There are two main problems I find with creating podcast episode artwork and form the two parts of this case-study:
- Standing out in a sea of podcast episode covers within streaming platforms
- Incorporating mixed guest imagery into a consistent square cover design
Part One: Standing out
To set the baseline of a perfect image, here is the photo Derek Sivers sent for his episode. Note how the image crops on the shoulders, featuring a ton of whitespace to the side. The background has no distracting element but also a great color ie. not white:
Problem: How do I create a Yo! Podcast cover design that is consistent between episodes?
Solution: Create a reusable template. Here is my typeset (Sofia Pro) and logo template designed in Photoshop. As simple as this looks, it took me hours to get here. I dig it:
Integrating the text with the image, with generous whitespace, was just breezy vs the others. I’m a self-taught designer so not sure the rule here but tried to keep the text away from eyes and not chop off the top of their head:) The result:
Problem: Note the light meta text (Yo! Podcast #010) getting lost in the light background.
Solution: Add a duotone overlay on the image (or a dark opacity overlay). For consistency this red is derived from the red I use on most of my projects (Yo!, One Page Love, Email Love). The result:
This duotone aesthetic really helps the Yo! Podcast stand out among the episode masses:
Ok, so I’m stoked with how these look. But as you can see from the results above, it uses the same image of Adam Watham as he sends everyone. I want to further experiment with a unique illustration style to make the covers truly unique.
Part Two: Custom Illustrations
For this task I used the Steve Schoger image he sent, as it was a more difficult one to incorporate, so wanted to see the difference an illustration would make.
Here is Steve’s image he sent:
.. and here is Steve’s final episode artwork:
The orientation (square) wasn’t as convenient as Derek’s (horizontal) but made it work by adding some fake blurred background elements to the left. These make the image look more real but take way more time (via failed experimenting) than I’d like to admit.
For further context, here are examples of the mix of images I’ve been sent:
Problem: Inconsistent image angles, inconsistent color grades, difficult crop, background objects clashes with text.
Proposed Solution: Illustrated character portraits.
So I took to Fiverr to outsource $5 designs from 6 different designers using the same brief. The results are fascinating!
The Fiverr Brief
Hello from South Africa! I’m after a face/portrait sketch to include in my Podcast artwork. My problem is artwork design consistency and I’m considering a sketch per episode. This route could work better than random images they send. I’ve attached some images for references. The image to sketch is Steve. I would integrate your work into my Photoshop duo-tone artboard afterwards. Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks, Rob
Designer A (source)
Designer B (source)
Bonus cover concept they sent:
Designer C (source)
Designer D (source)
Designer E (source)
Bonus cover concept they sent:
Designer F (source)
Designer G (source)
It’s so fascinating how unique each is! All of these look different within my artwork template but here is the result of the last one for an example:
.. and here is Steve’s current artwork again to compare:
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