The visual design of the cover for a music album can tell a lot about the style and nature of its contents. This is the first thing that the user sees in the catalog of the virtual store or on the training site.
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The main task of design is to attract the attention of the audience, to evoke its emotional response. Our eye instantly snatches unusual and interesting images from the general mass, and the brain instantly decides to listen to a track with an intriguing cover. The originality of the art significantly increases the chances that the album will be noticed and listened to, and tracks from it will be added to favorites. The cover is one of the most important tools for presenting the artist’s creativity, increasing his recognition, and increasing sales.
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The first steps in making a cover
The work on the cover should not start in a graphic editor. The time for processing pictures, and selecting fonts and color schemes has not yet come. First, you need to decide on the meanings you want to share with your listeners.
- Formulate what the message of your new album is, and what its main idea is.
- Study the covers of artists working in the same style direction as you.
- Study popular cover design trends among artists in your genre.
- Try to figure out what nuances of their design you like and what nuances you don’t like.
- Make a list of your track cover design requirements.
- Take a virtual tour of thematic blogs of artists, and designers on Deviantart, Behance, Dribbble.
Write down all the ideas that came to your mind while studying the information. Then transfer them to a mudboard. Choose the pictures on Pinterest that best express your emotional message. Try to identify commonalities in the selection of images. Perhaps you are attracted to a particular color scheme, a particular graphic, a mood that the models convey. These nuances can be taken as the basis for a future cover.
If your own ideas are not born, ask a professional designer or artist.
There are no ironclad rules about how to make a cover for a track and how it should look. In some cases, an ordinary processed photo will be enough, in others something creative will do, and thirdly, minimalism will be the best choice. Most importantly, the image should contribute to the listener’s understanding of your musical essence.
When selecting graphics, photos, pictures, logos, text, follow the main principle – each of these elements should reflect your main message to your listeners.
The color scheme should be chosen based on:
The nature of the emotion you expect from your audience. Red is associated with energy, will to breakthrough, passion. Blue conveys calmness, stability. Orange conveys joy and excitement.
The combination of colors. You can use 2-3 colors in harmony with each other, or prefer a monochrome image as in the black and white cover of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way album, where there is all one bright accent – red lipstick.
The style of the lettering can also convey the overall mood of the album. Experiment with different fonts. Consider the purpose of the lettering headsets:
- With the album title;
- artist or band name;
- for the track list;
- song lyrics.
Select fonts for each category, up to a maximum of 3 options. You can choose similar or contrasting ways of lettering. It’s important that they convey the same emotion. Experiment with the thickness of the lines. The text should remain readable at any resolution.
For the cover artwork, you may use:
- A picture of the musician or band – preferably its style should reflect the concept of the track or album;
- a picture – it should correspond to the character of the music. For example, the cover of the legendary album The Rolling Stones – Still Life;
- A collage of different elements communicating the same idea.
You can put an inscription on the cover with the name of the album, the band, a list of tracks. The format of the digital cover art allows you to limit the design to the front cover only.
A symbol that contributes to brand memorability. The logo is used in any contact with the audience – on covers, in social media, in advertising.
How to create a cover
You can handle this task yourself – using the functionality of graphic editors Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign or special online services (Canva, Cover Art Factory, Adobe Spark). Another option is to delegate the creation of the cover for the playlists to a specialist.
Streaming services’ requirements for covers
To upload music tracks to Spotify or Yandex. Music the image must have;
- size not less than 3000×3000 pix;
- Resolution – from 72 DPI;
- PNG, JPG format.
Create harmonious compositions of sound and images to effectively promote your music.
I’m a product and graphic designer with 10-years background. Writing about branding, logo creation and business.