Several people have asked me about my album
covers as seen on the discographies at bjbear71.com
and how I make them look as good as they do. The answer is - a lot of
times it isn't easy, but the results obtained are sure worth the
effort. Here are some examples:
["Voices" front cover]
The photo on the left is the BEFORE photo,
received raw in email from a friend who took the shot with his
digital camera (i.e., not a scan).
The photo on the right is the AFTER photo which is currently on the Rosengarden & Ogerman discographies at bjbear71.com. This image was pulled completely apart within Adobe Photoshop where the dark blue background color & aqua lettering were sampled for later use, then all elements of the cover (title/image, the words "STEREO" & the catalog number) were entirely removed from the image temporarily and placed within their own windows.
The "paint bucket" within Photoshop could then be used to cover the entire background with the sampled album dark blue background color. In this particular instance with the way in which the wear and age on the cover appeared, it was the only solution to completely remove those things and still retain the album's original color (as verified by the owner of the album). Then, each removed element was worked on separately after enlarging each element up to 800 percent. The second sampled color (the aqua) was then used to touch up and restore pixel by pixel the words "STEREO" and the catalog number as well as the title "VOICES" and the Verve logo. This was the most painstaking part of the process as both the aqua and the darker sampled color had to be used alternately to turn on and turn off the pixels so that these elements would show up more clearly on the cover.
Little was done to the photograph except adjust contrast and brightness. As work on each element was completed, the contents of that window were dragged back onto the main window and replaced into position on the cover. Then all layers were "merged down" to form one layer, the image was resized, and saved as a JPG file for use on the discographies.
["Voices" back cover]
If I thought that I had a challenge restoring the front cover of "Voices", it was almost nothing compared to what I had to do to restore the back cover of this gatefold LP. What made it the most difficult was all the lettering of the track titles to work around. At first I made a separate window out of each track title in order to perform the corrections, but this eventually proved too tedious and way too time consuming. What I wound up doing was to scan in this black and white photocopy which I was sent in the mail and crop just the block of track titles - this time all of them at once. Then, with a combination of using Invert image, Brightness and Contrast adjustments, and Replace Color option in Photoshop - to replace the gray with white (while inverted) - then painting out with different sized paintbrushes and airbrushes the myriad of artifacts and color blobs that ensued in working on this in a very close-up and magnified window (of over 300%), then finally reinverting the image so that it would be again white text on a dark blue background, I was able to achieve satisfactory results. The track text sharpness and brightness is not quite as nice as I would usually like, but is satisfactory considering the original I had to work with. Also, it was impossible for me to brighten the track titles any further due to the limitations of the image. I was also trying to minimize having more unwanted artifacts created that I would then only have to take the time to remove.
The other elements of the back cover
(background album color, white frame, album title, & Verve logo)
were copied from the front cover restoration work as they were of the
same size for the back cover, except for the white frame itself. This
I elongated in a separate window by manipulating the "height" size
within Resize Image, while keeping the "width" the same measurement.
Then I cut and pasted it into the back cover and began adding the
other elements to go inside the white frame one at a time until the
cover was all back together. I also removed the price tag on this
particular image as it was unreadable, even when magnified.
This sample (LEFT photo) was not nearly as
severely damaged as the "VOICES" cover, but some restoration work
still had to be done. The album's yellow body color was sampled and
then used to restore the album color at both top, right side, and
bottom. In addition, the title "ANATEVKA" had color missing from
parts of its letters from being faded with age and wear, and this was
restored as well after its color was sampled. Due to the fact that
this particular LP is a rare foreign import recording, I made the
decision to leave the price tag on as part of its appeal, but it
could have been easily removed.
This sample (LEFT photo) was an image taken
with a camera. It was taken at a very low resolution/low lighting
situation and as such, made the cover look even more discolored and
darker than it normally would have been. Results on the RIGHT were
obtained after manipulating the image numerous times with the
Contrast/Brightness, Replace Color and Color Saturation options in
Photoshop. The ring wear on the cover was successfully removed. Two
of the lightest green waves of color were lost in trying to change
the background color from grey to the original pure white. While I am
always against losing any original elements of a cover whenever
possible, I made a decision that those 2 waves were acceptable to
sacrifice in order to try to bring back as much of the original color
of the background as possible. And, those two waves of color are not
present on the original album's issue. The background, which is
supposed to be pure white (as seen on the original cover which was
already on the Winding discography at bjbear71.com)
had to be left at the off-white color because increasing the
brightness or lightness of the background around the text in this
particular instance led to the complete washout of all text
underneath the words "Early Modern". In this example, using the
"Sharpen" filter did not work for the smaller-sized text because that
text was of very poor quality to begin with.
Another example of separating out the elements to remove all blemishes and imperfections:
[Above left: before any touchup in Photoshop; above right: after the below listed tools were used.]
Photoshop tools used: replace color, adjust
brightness and contrast, paint bucket, sharpen filter and element
separation in two windows.
The example on the LEFT is from a 45 rpm record
whose labels I wanted to use on a discography but this side needed
some restoration work to be done on it first to make it look as
pristine as possible. The magic marker writing and the label
(apparently cataloging the place the record had in this radio
station's library!) needed to be removed. This was a fairly
straightforward process achieved by first sampling the background
color with the eye dropper in Photoshop and then "painting" that
color over the magic marker and label area. Next the words "NOT FOR
SALE" had to be copied from the other side of this record and placed
over the area where the background color had been restored. This
wording was originally present on this side of the label as well, but
covered up by the number label sticker. As things go, this was one of
the easier restorations to do.
This label took much more time and was more
tedious to restore than the previous example. The label on the LEFT
has a sticker covering much of the left-hand side of the label, has
residue glue on the label, red crayon writing on the right-hand side
and a number stamp on top of the artist's last name. The number
sticker could not be removed of itself; instead, a cut & paste
from the "A" side of this 45 rpm record had to be applied over the
affected area. The residue glue was removed by first sampling the
yellow color with the eyedropper tool in Photoshop, then airbrushing
and painting out the glue mark. The red crayon mark and the number
stamp were dealt with in the same way. Just a bit of
contrast/brightness adjustment was applied after the touchup work was
done. After resizing the image to 350 x 350 pixels, the last step
applied was sharpening to achieve the desired results.
To view the next page of "Album Cover Restoration"