Make Some Goofy Album Covers Using Free Photo Editor

Kyle Martinak (@kylemartinak)

Believe me, this is a really easy way to give a kid an interest in photo editing...or to drop a major goof on a roommate you've been cooped up with for the better part of a year. Look, we're about to lose the summer weather. You're going to need an indoor activity or two. Make it a competition among your friends, do a big live reveal to each other on video chat. Then drink.

That's how everyone's video chats are going now, right? That's not cause for alarm at all? Good. So start thinking Grammy-winner, and start writing a really alarming, rambling acceptance speech for your imaginary awards.

1.) Take as candid a photo as you can. Album covers should never feature the person actually looking dead-center at the camera lens. Not unless the artist in question is Prince, or was once formerly known as such. Try to make sure everything is off-center, and leave room for the title text somewhere. If you can surprise someone with a camera just as they are waking up, this works perfectly. Remember, the photo is nothing but a blank canvas in the long run. So, do not overthink this part.

This is my "Is that a dang wasp nest under the gutter?" face.

2.) Upload the photo to Pixlr. There are two free photo editing tools available from Pixlr, both right in your browser so you don't have to download anything. Use the E Editor tool for the most control, or X for the simplest of touch-up purposes. (This isn't an endorsement, I just like this editor). Play around with the contrast and hues/saturation toggles in the "Adjustments" and "Filters" menus.

This is where you can get real artsy-fartsy. Whatever makes you happy. Go psychedelic and splice a person's face into the design of a snail's shell. Make the photo look like a creepy sketch. Be understated and clever. Be campy and theatrical. Be whoever or whatever you want in this picture. It's not like we get to see your Halloween costume this year, right?

Oh, how very 1994.

3.) Come up with a good name for the album, and a font that pairs nicely with the image. If anybody asks you what the title means, tell them "I don't feel I need to explain it." Think about what genre your image has conjured. For instance, my example image could be a lot of things, but it's certainly not a country music endeavor, or anything electronic. Probably some kind of angsty fart-rock, am I right?

Don't be afraid of overthinking this stuff, this is why we're here. This is what we're doing, today. Make sure to look at every single font available. Test each one out in every color possible. Place that text in a really weird spot. It's not like you're going outside today. What are you going to do? Go to the bank? Or the Post Office? The liquor store? Or the parking lot of the grocery store, just to take a nap in your car? Because that's....that's where I'm going. It's gonna be great!

I totally stole this CD from my big brother, played it once, and never touched it again.

4.) Don't forget to add your classic RIAA parental advisory logo. Because that's just funny. As well as provocative. Someone's going to get really serious about someone else presumably doing cusses in their imaginary LP. Without fail, someone's going to say, "Why are you cursing in this?!" and take the whole bit really, really seriously for half a second. It's going to turn your little art project into a real barn-burner, buddy. You'll feel validated in goofing off with will not be the same as that Sunday afternoon you spent making "Tiger King" memes.

Now it looks like a really bad white rapper, or a terrifying comedian.

5.) Then, once you've got the thing exactly how you like it, you should really tag your model in a social media post and announce the album to the world. It really, really helps to add tour dates, in as funny of city names as possible. Something with a Z in it. 

Really play up the details of their unique sound, what perfect genre pairing they are. If possible, get in a fight with somebody on the public post about how serious this whole thing is, and how your friend has really committed to their music. 

Currently sitting pretty at...2 likes.

6.) Well, maybe that's taking it one step too far, right there. But, you know. Play in the space, improvise, put your own spin on it. Your choice is to either avoid making it weird, or to really lean into how weird you're capable of making it. Ask yourself, which one of those is easier to do? Which one is more fun? 

Anyway, see how many people you can do this to--unsolicited--before someone asks if you're doing okay. The next time you have an unpleasant argument with someone in a Facebook group or something, just make them your best Triple-Platinum album cover using their profile picture, and see how they react. Should be great. I know it's made my week more pleasant. 

I'm fine, everybody. Just doing super. 2020.

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