Music – Realising the Designs – Part 1

For this blog post, I shall be looking into the processes involved in making the CD album cover and CD disc label designs for my client as well as the process in making the mock-ups to submit for my course. This will be a more general write-up than my last project, which was a very in-depth look.

Programs used:

  • Adobe Illustrator CS5
  • Adobe Photoshop CS5

CD Album:

First of all I had to make the brush I was going to use. Because I wanted a flexible brush, that would work at a range of differing sizes, I opened up a new Photoshop canvas to 2500pixels square, with a transparent background.

Going by my previous research, a brush is formed in grayscale, with everything black being opaque, everything white being transparent, and the scale of greys being differing levels of transparency. I then selected a soft brush from the Brush Picker (Window > Brush) and made sure the colour was a dark grey. (CMYK 0,0,0,80) This would be essential to let some transparency though, but not enough to make it like a glass effect as the client did not want this.

New brush

To turn what I had created into a brush, I went to Edit > Define Brush, and clicked OK in the resulting dialog box, once I had entered a name for the brush.

With the brush made, I opened a new Photoshop document to 122mm square to be the front cover. (In hindsight, 123mm may be better though.)

I then selected the Brush Tool, select the brush I had made, and made sure to apply the following settings:
Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 11.31.14 Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 11.31.24 Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 11.31.32

As for the size of the brush, I used two or three different sizes to get the right effect. For the colours, I selected a light, bright blue, and green to use as the Foreground and Background colours as this lets the Foreground/Background Jitter in the brush settings you can see above work really well in Photoshop.

Then really it was just a case of brushing the pattern on, and there are countless unique styles that can be achieved by this, so just experiment until you find something you’re happy with. This is what I got as the resulting effect:

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 11.38.11

From there, it was a case of adding a gradient fill to what the client wanted. To do this, I clicked on the middle button at the bottom of the Layers Palette, and up will pop a list of adjustment layers. I chose Gradient…

From there, the Gradient Fill box appears, so I entered the following:

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 11.42.10

From there, I clicked on the Gradient box and this brings up the Gradient Editor where I could change colours/add or remove colours and change where they fade in and out. It’s a powerful tool with a lot of flexibility. Here are my settings:

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 11.42.35

This will completely cover the design that has been created. To get the effect I needed, I made sure the Gradient layer was selected, and went to the top of the Layers Palette, where the blending modes can be found. It should say ‘Normal’. Clicking on that, will bring up a drop-down menu, from which near the bottom is the setting ‘Color’ The result of this is below:

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 11.46.41

I will return to the front cover later, as I now set about making the back cover. To do this, I made a copy of the file in Finder (Windows Explorer on a PC) and opened the copy in Photoshop. There I went to the Gradient layer, double clicked on the small gradient icon in the Layers Palette, and in the Gradient Fill box, edited the angle so the gradient will reflect the front cover, and went to the Gradient Editor, and edited the gradient to take the darker colours the client wanted. I’ve shown the settings below.

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 11.55.38 Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 11.55.45

The result of this is below:

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 11.55.30

I now move onto creating a template to print my designs out. There were some changes along the way, as when I printed it and made it, let’s just say it was a tight fit with the disc! It won’t be falling out anytime soon! You can see what I printed below, and from there I would make the following changes to increase the size of the covers from 122mm to 123mm and reduce the spine from 3mm to 2mm. So small changes, but ones that will make a difference.

I then placed the files I had been working on into the document, and added a 3mm spine to the cover, which I filled with a gradient so it blended in better with the front and back covers, which gave the following result:

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 12.12.07

I then added the type and logo to the album cover in Illustrator rather in Photoshop, which gave the result visible below:

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 12.11.01

From there I printed it, cut it out and stuck it together, which was very time consuming but gave me a really great looking result:


CD label: This was created using the same techniques as the album cover. As the client had asked for a simpler pattern, I decided to make a few changes to the settings.

I started by creating a new Photoshop document to the size of 120mm square and selected the brush I had made, brush across the document, in larger strokes than for the album cover, to give a less “overwhelming” effect, as the client had asked for.

I then just added a new layer on top of the pattern, filled it with the colour I felt would work best, as the client did not specify a colour, and from there, changed the blending mode in the Layers Palette to Color, which gave the desired effect.

And below is how it turned out:

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 14.25.09

I then ordered some CD labels in order to produce a suitable prototype to hand in for my course, which means I had to make a template on the dimensions given on the guide sheet. I have also added the logo, split to form the centre disc. Hence I got the result you can see below:

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 14.35.50

I printed it, and the matt paper took a lot of colour out of the design, which normally would cause issues, but I think for this project, it would be suitable, as it would be more like the client would be expecting. An image of it printed out and stuck to the disc is below: