A Fun Design Exercise

If you’ve seen some of the YouTube speed design videos I’ve done in the past, you might have seen an album cover design. None of these designs were done for clients. Instead, I used the internet to tell me what to do.

The album cover art challenge is a design challenge where you use randomly generated text and imagery to make unique album cover art. The completed designs are often a confusing or hilarious mash-up of randomness, but it’s a fun challenge to do.

I originally found the idea on Reddit, and instructions from noiseaddicts.com although I’ve altered the image finding technique to use high quality, free stock photos instead. Here’s how you can do the fake album cover art challenge.

Step 1: Band Name

Get a random Wikipedia article from here. That’s the band name for your album. If you end up with something really long or you get the name of an existing musical artist, just try again.

Step 2: Album Title

Get a random quote from quotationspage.com. Scroll down to the last quote on the page and use the last 2-7 words from it. This is the title of your album.

Example: “If you look good and dress well, you don’t need a purpose in life.” by Robert Pante. This could give you the album title Purpose in Life or You Don’t Need a Purpose in Life.

Step 3: Image

Go to free stock photo site, like Pexels or Unsplash and download the third image on the page. This is the only imagery you can use for your album, but you can alter it however you like.

Step 4: Design

Combine the elements using Photoshop, Affinity Photo, or any other image editing software. Don’t have anything? Try a free program like Gimp to make your album art. Alternatively, you can use a free online photo editor like Photopea.

The design is entirely up to you. You can build the design around the imagery itself or use the image in a minimalist way and put more emphasis on the band name or album title. If you’re stuck with a terrible image try putting it inside text or blurring it into the background. Try to experiment and create something unique and entirely your own.

If you need to find a great font for the title or band name, check out a free fonts website like Font Squirrel. In the image below I’m using the font Escape which was a free font from Dealjumbo. You can download it here. The image I’m using is from Pexels.com and you can download it for free here.

Step 5: Mock Up

Showcase your completed album art using a free album art mock-up.

Album Cover Art - Sarah Hubbard

The Album Cover Art Challenge: In Conclusion

The album cover art challenge is a fun project because it sort of mimics a real design project. You get text and imagery, and you need to figure out the composition that best fits what you’re working with.

I’ve always thought it would be fun to add a random genre generator, so you need to make the cover art work with whatever genre you’re given. That would certainly make the project closer to being an actual client project, but it might take away some of the fun. What do you think?

I’ve done this challenge many, many times, only a few of which I’ve showcased on my YouTube channel. Sometimes I just can’t make an image work with the given text or I’m just completely out of ideas. When that happens I just put it on hold and start a brand new album cover. I can usually come back to it later with fresh eyes and figure out a design I like.