How to Create a Music Album Cover

By Matthew Caines
Experiment with different effects for your album cover, such as shadow and light.

Some of the world’s most renowned albums are as famous for their covers as they are for their music. For example, Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” may be a great album musically, but will forever be remembered for its light-spectrum album cover. The key to creating a memorable music album cover is to make it striking, interesting and relevant to the artist or group.

Plan what the album cover is going to look like. There are a lot of different types of album covers. Some have a picture of the artist or group; some have an image that represents the album title; and others have an artistic image or even just text. Consult with the band or artist and find out what their ideas are. Have a look at other existing albums to draw some creativity and inspiration.

Take some photos of the cover image with a digital camera once you have decided what it will be. Ensure that, whatever your subject matter is, you take lots of photos of it/them; this will give you more options when it comes to choosing a perfect photo later. Experiment with different camera effects, lighting and color. Upload the photos onto your computer once you have taken enough.

Download some copies of the cover image if you are using images from the Internet. Make sure that you have contacted the images' photographer and asked for permission to use them. Try to download lots of different color and style variations of the image.

Collect the image files you have together in one folder and try to decide on one or two images that really deserve to be on the album cover. Take particular care when considering the sharpness, color and clarity of the image. Make sure there is room on the picture for the name of the group or artist and the album name.

Use image editing software to add the album title and the artist or group’s name. Experiment with different fonts and sizes and ensure that the text is visible, readable and prominent. Programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are excellent for advanced users while Google’s Picasa is user friendly and free.

Re-size and crop the image you have chosen to the correct CD size. All CD cases are the same measurement and the cover inlay (where your image slots inside the case) measures at 4.75 inches x 4.75 inches.

Print you album cover when you and the band/artist are satisfied with it. If you are printing only a small amount of copies, use a home printer and printing paper. If you are printing for several hundred CDs, it may be cheaper to use a printing company. Use the Internet to search for printing companies in your region.

Tip

Whether you are downloading images from the Internet or taking pictures yourself, make sure that the images are more than 1mb in size and over 300 dpi. This helps to retain the sharpness of the image and prevents your album cover looking faded and blurred.

Remember that less is more. Don’t confuse or complicate your album cover with an image that has too much going on; keeping it simple will make it striking and effective.

If your album cover is of a person or a group of people, use different outfits and backgrounds to give you more choice when it comes to picking a perfect cover later on.

About the Author

Matthew Caines began writing and editing in 2008 and has since gained valuable experience in the publishing industry working for national publications such as "The Guardian," "Sartorial Male," "AREA Magazine," "Food & Drink Magazine," "Redbrick Newspaper" and "REACH Magazine." He has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Birmingham, U.K.