Cover for a music album in Photoshop

Polish artist Maciej Hajnrich (aka Valp) worked on the cover of the famous album “Immersion” of the Pendulum group. Later this cover was used in collection editions, made postcards and printed on many products.

In this lesson, Hajnrich reveals the retouching and editing techniques that he used to create the cover. In this he was helped by another guru, Storm Thorgerson, known for the cover of the album “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd.

The main creative task was to create originality and naturalness in combination with hyper-realism. The longer you look at the cover, the more you will see on it. It was created to hypnotize and absorb the viewer.

Final result:

Step 1

According to the artists, the album cover should immerse the consciousness of the viewer in an ominous deep ocean with strange creatures, corals and similar creatures. We will work with a canvas of 1400×1400 pixels. It is also important to remember that even though we create the cover for the disc, the picture must be distinguishable both on the 30-cm vinyl envelope and on the mini-preview in the online store.

Step 2

I started working with a photo composition that was the basis for the future cover. Of course, it would be difficult to photograph such a large number of people under water, so I decided to connect them all in Photoshop. Two naked people in the center are the most important part of our illustration, so I spent a lot of time on their correct posture.

Step 3

I decided to start work from the center of the canvas and added light rays falling from above. I sketched the rays manually and set the blending mode to Lightening (Screen) to get a beautiful underwater light.

Then I found an abstract shape with lines, which I converted to a smart object (Layer> Smart Object> Convert To Smart Object / Layer> Smart Object> Convert to Smart Object). After that, I changed the shape of the rays in warp mode (Editing> Transform> Warp / Edit> Transform> Warp). The blending mode of these rays is Overlap (Overlay).

Step 4

Next, I switched to color correction. I give more preference to corrective layers. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and Curves (Curves) with different blending modes. The screenshot below shows the result after darkening and bleaching the image.

Step 5

Jellyfish were drawn only with brushes. I drew a jellyfish shape with a soft brush and applied a style. External glow (Outer Glow). Brush color – #ffffbe, layer opacity – 64%, blending mode – Lightening (Screen). With the same brush I painted big bubbles.

Step 6

Then i reduced the size brushes, Increased stiffness to 100% and painted even more water bubbles. For a change, I used a different opacity and size.
Also on a separate layer, I lightened the central part of the canvas. Light needs to be drawn both in front of a naked couple, and behind them.

Step 7

Underwater ghosts I decided to add on both sides of the canvas. All layers with ghosts in one group (Ctrl + G). You need to create a glow around each ghost. Do it with style External glow (Outer Glow). Do it first for one ghost, and then just copy the style to other layers via the context menu. Additionally, draw a glow on the ghosts with a small brush, so that everything looks like electrical energy is being pulled out of them.

Step 8

I also spent a lot of time on corals. Since they should dissolve away, you need to wash the edges of the coral very carefully and work with a soft brush. Also, the lighting on them should correspond to the main source of light. Use a correction layer to darken. Curves (Curves) and return the light in some places with a mask. Do not use bright colors for corals, only green and blue.

Step 9

For background details, I used photo coral. To make them glow, I set the blending mode to Glow (Luminosity). Also in the background you need to add dark silhouettes of plants, small organisms and other particles, so that there is a contrast with the foreground.

Step 10

In addition to ghosts and plants, we need underwater inhabitants to bring more life into our illustration. I arranged them in different places and picked up different sizes. It does not have to be big sharks and whales. Add small fish under the naked pair to help create image depth.

Step 11

Add ghosts of dead fish and jellyfish, as well as abstract shapes with a glow.

Step 12

We are coming to a close. Look at all the objects and make sure they are related to each other. Particular attention should be paid to the luminous edges, as we create underwater ghosts.

Step 13

The last thing left to do is sign the cover. Write the name of the group and album. On a new layer, paint over them with a soft low opacity brush to get a faint gradient fill.

Select the text layer and create another layer, add a pixel mask to it. It will be filled automatically in accordance with the selection on the canvas. Apply style to this layer. External glow (Outer Glow). Brush along the top edge of the text so that a glow appears.

Final result:

About the author: For Maciej Valp ’Hajnrich, artistic art and design has always been more than just work. Based in Katowice, Poland, a freelance self-taught freelancer worked for 5 years in the field of web and print design. After several years of experimentation, Maciej has established himself as a creative person in the field of digital art. His style is characterized by increased attention to detail, colors and textures.

Maciej worked with companies such as Warner Music, Odeon Film Studio, Platige Image and Armada Skis, and also made drawings for the film “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Priscilla Queen of the Desert).

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