CD Cover Art Challenge
Hi all,

While listening to Dio this evening and thinking about the cover art for their various CDs I thought that it would be fun to actually design album cover art for a band and thought I may as well extend this idea as a challenge to anyone who may be interested.

I haven't set up a challenge before, so I may be doing this completely wrong, but I will do my best!

Final product
[Image: DioKillingTheDragon.jpg]
1x Fully rendered jewel case album cover OF A BAND YOU LOVE/LIKE (example above)
Dimensions: 12 cm x 12 cm or 4.75 inches x 4.75 inches

Studies, sketches, thumbnails - include these if possible to explain and emphasize your process

Optional: 1x Sketced out jewel case album cover FOR A BAND YOU ARE UNFAMILIAR WITH (I suggest not following all of the below tips and not doing too much background research to see the difference in your design choices between something known and loved and something you are unfamiliar with)

While I don't want to enforce a deadline on this as I think it's a great addition to anyone's portfolio of work, I will add one!

I will be picking 'the best' out of all of the entries. If you want to be considered for this your deadline is:

Wednesday 9 January 2013

If you find this post after the deadline I invite you to have a go at it anyway. You may just learn something!

How your work will be judged
This is the first time that I will be 'officially' judging anything like this, but trust me when I say that I will be taking many things into consideration.

I will be taking a look at how relevant your submission is compared to the band it's representing. The (square!) composition of the image and how well it flows. How well the image catches the eye and maintains interest and lastly I will take the effort you made into account as well.

I am afraid I don't have a livestream so I can't offer you guys a live crit or anything like that, but I will poke around and see if I can't figure something out that may make this a little more interesting competitively! If you need help, feel free to shoot me a message and I will do the best I can.

How to submit your work
Please simply link or display your work in this thread. This includes studies, sketches, thumbnails etc. (references are fine too if necessary but please don't overdo it!) Go ahead and include links to the music of the bands as well as it will help people understand your work quicker.


These are just things to consider and are completely optional. If you get stuck though I suggest having a read as they may inspire some ideas within you.
  • Square composition - if you look at the dimensions I gave above you'll notice it's a square! Most people, especially us artists, tend to avoid squares because they aren't overly used these days (though things like Instagram are changing that). Don't be afraid though, use this as an opportunity to learn to utilize composition in a different way. I'm sure you can find lots of information on square composition online, here's a link you can start with.
  • Who are they - do some legwork and research the band. Get to know them, their likes, dislikes, their story, where they play etc.
  • What music do they play - figure our the genre of music they play and see if there's some requiring themes or symbolism within the genre that you could build upon e.g. country music and family life, rappers and guns etc.
  • What are their influences - does the band have any other bands that inspired them or maybe just other people, events, culture? Can you learn anything from those sources inspiration that might give you more ideas or a clearer vision?
  • Who are their fans - These are the people that would ultimately BUY the CD. While you have to make sure you anchor everything within the right boundaries, you HAVE to make sure you're creating something that will catch the attention of the fans or potential fans and make them look just long enough to peek their interest and buy the CD. Who are they? What's their age group? Gender? Interests? Likes? Dislikes? If you're a fan yourself take an inward look at yourself in relation to the band? Maybe you know someone who is, ask them.
  • Look at references - Album cover art is as undefined as music itself, but there are still themes and trends out there. Look at new album art, compare it to old. Look at album art within the genre. Get an idea of just how much is out there and use it to inspire and ground your own.
  • Listen to the band - this goes without saying, but I still will! Listen to the band. Their music, their vocals, their subject matters, their rhythm. If you want, listen to them while you are working on the album cover to put you you in the right mindset.
  • Look at their current album covers - what have they done previously? Are there recurring themes or subject matters behind their albums? Do they follow a certain predefined theme? If so, do you want to continue that theme or stray away from it? Do they use certain colours? Lines? Graphics? Do they have a set style already? Do they use a specific font or logo? Where is the text placed? You will learn a lot doing this.
  • Talk to their fans if possible - do you know anyone who is a fan? If so, it may be worth checking some of your ideas with them.
  • Are you alienating anyone - while it's good to figure out who you are selling to and who you are selling for, you also want to make sure you also want to make sure you aren't excluding large groups of people by using imagery they wouldn't understand unless they were die-hard fans of the band. Think of it as an inside joke, everyone joins in and finds it funny except for the people on the outside. While they can be ignored at times, just make sure you aren't excluding a large group of people unnecessarily. Unless the band caters to an already niche (small and specific) market in which case it's up to you.
  • Remember the final product - the final product would be sat amongst hundreds sometimes thousands of other competitors, because of this you need to make sure yours stands out in a crowd and doesn't simply blend in and get lost or overlooked. I am not saying paint it garishly yellow and adding flashing LED lights to desperately grab the attention of the viewer, but to just keep in mind it has to stand out somehow. How, is it up to you. All the other metal bands have gothic and fantasy inspired imagery on their albums? Put a pretty flower on yours that at first glance appears innocent but upon further inspection is sucking out the eye fluids of its enemy.
  • What message do you want to get across - do you want to get a message across at all? If in doubt with what to do figuring out a message or story to your image is always a good way to make it feel more interesting and relevant. A message can mean so many different things from a pop band saying 'we support the soldiers' to an aging rock band saying 'we've still got it!'

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions and I'll do my best to help.

With the end of that wall of text, let's get started!


Opinions are like assholes... we've all got one of 'em
Blog - DA Profile "Eraza" - CD Sketchbook "Mathias' Markings"
Hey all,

Finally had some time today to get started with the challenge!

The band I chose to do a cover for is The Heavy, a rock band from the UK.

Here's a few links to songs they've done if you're interested:

The Heavy - "Can't Play Dead"

The Heavy - "Short Change Hero"

The Heavy - "How You Like Me Now?

I started off by listening to some of their music to get in the right mood and listen closely to some of their lyrics. I then started reading a bit on their blog to see what they liked to share with others. After I felt I had a pretty good idea of who they are I started to create some thumbnails as I haven't done a square composition before. It was good fun though and even though the thumbnails aren't too good, I think they work acceptably well for a square composition:

[Image: JewelCaseFrontCover-Thumbnails.png]

For the first two thumbnails I wanted to stick to the undead/skeleton theme that's somewhat recurring in their work. I also really love the idea of the old bone bands playing music. For the third one (bottom left) I thought I would try and create a "greatest hits" album. The band has a good sense of humour so I thought I would go with a cartoon anvil that had been dropped on them with their feet sticking out.

The last thumbnail I still can't quite figure out, which is why I really want to push it. Looking at their discography they have a lot of surreal line art and graphical design so I want to go for something similar but since I am not all that good at either line work or graphical design I am having a hard time with this one, but that just gives me even more reason to make sure I at least try and do SOMETHING, so I will try to figure this out.

Once I've got the final thumbnail down I'll take a fresh look at it and decide which one to go with and then start doing some studies (especially end up having to do skeletons or a skull!).

That's it for now. Will keep you posted!

Opinions are like assholes... we've all got one of 'em
Blog - DA Profile "Eraza" - CD Sketchbook "Mathias' Markings"
Composition thumbnails for my entry, made up my own (currently)fictional bands.

[Image: Band+CDs+Crimson+Daggers+Challenge.png]
Upon request from Dean I am postponing the official deadline to the 9th January 2013!

Opinions are like assholes... we've all got one of 'em
Blog - DA Profile "Eraza" - CD Sketchbook "Mathias' Markings"
[Image: MegadethCyberArmyEntry2.jpg]

Nice one, Dean, his skull came out real well.

I like the addition of the raised fists, makes the image read a lot better than I gave it credit for initially.

I am currently working on my own entry and will have it uploaded on the 9th.

Opinions are like assholes... we've all got one of 'em
Blog - DA Profile "Eraza" - CD Sketchbook "Mathias' Markings"
Excellent. Looking forward to it. Thanks
Here is my final entry for the challenge:

[Image: JewelCaseFrontCover-TheHeavy_zps565aa363.png]

Even though I felt like my first thumbnail fit the band the best, I didn't think I could finish it in time so I decided to do this simple one instead. Line work took me ages and ended up sloppy, but I am quite satisfied with the microphone and the hat at least!

Will be judging the entries tomorrow and decide on a winner.

Opinions are like assholes... we've all got one of 'em
Blog - DA Profile "Eraza" - CD Sketchbook "Mathias' Markings"
I wasn't initially going to consider myself in the entry to win this challenge, but since it's only you and me Dean I will for the sake of competition!

With that in mind, I would like to announce the winner of this Crimson Daggers community challenge...

Winner = doktordean-o

[Image: MegadethCyberArmyEntry2.jpg]

After having listened to Megadeath, and you having told me a bit about them, I believe that your image far exceeds mine when it comes to fitting the band it was intended for.

The cartoony style you went with also fits the metal band market and I saw you do studies of similar album covers which I have to say you applied well to Metalhead himself. Composition wise you almost nailed it. Your image is 373x400, had it been a full square I would say you would have done a near perfect job with the composition. I didn't think you would be able to pull off a frog view angle, but then you introduced the raised fists which framed off Metalhead, drew attention to the big screen and really got across the sense of a crowd in unity.

I am a bit disappointed that the colour scheme is so simple because I really think you could have made it look vibrant and cool. Though I think that's more to do with you running out of time than not thinking to do it. The sketches of the crowd are done really well, I am not seeing any major anatomical issues and even though you didn't paint in the entire crowd, you still get a sense of there being many. I think the actual Metalhead looks a bit too tiny, while I get the sense that it's more about the big screen I still think you could have made him a bit bigger, at least enough to make out a bit more detail of his person. The room they are stood in is also a little bit bare, and you could add more things like beams or pipes to make it seem more realistic and relatable.

All these minor issues aside Dean, I really feel like you deserve to win because you clearly picked a band you were excited to work with, you worked out a lot of thumbnails, did your studies (and applied them!) and finally brought it all together into a CD cover that I could easily see in the metal section of a music store.

Well done!

And thank you for participating. While it was a bit on the lonely side with just the two of us, I think it was fun to discuss this stuff with you and see your take on it.

Opinions are like assholes... we've all got one of 'em
Blog - DA Profile "Eraza" - CD Sketchbook "Mathias' Markings"

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