Judge an Album by its Colours

by EsinYardimliAlvesPereira
14 minutes
Judge an Album by its Colours

Music is here to describe things we can't put in words easily. Music is here to add a boost to the meaning that we sometimes can manage to put into the lyrics. How about presenting something that is hardly describable with words? When it comes to finding the correct visual to present our next single, EP or album release, there are many different ways to find "the one" image to go with the sound.

You can browse through the cover bank of AlbumCoverZone almost endlessly, which makes us very proud. But finding the right album cover design for your music can still be tough. Sometimes as musicians we can create very concrete visual representations of our songs in our minds, so much that it can be almost impossible to find or create the exact image that is in our minds even side by side with the most talented visual artists. Other times it can be very difficult to narrow down the visual intentions to just one simply squared image.

What we are going to talk about here in this article is a suggestion to musicians that are in the latter state. A very powerful and easy way to reach to the conclusion about the visual can be done by paying attention to the "colours" present in our music, and then finding them on a cover design. By recognising the meaning of the music in this very abstract way, we can establish a very strong base and look around to find the visual expression that is based on this color or colours. Do you imagine indoor lightning in your music? Is it morning hours? Is it night? You can start from simply deciding the type of light you imagine on your cover.

Colours play an important role in everyone's everyday life. We are surrounded by colours that influence our emotional and mental state. We can jump from one state to the other with the colors as well. We can distinguish brands and figure what they are about by the color of their logos, before reading what the text in the logo says -this is one of the most practical way of analyzing the power of colors. But we all know music doesn't work like that and we know that we can't say red is associated with power, hence it is a color for rap and not a color for pop, for example. Because all genres can transmit various emotions.

But still, think of the places that make you "feel" something, and you can start figuring out a palette of colors that come with it. Feeling trapped, feeling busy, feeling loved, feeling lonely, can be the key emotions of our songs. We can find these feelings in our memories, and we can remember the places we associated these emotions with. There’s a great chance that the colours of those places have a big weight on how we feel when we were there. Now it is time to link that color palette to the song you are working on.

Judging an album cover by its colour means looking at the image outside of the first message that hits, but rather perceiving the feeling that it breathes based on the atmosphere it has. An image of a busy city avenue can give the warmest feeling, or an image of the kitchen can be the most lonely place based on the light and the color palette. Allowing yourself to find, or add, a color palette to the meaning of your music can broaden up and establish your choices at the same time.

Say, if you have a love song sang from the perspective of a child that sees their parents getting separated, first idea can be a kid, and silhouettes. But maybe the image doesn't have to have a child in it. Maybe the growth of awareness and the sadness, the individuality of the kid, all these abstracts are going to find themselves a visual presentation in an image of an old mirror or a singular object that is in a very cold environment. As long as the image gives you a sparkle about the feeling you are transmitting with your music, the audience will find it as well. And the message will be given by your album cover art, not directly but in the feelings that it awakens in others.

Below in this text, you can read through a short list of colours with some emotional associations, states of mind, and various other concepts such as one’s perception of the world. Keep in mind that every culture has their own perception and interpretation, which brings beautiful variations to the richness of meanings of colours, while preparing this list, we tried to keep our sources as broad as possible. We also added tips and hints about the usage of the colors in various styles of music, and some information about what they were mainly associated with within the musical context, since at AlbumCoverZone we do analyze the past and try to figure out the future of the music scene to design not just for today but also for tomorrow. 


Formal; Authority; Strength; Exclusive; Power; Death; Mourning;


Darkness doesn't have to come with heavyness of the music style; it can present a mature soul. You can see very decisive albums in pop world to use dark visuals when they are about to "get real".


Peace; Hope; Purity; Sense of space; Innocence; Cleanliness;


White is often associated with rather soft music but there are very powerful heavy metal and hip-hop albums that use it for its contrasting sake. Sometimes the harshest message need to be transmitted as clearly as possible.


Neutral; Equality; Timeless; Practical; Modern; Passive;

We tend to associate grey with rather more urban albums in pop, hip-hop, alternative, rock genres, but kings and queens of folk are well known with their greyscale album covers as well. Contemporary music scene finds itself a body in the urban gungle as well, so "fresh music" is very much promised in a greyscale album cover.


Joy; Enlightenment; Energy; Laughter; Jealousy; Optimism;


Coming from a printing tradition, yellow is often used in texts instead of white, but these years have seen yellow becoming the background; much like in the days of the LPs. Often preferred for podcasts and similar content that need to stick out from the computer screen go for yellow more than anything else.


Creativity; Enthusiasm; Warmth; Happy; Energetic; Fun;


Certainly not a color that is famous about dominating the color code of a cover, orange is also not often seen throughout the album art history due to its "difficulity" to present itself both in print and in early-day computer screens. Music industry still doesn't go for it as much.


Lust; Warmth; Love; Romance; Excitement; Intensity;

Red is found in almost every style of music when it comes to being present a little; but it being the main color of an album still indicates a boldness that no other color can take over. From passionately in love to bloodlusting agressivity, red representations can make the audience feel alerted. For good and the bad. 

 Light pink

Love; Soft; Gentle; Calming; Affection; Sweetness;


Used plenty in the folk and folk pop scene since the revival, pink will most likely have a comeback in the close future, but these days it is not the dominant color for most styles. Its welcoming aura is found in historical context, in minimalistic folk ensembles, and in relaxing content such as meditative background music and spiritual guides.


Royalty; Wealth; Mysterious; Spiritual; Prosperity; Ambition;


Having the best romance with golden tones, purple often finds itself a place when glorious, rich, and flashy are the keywords we are looking for. Both hip-hop and classical music can have use of it very often. Matching it with blueish palettes hint the gloomy, alternative, post-rock vibes of an album cover as well.


Organic; Reliability; Stability; Security; Natural; Comfort;


Maybe because of its lack of "standing out", brown is hardly seen in covers as the main element of the palette, taking the usage of actual paintings aside. But who are we to judge? Future might be full of surprises. Bringing as much organic looks to the virtual lifestyle we have these days, it may come at any second.


Calmness; Serenity; Faith; Cold; Wisdom; Truth;


Blue can be pulled around to so many places; vintagy, greyscale pictures, glorious skies, thundrous seas, busy cities, lakesides, it is almost as if every story we tell can have some blue in it. Shades of it will help to distinguish the meaning we are looking for.


Nature; Fresh; Poison; Tranquility; Harmony; Fertility; Money;

Green never dominated the album cover design scene as much as red, white, black, blue or yellow did. It presented itself in the most natural form of its; which never missed a spot in the album art design scene; the plants. Plants have their own fashion and they represent more than we can put in words very rapidly. But when it comes to green being a dominant color throughout an album cover; possibility is that the we might not be able to associate abstract with it as easily as other colors since it is such a dominant color in the nature.