Design Ideas and Process
With a semi-comprehensive knowledge of Photoshop, I wanted to challenge myself with these podcast covers. I began by using sites like Behance, Pinterest, and Instagram to find sources of inspiration to pursue. Strangely, the posts didn’t prove useful to my designs. Instead, I was inspired by the compositions – the use of grids in the Instagram interface, the blurred buffering images, and the controlled white space influenced my three respective designs. While admittedly strange, I now had three engaging design ideas, using a variety of text and image techniques.
For the first design, using the retro PC image, I wanted to explore different filters, adding texture to the image. As a mostly unexplored tool, I began by using the magic wand, adjusting the tolerance to select the focal image, and adding a layer mask to edit just the PC.
Having added text, I experimented with filters before finding the ‘Mosaic’ Filter in the Pixelate drop-down menu. I adjusted the ‘Cell size’ slider to an appropriate amount. I added more texture using the ‘Filter Gallery’ and applying ‘Grain’, altering the contrast and intensity to suit. Although I have used this before, I hadn’t experimented with the ‘Grain Type’, another variable that changes the final output.
With the second design being relatively simple, the focus is on composition, I will discuss the more complex third design. For this, I experimented with shadows and perspective, simulating height within the text by using the ‘Bevel & Emboss’ and ‘Inner Shadow’ layer styles. I added a ‘Drop Shadow’ helping to contextualise the text with the background and amplifying the effect. Despite being initially challenging, I was able to adjust these values to make the design work harmoniously together.
Finally, I used the ‘Curves Adjustment Layer’, allowing me to refine the design’s colours. I have previously used the simpler ‘Brightness/Contrast adjustment. However, ‘Curves’ gave me more control over the exact balancing, allowing a better final outcome to be produced from this slightly more complex adjustment layer.
As previously mentioned, I had no idea how to achieve these results. Many of the features and amendments made were generated through experimentation. However, I used software tutorials to educate me on how to use specific tools which I could adapt to fit my design purpose.
I wanted to push myself for these designs, so I decided to start with a reputable tutorial. I began with a video by Adobe Creative Cloud, going through the filters and effects in Photoshop. While many of these weren’t really useful for my concepts or project, it was still good to expand my knowledge of the software. However, some aspects, such as the meticulous look at the various filtering options, were incredibly useful, with Paul
Trani talks through what each option does and how it can be amended to suit a project. For my work, this was essential to the final outcome; the use of pixelation on the image made it more visually interesting and the additional grain made the design seem more complete and brought the design together.
Being originally lost on how to make the text for this third design pop and stand out, I began searching for tutorials that could give my work direction (and maybe teach me more about using text). Looking on YouTube for specific tips and tricks, I found a video by the channel Facilito, which showed how to use text settings to create a 3D look to the text. This tutorial was incredibly helpful, talking through the different tools used to create this effect. Knowing this, I was then able to go back through and edit these to be appropriate for my design. I enjoyed this element of experimentation, with the tutorial not providing all the answers so I could still work creatively to find the best fit for my piece.
Design Resources and Articles
The Retro PC image was taken by Thomas Millot; this was something I could not source myself (as I didn’t have a Macintosh PC from the ’80s) so I used his image from Unsplash.
On top of this, I got design inspiration from other places. This included the distortion on buffering Instagram images, but the poster on the left more significantly influenced my first design. I wanted to achieve a nostalgic-but-modern, technological appearance which this image does perfectly.
The final design was inspired by existing work; an effect sold by designer, @putrasepta on Freepik. Although I obviously made the text from scratch, being able to use this similar image was helpful throughout the process, informing me on how to add colour to make the text appear 3 dimensional.
For additional assistance in this project, I read articles about podcast cover art, allowing me to have a more informed opinion on the design’s context of use. I found a recent article on Riverside called about good practices in podcast cover design (https://riverside.fm/blog/podcast-cover-art), which help educate me on the formatting and conventions of this genre.
This had some useful information, such as keeping Topic, Tone, Personality, Style, Genre in mind while designing. For me, this gave the design process more focus and direction. The technical focus on typography ties in directly with my subject matter, and other tips such as “5. Less is More” really influenced my final outcome, causing me to use large amounts of white space in my piece.
Though not every piece of advice was used within my work, such as using colour temperature (which goes against my modern, monochromatic colours), the article helped my design work greatly, giving me focus while working and an idea of the conventions of modern podcast covers. While my design was intended to be contemporary, this information helped me stay within the genre of podcast cover art.