Looks Are Everything: Create Beautiful Album Art
December 11, 2016
When you come to make album artwork, looks are everything. Your album art is often what will grab a new fan's attention, and help them to decide whether or not to pick up your CD or look at your profile.
Your music may be sounding great, but the artwork for the single, EP or album, whether it’s a digital or physical release, is something you need to put plenty of thought and effort into. Your album art offers another way to stand out and get noticed in a saturated music industry.
But most musicians don’t have time to spend days and weeks creating and perfecting it, so what can you do?
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How to make album artwork that gets noticed
The obvious answer is to find a graphic designer to create it for you. You may have friends, or friends of friends, who could do this cheap, but more often than not this will come at quite a high price, unless you can find a skilled hobbyist. So here are a few ways you can get great cheap or free artwork for your next release.
Find a great original idea
First, make sure you’ve got a great idea, spend some time brainstorming within the band or if you’re a solo artist brainstorm what describes and defines you, what themes and trends you have. This will save time when faced with a blank canvas or when sending briefs off to designers.
Look to other artists for inspiration
If you're struggling to come up with a new idea for you album artwork, you can always find inspiration in other people's work. Look at the artwork used by similar bands and artists you admire and see how you could their ideas to fit your own style. Don't just copy them though, make sure your artwork is completely original.
Great album art can take many forms, whether it's an image of you, a simple graphic or just text.
Call in the professionals
If you don't feel confident designing it yourself, then it could be time to hire a professional. A great site for this is 99 Designs, as it allows you to get a number of designers working on your project for you, and then you can choose the best one. You submit your description and working budget and let designers create your artwork. It’s a great tool to see the different takes on your initial idea, while setting your own (realistic) price.
Alternatively, you could call in a professional freelance graphic designer with whom you can work closely to create the perfect artwork. Whether you want to spend a little extra on a seasoned expert, or reach out to student designers looking to build up their portfolio, there are plenty of professional and affordable options out there.
Create it yourself using free design tools
There are lots of great free image editing websites and software that you can use to create album artwork yourself, even if you have limited design experience. You may not be a pro, but there are plenty of tutorials on Youtube to help guide you through different features. Here are some of our favourite free design tools:
Pixlr is similar to Adobe Photoshop but it doesn’t ask you to update every two hours. It’s a great tool to manipulate images and text, and it lets you work over layers, resize and save in a number of formats. We'd also recommend Pixlr Advanced when given the choice.
Inkscape focuses more on the drawing of graphics and images. What’s more, Inkscape works with vectors, a format ideal for logos, technical illustrations and design compositions.
GIMP is another to Photoshop with even more features and tools, incase Pixlr doesn’t take your fancy. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert photo retouching program, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, and much more.
Free image editing tools like Pixlr, Inkscape & Gimp offer an easy way to make album art on a budget
TAD the app
Another great option for artists and bands looking to create great album artwork is a new app called TAD (Thumbnail Art Design). This intuitive and easy-to-use app offers a simple way to make eye-catching artwork. You can find out more about TAD the app here.
Use free stock images
If you're looking for the perfect background for your artwork, but you don't have the resources or experience to design it yourself to a high standard, you can always just download free-to-use stock images. We'd recommend Pexels for all your stock image needs. All of the pictures on the site are completely free, so there's no need to worry about copyright issues. You can download, modify and distribute them any way you like.
We always recommend that you spend some time coming up with an attractive, original idea for your artwork. It's the first impression that you'll give to new listeners and should represent you and your music, so don't rush it. And remember, when uploading your artwork to Ditto Music, it needs to be 3000px x 3000px.
How do you make album artwork and come up with great ideas? Do you hire a graphic designer or create it yourself? Let us know in the comments and share this with your friends!
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