Ever since beginning to write and edit the AlbumArtExchange Blog, I have considered creating a special “award” for some of the Photoshop disasters that are often used for album cover art. Two recent examples with similar problems have finally pushed me to make that move.
Probably one of the least expensive ways to create a quality album cover is to hire a professional photographer and have the artist pose in front of a studio backdrop (right). The result is a series of photographs that can be used by a talented graphic designer to create cover art. If the concept includes an image of the artist and a white background, a professional photographer can ensure that the lighting, makeup and styling are perfect for that purpose.
The worst way to create an album cover that features the artist and a white background is to use a photograph taken outside or during a live performance and use Photoshop to erase the background. There are some very skilled graphic designers who could do that and get a good result. However, the most likely outcome would be what we see in the two covers shown below.
There is simply no excuse for using images like this for the cover of an album by a recording artist on a major label. This is the kind of amateur design work that we expect to see on a bootleg album or a mixtape. Even most of today’s indie artists will spend a few bucks to create a professional design.
Sadly, we are seeing more album covers that look as if they were created by high school students. The Daryl Hall cover is particularly bad. The composition, the bad Photoshop technique and the ugly typography make it one of the worst album covers of the year.
I have already written about the Lauren Alaina cover. What I did not touch on is the mess that the graphic designer made with her hairline. If you look at where her hair parts, it looks as if a lot of blurring and clone stamp work was done. I assume that this was done to hide where the attachment of her hair extensions was showing. Who knows?
Photoshop is a very powerful program. In the hands of a skilled artist, it can be used to create something brilliant. Those who try to skimp by using the unskilled and untalented usually end up with something crappy. Now, there is an award for that. Congratulations!