Album Art

Let’s talk about album art. I’m sure it’s something most of us spend a good bit of time thinking about and I’m impressed nearly every day by the work I see folks posting on here. So share some pics of work you’ve released, or haven’t released, or work you like from others. And tell us about your process when designing art to accompany your music, or how you handle commissioning an artist to make something for you, what you think a cover should contribute to the music it accompanies, etc.

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I have a great deal more album art / potential art materia, than actual albums. :smiley: I have several entire sideprojects for which I’ve yet to record a note (prob won’t contain ‘notes’ per se but you know what I mean) but have logos, titles and covers ready to go because making doom/black metal and vaporwave style art is so easy and fun :smiley:

At the moment I especially enjoy making thoroughly heta-uma ones. The more I am working on ‘good’ animation/design Work elsewhere in life, the more anti my album covers get

One of my most productive times was years back when I had a access to a wonderful photocopier which could make arbitrary monocrome or two-tone false-colour copies for the same price as black and white

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A few times a week I like to work on hypothetical album covers for imaginary albums, and a lot of the time those covers actually end up inspiring music based on them. I put together an album in 2018 to accompany this cover, but ultimately scrapped it and put the parts of it that I liked into a different project that got released in its place.

I love how the cover turned out though and I might reattempt the album itself again in the future. The idea was to do 7 tracks, each titled after and capturing the energy of pigments that could make up a double primary painting palette.

And I’ve never made music to go with this one, but if I ever get in the mood to make some early 2000’s electronica inspired tracks I might use it. I made it to look like the artworks that would be included on rips of Warp Records stuff back in like 2001 - 2005 (I was in middle school, unscrupled, and without money to buy the music), where I couldn’t tell if the artwork was bad on purpose, or just a poor upload. Of course once I got old enough to have money and actually buy those albums I loved, it often turned out the artwork in the rips wasn’t even from the releases, but those are still the images that pop into my head whenever I revisit those albums.

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some writeups in other threads:

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Oh wow, I really love the look of that Candle Man cover! That’s the sort of thing I could look at for hours while listening to an album.

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Thanks! It was originally a CDr in a A4 folded origami sleeve that nobody could ever figure out how to put back together again :smiley:

andrew very interesting process and the results look great!

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Album art is the primary reason I chose graphic design as a career. It’s funny, it’s the sort of thing I would talk about endlessly to people unbidden, but now that a question has been posed, I find I don’t have that much to say, ha.

I do think about it a lot, especially lately. I wish I’d had the opportunity to do more of it through my career, but have been fortunate to work with some lovely, amazing musicians. Hopefully I get to do more.

Here are the album covers I’ve done for myself.

I find it nearly impossible to talk about process or what my intentions were. I’m a context sensitive designer, so I don’t really impart myself into the work, but rather try to find what is correct for the project and highlight that. So each of those started their lives as radically different pieces of art/design, but the more I’d listen to the music, the more what it was supposed to be emerged. Eventually I would scrap about six different false starts before finding the correct visual language for what was correct for the emotional feeling of the music.

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I love seeing the process and thought put into album art. I really enjoy composing artwork and visuals for my band, Modality, and with other artists and musicians. I work exclusively on a pay/trade-what-you-want system. Sure, I value my time and artwork, but I value the experiences with other artists even more. Any money I make from the artwork goes back into funding other creative projects/equipment.

I focus on a quick, iterative process I call this/not/that. It forces me to make decisions quickly, and trust what my initial reaction to a piece is. All work is primarily digital on ios devices with elements of nature and video synthesis mixed in. I capture video from Lumen or an LZX Vidiot and work with that until I find textures to integrate into the still images. Some of the video synth pieces get put into a library to project with CoGe during performances. I’m a percussionist and rhythm, texture and repeating/evolving patterns are my primary themes in audio/visual.

Here is a handful of some of recent work.

Modality - Everything Utopian Released yesterday! I am fascinated by topo relief maps, and this is part of a series focusing on topo grids of imaginary islands. 2020 Digital only:

Lazertüth - The Akami I was working with depth and repeating patterns on this one.
2016 vinyl/digital:

Sketch of some work in a series for a TBA release from an electronic artist I love. This wasn’t the final image for the cover art, but I really enjoyed the process. It is the first in a series, this one is named world one. Polyhedral wormholes and such.

Alpha Nord – Live at PsyKA Festival Vol. 3 Really enjoyed working with them on this. Small run vinyl pressing. 2016.

Lazertüth/Modality - The Moruvians A split album with our friends in Massachusetts. Again with the topo relief fascination with a dash of rutt etra and of course a little moiré. Landscapes.
2018 vinyl/digital

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So if I had to choose one design studio of which I adore every one and each album artwork it would probably 23 envelope:


It probably helps a lot that some of my favourite albums of all time contain their artwork but for me it stands even on it’s own and would love to have it hanging on a wall:

When it comes to my music I do the artwork myself (but I don’t think I have any graphical talent :D) but to be honest I don’t think I have ever created artwork specially for music or music specially for artwork. Mostly I just photograph stuff/do some creative coding separately and when I want to release some music I go through recent works to select something. Tools are rather simple: my phone/old digital camera/processing.org and then I often apply film emulation in apps like RNI films to give it a little bit more texture.
My own favourite album art would be probably:

which was created in Processing.org and experimenting a lot with adding noise and chromatic abberation. I basically wanted to code something similar to VHS distortion. It is very simple but I like how analogue it looks besides being created in 100% digital fashion without drawing anything by hand.


which is folded perlin noise (https://www.iquilezles.org/www/articles/warp/warp.htm) with a lookup color table to restrict available color space.

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Love that Corey Holms cover

Edit: Oh, you are Corey Holms! Was mainly referring the 2nd one you posted

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Hahaha, thank you very much.

record label logo

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I don’t think about cover art until I’m putting a release together. And since I have no training whatsoever in any visual discipline, I don’t worry too much. Collecting these now I can see they are quite “literal”.

This is a blown up photo I took of a Barbara Hepworth sculpture. Her work is so texture-rich that that’s all I had to do. I wanted to capture the confusion and stochastic nature of the music, and the faded text is supposed to represent someone who is and is not there simultaneously.

This is a watercolour I painted of an Arizona landscape someone else photographed. I can’t really paint, so I turned the motion blur up to 11. I like the colours and the digital artifacts here and there, and I know the original painting, so it works for me.

This is a still from a small video I captured with my phone, of a light prism hitting the wall of my bedroom. The single is about being indoors, so again the album art is pretty much the tin in “does what it says on the tin”.

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It’s been great to see the variations in everyone’s works! Given me some inspiration.

As for my album covers - I tend to go for clean designs based on photos I’ve taken. Here’s a few of them:

For an upcoming album to be released on Fallen Moon Records :slight_smile: I wanted a cover that reflected the distance between my collaborator and I (we live on opposite sides of the country) and how the album incorporates field recordings.

My band’s album cover. Based on a photo I took in Melbourne, we collectively wanted something colourful, quirky and maybe a touch grungy.

My last solo EP, based on a photo of dried mud.

Cover of a compilation I also curated for Dog Park Records. The theme of the album was to consider the relationship between people and the environment, and I took the cover photo while walking through a forest in south-west Australia.

Another solo EP cover, the photo is of twilight over a river. Twilight is my favourite hour - I love the dramatic colours as day shifts into night.

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I like these a lot, but particularly the last one.

In a previous life, I used to do Quartz Composer work creating material used in performances by Aphex Twin and Simian Mobile Disco, amongst others, and designed/coded some nice realtime motion graphics pieces in a similar Rutt-Etra/Bridget Riley/Victor Vasarely vein.

This video for TV On the Radio was the trigger for that whole creative period for me.

Sorry for veering off-topic a little (and blowing my own trumpet a little) :wink:

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That’s a cool idea. I hope you don’t mind if I’ll copy that from you one day :slight_smile:

I occasionally do album covers. Usually it’s figurative work, with a style that derives from my old graphic novel stuff.
Here’s some I’m really happy with.


This was a vinyl/CD/digital cover for the Canadian band Atsuko Chiba (for whom I had already made this one a couple of years earlier).
The Title of the album is Trace, and there’s several themes intertwined in the lyrics of the songs. A lot in them was about time, hindsight, how one sees oneself over a period of time, etc.
I went through a series of ideas but landed on something that was suppsed to represent moving bodies and the trails these bodies would leave if we could see “through time” (you know the whole space-time-worms thing!).
In the end the result was a bit different, but I think part of the initial concept is still there. I like how there is a sense of fluidity, metamorphosis and a strong energy in the drawing, both things which in different ways I hear in the music.


This one has a more sci-fi cyberpunkt kind of vibe. I quite like to do these super-detailed drawings with lots of little things flying around. I felt this style was pretty fitting for the kind of music Boodaman makes.


This was a collaboration with @RupertL for an album+novella combo. The latter is story about memory/memories with a clear cyberpunk vibe.
There’s a video which among other things contains me rambling about some of the thinking that went into the making of the cover.

I usually work with Photoshop+ a Wacom Cintiq, because I’m aftere a really clean precise kind of style, with mostly flat colours, though I’m getting back to some less virtual media lately.

Apart from this more figurative works I’ve done a few more abstract things, mostly stuff for my own band kvsu.

For our vinyl malosco sessions I had first created an intricate abstract vector graphic and then misused Photoshop’s “content aware fill”, pusing it to create various glitches.

Later when we did the remix album ironaugust (which was a collection of remixes of malosco sessions) I took the above album cover, put it in the scanner and moved it around while the sensor was passing over it. This created further – more organic – glitches, which was very fitting with the whole remix project, which was based on the idea of using the vinyl itself as the only sound source for the tracks.
These are some of the raw scans I had produced


From there I picked one that seemed to work best, tweaked the colours, cropped it etc.
The result was this thing below.

edit: forgot to add that I really love your artwork @andrew!

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@papernoise, that ironaugust + manual scanner technique is brilliant! Looks very nice. Did you apply the lighter grey-ish tone on it afterwards or was it caused by the scanner?

Over the years I’ve been trying plenty of different techniques for album covers (both for myself and other artists), but it wasn’t until last year that I finally found a style that I was truly happy about.

For my latest album I processed GAN created images through Vortex Decoder, which is a circuitbent analogue video effect module. It brings nice textures especially to sterile digital images. In addition there’s some subtle layering on photoshop and colour tweaks.

For my rock band I used the same technique, except for this cover I created the base image in Processing before running it through VD.

Edit: I wanted to add that I’ve found some enjoyment in creating these types of “mushy” images lately. I.e. they’re not quite sharp, yet not blurred on purpose either, making a certain kind of hazy effect on the final image, as if seen through a thick glass.

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IIRC I did remap all the colour values to new ones using Photoshop’s “color gradient”. But the grey-ish tone – which I think is more beige – was because we printed the whole thing on a slighly beige paper stock (see photo here) and I wanted the digital copy to reflect that.

That looks really cool. Did you also add some “analog photo” textures on top of it, or is it the VD doing all the magic there?

I love the typesetting on The Veneer Fades .

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I have a collegue who I work with and she usually does album arts somewhere during the process of mixing the songs when the overall color of the LP/EP is starting to appear clearly.

I’ll just share a few.

This is the last album I released (and the one I shared here), it’s a collage of I think something around 1200 small texture bits of early 20th century comics from a huge database of thousands of copies that Angele collected over the years. There was an intention behind it to express chaos through the reorganization of simple, naïve and colorful structures, it was also rather on par with the very colorful nature of the LP itself, which had a lot of instruments, acoustic, and electronic, recorded, resampled, synthesized, and we felt the combination of all those little snippets of textures that we’re so aqcuainted with, turned into some sort of gigantic cave almost as if it was turned into its own mineral structure, well it felt fitting. It was a lot of work and we tried a lot of different combinations, she wanted there to be some sort of small recreation of images and meaning if you look inside the mess, things that you could imagine to be shapes in their own rights. I still like it a lot.

This one was for an older band project. It’s such a weird cover ! I love it just for that. We’d experimented with tons of propositions for this EP and it never really fit. Somehow, we suddenly all felt like we loved this weird one, it both feels like it’s telling a story but the story itself is kind of an abstraction. The yellow background works particularly well on the printed vinyl and it makes the whole thing just beautiful to look at.

It’s actually a thing that all these things we’re sharing are objects and I understand the need for @papernoise to also display the object and try for the digital artwork to relate to it in some ways. Stuff like choice of paper, grain, the way the artwork is spread over cover and back etc. it’s a huge a part of the process so it’s always halfway through to only show the digital square version (especially since there’s always some work on fonts, for Escape Point, Angèle pushed far enough to expand the title font and write all the songs title with it on the inside cover which was a tremendous amount of work)


And here are digital only ones, released as single series by my previous band

This was the cover for a song called “Waves From Nothing” featured in an Adultswim game.

And this was a free acoustic song we liked and didn’t know where to release so we just released it.

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