Album Design

Fall 2021


The goal of this project was to identify an album that I found to be especially intriguing or valuable, whose visual design was lacking. I was then tasked with creating a new visual language based on the concepts and themes of the album, and to present that language through an album cover, posters, Spotify assets, and Instagram posts.

Album Selection

Warm on a Cold Night is one of my favorite albums of all time, so when given the assignment of redesigning an album of our choice, it was the natural candidate. While I am not completely opposed to the current visuals of the album, I do think there could be improvement. From some research on the decisions behind the album design, it seems that the Japanese characters are purely aesthetic and, in that sense, I don’t think they contribute much to the album overall.

Mind Map

In order to gain a better understanding of the content, concepts, and themes of the album, a mind map was completed while listening to each track. On this map I noted majors themes of each song, capturing the main idea. While completing this map I realized most of the songs were about love in some way: feeling grateful, longing, reluctance, physical distance, and feeling inadequate are just a few.


Once I had captured the themes of the album, I turned to finding existing inspiration for my new design. I looked for albums that I liked not only for their music, but also their design. Specifically, I was looking at how these albums had used image quality and atmosphere in their design, and how that related to what I knew of the music.

Composition and layout were explored, as I planned to use illustration for the cover and not photography. I also looked at illustration styles, iconography, and typefaces.

Visual Language

For my type I decided to pair a solid, higher contrast sans serif with a simple sans serif. I wanted the type to feel friendly and modern, a lot like the music of the album.

For icons I wanted to bring in the ideas of day and night through sun and moon icons. I decided to do two versions of the sun icon, one solid and one outlined in a burst.

In terms of color, I did not stray too far from the original scheme of yellow and black. Instead, I decided to contrast warm and cold, in reference to the album title. I created two palettes, one red and one blue.

To combine my warm and cold palettes, I chose to use gradients throughout the design. I also wanted to give the designs a warmer and more inviting feel, so I added noise and blur for the texture.

Social Good

Part of the redesign of the system was to identify a cause that the band would support with the album or other materials.

For my project I decided to focus on the allusions to mental health issues in the album, such as feeling inadequate, loneliness, and loss. Since the audience of HONNE is worldwide, with listeners in North America, Europe, and Asia, I wanted the cause they supported to be international as well. Therefore, this album will be partnering with World Federation for Mental Health, or WFMH. This cause provides access to resources and education for those suffering with mental illness around the world.

To help make the cause feel more local to fans while on tour, a portion of the proceeds from each show would also be donated to a local cause that deals with mental health. Donations to WFMH would be reserved for proceeds from streaming and buying merch online.

First Draft

The first draft of my album cover was an exploration into illustrating the radio and deciding what context to place it in. Originally, the radio was going to be on a desk that would be scattered with random items and a wall of posters behind it. Most of the color would be done in cool tones, with the exception of the screen on the radio, which would emit a soft yellow light. After working through this idea a bit more, however, I decided not to move forward with it in favor of a design that was more bright and colorful.

Second Draft

My second draft is when I found the style that I would carry through to the end. Here I introduced the idea of a gradient that combines a warm yellow palette with a cool blue one. The illustration of the radio was repurposed into a line drawing on the front and placed within my outlined sun icon. I also established how line-work and borders would be used throughout the system.

Final Draft

The final system, although not fully completed, reflected all of my final choices for layout and content of each piece of the system. At this point I was still working through making the gradient more effective as it was used on the album cover. I liked the mix of color on the poster, and wanted the same effect for the album.

Final Design

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