The Art of Record Covers: Illustration Meets Lettering

A course by Steve Simpson
Designer and Illustrator. Dublin, Ireland.
Joined October 2019
, Designer and Illustrator

Combine illustration and lettering to create unique designs that complement the music they accompany

  • 98% Positive reviews (88)
  • 1732 students
  • Audio: English
  • Spanish, English, Portuguese, German, French, Italian

Combine illustration and lettering to create unique designs that complement the music they accompany

  • 98% Positive reviews (88)
  • 1732 students
  • Online and at your own pace
  • Audio: English
  • Level: Beginner
  • 15 Lessons (1h 27m)
  • Available from the app
  • Spanish, English, Portuguese, German, French, Italian
  • Unlimited access forever

Do you sometimes get frustrated by the endless choice of fonts that never quite complement your illustration? Would you like to create your own typographical elements that perfectly match your illustration style? In the days before digital, illustrators and designers were often the same person. Steve Simpson embodies this philosophy in his award-winning work, where he controls every aspect of creation and production for clients such as Cerveza Modelo, Jameson, and Disney, as well as his own personal projects.

In this course, using a traditional approach, you will learn how to combine illustration and hand-drawn letters into a single seamless design piece: an illustrated record sleeve and label for a 7" vinyl.

About this course

Course table of contents

  • U1
    U1. Introduction
  • U2
    U2. Preparation and Research
  • U3
    U3. Thumbnails to Refined Sketch
  • U4
    U4. Rough Colour
  • U5
    U5. Final Colour and Application
  • FP
    FP Final Project
View details

The course starts with an overview of how Steve Simpson has been influenced by his past experiences and you'll take a look at a collection of artists and designers who have influenced his traditional approach to illustration.

Included in the brief for this project you'll be given a well-known song title to create a cover for. However, you're the band so your name will go on the cover. Steve will supply you with templates for the record sleeve and label.

You'll start by finding references and making quick sketches in your sketchbook that will help you explore ideas and get a greater understanding of the subject.

With that initial research done, you'll create thumbnail sketch ideas for the cover. This is a fast and efficient approach for exploring as many options as possible and choosing the best option.

The next stage is creating more resolved sketches for both the cover and the label. Here you’ll think about shape relationships and creating good silhouettes to maximize the message without going into great detail.

Finally, you’ll make resolved drawings by adding details and checking references. You’ll transfer those final drawings to your computer or tablet for rough coloring. Steve will be using Affinity Designer on the iPad Pro, but you can use whichever app you normally use for digital coloring.

Steve will show you how to create a limited color palette for your design.

You will print the final color designs (A4) and the template (A3), and then glue to the assembled sleeve and the label fixed to the vinyl record.

What is this course's project?

Create an illustrated record sleeve and label, which will be attached to an actual 7” vinyl.

Projects by course students

Who is it for?

This course is for both illustrators who want to bring hand lettering into their projects seamlessly, and designers looking to incorporate illustrative elements to their work.

It's for both students and professionals who want to take more control of projects by adding typographical elements and expanding the reach of their work to posters, covers, and packaging.

What you need

The drawing stages of this course are analog, while the coloring is digital. You'll need a 7” vinyl record with a small hole, a sketchbook, pencils, scissors or scalpel, glue stick, ruler, a computer or tablet with your preferred app for coloring, a sheet of A3 heavyweight cartridge paper, and a color printer.


1732 Students
88 Reviews
98% Positive ratings
  • More reviews

Steve Simpson

A course by Steve Simpson

Designer and Illustrator

With over 30 years of experience, Steve Simpson is renowned for his hand-lettered packaging design, whimsical characters, and illustrated barcodes. His distinctive style, inspired by the arts & crafts movement, 50s advertising, and folk art, has appeared on everything from a 1" postage stamp to a 200 feet screen in Times Square. His work has adorned whiskey bottles and cough bottles, boardgames and board rooms, hot sauces and ceramic saucers.

Since 2008, Steve has won over 50 awards for both packaging design and illustration, including Gold awards from the Association of Illustrators, Illustrators Guild of Ireland, the IDI and ICAD. He's been an awards judge for Adobe, 3x3, and the Hong Kong Society of Illustrators, and is also a founding member of the Illustrators Guild of Ireland and OFFSKETCH.


  • U1


    • Introduction
    • Influences
    • What We Will Do On the Course
  • U2

    Preparation and Research

    • Presentation of Materials
    • Examples of 60s Psychedelic Album Covers
    • Research
  • U3

    Thumbnails to Refined Sketch

    • Turning Research Into Original Ideas
    • Combining Hand Lettering and Illustration
    • Developing Your Thumbnail
    • Final Refined Drawing
  • U4

    Rough Colour

    • Creating Tonal Rendering
    • Developing Colour Palettes
    • Making Rough Colour
  • U5

    Final Colour and Application

    • How to Approach Your Final Artwork
    • Printing and Glueing
  • FP

    Final Project

    • The art of covers: illustration meets lettering

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Domestika's courses are online classes that provide you with the tools and skills you need for completing a specific final project. Every step of the project combines video lessons with complementary instructional material, so you can learn by doing. Domestika's courses also allow you to share your own projects with the instructor and other users, thus creating a dynamic course community.

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The Art of Record Covers: Illustration Meets Lettering. A Illustration course by Steve Simpson

The Art of Record Covers: Illustration Meets Lettering

A course by Steve Simpson
Designer and Illustrator. Dublin, Ireland.
Joined October 2019
  • 98% Positive reviews (88)
  • 1732 students