Music has always been a huge part of my life. I have played guitar and sang in bands since my teenage years. I even spent six years on the road in a touring band. When I’m out at a show or a store, I always keep an eye out for CD layout designs that compliment artists’ visions. This is important for every artist, from folk singers to independent film producers selling DVDs.
Despite the popularity of digital streaming music, many still prefer physical media. Great album artwork still makes a big difference when it is displayed on a proud collector’s shelf.
Contact me for your own CD layout graphic design
See samples of my CD layout design and digital download art in my portfolio below. Then contact me today with your own proposal. I take great pride in helping fellow artists create the ideal image for their labor of love.
Vanessa Davis Kentucky based singer songwriter. She asked me to design the streaming music cover art for a new EP composed during the 2020 Coronavirus quarantine. She provided a few elements to get me started on the art, and then she put me to work.
Streaming music cover art story
Vanessa sent me a rough sketch of her incorporated into the foreground of a painting by her grandmother. She also provided sheet music for songs on the album, and requested that I add those in if they fit.
First, I removed the background from her photograph, smoothing out the edges of her curly hair. I then set out to blend her seamlessly into the painting. In Photoshop, I combined an “oil painting” filter with an embossed second copy of her photo, thus mimicking the painting’s texture. Next, I modified the colors in both her picture and the painting in order to create consistency.
I then incorporated the sheet music into the image. A variety of eraser brushes gave the composition a weathered, ethereal feel, as if they were a dream by author, floating amongst the sky and landscape.
Finally, I chose a classic serif font to represent the album title. Based on our discussions revolving around her rootsy, folk based musical style, I typed out Vanessa’s name in an elegant script font. After completing the painterly art, I opted to keep the text minimal and not add any effects. I simply added a faint black feathered box under it to help its legibility.
Vanessa also requested that I design a print quality poster to complement the album art. She would send these posters out for publicity purposes. I first blurred copies of the painting together to create a new background. Then, I extended the music notes above and below the streaming EP art. Regarding the finished poster and CD, my client declared, “I LOVE THIS! I am thrilled with the work you’ve done on this.”
My longtime friends Zack and Sarah became husband and wife in June of 2018. The Star Wars themed ceremony took place in a park which was located in nearby Wilmore, Kentucky. I was one of the groomsmen. My three year old son was also in the wedding party performing the duties of the ring bearer. My friends had not hired anyone to film the wedding. Therefore, I volunteered to set my Zoom camera up at the altar. Then, I edited the video in iMovie, including adding the requisite “scrolling text” popularized by the film series. All I needed to do after that was to make the wedding DVD art.
Wedding DVD art front cover design story
Original “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace” artwork, which I based the wedding DVD art on.
I loosely based the design on the artwork for Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Critics and fans alike agree this is the worst film in the series. However, of all of the DVD layouts I found online, it stood out for this project. From the montage of the characters floating in space to the golden to the embossed title lettering, the design had the space epic feel I wanted to get across for this piece.
Wedding DVD art logo design featured on cover
The logo featured in the top left of the cover is a recreation I made of the one from the couple’s wedding invitations. Since I had already recycled my copy of the printed invitation, I recreated the mark in Adobe Illustrator. The groom’s mother kindly sent me a photo she took of hers. I set the text in the requisite “Star Jedi” font for the main title image. Afterward, I tilted it using the shear tool, in order to simulate the angle of the original mark they used. Then, I imported it into Adobe Photoshop. This way, I could add the gradient and embossing effects needed to complete the title’s finishing touches.
Photography special effects for wedding DVD cover
Melissa Rossini, the wedding’s photographer, sent me a few stills from the event for me to incorporate. I created a montage of the wedding party that was similar to the original cover. The bride, groom, flower girl, and ring bearer loom over the light saber fight candid shot below. I overlaid some paint filters and added contrast to each person’s image to simulate the lighting and color effects of the original art. When I was editing the “fight scene” photo, I added a glow effect to the toy light sabers in order to add authenticity. I then faded each of the figures into the red “explosion” over the outer space background. Said explosion consists of a few powder and light burst stock images. I added blur filters to both of them, then recolored them with a bright red to orange gradient.
Wedding DVD cover typography
The classic Bank Gothic font spells out the text of the wedding’s tagline “The Saga Continues…”. It also denotes the wedding ceremony’s date, as well as its location. I spread out the letters‘ tracking in much the same way the top and bottom text of the original is. Finally, the requisite “DVD video” logo adorns the video’s cover.
Wedding DVD art back cover design story
For the back cover image, I transcribed the couple’s wedding vows from the video, since this was a surprise. I set the text in the venerable ITC Franklin Gothic. It is the same font which is used in the Star Wars films’ iconic scrolling text intros. The perfect shot of the minister and the happy couple during the ceremony provides the backdrop behind the fading black text background. Finally, I topped off the vows with the famous Star Wars logos signifying the Rebel Alliance and the Empire.
This was a pro bono design that I made as a gift for my friends, as well as a parody of a well known film series. Therefore, I saw fit to go all the way with the Star Wars thematic elements. Unlike most wedding DVD art covers, it makes a great conversation piece for visitors who see the media shelf in their humble home. The added personal touch of editing the video with Star Wars graphics and music also makes for more replay value than most couples’ wedding videos. I also included two opening and closing slideshows of wedding photos set to the song used for Sarah’s bridal march. The happy couple absolutely loved it. All things considered, this project developed into one of my all time favorites.
Contact me for your own wedding DVD art
Will you and your sweetheart tie the knot soon? I know from my own experience how stressful it can be for a couple to keep up with all of the details as they plan for their big day. There are a variety of important elements that the bride and groom must consider. Everything from the catering to the flowers go into making the perfect wedding ceremony. It is so important to make sure that you have your ceremony documented by professional photography and video services. Why not complete your wedding DVD with an equally professional cover art? Even if your ceremony features an unconventional theme, I am the perfect choice to design your wedding artwork. Contact me today so we can get started right away!
The CD artwork for my musical project Sempervivi proves that I am very hands on with personal projects. 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 represented 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, located 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!
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.
CD Design 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
Misty Mountain String Band "Red Horizon" CD Design Digipack Outside
Misty Mountain String Band "Red Horizon" CD Design Digipack Inside
Misty Mountain String Band "Red Horizon" CD Design Disc