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How to Create an Epic Rock Album Cover Design

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this quick and simple tutorial, you’ll learn how to create album cover art for an epic rock album. Using Adobe InDesign and Photoshop, we’ll look at how to set up the album cover size for sharing on Spotify or iTunes and create a compelling, high-impact album design. 

Paying tribute to the anarchic punk style championed by British artist Jamie Reid, who designed iconic covers for the Sex Pistols during the 1970s, this album cover design uses collage, newspaper type, and an acid-bright color palette that’s true to the spirit of punk rock. 

Get ready to rock!

Create awesome album cover art in an instant with the album cover maker at Placeit. Design your own album cover in seconds, with a range of adaptable styles and genres to choose from, including pop, electro, rock, and jazz.

Baroque rock-pop album cover template
Baroque rock-pop album cover template.

What You’ll Need to Create Your Album Cover

You’ll need to download the following photos, graphics, and fonts to create the album cover:

Install the fonts on your computer, and you’re ready to get started designing your album cover. 

1. How to Size Your Album Cover

Step 1

Open InDesign and go to File > New > Document. 

Choose Web from the options at the top of the window, and set the Width and Height of the document to 3000 px. This is a standard square format for album artwork on most streaming platforms such as Spotify and iTunes.

Add Margins of 150 px and click Create

new document
blank document

Step 2

Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers), and double-click on Layer 1, renaming it Photo

Select New Layer from the panel’s main menu, and name this layer Tongue

Create four more new layers above, in this order: Safety pin, Type, Advisory, and Texture overlay. 

layers panel

Then lock all layers except the bottom layer, Photo, which we’ll work on first. 

photo layer

Step 3 

Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches) and select New Color Swatch from the panel’s menu. 

With the Type set to Process and Color Mode to RGB, set the levels to R=238 G=47 B=118. Click Add and Done

Repeat to create one more new RGB swatch: R=254 G=224 B=0.

swatch options

2. How to Create a Collage Photo on Your Album Cover

Step 1

Working on the Photo layer, use the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) to create an image frame across the whole page.

rectangle frame tool

Go to File > Place, choose the vintage photo you downloaded earlier, and Open it, allowing the portrait to fill the frame. 

image frame

Step 2

Remaining on the same layer, switch to the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a shape across the page, setting the Fill Color from the Swatches panel to yellow

yellow shape

With the shape selected, head up to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Color, and click OK

color mode

Step 3

Unlock the Type layer above and use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a rough shape across the eyes, setting the Fill of the shape to [Black].

black shape

Return to Object > Effects > Transparency, this time setting the Mode to Darken and bringing the Opacity down to 85%

darken transparency

3. How to Add Newspaper-Inspired Type to Your Album Cover

Step 1

Switch to the Type Tool (T) and draw a small text frame across the far left side of the shape. Type in the first letter of the album title, and set the Font to Fake Empire. 

From the Swatches panel, set the Font Color to yellow

fake empire font

Step 2

Continue working across the eyes, creating text frames for each letter of the title and setting each in a different font. 

Cycle between Addison West Flat, Addison Circus Flat, Fake Empire, and Riotiks to create a collage-style effect. You can also rotate some of the text frames slightly to give the letters a jauntier look. 

addison font
riotiks font
text frames

Step 3

Use the Pen Tool (P) to create a roughly drawn small shape at the top right of the cover. Set the Fill to bright pink. 

pen tool shape

Add a text frame using the Type Tool (T) over the top of the pink shape, setting the Font to Fake Empire and the Font Color to yellow. Type in the first letter of the band name. 

text frame

Step 4

Create a second pink shape using the Pen Tool directly below, and create a second text frame, with the second letter of the band name set in a different font, such as Riotiks

text frame

Continue to work your way down the side of the cover, varying the fonts as you go, until the full band name is listed. 

complete band name
cover design so far

4. How to Add a Punk Tongue to Your Album Cover

Step 1

Unlock the Tongue layer and use the Pen Tool (P) to create a rough tongue-shaped area around the mouth of the portrait. 

pen tool

On the shape, Right-Click > Content > Graphic to transform the shape into an image frame. 

graphic frame

Step 2

Go to File > Place, choose the image of the girl sticking her tongue out, and Open it. 

placed image

Double-click inside the frame to select the image directly and, while holding Shift, scale up the image until the tongue roughly fills the frame. 

scaled image

You can adjust the edges of the frame to better fit the tongue by using the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select individual anchor points and move them using your mouse or the arrow keys. 

direct selection tool

Step 3

Select the tongue image frame and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste in Place. 

Right-Click on the copy and choose Content > Unassigned, before selecting the image inside the frame and hitting Delete to remove it, just leaving the shape behind. 

unassigned content

Apply a bright pink Fill Color to this second shape.

pink fill

With the pink shape selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency and set the Mode to Color, before clicking OK

effects colour opacity

Step 4

Open the safety pin photo in Photoshop

Go to Select > Color Range. 

color range

Click on the white background to pick it up, and move the Fuzziness slider until the white background is all selected. Click OK to exit the window.

fuzziness slider

Step 5

Click on the Refine Edge button in the top Controls panel.

Check Smart Radius and adjust the Shift Edge slider until the selection around the safety pin is tight. When you’re happy, click OK

refine edge

Hit Delete to remove the white background from the image. 

removed background

Step 6

In the Layers panel, choose Channel Mixer from the Adjustments menu at the bottom of the panel. 

channel mixer

In the Channel Mixer window, check the Monochrome box, and adjust the color and Constant sliders below until the pin is darker and more newspaper print in style.

Then File > Save As the image as a Photoshop file, preserving the transparent background. 

contrast channel mixer

Step 7

Head back to your album cover artwork in InDesign, and unlock the Safety pin layer. 

Use the Pen Tool (P) to create a rough safety-pin shape across part of the tongue. 

pen tool

Right-Click > Content > Graphic to transform the shape into an image frame. 

image frame

File > Place, choosing your edited safety-pin Photoshop image, and Open it. Rotate and scale the image inside the frame until it fits. 

safety pin image
cover so far

5. How to Add a Vintage Texture to Your Album Cover

Step 1

Unlock the top layer, Texture overlay, and use the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) to create an image frame across the page. 

rectangle frame

Go to File > Place, navigate to the folder of dust textures, and choose 28.jpg, clicking Open and allowing it to fill the whole frame. 

texture overlay

With the image frame selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency and set the Mode to Screen and Opacity to 60%. 

screen transparency

Step 2

You can add an optional advisory warning sticker to the cover on the Advisory layer, using an image sourced from the web.

parental advisory

Conclusion: Your Finished Album Cover

Your album cover artwork is ready to export (File > Export) as a JPEG or PNG image, ready for uploading to streaming sites or the band’s website and social media pages. Great job!

You can also easily adapt the cover into a printable design by converting the RGB color swatches to CMYK from the Swatches panel. Double-click on each swatch and switch the Color Mode to CMYK.

final album cover

Create Your Own Album Cover Art With Placeit

Looking to create more awesome album cover designs? You can put together epic album cover art in an instant with the album cover maker at Placeit. Design your own album cover in seconds, with a range of adaptable styles and genres to choose from, including pop, electro, rock, and jazz.

The album cover designs below have been created using easy-to-edit templates on the album cover maker in Placeit. Check out some of the designs I created using the templates available on the site.

Baroque Rock-Pop Album Cover Template

This template features a range of dramatic and high-impact image choices, from elegant pelicans to a lunar eclipse. Team the images with Gothic-style or ultra-condensed type to make the most of this dark and moody album cover design. 

Baroque rock-pop album cover template
Baroque rock-pop album cover template.

Deep Electro Album Cover Template

Perfect for electro, techno, or dance releases, this graphic album cover template features noisy overlays, acid colors, and dramatic portrait photography.

Deep electro album cover template
Deep electro album cover template.

New Wave Album Cover Template

Featuring a retro color palette, 1980s-inspired typefaces, and quirky, pop-art-inspired imagery, this cover template would be perfect for a New Wave or pop album cover. 

New Wave album cover template
New Wave album cover template.

Jazz Album Cover Template

Reminiscent of old-school jazz album cover designs, this 1970s-influenced cover template looks to an earthy color palette and old-school serif typography to create a cover with elegance and a vintage flavor.

Jazz album cover template
Jazz album cover template.

Infinite Techno Album Cover Template

Match the exhilarating feel of a techno or electro album with this euphoric album cover design. Mix up the photo, logo, and type style for a completely unique design. 

Inifinite Techno album cover template
Infinite Techno album cover template.

Want to learn more? Check out the following tutorials:

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