Vinyl Album Cover Design Project

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For this project I chose to create a scene based on the song “Romeo & Juliet” by Dire Straits. I have chosen to use for my inspiration the artists Ben Newman & to a smaller degree Steve Simpson. I like the bright colourful illustrations of the artists but feel a little more comfortable with the style & technique of Ben Newman.

After looking at the song in greater depth I began to get an idea of what the scene would look like. It was obviously going to be a street scene but I based it on the Georgian buildings around Dublin. I imagined a scene of Juliet in a window & Romeo under a convenient street lamp, however, I decided to add a little tension to the image by having both Romeo & Juliet acting quite indifferent to each other. Juliet behind a blind covered window, sitting as if reading, & Romeo facing away from the window completely featureless & in shadow.

First Draft Sketch.

I have added the tension between the pair due to a reading of the meaning of the lyrics. The couple had a supportive relationship until she became successful then shunned him.

A relationship that starts out just the opposite of the classic Romeo and Juliet story. The two are both poor and there is nothing forbidden about their relationship. The two share a dream of one day becoming socially elite. However, “Juliet” achieves this dream and abandons “Romeo.” Romeo is trying to get back with Juliet but she is now too good for him and rejects him.

I began by seeing this image in water colour, inspired by the fun way in which Ben Newman produced some of his personal work. I planned to add a watercolour wash to the background then add in the brickwork on the building & the rest of the features & characters afterward. The last stage was to be either a shading in by watercolour or pencil to create the night time feel & look to the image.

Watercolour & Blocking Fluid.

I used a blocking fluid to prevent paint getting on the windows as I wanted a very light colour on them & planned to add that at a later stage. The blocking fluid went on fine & I feel that the wash was quite successful also. However, I wasn’t happy with my efforts to remove the blocking fluid. I couldn’t get it off completely & I started to feel I needed a lot more experience with the technique. I was also starting to feel that the look of the water colour wasn’t the look I wanted as it was quite unpredictable whereas I wanted a cleaner looking image such as that produced by Ben Newman & Steve Simpson. I decided to change to the much more controllable pencil.

1st Pencil Draft


This is the next draft of my image. I have the foreground & the outline of the windows in place.




Without colour.


The next image shows the brickwork in place but before the colour has been applied.




Here I have applied my colour to the brickwork & the ivy on the corner of the building. All the rest 2015-12-08-22.10.33.jpg.jpegof the details have been added such as the light. I have not yet added the two characters as I wanted to digitize the image beforehand to allow me to create the reverse of the album cover as a daylight scene.





Once I had the scene at this stage I digitized it and brought it in to Photoshop where I would add the final elements & convert it to a night time scene. I created Juliet by using a very soft watercolour brush dabbing a soft grey to create the look of a shadow behind the window. I created Romeo with a pure black but softened the edges. I then added some directional light to create a rim of light on his back from the lamp and added his shadow.

Using Photoshop I created a new layer of the original & used the overlay blend mode to create a very high contrast colour effect, then hand  burned the edges to darken the top of the building & put emphasis on the lamp lit area. Lastly I added a touch of warmth to the area under the lamp & to a lesser degree in Juliet’s window.

The final work was presented as a “B” side & “A” side, daytime & night time. It was then placed on a mock-up of a record & all set on a table top.

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