How much effort do you put into album art for your digital files?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Pizza, Dec 29, 2016.

  1. tin ears

    tin ears Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Scotland UK
    If I'm ripping my own CDs - I see what dBpoweramp comes up with. If that isn't up to scratch then I hit Google image search. If I'm still not happy then I fire up the scanner and do it myself.

    If it's downloaded digital files from Amazon or wherever - I'll check to see if there's embedded artwork in the ID3 tags and extract it with dBpoweramp. Failing that it's off to Google again or the iTunes Artwork Finder site.

    I tend to find the scanner invaluable for old CD singles and 7 inch vinyl. Half the time the best Google can come up with for these discs is a dodgy looking photo taken from some eBay listing.
     
  2. Jayseph

    Jayseph Forum Resident

    Location:
    Philadelphia
    I didn't know Google didn't show pics from these sites. Thanks for that info! I will have to check them out for the hard to find album cover art from obscure albums. I can normally find cover art for them but in very small resolution. The one thing I rarely do is scan the artwork (although I should start doing that).
     
  3. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    I need to get one of those huge scanners that will scan the whole album cover at once, but I don't have two grand sitting around.
     
    PTgraphics likes this.
  4. broshfab4

    broshfab4 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    None. Waste of my time.
     
  5. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    very little...
     
  6. sublime139

    sublime139 Member

    Location:
    Long Beach CA
    wow i'm glad i'm not the only who's ocd about his artwork. it's pretty much 1. search google, if i can't find a good image at least 500x500 then 2. scan my own artwork. if it's an unofficial recording without a cover or a compilation that I made myself then I make my own artwork (this has only been happening about the last 2 years though)
     
  7. Pizza

    Pizza Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    I spent the week scanning a bulk of my CD covers, mostly singles. It's amazing the crap I originally accepted as images due to the scarcity of choices on line. Night and day difference with the new scans. I'm glad I took the time. I'll have to do this periodically to update more.
     
  8. jgkojak

    jgkojak Forum Resident

    I try to have it complete for my core Beatles/Macca collection. Otherwise I don't go out of my way.
     
  9. Gaslight

    Gaslight Cave dwelller

    Location:
    Northeast USA
    Tablets.
     
    Jayseph likes this.
  10. Solitaire1

    Solitaire1 Forum Resident

    One reason is a matter of convenience. Carrying around the CD booklet or album cover subjects them to the risk of damage, while putting the art on your player allows you to view it without risking the originals. While I rarely look at my player except when I'm choosing music, my player displays the album art when I'm scrolling through albums (my Walkman player has a variation on Cover Flow that is used on the iPod/iTunes) which is handy for locating albums.
     
  11. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars Forum Resident

    I just spent four hours working on one image - damn my obsessive tendencies! :sweating::cussing:

    The 2008 deluxe edition of Elvis Costello's My Aim is True includes a full live show from 1977, one of the earliest shows with the Attractions, called Live at the Nashville Rooms. In the digipak, it presents two covers for this live album, both based off the My Aim is True album cover (really, the only difference is the photo and album title across the bottom). But after searching high and low, I only found one image, and it was of particularly rotten quality. It was ridiculously small (every image I make is 1000x1000), slightly crooked, not horizontally centered, and very washed-out in terms of colors. But that was all I had to work with, so I did.

    That picture definitely wasn't going to work, but luckily it's very similar to the album cover for My Aim is True, which I do have a very good picture of. So I spent about an hour editing that to remove "My Aim is True" across the bottom - which involved painstakingly reading every single checkered square and making sure that "ELVIS IS KING" read smoothly across all lines.

    Next, I pulled up the Photoshop knockoff and set about adding the new title. The font used on the original isn't identical to Courier New, but it's extremely close, and the only letter that looks any different to me is L (the serif on the bottom left protrudes a little bit farther, but it's almost negligible). I made a different layer for each word, rasterized them, and moved each individual letter so that they would be more compact as they are on the top of the cover. Then, after finalizing "Nashville", I came to discover there was no room for "Rooms". Whoops. Since the Photoshop knockoff doesn't have layer resizing, I saved just those layers as a PNG and sized it down; a further half hour or so and it all fit.

    Then came the picture. I enlarged the picture from the crappy image I had found earlier and, as expected, it looked like garbage. Contrast and denoise didn't help much. But it was all I had to work with, so I made it look the best I could, slotted it into the cover, fixed the black and white border around it, and that was that. Probably three and a half to four hours of my life gone on this one damn album cover! I dug up this thread to post my victory and, for reference, quickly took a photograph of the cover on the inside of the digipak.

    You can probably guess what happened. I finished the post, then looked at the photo that I took - a three-second quick shot, for reference only - and it turned out to be absolutely perfect. So I took down the post and did a little bit more work, scaling that one down and adjusting it. Massive improvement! Here's some pictures.

    The image I took from Discogs and used as a reference
    The picture I took after finishing the cover the first time
    The album cover after all of my work

    I'm very proud of all my work. Any Elvis Costello fans who happen to have this obscure, long out-of-print 2-CD set of an album you probably already have at least three different copies of, feel free to use it. I'll set about getting it uploaded to Album Art Exchange and FanartTV, if they have a dropbox for it.

    So, to answer the question in the title of the thread: uh, that much effort.
     
  12. PretzelLogic

    PretzelLogic Forum Resident

    Location:
    London, England
    When I did the Great Digital Upload Project a decade ago, when I ripped all my CDs to mp3 in anticipation of my first iPod, I made sure everything had artwork. Since then, as I've added stuff I've kept this up, and replaced most of the poor quality images with better ones.

    My quirk is that I try to avoid using the same image more than once. Thus, if there are multiple versions of an album (mono Piper by Pink Floyd, US Revolver), I'll use an alternate cover, usually a country variation or something. It makes the display option more interesting!
     
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  13. Majestyk

    Majestyk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vancouver
    This sounds like me. I've photoshopped well over 100 images for my vinyl rips. So many images are too sharpened or just don't look like the vinyl counterpart. I usually find what I need on ebay and then photoshop from there.
     
  14. Guy E

    Guy E Forum Resident

    Location:
    Antalya, Turkey
    I don't have Photoshop anymore so I don't do much in the way of custom graphics these days. I used to. But I do have images for ALL my digitally-ripped albums... every last one. I search on-line for decent quality images and do a bit of touch-up, color-correction, cropping if rough around the edges, etc.
     
  15. Guy E

    Guy E Forum Resident

    Location:
    Antalya, Turkey
    In the past, when I did vinyl-transfers, I would replicate the artwork for CDR. I'd use the same artwork images for my digital uploads. I would include scans of the LP labels for the inner sleeve image.
     
  16. Guy E

    Guy E Forum Resident

    Location:
    Antalya, Turkey
    Here's an example of the typical CDR artwork I'd assemble for a vinyl-transfer; outer & inner insert and back panel:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Pizza

    Pizza Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    I've been continuing my cd art update project. I was scanning my CD covers and everything was looking great until I got to Olivia Newton-john. Man, her early CD covers looked terrible. I was forced to scan in the original vinyl album jackets to make my digital covers. Anyone else ever have to go back to the vinyl jackets for art because the CD cover was poor?
     
  18. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    This is where AlbumArtExchange came in handy for me. I am happy with the ONJ covers there.

    The only issue I have with covers found from people online is that they tend to over-sharpen and oversaturate the colors. I guess it's the brickwall philosophy: make it brighter, sharper, and larger than life.
     
    Pizza likes this.
  19. AJH

    AJH Forum Resident

    Location:
    PA Northern Tier
    If I rip my own CD's, I look at what dBpoweramp has for its choices. If I don't like what dBpoweramp has to offer, I do an online search. I do almost the same thing for HR downloads- if I don't like what is supplied with the download, I search for something better.
     
  20. Pizza

    Pizza Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    I'm okay with folks doing that. They should adjust them the way they like them for themselves. There are ink limits in printing that force adjusting images to a point where they can lose their zip that a graphic designer "may" have kept if they could. Either way, that's why I like to do my own scans. I can adjust them for my own tastes. If you go searching for images on the web then you take what you can get.
     
  21. Gaslight

    Gaslight Cave dwelller

    Location:
    Northeast USA
    A record cover and CD cover is also a picture of album art.

    Not sure where the originals are...is there a Museum of Album Art somewhere I can visit?
     
  22. Holy Joe

    Holy Joe Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    It's important to me to have the cover art with everything. So If I did have digital files then I would invest a lot of time being meticulous. But I haven't embraced digital at all. I may do later at some point, but I'd rather invest the time in making my CD collection the best it can be. There are only so many hours in the day and right now my CDs are the priority.... and the cover art is right there when I play the CD.
     
  23. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    If I don't find an image that matches my album or CD cover, i'll take the closest one and desaturate, un-sharpen it, and alter the tint/brightness, and gamma in Photoshop. But, there are so many variations on the specialty sites, and they are so well done, that I can usually find one that needs no work at all.

    Come to think of it, I haven't checked out fanart.tv in a long time. I often find very high-quality covers there. They have very high standards. but, even there, you find over sharpened/saturated images.
     
  24. Pizza

    Pizza Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    I don't think unsharpening an image is a good thing. The "damage" to the image is already there. I'd get a different image. I do readjust images I find on the net but sometimes you're just polishing garbage. I actually like some sharpening in my images since they're going to be small in my set up. Maybe in yours they're larger. I agree that some folks lay on the saturation and stuff, still a monitor screen is a different medium than printed paper. I tend to adjust images for the medium they going to be used on or for the mood of the image depending on the image. But I can understand why many want to completely capture the look of a printed album cover. Whatever route one takes, I feel consistancy is the best method.

    That's how art is. Subjective. Everyone sees it differently and it all comes down to different opinions. So, I'm happiest doing my own scanning at this point. When I'm set up right, it's quicker than searching the net and comparing images, even on Album Art Exchange, which I do like. There's good stuff up there and there's bad stuff too. My subjective opinion of course! :)
     
  25. albertop

    albertop Forum Resident

    The need to unsharp a cover image is generally symptom of bad quality source images (being either blurry or low res). I’d tend to avoid that and only play a bit with the contrast (if a better source cannot be located).

    Regarding the saturation and colour issues some of you have mentioned, bear in mind that PCs and Apple products use two different colour profiles for images. You can check this in Photoshop, under View, Proof colours (then proof setup and choose your device). To cut a long story short, what looks dark and desaturated on your PC will look better on your iPhone. It’s good habit to save the colour profile used in the cover image and perform a couple of proof tests directly in Photoshop.

    I personally like the new iTunes standard, with 1400x1400 cover arts. I tend to prepare my own images at the same resolution in *.jpg format. I compress the files to get the size below 200/300KB for AAC tracks and 500KB for ALAC songs. I also like to scan booklets, CDs and whatever is included in the package. Finally, I love to add lyrics to the tracks. English is not my native language and that helps in trying to interpret and appreciate the meaning of the songs.

    To locate the artwork: iTunes, dbPowerAmp and fan sites might help for most of the artists. I rarely scan my own cover arts, as I am not able to get the same quality you can find online, but sometimes I am forced to. One issue that I tend to face constantly: classical music artwork. Several download websites do not even provide a cover image or proper tagging.
     
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