When you’ve put so much effort into your music, you want to make sure the cover looks as good as possible. Having great album artwork can be a massive incentive for getting people to listen to your music. So how do you do it?
Making album art for your EP requires a central artistic theme, which could be inspired by your music or from other album covers. You need to plan a photo shoot, edit drafts and export your final artwork at the right size for digital platforms.
Even if your music is great, poor artwork can give listeners a bad impression and make you seem like an amateur. Why spend all that time and money in the studio when your EP art is going to put people off? This is why you need to know how to make great album art.
Album Cover Ideas
#1 Look at your favourite album covers for inspiration
It can be hard to create artwork without finding a bit of inspiration first. Think about what your favourite album covers are, why you like them and how they are made. Once you’ve created a mood board of ideas, it will be much easier to move forward in a clear direction.
You could have a look on iTunes or Spotify for good artwork but you might not see it very clearly on your phone. It is a good idea to make a trip to your local record store and see the artwork in its larger vinyl form.
#2 Design a theme for your artwork
You should now be ready to start making the first designs for your artwork. Creating a theme can give you more clarity on how you want the final artwork to look like. Try working with a few different themes to find out which one you like the most.
Your artwork theme doesn’t need to be complicated. You could work off of templates found online, styles inspired by your favourite covers or even a single colour. Be creative but also remember that there is still a lot more planning to do.
#3 Plan a photoshoot
This is where the collaboration begins. You could find a photographer through other artists or even through gigs, where there is usually a photographer taking photos of the artist. When you’re working with others, you need to be clear about your plan, whilst also giving them some creative freedom.
You might find that you don’t need another photographer because most smartphones have pretty good cameras on them. This means you could save some money by taking a DIY approach and carrying out your own photoshoot.
Not all artwork needs photos. Sometimes artwork is created by illustrators who will make drawings or digital art. This can be a great option if you want to stretch your imagination and make your EP stand out.
#4 Use the best editing software
Once you have taken your photos, you need to begin editing them and putting it all together. Fortunately, there is plenty of software options that you could use.
Photoshop is a powerful software that is widely used by professionals. It will cost you around £10 a month to get it but its editing capabilities could really help you create high-quality artwork. It may be hard to grasp at first but Photoshop editing is a great skill worth learning.
A solid alternative to Photoshop is Canva. Whilst it may not be as powerful for editing images, it is great for graphic design and is also very simple to use. It has both a free version and a paid tier that costs around the same as Photoshop. Feel free to try it out before you start paying anything.
You might find it easier using a mobile app to create album artwork. Adobe actually has two free apps that are perfect for editing your album art. The first is Photoshop Express, which is basically a very simple version of Photoshop. The other is Lightroom and this is also another great option for editing photos. Try them both and see which one you prefer.
#5 Create different artwork drafts
It is very unlikely that you will create the perfect artwork on your first attempt. Even if you do, it is worth making several drafts to compare them and truly determine which one is the best.
A lot of your drafts may be similar with only slight variations. Try doing something drastic and making a completely different draft. You never know how it could work out and it might give you more ideas going forward.
#6 Export it at the right size and format
When you have chosen your favourite artwork, you need to make sure it is the right size and format for different platforms.
First of all, you don’t want to be in a position where you’re increasing the size of the image. This will make the image blurry and could be rejected by digital platforms. You should make sure that you’re working in at least 3000×3000 px and then make it smaller if you need to.
Make sure you don’t include a web address, Twitter or Instagram @name or an image that is rotated the wrong way. Remember that this is artwork and not a poster promoting your social accounts.
You should always make sure you have a high-quality version of your artwork in a PNG format. However, you should also make a JPG copy as this is what you will likely be using for digital platforms. If the final file ends up being too big, don’t worry, just export it at a slightly lower quality or compress it online.
#7 Make your EP and get it on Spotify, iTunes/Apple Music and more
So you’ve created your theme and made your artwork. All you have to do now is put it together with your music. Try to plan for some of your music to be finished before you start making artwork because it could help inspire you.
You will need to use a digital aggregator such as CDBaby or Distrokid to get your music on these platforms. There is a small subscription fee or royalty split but they are great options for independent artists. They will clearly state their terms for artwork when you upload it so make sure you read their instructions carefully.
If you don’t want to use an aggregator then you could always upload your music to Soundcloud and YouTube. You could use this as an opportunity to create artwork videos, which are great ways to get on YouTube without making a music video.
You will need a video editing software and if Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut is out of your budget, DaVinci Resolve is a brilliant free software used by professional editors. Simply drag your track and your artwork into it and create your video.
What are the best album covers that you’ve recently seen? Tell us in the comments below.