In this brief blog post, I will show you an easy way of finding suitable art for your album, EP or single. If like me all your drawings look worse than what an infant can produce this article is for you. This is also aimed at those of us who do not want to or cannot afford to engage the services of a graphic artist. First of all, you will need an image editor app. Thankfully there are quite a number feature-laden programs that can fill this role. Best of all they are free.
First up we have a desktop based program that has been around for some time called GIMP. Although it has been around for a long time it is by no means a bad thing as it is a mature application. This is a downloadable programme and available for PC, Mac and Linux. Next up there is Paint.NET. Although it has a look of Photoshop it is not as powerful but as it’s free this should not fool you into thinking that the tools available are not up to snuff. For making cover art for your next release the tools available are more than adequate.
I have used both these image editors over many years and they get the job done once you have familiarised yourself with the basic tools. But as I also have a Chromebook I started to explore web-based applications.
These do not require you to download an installer or package and will therefore not eat up any of your precious disk space. These next few suggestions are available through nothing more than your browser and are powerful tools. The one I have used extensively to mock up album art is pixlr. This is a fully featured image editor. You can upload your own images and manipulate them into beautiful album art.
Similar to pixlr is canva. Simply upload your image and use the tools available to adjust the image and add your text. But hang on we are getting ahead of ourselves. How do we get the images for the album in the first place?
Royalty Free Images
Unfortunately, there are a lot of sites out there that advertise free images in google search only for you to find they are actually royalty free and you still have to pay for them. As artists ourselves we should look at supporting our fellow man (or woman). There are times, however, were the budget for putting an album out is next to zero and this is how truly free images come in to play.
This is my main goto site for images, whether it be banners for social media, background for quotes or just art for my SoundCloud channel. It boasts over 1.5 million pictures that are truly free. Pop in what you are looking for in the search and you are presented with an easy to navigate large thumbnail size pictures to choose from. Clicking on the picture presents you with options for the size you wish to download.
However, the pictures that it suggests at the footer of the page do tend to lead you to the paid for variety so take care when browsing.
This site provides a lot of portrait style and ambient photos. Think water running down windows and children jumping in puddles. The search engine and format of results are set out like Pixabay’s and you will find some overlap of material.
This is the motherload for those of you that create ambient space music. NASA’s catalogue of space images all available at a click of a button. It can, however, take some time to find the exact image you want. There are tools to help you narrow down your search to specific years and whether you want Audio, Video or Images. However, with so much on offer, it is easy to get lost in the beauty of these pictures and the wealth of material available.
Although offering a similar fare in images to the sites mentioned above, the search engine is quite creative. Enter into the search what you are after, for example ‘Rain on the window’. The search returns images in thumbnail size but along the top, there are suggestions to help you find the image you are after. Look for just pirctures of rain, or wet window – so metatagging has been well thought out on this site.
Too big for its boots
Just to round things off sometimes you find the right image but it is just too big for your project. You need to resize it but when you do upload the photo, some sites still register the original size. This is where Picture Resizer comes in. Just upload the image using the dialogue boxes, pop in the proportions you need and whether to retain scale so as not to make it look lopsided. The program does all the hard work leaving you with an required image size.
So there you have it, some tools to help you put your next cover art together. In the next part we will look at how to put all these tools together. While you are here why not pop on over to the music section and check out some of my music. If you would like to work on a track together why not drop me a message using the contact form