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How To Create Covers for iTunes

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As we have got used to seeing an album cover for every song we play on iTunes, sometimes a song without a cover may not ‘look’ as attractive. While one can easily grab graphics and covers online, there is more fun if you can actually create one for yourself. This works well especially when you compose a song and obviously don’t have the right complement of suitable covers.
Therefore knowing how to create your own cover is helpful and that’s what we discuss in the following parts.
• Open Photoshop CS5, CS4, or CS3 and move towards File >> New
• In case of ‘Photoshop Elements 8, choose File. Click on New>>Blank File.
• Now set the canvas’ resolution. iTunes’s standard resolution is 600*600 pixels. Therefore try and stick to it for better results and compatibility. While there is no harm in making a bigger artwork, it makes the file size, unnecessarily, huge. For example, a 6 MB song can double up in size with a high resolution artwork.

Now you have the work area ready for a spattering of your creativity. Keep in mind, a good artwork is more than just nifty graphics and smart punch-lines, there has to be a concept or a theme behind it all.

If you want to source graphics and images from the internet, you can find the mentioned information useful:

For Graphics: Doesn’t hand drawn artwork look the best and exotic at times? While you may not be gifted with an artist hands, you can surely try sites such as DeviantArt. Simply browse through the huge repository of artwork; both handmade and computer generated; and pick the most ideal of artwork for your cover. However ensure that you go through the sharing rights. Look for Creative Commons license, which lets you use the artwork with certain conditions. Do not assume this clause on your own. If you have a doubt, simply email the artists and get the clarification. You can also look for textures on such sites to be used as backgrounds or overlays.
For Photos: Picking your own photos could be the best choice when you are looking to personalize the cover. For this launch iPhoto, Lightroom or Aperture and try to locate the most suited photos for the cover. Play around with the preset effects to get the tone right. However, if nothing works, launch Safari and get on Flickr or Corbis. Search for pictures with Flickr’s Creative Commons license. The advantage with Flickr is the volume of Creative Commons license so chances are you will find one for yourself.
For Fonts: If you know how to manipulate fonts in Photoshop then you can try the option otherwise keep it simple and get on sites such as Font Freak, Dafont or 1001 Free Fonts. Try downloading a few and try them on the cover. Stick with the one that looks the best. However don’t let the aesthetic value of fonts overtake legibility. Avoid placing text on top of high contrast places.
Once you have downloaded the fonts, images and graphic, it’s time to put your creativity to test. One advantage with layered work flow of Photoshop is how you can test different layouts. Try different placements of images and graphics. One thing to ensure is to choose an ideal background. Avoid using too dark or high contrast background.
• Once you have chosen the right background, launch it in Photoshop or Elements.
• Crop the image so that it fits the work area accordingly. As we chose 600*600 pixels, keep the background square.
• Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool and press the Shift key. This locks the aspect ratio.
• With the shift key pressed down, drag around the area of the image you want to use. Once you have selected the area, select Image and Crop.
• You also need to scale down images and graphics. For this, open the images and graphics in Photoshop and select Image >> Image Size. Set the resolution to 600*600 pixels. Click OK to apply the changes. In Elements, go to Image>>Resize and Image Size. Select the same size. Ensure that the Resample Image boxes and Constrain Proportion are checked. Change the image resolution to 72 dpi before changing the height or the width.
• Once all the images and graphics have been resized, copy the images and paste them in the work area.
• Now add a title. For this click on the Text tool and place the box where you want the text to appear. (This step though is alterable as well). Avoid using too small or too big fonts, and place the text in low contrast areas. Do not use too bright colors. Try to keep it subtle. Try and use the layer options such as blending to get a unique look and feel to your cover. For this go to Layer>>Layer Style>>Blending Options or Layer>> Layer Style>>Layer Settings in Photoshop Elements
Remember you might get the ‘IT’ cover the first time, therefore keep patience and keep tweaking the settings and layout till you get close to the effect you had in mind. While trying different settings, ensure that you save them under unique names to retrieve for comparison. Save the file in standard Photoshop format.
Now the big question: how to add your cover to iTunes
Once you have created the cover, the next step of adding it in iTunes is extremely simple. However, before you do that, you need to flatten the images. For this, go to Layer>>Flatter Image. Now right click and copy the image to the clipboard. You can also more than pictures for the track. The top left image will appear in the Cover flow.
So to add, launch iTunes and find the song. Click on the song to highlight it. Now choose File>>Get info. When a general info window appears, click on Artwork. From this window, you can add the artwork by pasting the copies image. Once done, you will notice many pictures. Drag the slider bar to remove any picture that you don’t like. To do this, select the picture you want to delete and right click to choose Edit and Delete. Or simply select the image and tap Delete button.
Remember, there might be many images in the folder. Only the one at the top left section gets displayed as the cover. So you can change the cover periodically by dragging the picture to the top left corner. Once you have made the changes click on OK.
If you don’t find the changes immediately, launch iTunes again. This would fix it. If you also want to display the cover in ‘Now Playing’ and Selected item, simply drop the cover there. From then on you will get your creation displayed there in the Cover flow as well.
How to Share The Cover
When you put so much effort in creating a piece of art, you might want to share it as well. To share covers to your band members or friends, simply drag the cover from iTunes and mail it to your friends.
As simple as that!

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