CD Layout and Digital Download Art Design

Music has always been a huge part of my life. I have played guitar since my teens, spending six years in a touring band. I keep an eye out for designs that compliment artists’ visions, from folk singers to independent film producers. Despite the popularity of digital streaming music, many still prefer physical media. A good CD layout still makes a big  difference displayed on a collector’s shelf.

See samples of my CD layout design and digital download art below. Contact me with your proposal. I take pride in helping fellow artists create the ideal image for their labor of love.

CD Artwork for Sempervivi "Always Alive"Sempervivi

Lexington, KY

CD artwork for my musical project Sempervivi is proof that I am very hands on. I departed my previous band Analog Apostles in 2014 to start my own solo project. After self producing an acoustic EP, I wrote new songs for this record, which necessitated a full band. I designed my own layout for “Always Alive” in 2017. This album was, in every sense of the words, both a labor of love and a family affair.

CD artwork process for Kentucky rock music

Initially, I only knew that I wanted to use a bright green color for the album’s cover. This is because the record’s concept is evergreen life. I took my time on this project in between other work and music related tasks, since my goal was to hand draw as much of the CD art as possible. At first, I even hand wrote the credits, but I was not happy with how those turned out. However, I drew or traced each and every other element in the CD and jacket composition.

CD artwork incorporating natural elements

Many of these songs’ themes center around family, growing up, and the idea of continuing one’s lineage to future generations. I wanted to incorporate many elements that were found in nature. Therefore, I researched which animals symbolized immortality in different world cultures. In the end, I settled on the cicada. It is a winged insect which is common here in Kentucky that can be heard chirping loudly on humid summer evenings. I incorporated a pair of these bugs as part of the front cover heraldry.

The sempervivum plant is also known as a succulent or houseleek. I featured it in red, front and center on the cover. It is a reference to the name of the band as well. “Sempervivum” is a Latin phrase that literally translates to “ever living” or “always alive”.

Fonts and typography for CD artwork

I did not initially set out to draw the word “SEMPERVIVI” with a particular font in mind. Instead, I decided to emulate something I would have doodled on one of my old high school notebooks. I drew, scanned, tilted, and resized the letters a few different times to get the feel just right. The varying sizes and placements of the tall serif characters make it stand out in a way that a conventional font would not.

I set the arched title “ALWAYS ALIVE”, as well as the track listing, in the “Triforce” specialty font. However, I filled in the signature openings of the letters when I traced it. This is in order to give the characters more weight.

I then completed the front cover layout with some doodles of light beams and bubbles. I also created a frame to go around all of the elements using the Adobe Illustrator program. Then, I retraced it by hand in order to continue the sketch art theme. The text, frame, and drawings all have a faint white shadow that adds depth, as well as creating a subtle embossing effect.

Jacket CD artwork finishing touches

I sketched a drawing of my young son’s face on the back cover as the focal point. This made sense, since two of the songs center around becoming a father and spending time with him. The drawing offsets the album’s track listing. I used the Paint tool in Photoshop so I could highlight his face and make it pop off of the cool blue background. I also redrew the Bad Apple Records logo, which I designed for the record label in 2002.

Finally, you may notice many paint splatters which are blended into the background. My son actually painted them at the tender age of just one and a half years old. Thus, I  made sure that he was listed prominently in the album credits at the bottom of the jacket!

Disc CD artwork layout

Last of all, I painted the compact disc itself with a deep magenta hue. It was complementary to both the green and blue backgrounds on the jacket itself. Next, I blended in a few more paint splatters from my son’s art into the background. Then, I arched the artist name and album title, once again using my altered version of the Triforce font.

I traced sempervivum stalks from some photographs I found online by using a fine Sharpie marker. The traced Bad Apple Records logo is again featured, centered between the drawings. One more time, I highlighted these elements in a lighter shade of Magenta by using the Paint tool in Adobe Photoshop. After I had put in many a long hour working on it, the album art was finally ready for the press.

CD artwork that screams “YOU!”

All of the elements of this sophomore record, ranging from the songs themselves to the art detailed above, encapsulate the story of who I am. I identify with many roles. Christian, husband, father, Kentuckian, musician, friend, and graphic artist are all labels which describe me.

Do you have a distinct vision of what CD packaging should accompany your next recording project? I have years of experience designing merchandise for bands and musicians in many genres. This includes artists performing everything from country to bluegrass to alternative rock. Whether you have photography and other elements ready or not, I can get the results you need. Contact me today so we can get the ball rolling on your own CD artwork!

Filed Under: CD Layout and Digital Download Art Design

The Misty Mountain String Band

Louisville, KY

This is the third CD design I made for my old friends in The Misty Mountain String Band. Their second full length album “Red Horizon” continues to explore Bluegrass, Americana, Folk, and Gospel Music. The old time quartet returned to a Nashville studio to make this record. The famed producer Steve Thomas was once again at the helm.

I worked closely with both Pittsburgh nature illustrator Abby Diamond and Louisville photographer Cherise Mingus. We first collaborated on MMSB’s “Went to the Well” EP in 2013. Then we worked together again in 2015 on their debut LP “Brownsboro”. The band sent me Abby’s fabulous art to arrange and intermingle with Cherise’s tasteful posed shots. Summer festival season was fast approaching. I worked diligently to meet a tight deadline and get this CD layout package to print.

Critical response

Upon its release, music critics everywhere unanimously praised this effort. Online outlets such as Huffington Post featured the album alongside articles on country luminaries like Dolly Parton. It also garnered interviews with respected music blogs including Independent Artist Buzz and No Depression. Listen for yourself. Buy “Red Horizon” on iTunes.

It was a huge privilege to lay out art for yet another fantastic MMSB record. Knowing that the band trusts me to get their art laid out correctly and crush their deadline every time is very satisfying. CD art projects such as this one are some of my favorite tasks to work on. This fact is especially true since I get to work hand in hand with other creative visual artists. Are you a musical act that is located in Louisville, Lexington, Nashville, or anywhere else in the world? If you are in need of a quality CD design or layout, then contact me.

CD Design Gallery

Filed Under: CD Layout and Digital Download Art Design

Misty Mountain String Band "Brownsboro" CD LayoutMisty Mountain String Band

Louisville, KY

The Misty Mountain String Band are a popular bluegrass quartet based in Louisville, KY. After working with MMSB on their 2013 debut EP CD “Went to the Well”, they asked me to design their first full length CD layout. “Brownsboro” is a deluxe package, since it includes an extra six panel insert that slides into the digipack. The band’s debut long player once again featured illustrations by the amazing and talented artist Abby Diamond. Also, Louisville’s Cherise Mingus again capably handled the band’s posed photography shoot.

Laying out Abby’s gorgeous illustrations for the second time was an absolute treat. The song’s lyrics are listed on one side of the insert and come alive in the night sky on the other side. The rest of the layout’s color scheme compliments Abby’s art in the insert. I also extracted many of the “constellation” images and reusing them for the additional content. I crushed MMSB’s deadline to get the art to press, since their timeline was tight. Their sophomore album was ready for their summer tour of bluegrass festivals, as well as college radio stations and album review blogs.

See the gallery below for details of each section then contact me for your next project.

CD Layout Gallery

Filed Under: CD Layout and Digital Download Art Design

"Country Piano Corral" Digital Download Music ArtWellington Beck Music Group

Nashville, TN

This is another country music compilation, for a long running client. During my run with Wellington Beck, I specialized in quick turnaround Photoshop designs for their recordings. This time around, the album features all piano based covers of popular country hits. It is available exclusively as a digital download mp3 album on iTunes and Amazon, as well as other media outlets. Since the word “CORRAL” is featured in the title, I decided I should give it a 19th Century American Old West feel.

Digital download art for country music album

The art features a vintage style mahogany piano in the bottom right. I set the album’s title in a curly Western font, then warped it into a rising shape. I also embossed the text to give the words depth. All the while, I used two different brown tones to bring some variance to the title. The word “PIANO” is larger than the other words, and I emphasized in a darker brown hue. This color echoes the dark shadows in the piano image and ties it all together.

The old timey elements all display on a dirty, distressed parchment paper background. My idea with using this was to mimic the feel of a wanted poster for an 1800s desperado. Finally, I added a grunge texture overlay to complete the country music piece’s weathered appearance. This gave it the exact style my client was looking for. As usual, I finished the art ahead of the scheduled deadline, and I did not need to make any revisions to it.

Let me design your digital download artwork

Whether or not your genre is country music, I’ve got your art needs covered. I’ll be your Huckleberry. Contact me today for the perfect graphic design to complement your new single or album!

Filed Under: CD Layout and Digital Download Art Design