How to design cover art FREE using AI [Artificial Intelligence]

Need some cover art, but not an artist? Now with just a couple clicks, you can use AI to design a custom album cover based on any prompt you can come up with. Brian Hazard tells how.

by Brian Hazard of Passive Promotion

No doubt you’ve AI-produced images popping up all over social media.

One such AI is DALL-E, credited with creating the world’s first AI magazine cover. The one I’ve heard the most about is Midjourney, and the beta is now open to all!

Over the past couple of days, I’ve had a ton of fun messing around with different prompts. You can tell it to create literally anything, with as much or little detail as you want.

If you want to see Denise Richards eating an alarm clock on Mars, just ask!

After a minute or two, you’ll be presented with four options. From there you can request variations on any of those options, or upscale them to a higher resolution.

You don’t even have to download an app. It happens entirely on Discord.

I’m barely scratching the surface here! I’ve got a lot to learn about what sort of prompts perform best.

In the meantime, here are a few images that our robot overlords whipped up for me, along with the prompts that spawned them:

prompt: Ben McGarvey of Minute Taker and Brian Hazard of Color Theory walking through a vaporwave mall

It seems we aren’t famous enough to be faithfully represented. The fact that I’m reluctant to post photos of myself doesn’t help. After all, I’m no Denise Richards.

The rest are bigger because I “max upsized” them.

prompt: sad retro gremlin 80s movie poster

I thought I’d tie into the 80s with a “Gremlins” reference, but the result is slightly unnerving.

prompt: cyberpunk anime mirror reflections optimism

Minute Taker and I are in the market for cover art for our upcoming collab “Just an Echo,” hence the mirror reflections.

Right now “max upsize” only spits out a 1664×1664 image, considerably shy of the 3000×3000 minimum required by distributors.

That didn’t stop me from pulling this image into a 3000×3000 Canva document and adding text.

prompt: JUST AN ECHO lettering anime album art

I doubt we’ll use it, but I kinda sorta love it. I would never have conceived of it, and yet it matches the song emotionally. To me at least!

After that, I ran out of free credits and had to pony up $10 for a monthly subscription so that I could create the featured image for this post.

I almost went with this:

AI Synth
prompt: concept design of synthesizer with a clock mechanism, highly detailed, ink on old worn down paper, slight burns on the edges –ar 3:2

The “–ar 3:2” at the end of the prompt specifies the aspect ratio. It doesn’t have to be square.

As cool as the clockwork synthesizer is, I decided to hit the nail on the head with “robot painter painting on a canvas resting on an easel hyper-realistic steampunk –ar 3:2” which you’ll find at the top of this post.

I’m tempted to go the AI route, for my singles at least. My fear is that we’ll all become experts at spotting AI-generated images in the next few months.

One thing’s for sure: I wouldn’t want to be a graphic designer right around now.

Since LANDR came out, the number of mastering jobs I get in a year has declined precipitously. AI mastering is, in my biased opinion, nowhere near as good as AI graphic design, yet it appears to be catching on.

The sweet spot at the moment, especially if realistic human faces are desired, is a combination of AI tempered by a human professional.

Want to try Midjourney for yourself? Join the beta here.

Brian Hazard is a recording artist with over twenty years of experience promoting a dozen Color Theory albums, and head mastering engineer and owner of Resonance Mastering in Huntington Beach, California. His Passive Promotion blog emphasizes “set it and forget it” methods of music promotion. Catch more of his promotional escapades in his How I’m Promoting My Music This Monthemail newsletter.

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