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Product Recipes: Create an Indie Album Cover

RetroSupply March 31, 2021 · 4 min read


For many designers, creating an album cover for a band is a dream project. If you’re like most designers, chances are it was projects like this that got you into design in the first place.
This product recipe will show you some secrets to creating an album cover that looks hand crafted and nostalgic.
Here’s how the final design will look:
Final Album Cover

Required Resources

preview-01-f circular-saw-blades-badge-set-f

melanylane1-f cover-f

Huge Nature Photo Set – This set of photographs includes over 250 high resolution nature images. I own this pack and come back to it over and over.
Circular Saw Blades – This set of saw blades by Ghostly Pixels is a hand drawn vector. Like all of his stuff it’s well made and gives your work a hand made feel.
Melany Lane – This font by Ryan Martinson at Yellow Design Studio is incredible. I’m a sucker for open type features and decorative elements. This font is packed with both and works well on everything from wedding invitations to album covers.
RetroLab – RetroLab is a massive photography action set designed act like a personal photo developing studio. This kit will help us add light leaks and textures to our album cover fast.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1. Create a 12 x 12 inch file in Photoshop. Set color to CMYK and resolution to 300 DPI.
Step 2. Place a photo from the Huge Nature Photo Set into your canvas. I’m using photo #157. Resize the photo so it fits well on your canvas.
Step 3. Place Ghostly Pixels Circular Saw Blades on to your canvas and resize so it fits well on your canvas.
Step 3
Step 4. Use the Magic Wand Tool to select the black area of the saw. Now turn off the visibility of the saw layer.
Step 5. With the saw area still selected choose the layer containing your photograph. Open the Adjustments panel (Windows > Adjustments) and select levels. Adjust the output level to make the selected area darker and more defined. My output levels are 0, 196.
Step 6. Now, in the Adjustments layer choose Hue/Saturation and adjust the Hue and Saturation until you get an effect you like. My levels are Hue: +6 and Saturation +11.
Step 6
Step 7. This is starting to look pretty cool. Deselect the area you’ve adjusted the colors on (Select > Deselect). Now it’s time to add our album text.
Step 8. Add the name of your album using Melany Lane by Yellow Design Studio. This font works especially well because it comes loaded with tons of embellishments. Be bold and have fun using the ornaments! Add any other additional information the cover needs. I’ve added a record label stamp and the artists name.
Step 8
Step 9. We’re getting pretty close to completing this album cover. The last thing we want to do is add a bit of shading and texture. First let’s create a dark vignette to focus the viewers attention on the center. Create a new layer on top of all the other layers. Using the rectangular marquee tool drag and select the entire canvas. Right click and select Stroke. Create a 4px black stroke. Press Okay and deselect.
Step 10. On the layer with the stroke choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set the blur to 100px. Lower the opacity of the layer to 75%. This should give you a nice soft dark edge to your canvas.
Step 11. Next let’s add a light leak to the photograph. Choose the layer with your photograph on it. Using RetroLab choose the Light Leaks action set and play Light Leak 1. This quickly gives you a great looking light leak.
Step 11
Step 12. Lastly, using RetroLab let’s add a film grain effect to the cover so it looks like the photo has been taken with a vintage camera. Choose the Film Grain action set in RetroLab and play the Heavy Grain action. Turn the opacity down to 50%.
Here’s our final result:
Final Album Cover

 Final Thoughts

As you can see, with just a few resources we were able to create a great looking album cover fast. Plus, each tool is really diverse. Use them on this project and then add them to your design toolbox.


Dustin Lee is a graphic designer and the owner of RetroSupply. RetroSupply provides professional quality actions, brushes, textures and much more. Check out his shop here

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RetroSupply makes brushes, textures, fonts, and templates for retro-loving illustrators and designers. Our products are made by a full-time team of creatives for use in Procreate, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Affinity.

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