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.
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:
- Vintage photo of a movie star
- Photo of a girl sticking her tongue out
- Safety pin photo
- Dust and scratches overlay texture pack
- Fake Empire font
- Addison font
- Riotiks script font
Install the fonts on your computer, and you’re ready to get started designing your album cover.
1. How to Size Your Album Cover
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.
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.
Then lock all layers except the bottom layer, Photo, which we’ll work on first.
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.
2. How to Create a Collage Photo on Your Album Cover
Working on the Photo layer, use the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) to create an image frame across the whole page.
Go to File > Place, choose the vintage photo you downloaded earlier, and Open it, allowing the portrait to fill the frame.
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.
With the shape selected, head up to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Color, and click OK.
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].
Return to Object > Effects > Transparency, this time setting the Mode to Darken and bringing the Opacity down to 85%.
3. How to Add Newspaper-Inspired Type to Your Album Cover
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Continue to work your way down the side of the cover, varying the fonts as you go, until the full band name is listed.
4. How to Add a Punk Tongue to Your Album Cover
Unlock the Tongue layer and use the Pen Tool (P) to create a rough tongue-shaped area around the mouth of the portrait.
On the shape, Right-Click > Content > Graphic to transform the shape into an image frame.
Go to File > Place, choose the image of the girl sticking her tongue out, and Open it.
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.
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.
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.
Apply a bright pink Fill Color to this second shape.
With the pink shape selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency and set the Mode to Color, before clicking OK.
Open the safety pin photo in Photoshop.
Go to Select > 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.
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.
Hit Delete to remove the white background from the image.
In the Layers panel, choose Channel Mixer from the Adjustments menu at the bottom of the panel.
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.
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.
Right-Click > Content > Graphic to transform the shape into an 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.
5. How to Add a Vintage Texture to Your Album Cover
Unlock the top layer, Texture overlay, and use the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) to create an image frame across the page.
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.
With the image frame selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency and set the Mode to Screen and Opacity to 60%.
You can add an optional advisory warning sticker to the cover on the Advisory layer, using an image sourced from the web.
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.
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.
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.
Perfect for electro, techno, or dance releases, this graphic album cover template features noisy overlays, acid colors, and dramatic portrait photography.
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.
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.
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.
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