The Art of Music: Album Art Design Challenge
Adobe Creative Resident Temi Coker shares basic compositing techniques in Photoshop for beautiful designs in five easy steps.
In an era where emerging artists have more control of their careers, but face the challenges of saturation on platforms like iTunes, Spotify, and Soundcloud, the influence of album artwork is more important now than ever.
So what are the best tips to make stunning art that get listeners to stop browsing and press play.
Step 1: Using the Select and Mask Tool
Get started with free stock images from Adobe Stock.
- Bring your image into your Photoshop document (This document is 2048 x 2048 pixels with 300Dpi).
- With the image layer selected, click on the quick selection tool and click on “Select and mask”.
- Make sure your view mode is on overlay and opacity is at 50%. With the quick selection tool selected, click on the areas you want to select in this case, we selected his whole body.
- Once selected at the bottom left you should see “output to” make sure you click on “selection” then press OK
- Right click on the image and click on “layer via copy” this makes a copy of your selection and puts it in its own layer.*
- Bonus: I used the pen tool to select his chin rather than using the select and mask because it was easier for me and the edges were sharper.
- Using the shape layer, add a black box behind the subject.
Step 2: Add Paint
- Choose a paint texture from chroma supply (Abstract paint toolbox #22) and drag it into the document.
- Using the shape layer, add a black circle to the image and position it in front of his face.
- Clip the paint into the shape layer by right-clicking on the paint layer (make sure it’s right on top for the circle).
- Go to filter, distort, wave and playa around the with numbers till you find something that suits you. This is what we used to make the eyebrows. My wavelength was on 5 and I move the wavelength and amplitude to my liking.
- Find a part of the shape you’d like to use for your character’s eyebrows and erase everything else using the layer mask or eraser. Make a copy of the final eyebrow and put it on the other side to make the face complete.
- Use this same technique to make the beard.
Step 3: Add Shadows
- Use the pen tool or draw the neck with the brush tool (whichever you’re more comfortable with. I preferred the pen tool.
- Make a copy of the face and go to filter > blur > Gaussian blur> and pick between 20-30 pixels to make the image blurry. Drag it down a bit and position it however you’d like. This will act as the shadow.
- *Bonus: An alternative way to do this is by making a new layer, color it black using the brush tool (Blending mode should be on dissolve) and paint directly under the chin to create a shadow).
Step 4: Make the Face/Background
- Make a white circle layer and put it right behind the face.
- Using the pen tool (or shape tool), create an eye. Click on the shape layer you just made and click on “FX” at the bottom of the layer panel. Now click the outer glow and adjust the settings to your liking.
- Bring the other painting (Abstract Paint toolbox #17) into the document and clip it to the circle layer.
- With the paint layer selected, go to filter > stylize > wind filter and select staggered. Pick whichever direction you want and repeat this step until you are satisfied.
- *Bonus: to get his face darker, make a new layer (clip it to the layer of the face) and select a black brush. Now use the black brush on the face until you get your desired result.
Step 5: Hue/Saturation + Text
- Now that our image is complete, you just need to add the hue and saturation adjustment to give it color.
- Pick whatever color you want.
- Finally, add text to the top right of the album cover and artist name, and incorporate your art into different collateral projects.
The Album Art Design Challenge
Lover of music, or looking to create some cool artwork for your next track? Submit your original designs on Instagram, Twitter, or Behance for a chance to win a MacBook Pro, Beats Solo3 Wireless headphones, one-year Creative Cloud subscription, and more!
How to enter
- Download the creative brief from the music artist, Lake Stovall, to create an original design.
- Create original album artwork with any Creative Cloud tool that can be used for digital content and collateral design such as; vinyl sleeves, t-shirts, poster, etc.
- Share your project on social media (Twitter or Instagram) or Behance with hashtag #AlbumArtContest.
Submit your submissions by March 26, 11:59 pm PT. See the full terms and conditions.
Need inspiration? Check out a few of our favorite designs from Behance.