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

  • 95% positive reviews (123)
  • 2219 students
  • Audio: English
  • Spanish, English, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch

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

  • 95% positive reviews (123)
  • 2219 students
  • 15 lessons (1h 27m)
  • 18 additional resources (11 files)
  • Online and at your own pace
  • Available on the app
  • Audio: English
  • Spanish, English, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch
  • Level: Beginner
  • 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.

What will you learn in this online 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 this online course 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.

Requirements and materials

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.


2219 Students
123 Reviews
95% Positive ratings

Steve Simpson

A course by Steve Simpson

Teacher Plus
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

What to expect from a Domestika course

  • Learn at your own pace

    Enjoy learning from home without a set schedule and with an easy-to-follow method. You set your own pace.

  • Learn from the best professionals

    Learn valuable methods and techniques explained by top experts in the creative sector.

  • Meet expert teachers

    Each expert teaches what they do best, with clear guidelines, true passion, and professional insight in every lesson.

  • Certificates

    If you're a Plus member, get a custom certificate signed by your teacher for every course. Share it on your portfolio, social media, or wherever you like.

  • Get front-row seats

    Videos of the highest quality, so you don't miss a single detail. With unlimited access, you can watch them as many times as you need to perfect your technique.

  • Share knowledge and ideas

    Ask questions, request feedback, or offer solutions. Share your learning experience with other students in the community who are as passionate about creativity as you are.

  • Connect with a global creative community

    The community is home to millions of people from around the world who are curious and passionate about exploring and expressing their creativity.

  • Watch professionally produced courses

    Domestika curates its teacher roster and produces every course in-house to ensure a high-quality online learning experience.


Domestika's courses are online classes that provide you with the tools and skills you need to complete a specific 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 teacher and with other students, creating a dynamic course community.

All courses are 100% online, so once they're published, courses start and finish whenever you want. You set the pace of the class. You can go back to review what interests you most and skip what you already know, ask questions, answer questions, share your projects, and more.

The courses are divided into different units. Each one includes lessons, informational text, tasks, and practice exercises to help you carry out your project step by step, with additional complementary resources and downloads. You'll also have access to an exclusive forum where you can interact with the teacher and with other students, as well as share your work and your course project, creating a community around the course.

You can redeem the course you received by accessing the redeeming page and entering your gift code.

If you're a Plus member, when you complete a course you've purchased, you'll instantly get your personalized certificate. You can see all your certificates in the Certificates section of your profile. You can download your certificates as PDFs and share the link online. Learn more about certificates.
The Art of Record Covers: Illustration Meets Lettering. 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
  • 95% positive reviews (123)
  • 2219 students