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How to make a chillwave album cover

I don’t normally post design-related things here. Mainly because I don’t care to divulge my secrets. However, I’ve noticed a trend in the chillwave/glofi/neosoul genre in relation to their artwork: It’s virtually all the same. I’m going to quickly outline how to produce album art for your very own opus!

Step 1: Image size

We need to create our document. A search I did on Altavista revealed that a lot of album art on the internet is about 600 pixels squared. So let’s make that shit happen in Photoshop. (If you don’t have Photoshop, you can pirate it like all these chillwave artists probably did. Along with their audio software.)

Step 2: Palette

Now we need to figure out a palette. I have a good idea of what this consists of (airbrushed novelty license plate pastels) but for the tutorial’s sake, let’s just let someone else do the work. Head on over to colourlovers​.org and search “chillwave”.

That works.

Step 3: Clouds

Now we need a picture of some clouds. It’s not important what type of clouds (except cumulonimbus because FUCK CUMULONIMBUS) but it is important that they look like old clouds. So, let’s GTS (Google that shit) and find some “vintage clouds”.

Some of these clouds are already chilled.

I chose this one because these clouds look chill enough and possibly near a beach. The sun is also a nice touch, because it’s about to set. This is the universal sign for scrump time and makes your music look sexier.

Step 4: Color Adjustment

If you don’t mess with the colors of your clouds, people will call you Ansel Adams and hit “dislike” on your YouTube videos. You need to let people know that your clouds are transcendant (like your tunes) and even more amazing than regular clouds. Let’s add a Gradient Overlay to the cloud picture using colors from our palette.

Try to use all the colors at once.

Step 5: Center Circle

Believe it or not, we’re nearly done. We just need to find a chill (but majestic) photo for the interior. Layering natural imagery inside natural imagery is a metaphor for your music’s depth and complexity. Let’s find some beach pictures. This time I took it a step lazier and just searched “beach”. I picked one with palm trees because I see a lot of other people doing that.

The geographic relationship between the foreground and background images is unimportant.

Now we need to mask it. Make a circle mask in for this layer and then scale it so you have the appropriate amount of chill-ness.

After that, let’s apply the same Gradient Overlay we did before and adjust the levels so the palm trees look overexposed and hazy. This symbolizes the lack of clarity in your chillwave music (because you are too chill to bother with audio quality).

Looking good.

Step 6: Type

This is the hard part, since you need an artist name. I’m going to make one up real quick by going to the Chillwave Band Name Generator.


Now, make sure you don’t make your name too legible. The intentional character misplacement is a nice touch, but let’s take it a step further and use an ultralight typeface. I’m using Helvetica (I know, passé).

And we’re done!

Now tile this shit on your bandcamp.

Here are some more examples to get you inspired!





Echo Shade


2 thoughts on “How to make a chillwave album cover”

  1. BlackKeyDesigns says:

    This is so much fun, I’m going to start designing these in my free time… the process is actually relaxing.

  2. Edorwyn says:

    funny how tycho actually painted that.

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