Nov 28, 2010

Dali's Lama 'Howl Do You Do' CD packaging: A collaborative process

It's been awhile since I've written about any specific projects & the process, I've been pretty busy on some rush projects and felt it's better to create than ruminate. I realize my most popular blog posts are about the actual artistic process and the posts on the creative or printing process are generally less popular. That being said I think the processes leading up to working on the finished product are just as important as the techniques you use when executing it. A project that was executed with a high level of creativity and skill can still fall flat if the idea isn't creative or meet the needs of the client/use. This blog will show the collaboration between myself and Dali's Llama for their 'Howl Do You Do?' CD digipak and hopefully shed some light it's evolution.

Dali's Llama ( hails from Palm Desert area of CA and have released 9 albums so far. The bands known for it's tuned-down desert rock “stoner” sound but wanted to return to it's garage rock roots on this album and change up the artwork style for it. In the past the art's been done by the bass player, Erica, with some direction from the main songwriter/singer Zach. This time around I pitched a few ideas, the band took one and added some elements to it with the help of Erica's Photoshop skills and I created the finished project of the collaboration. I'll admit before the project began I wasn't as familar with the bands music as now (just hearing it on their websites) and as the project progressed I realized the band was onto something with their new sound and I'm proud to help bring it to people. Seeing and hearing some behind the scene of their creative process (sketches & notes from the band and live recordings of the new songs) I came to understand Zach as the driving force of the bands aesthetic and a truly unique artist.

Heres some notes I got from the band to start with:

This album is going to be a lot bluesier and mucho influenced by 60s garage rock. Less stoner more garage, less dark more fun. We want your artwork to be your impression of the music, etc. "heavy garage rock/punk blues imagery".

(((Click On All Images to enlarge)))


Here's the sketch I presented that they liked the most:

After they picked the sketch they gave me some notes to expand on the images, below is an excerpt:

"Maybe the vines could have thorns on them. We like the way Dali's Llama is written on the sides. For a font of Dali's Llama, because this album is so garagey, I would like the font for Dali's Llama to be kind of spooky, something similar to The Cramps or your Akris/Kaemon poster. I also think it would be a nice touch to have a couple of scantly clad temptresses (Halloween sexy), small, maybe one on each side of the fire. There is definitely a raw blues element to this album and I'm not sure how to get that across. I do not want it swampy looking as in "swamp blues" imagery because we are a desert band. Maybe a Day of the Dead skeleton playing slide guitar, acoustic. Maybe with a Stevie Ray Vaughn type of hat. These are just suggestions. The imagery that I get from these songs is a combination of The Fuzztones images and Black Eyed Snakes. We love the sketch and concept that you have. Thinking about the colors - I like the way you color flames, I like your purple background, black amps, of course green vines like on the back of your Skillit brochure."

Erica sent me a rough she added some elements to from photos found on the web:

I cleaned it up a little and added some elements before creating a sketch:

After the sketch got the OK I drew out the final in ink, scanned it and began laying down colors:


Here is the final CD image:

I presented it and some other ideas based on elements from the cover, before starting the project we agreed on using parts of the cover for the rest of the layout. I figured the flower was a central part of the cover and round in shape so would make a good CD image. Here are a couple other CD image ideas:

Traycard Back:

For the Traycard back Zach sent me a sketch with some notes of how he envisioned it, again using some elements from the cover like the thorns and using the same image of the woman as on the front. He had a vision of making the packaging reflect the lyrical content of the album especially of the song titles which you can see in the "Plaid Rainbow" in the background. Creating the Plaid Rainbow was probably the most challenging part of the project with nothing in real life to base it on or reference, after that it was all easy greasy.

Next i took his sketch and fit it on the traycard template with the song titles and barcoded to make sure it will all work out.

I then drew out what the final will look like to use in another computer composite.

I combined the new sketch and song titles/bar code with the woman from the front to get a more fleshed out composite before starting the final.

I started to combined the final line drawings with the previous elements one at a time until I moved from original sketch to a more final version. The whole transition was pretty seamless. I worked like this to make sure everything fit in the end and be able to replace or modify an element if it wasn't working. In this case the Plaid Rainbow changed from the original sketch and would later change again until i got a decent final version.

Inside Spread:

The inside spread ended up working out alot like the Back Traycard. We went into it wanting to use elements from the cover combined with some new art that reflected the themes of the record. In this case I started off with suggesting a left side panel with liner notes.

They gave me some notes on what include on the left side, I drew out a couple versions and this is the one they chose.

At this point the band decided to go with a digipak case and we decided to combine the left and right panels of the inside art into one peice. The following sketch shows the combination of the 2 in a more fleshed out sense.

Like the Back Traycard art I began to combine the elements already created with the sketch and newly drawn pieces like the thorns on this version.

Slowly more parts were drawn, scanned and added to the composition to get closer to the finished product...

So there you have it! An account of collaboarting with Dali's Llama on the packaging and look of their latest album. Again I'd like to say Im super pleased with the results and the chance to work with a band that has such a unqiue vision and voice as Zach and Dali's Lama.

Here's a couple of pics of the printed Digipak:

1 comment:

CD Packaging said...


Great Post! I personally really like your content. This is a great website. I will make sure that I stop back again!. Thank you.