designing-an-album-cover?-here-are-4-tips-from-the-experts

There’s a lot to consider when designing album cover art—from carefully selecting the right typography, to capturing the essence of a record’s sound using just the right combination of visuals.

So, what makes an album cover design stand-out from the rest? We asked the designers at DKNG—a design studio with a focus on the music and entertainment industry—to share their top album design tips for folks just getting started in this niche field. Use these tips as a guide to creating both thoughtful and effective cover art for the musicians you’re designing for.

For even more cover art inspiration, check out our recent Weekly Warm-Up, where we challenged graphic designers to redesign their favorite music album.

1. Think about versatility

Think about a range of sizes—album art appears on everything from billboards, social media, to the music app on your watch, so think about creating a design that’s iconic enough to work in small sizes, but with enough detail that it shines when reproduced in larger applications.

  1. Goaltender

  2. 10x18 - No. 3 / Bus Gas / Amulets

  3. The Recently Deceased - Album Cover

  4. 10x17.co | No.3

  5. 10X18 – 9. Twenty One Pilots, Trench

  6. 10x18 — Mac Miller

Row 1:
Jordan Kabalka,
Brett Stenson,
Ben Stafford.
Row 2:
Maxwell Holyoke-Hirsch,
Maya Ealey,
Justin Pervorse.

2. Take advantage of creative packaging options

A lot of album artwork today is simply for a digital single. But if you have the opportunity to create a unique package for vinyl, get creative with it. And creative doesn’t need to be expensive—you could even screen print your own packaging and just have the vinyl itself commercially produced. There’s even a Grammy Award for best album packaging. Check out previous years’ winners and nominees for inspiration.

  1. The Dip Delivers

  2. Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

  3. Bohemian Rhapsody

  4. 10x18: #8 Brandi Carlile - By The Way, I Forgive You

  5. Qualia: New beginning [MMXVII] #Vinyl cover

  6. Entourloop • double LP edition

Row 1:
dan gneiding,
jackie sharayko,
Sergey Semernyov.
Row 2:
Amy Hood for Hoodzpah,
Abyss.prod,
Jean Mosambi.

3. Understand the artist’s brand aesthetic

Our biggest goal As the designers is to let the voice of the band or musical artist come through, rather than our own aesthetic. What visual style resonates most with the band and their fan base? Some artists we work with have their own style guide which can be super helpful in knowing what themes to focus on, and which themes to avoid, to make the album art truly their own.

  1. Arcade High

  2. Billy Bacci Album Art

  3. Soul Drive

  4. 10x19 Willie Nelson

  5. Paul Simon's

  6. Proper Dose

Row 1:
James White,
Brent McCormick,
Adam Ho.
Row 2:
Jennifer Hood for Hoodzpah,
Eric R. Mortensen,
Jordan Kabalka.

4. Listen to the music while you design

Even if it’s not your cup of tea, listening to the music of the artist while you design will help you determine the best look for their album art. Even if you think you have a solid opinion of what the sound and vibe is, listen again. You might be surprised to catch a specific lyric or sound that provides new inspiration.

  1. We Amplify Voices

  2. Tiger On The Run

  3. Cedar House Album Artwork

  4. Experimenting #169

  5. #9: Big Thief - Capacity

  6. 10x18 — #2: Little Dark Age by MGMT

Row 1:
Benjamin Howes,
Bryan Butler,
J.D. Reeves.
Row 2:
Edwin Carl Capalla,
?????? ℜ????,
Eric R. Mortensen.

We hope you enjoyed these design tips in addition to the album title art inspiration! Thanks so much to DKNG for sharing their insights with us. Now that you know how to design a great album cover yourself, we challenge you to try your hand at redesigning an existing one. Whether it be a new album or an old favorite, we’d love to see what you come up with on Dribbble.

Want to keep up with DKNG? Find them on Dribbble and at dkngstudios.com.


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