happen to’re making an attempt to faucet into coloration psychology.

Album cowl with clashing colours by JETARTS.

Along with working with the colour schemes above, one other alternative a band or artist could make is to go for extra anachronistic colours. As a substitute of adopting colours that work in concord with each other, you’ll be able to go for stark combos to elicit a special sort of feeling. It may well recommend nonconformity, throwback to psychedelic inspiration, or just shock the viewer. Check out the clashing colours within the Foes album design by JETARTS—it definitely makes you are feeling visually shocked whenever you have a look at it. After all, you’ll need to return to your id questions and take into consideration what you need your listener to really feel earlier than adopting wild coloration combos.


This album cowl design by Syarief. makes use of sans serif fonts.
This cowl by ichnjisan employs a script font.
Album cowl design with serif font by ASEEL.

Identical to colours, the fonts you select in your album cowl will help talk your band’s character. It’s additionally necessary to consider all the completely different locations you’ll need typography—the album title and band title, monitor record on the again, and even the internal jacket, which is album cowl adjoining.

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Serif fonts are the old-standby in relation to fonts. These are famous by their serifs—the little ft on the finish of letters. Serif fonts are considered extra critical and conventional, Occasions New Roman and Cambria are frequent examples. Serif fonts pair effectively with classical, acoustic or operatic music.

Sans serif fonts are fonts with out serifs, that means fonts with out the little ft. Helvetica and Arial are generally used sans serif fonts. These fonts are sometimes thought-about extra fashionable and streamlined than their serif predecessors. Sans serif fonts can be utilized with a wide range of music, together with digital and indie rock—it’s a flexible alternative for contemporary music.

This album cowl design combines sans-serif and script fonts. Design by Rudzate.

Script fonts are cursive fonts that emulate handwriting. These can vary from very conventional and ornate to playful and even messy. The completely different types of script fonts imply they can be utilized to invoke a wide range of emotions. Script fonts are used for a broad vary of music varieties—scratchy, messy fonts may be used with different rock, the place a exact signature type may be used for a up to date solo artist.

Because the title suggests, show fonts are ornamental and meant to show. They’re additionally known as novelty fonts and may typically be discovered on e-book covers or signage. Like script fonts, there’s a vary of types for such a font. Gothic show fonts are sometimes featured on heavy metallic album covers, and a playful, bubbly show font might be used for a kids’s music album.

Since you’ll want to make use of textual content somewhere else in your album cowl, you need to use a mixture of font types. For instance, you would go for a script or show font for the album title and band title, and a extra simply legible font for the monitor record and different pertinent data. The typography on the entrance of the duvet may be extra creative than on the again, the place readability is extra necessary.

Imagery and elegance

This album cowl for DORIAN by subsistudios is dominated by a childhood portrait.
A minimalist album cowl design from Artistic Spirit ® focuses on a easy graphic and coloration.
This album cowl from JETARTS makes use of a colourful, graphic illustration of the artist’s face.

After colours and typography, imagery is a crucial facet to any album cowl design. Musicians generally make the most of pictures, particularly of the band or main artist, however virtually something is feasible, from summary graphics to drawings and collages.

We talked a bit about coloration psychology, and there’s some psychology in relation to photographs as effectively. Photos of faces—whether or not {a photograph} or drawing—have a tendency to leap out greater than different photos. For those who’re making an attempt to be a focus for a possible listener, utilizing a picture of a face—together with selecting the best colours and fonts—will help make sure that your cowl will get seen. Faces additionally convey expressions, which may replicate on the viewer’s temper or emotions. This will help tie into the emotions you need your music to encourage in your listeners.

And an necessary, authorized notice: For those who determined to make use of pictures or art work in your cowl, make sure to have the picture rights!

Any graphics which can be used on an album ought to talk with the album itself, so it’s necessary to make use of them thoughtfully. A painted watercolor panorama may join effectively with a mellow, instrumental album, however it might in all probability ship a combined sign if the album was EDM. Equally, the selection to not embody graphics ought to really feel purposeful, and never such as you simply couldn’t consider one thing to placed on the duvet.

Minimalist album cowl design by Edina.

Minimalism can even make an announcement in album cowl design. Going easy permits the main target to finally lie with the music inside the album. Minimalism is an on-trend album design type although, so it’s a good suggestion to attempt to stand out otherwise—maybe you go for an all-black cowl, however as an alternative of utilizing white sort, you go for a colourful ombre.

Proven above, designer Artistic Spirit took the easy graphic of a classic microphone and solid it in a punchy salmon coloration, overlayed on mint inexperienced. Though it’s undeniably minimalist, the designer’s coloration decisions make the duvet really feel extra daring, whereas sustaining a balanced, easy design. For the duvet design on the fitting, designer Edina performs with the album’s title From Scratch and made scratch marks the point of interest of the minimalist cowl.

The general type of your album cowl is the mixture of coloration, imagery, and typography. These three components ought to work collectively in concord to create the specified impact. Calling again to your id questions and your inspiration, you need to really feel like your design is in keeping with that train.

Don’t overlook the main points

Album design for Michael Shrieve from Artistic Spirit ®

When designing your album cowl, it’s okay to get swept away within the design—it may be actually enjoyable! However whenever you come down out of your design buzz, make sure to bear in mind the integral album parts you want to embody.

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1. Band and album title

You don’t have to incorporate the band or album title on the entrance of your album cowl, however it must be on the backbone. Generally the album title or band title is the first design ingredient for the duvet and on this case, the title has to face out. A purpose why there’s at the moment a pattern to not embody names on the duvet design is as a result of individuals at the moment are generally listening through streaming providers, the place artist, title, and album title are all listed beside the duvet thumbnail. So if graphics are necessary, you’ll be able to unlock some crucial design area by leaving names out of the image. This can be a nice possibility for digital-only album releases.

2. Monitor record

This design for Michael Shrieve from Artistic Spirit ® contains the total album wants, not simply the entrance cowl.

The again cowl of the album ought to embody the album’s monitor record. Though the typography may be completely different right here than on the entrance of the duvet, it ought to nonetheless talk stylistically and be simple to learn on the similar time.

3. Licensing and authorized data

You’ll want to have an area on the again cowl or inside for all licensing and authorized data.

4. Simple on the Web

Resist your impulse to place social handles wherever in your album cowl. Whereas Twitter, Instagram, and Fb are used recurrently immediately, who is aware of what would be the dominant social tendencies in 5, 10, and even 20 years. Utilizing handles can unwillingly date your album. If you wish to embody your band’s URL, achieve this on the again cowl or liner notice.

5. Liner notice

Whereas not technically a part of the album cowl, the internal jacket ought to be designed with thought to the type of the album cowl—it ought to really feel like an extension of the design. You’ll need to use comparable fonts for tune lyrics and band data and select a coloration scheme that communicates with the overarching design.

Assume massive… and small.

This graphic cowl from Maria Stoian is distinguishable as a thumbnail and appears nice in a big format.

Designing an album cowl in 2017 is just not prefer it was in 1977. It’s good to take into consideration a number of codecs when contemplating your design. For instance, if you happen to’re releasing vinyl, you want to consider what your design will appear to be in that measurement, in addition to the scale of a CD. You additionally want to think about how the duvet will look as a thumbnail, as individuals will seemingly see it on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, and different platforms. The picture shouldn’t require squinting or illicit confusion from the viewer.

Discovering the fitting designer

Having thought via your band’s id and all the crucial type factors in your album, you’re prepared to rent a designer! Though you might be cautious of letting another person take the reins of your album cowl, an expert designer is just not solely tremendous succesful and skilled in illustration and graphics, however may even make sure that your concepts are delivered to life in one of the simplest ways. They’ll know what’s potential, what’s going to look the perfect, and so they’re environment friendly and efficient. Whereas DIY has its place—say, a hand-crafted Valentine?—investing in a well-designed cowl will make sure you’re placing out the perfect product.

Skilled album cowl design by top-level designer Asael Varas .

Communication is vital for each you and your potential designer, so it’s necessary to be sure to’re precisely relaying your wants. For those who’re articulating what you’re on the lookout for, an expert designer will be capable to notice it for you.

A possible designer pink flag? Your designer appears extra inquisitive about their art work than your imaginative and prescient. Whereas it’s useful to have creative suggestions in your concepts, it’s necessary that you don’t let your challenge drift away from the core of what your music is all about. Somewhat, try to be working collectively to be sure to’re making a product you’re proud of.

Originality is necessary. You’ll share your inspirations along with your designer, however you’ll additionally need to stand out. So, be open to options and guarantee that your designer can draw from inspiration whereas creating one thing new and recent.

A great way to get a design you be ok with is to launch a design contest. This may permit you to see completely different design choices and supply suggestions for what works for you.

What’s subsequent?

After getting your album cowl design full, your album is able to amaze your followers and captivate new listeners. Whether or not you’re doing a digital-only launch or a vinyl album, your album cowl will help you draw within the crowd. Time to rock!

In search of an expert album cowl that’s in tune along with your music? Begin your album cowl contest immediately!