1. Design & Illustration
  2. Adobe Photoshop

How to Make a Heavy Metal Album Cover Art in Photoshop

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In today's tutorial, we will be looking at heavy metal albums using 3D assets. This tutorial can also work as a guide to heavy metal T-shirts! We will be using multiple 3D assets, fonts, and textures to create a highly versatile heavy metal album cover art.

In a hurry? Head on over to Placeit, where you can create album cover art and other musician templates in minutes!

Placeit Album Cover Maker

What You'll Learn in This Adobe Photoshop Tutorial

  • How to create versatile heavy metal album art
  • How to use 3D assets to create heavy metal album cover art
  • How to add texture similar to 80s heavy metal album covers
  • How to create a heavy metal album cover art background  
  • How to create heavy metal typography 

What You'll Need

In order to complete this project, you will need the following resources:

Find more resources on Envato Elements!

1. How to Set Up an Album Cover Document

Step 1 

First things first: When creating heavy metal album covers, or any album cover for that matter, you'll want to make sure you have the correct document settings. 

First, the size should be at least 3000 x 3000 pixels.

While this is technically larger than you need, it's always better to go big now and size down later!

Step 2

Next, set the Resolution to 300 Pixels/Inch. This will ensure a nice crisp print.

album document size

2. How to Combine 3D Assets in Photoshop 

Step 1

Download your 3D asset, a skull in this case. 

Click View 3D Render and choose an angle. 

Make sure PSD is Checked and then hit Download this Angle.

skull 3d asset

Step 2

Open the 3D assets PSD file and delete the shadow and background layer. 

Step 3

Repeat this with at least three angles: one looking up, one looking to the side, and one looking straight forward.   

Step 4

Bring all three skulls into the document we created in step 1. 

Add a +50 Contrast to all three skulls using Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast

add contrast to skulls

Step 5

Arrange the skull as you see below. Duplicate the left facing skull to create a fourth and final skull. 

heavy metal album art skulls

Step 6

Group all of the skulls together.

Create and clip a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer into the skull group. Set the layer to Brightness: 70 and Contrast: 52.

heavy metal album art skulls plus contrast

Step 7

Using the same method as the skulls, download this gold figure asset. We will only need one front-facing figure. 

gold figure

Step 8

Drag, drop, and place the gold figure behind the four skulls. 

Add a +50 Contrast and -90 Brighntess to the gold figure using Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast.  

place gold

Step 9 

Duplicate the gold figure three times, giving you a total of four gold figures. Place each figure behind a skull, using the Transform Tool to rotate the figures. 

duplicate gold

Step 10

Duplicate the gold figures four more times, for a total of eight gold figures. 

Shrink the duplicate figures, and place them in between each larger figure, creating an ornate circle design!

create gold wreath

Step 11

Group all the gold figures. Drag, drop, and clip a distressed texture into the gold group, setting it to Multiply. 

Hit Control-I to Invert the texture, changing it from mostly black to mostly white. This gives your gold a grungy finish. 

add texture to gold

3. How to Create a Heavy Metal Album Cover Art Background  

Step 1

Create a black background using a Color Fill layer or the Paint Bucket Tool.

create black background

Step 2

Find and place an X-ray of a skull onto your document, under your skulls and gold but over the black background. 

add x-ray texture

Step 3

Mask out everything but the right-side X-ray information.

mask out x-ray

Step 4

Add a +100 Contrast and -29 Brightness to X-ray the texture using Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast.  

Chance the texture to greyscale using Image > Adjustments > Black & White. 

adjust color and contrast

Step 5

Duplicate the X-ray information, flip it horizontally, and place it on the opposite side of the skulls. 

duplicate  texture

Step 6

Finish the background by adding some illustrative flourishes. 

Below, I used the ornaments that come with the Glaive font face. I used "J" set to a dark golden brown #8c6032 color. 

Group these, the X-rays, and the black background into a group named "Background".

add illustrations

4. How to Create Heavy Metal Album Cover Art Typography 

Step 1

Using the Heartless Death Metal font, type your band's name. Make it large, and place it towards the top of the skull's foreheads. 

type out band name

Step 2

Click Create Warped Text towards the top of the Type Toolbar. 

Select Style: Arch, Bend: +44, and Vertical Distortion: -33.

heavy metal album art curved title

Step 3

Set the text layer to Overlay.

Duplicate the text for a total of two text layers. 

set to overlay

Step 4

Duplicate the text one more time, setting the new layer to Normal.

Add a layer mask and press Control-I to invert the mask from white to black.

Use a soft white brush to mask the top section of the text back in. 

mask out bottom text

Step 5

Drag, drop, and clip a distressed texture into the masked text, setting it to Multiply. 

Hit Control-I to Invert the texture just like before, changing it from mostly black to mostly white. 

distress text

5. How to Finish the Heavy Metal Typography  

Step 1

Using the Sadis font, type out the title of the album, placing it directly below the skulls and X-ray information, and in the center of the canvas. 

Use a soft gray #cbcbcb color. 

heavy metal album art title name

Step 2

Between the words of the tile, add an illustrative flourish to match the ones we have in the background. 

Again, I used the ornaments that come with the Glaive font face. I used "R" set to the same dark golden brown #8c6032 color as before.

add cross

Step 3

Continue to add flourishes around the text. 

Below, I used the Glaive ornaments below and to the side of the title.  The bottom brown border is "Z", while the two side borders are both "a", with one flipped horizontally.  

Once you're happy, group all of your title text together. 

add illustrations

Step 4

Copy and paste the same distressed texture from before onto the title group. Add more Contrast to the texture to give it an even more grungy feel. 

add distress to title

6. How to Create a Dark and Distressed Color Grade 

Step 1

Place another distressed texture over the whole canvas, above all other current layers. Set the layer mode to Lighter Color and to 54% Opacity. 

Add a Brightness: -35 and a Contrast: 100 to the texture using Brightness/Contrast. 

80s heavy metal album covers distress texture

Step 2

Create a Color Lookup adjustment layer set to 3dLUT File: Filmstock at 30% Opacity. 

80s heavy metal album cover color grade

Step 3

Create a second Color Lookup adjustment layer set to 3dLUT File: Bleach Bypass at 50% Opacity. 

add contrast with color lookup

Step 4

Create a third Color Lookup adjustment layer set to 3dLUT File: Kodak 5218 Kodak 2383 at 36% Opacity. 


Step 5

Create a fourth Color Lookup adjustment layer set to 3dLUT File: DropBlues at 40% Opacity. 

drop blues

Step 6

Finally, create a Selective Color adjustment layer with the settings below:


  • Cyan: +9


  • Magenta: +2
  • Yellow: +3

Group all of your adjustment layers into a group named "Color Grade", and you are done!

heavy metal album art final color grade


And that's it! This design will give you a highly versatile base and can be the starter for tons of different heavy metal album covers. You can even try using Placeit's T-shirt template to turn this into the perfect heavy metal T-shirt design! Despite its minimal appearance, this album art holds the basic foundations of some of the best heavy metal albums!

heavy metal album cover art
heavy metal t shirts

Don't Have Photoshop? Try Placeit! 

Placeit has hundreds of album covers spanning dozens of different genres! Once you've found the right album cover for you, you can completely customize it to fit your exact needs: text, logos, as well as backgrounds and textures. Have your own custom images or logos? No problem! Upload them right onto the site.

If you're in a hurry or simply don't have Adobe Photoshop, you can still create the heavy metal album cover art that will have your listeners dying for more using Placeit, all inside of your very own browser.  

80s heavy metal album covers maker
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