Friday, August 30, 2013

Replicating Album Covers

Sometimes, when I'm bored and feel like playing with Photoshop, I'll do this:
Madness cover art I've tried doing my own versions of.

Some of their covers are quite straight forward, so it's just the positioning and having the photographs. I've always admired the artwork for their single 'Shut Up' (a single released from their 7 album in 1981) and even find some of the expressions, particularly Chris Foreman's, funny to an extent. I don't know why since Mark Bedford, Chas Smash and Woody have more obvious silly looks, but I guess it's just how normal Foreman looks, particularly in the bottom two images (pale blue-green background). A very slight smile, a serious look...I don't know, I just like it. Looks adult and kind of expressive of an adult's dealings, hardships and responsibilities.

It also kind of makes me think of the kind of expression I'd wear on my face in a photograph, almost exactly, which is why I inserted myself in his place in my reproduction of the cover.

The cover is one I've been trying to do my own version of for awhile now, and the one I've done above is the most recent, most accurate, most identical one so far. Madness often accepted fan submissions for their cover artworks and 'Shut Up' was one of them. The illustrator obviously used images of the band from posters, magazines and other published shoots of them, outlined their heads and faces, and coloured them in, probably with pastel crayons, giving each black hair and their own distinct background colour. While I wasn't going to colour in versions of myself and people around me, I was at least going to use photos with the same colour scheme and similar drawing technique, but adapted instead as using a 'threshold' technique in Photoshop that basically turned the image into black-and-white contrast with detail. The colour was added by flattening the layers, adding a new layer on top, filling it with the colour, and then making it transparent to the black contrast by changing the layer's blend mode to 'multiply.'

I find it challenging and fun to try and replicate an album cover's artwork, substituting myself and friends/family into it instead, and adding my own title. I have a tonne of photographs from photo shoots taken at school for assignments. For the 'My Girl' single artwork (1992 re-issue), I simply added guides onto the original album for the image squares, found any high-key portrait I had in my archives from photo shoots at school, and added them in. Brian, at the lower-left, was the only low-key image I resorted to after running out, so I dumbed the contrast in the background to the point it was milky white, masked it in behind him, and ta-da. I did the 1992 re-issue because I found it more interesting, and the contrast isn't nearly as high as the 1979 cover - the original is purely white and the contrast is virtually black and white - no grey area.

I do this purely as a compliment to the original artists that did the cover, and the photographers. It's also a compliment to the band. It's challenging and fun and pretty satisfying in the end. While I've only done (or attempted to do) Madness cover art, I should branch out and try other stuff. The big thing with me though is that I wouldn't try and replicate an album cover that doesn't purely feature portraits or photographs arranged on it - that would be too hard and I'd consider it going too far in terms of replication - after all, it's just a fun activity for when I'm bored and want to try something. I've tried redoing and parodying movie posters before - I tried The Big Chill with its neat narrow vertical image slides and colour scheme and made 'The Big Hill' out of it with my own narrow image theme.

 I don't know whether I'll keep doing stuff like this for fun, or if I'll do many other original stuff (like original movie posters, etc., which I have whole folders of) but it's a fun little graphic design/photography challenge. Whether it's trying to replicate something or create something of your own (in my final semester of Photography in college, one of the big assignments was to replicate a movie poster as closely as possible, and I decided to create my own based on a story I wrote altogether). The other big assignment was recreating a magazine cover, which I did, but I did TV Guide and based the cover around a TV series I came up with, no drawing from actual television shows.
Music Video Disaster, 2011

When you're creative, anything's possible.
See all my graphic design/photography-related stuff here. Some are re-creations of things while most are original efforts based on songs, words or other stuff I've created.

Justin C.

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