"imagine" by Ariana Grande Cover Art breakdown

Ariana Grande just released another single, “imagine” after her recently released hit “thank you, next” blew up all over the internet. Today, I’ll be breaking down the new cover art.

The first thing I noticed was that this artwork didn’t follow the same clean and flat guideline that the “Sweetener” album artwork followed. This cover is however like other Ariana covers in the past, as it doesn’t have color and reveals a more vulnerable side of her.

We’ll be using Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 for this tutorial.
Get Adobe Photoshop CC: http://bit.ly/2y2c8sT


Step-by-step tutorial:

1) Find an image.
Aim to find an image that is a close-up and shows a lot of detail. You don’t want to have to crop and re-size your image because you’ll be adding effects to make the photo look compressed/grainy anyways.

You should also try to find an image with a darker background. This will allow the subject be the main drawing point in the graphic.

*The graphic should follow a 1:1 ratio (e.g. 1920 x 1920)

2) Make the photo black & white.
- Click on your photo layer
- Layer > New Layer Adjustment > Black & White

Adjust the black & white settings so that nothing is standing out too much (e.g. very bright skin tones). You can also use Layer > New Layer Adjustment > Curves to accomplish this. You want to make sure that the highlights are not too bright and the shadows aren’t too dark; have the details show.

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3) Apply motion blur/ghosting effect
- Click on your photo layer
- Ctrl + J (Duplicate Layer)
- Hold shift + press left/right arrow key (on duplicated photo layer)
- Change the opacity of the layer to 30%
- Filter > Blur > Motion Blur > 10px

You want to make sure the ghosting effect is very subtle. If it is too evident or there is a clear distinct line you can see from the duplicated layer, you can lower the opacity of the duplicated layer.

4) Apply grainy look
- Select the original photo layer
- Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen
- Filter > Noise > Add Noise > 10%

With this graphic, you want to make the photo blurry, and sharp, at the same time. You can accomplish this buy applying the ghosting effect then later sharpening the photo. The use of grain is to make the photo look older/compressed.

5) Add text
- Type in your text
- Ctrl + J (Duplicate Layer)
- Hold shift + press left/right arrow key (on duplicated text layer)
- Change the opacity of the layer to 30%
- Filter > Blur > Motion Blur > 10px

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5) Final Touches
- Apply curves
- Apply brightness/contrast

Once you’re done creating the basis of the effect, you can now experiment with the lighting and placement of objects. If the image is too faded, you can use curves or brightness/contrast.

That’s it! Hopefully you learned something from this very simple tutorial. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!