Music CD Design

Last year, I was approached about designing the cover for a free promotional CD. The timeline was short, but critical, and the printing budget was relatively small. This project was completed within two hours from initiation to completion and went to printing the same day.

This project began with an urgent phone call because a local music production company had a concert coming up in three days along with almost a thousand promotional CD’s but no cover for the case. With a low printing budget, I knew I had to keep the use of colors to a minimum, the font relatively common, and the graphics simple since there was not a lot of time to build custom graphics.

The client needed me to design a front and back for the CD and get it to the printing company the same day. The things that I asked them before starting this project included:

1. Is the spine a third cut sheet or does it wrap around? To this, the told me that the spine graphics would wrap around within the case from the back.

2. What would you like on the spine? To this, they responded that they just wanted their name and a volume or a year, since they intended to do this every year. I chose to go with a year since it fit in better with the theme of the CD, which was a compilation of music from some of their artists for that year.

3. Would you like to say anything specific on the front or back? They simply wanted to show their name, the name of the album, and the artists on the album, along with, “Special Thanks To: Our fans for making this another successful year. We hope you enjoy this free CD provided to you by our sponsors, our affiliates, and most of all, by our artists. We looking forward to seeing you again to make 2005 another great year!”

4. Did they have any special graphics requests? Their response was to make it simple but attractive and professional, and to design it to it would look good printed and on their website. With this being said, I opted to use websafe colors so it would look identical.

I started with the back and the spine since, to me, everything should progress off of the spine. After all, most CD’s are stored so we can see the spine and pick the one we want to listen to. I chose to go with a dark red color and put the words “Fusion 2004” on it in white and red to help the spine stand out more. I replicated this for the front and back of the spine (which would be to the left of front and back covers while viewing them). I chose to use the Baunhaus font since the printing company had this common font and it matched the font of the client’s logo and website.

Since I feel that graphics should flow from the spine I used Photoshop to draw a triangle with the same dark red color on the left edge and warped it to get rid of the hard edges. In addition, I drew a white music note and warped that to give the graphic more of a fluid nature and help the note stand out against the background. I also chose to use a black background for the rest of the cover to allow these graphics to stand out more then added the requested text to the back. All text was entered in a staggered line to flow with the edge of the now warped triangle better.

I then begin designing the front cover. The client wanted a simple layout with just their company name and names of their artists. I used the same theme of the back cover and applied it to the front cover to give the CD a unified look.

In the end, we were able to accomplish designing an attractive CD cover with very few specialty graphics and very few colors to lower the cost of printing. It conveyed everything the client wanted to convey in very little time.

About The Author

Uday is a freelance graphic and web designer. With eight years of experience in web design, Uday makes a variety of web pages from corporate to personal and built pages which are easy to edit for the end user. All coding is written cleanly to ensure that pages are run smoothly, load quickly, and perform to it’s full potential.