Prog Rock Album Cover

I have begun designing my prog rock album cover. No, I am not a member of a prog rock band. Nor do I have an album’s worth of prog rock songs composed. That will come later. I do not have time for that just yet. For now, I will focus on the gestation of my otherworldy artwork and let that lead the way for the music and lyrics. This is just how I like to work.

I begin by rendering the sky. Even though this is my first time using an airbrush, I manage to pull off a perfect gradient. Starting with a base of a deeply saturated blue, I lay down a smooth coating of purple at the top of the sky and turquoise near the horizon, creating the desired cosmic effect. I then stipple in some stars with Dr. Martin’s Bleedproof White and add a few planets in strategic locations. Composition is critical in these types of pieces. There. I am already wishing that I lived within this still-forming environment.

Next, I paint the mountain ranges. I use a tasteful amount of phallic symbolism, only allowing myself to make two of the formations closely resemble erect penises. One of the caves is modeled after a vagina as well. The labia acts as a kind of natural awning. I hide that in the back to make it more subliminal. No one will be conscious of the reason they are thinking fondly of their mother or their lover as the come across my 180x180 pixel square thumbnail in the iTunes Store. It will just kind of happen on its own.

The flora of my majestic dreamscape is quite prosperous. I fill in gaps toward the curvature of this world with an impossible treeline. After carefully blending Citron and Vermillion gouache on my brush, I keep the lower areas of the plantlife devoid of shadows. Using this technique, I successfully indicate that this planet’s surface is itself a source of a light. Shall I paint an enormous iceberg in the distance? No. It has been done too many times. I am no prog rock art hack. But I will add a natural bridge spanning the twin shorelines. Who will cross that bridge? I am afraid that you will have to use your imagination if you want to know the answer to that query.

Initially I considered keeping my prog rock album cover devoid of humanoid and animal forms, but then I reconsidered. How else will the viewer of my rendering be able to relate to the imagery, thereby causing him or her to consider purchasing the album in order to hear the music that inspired it (or vice versa)?

So I have incorporated a new breed of creature into my work. They are a cross between gazelle and baboon. No, I have not named them. That would be pure hubris. A group of these beasts sits high atop a rocky outcropping. I have cleverly inverted the joints in their their front legs, giving them a look that is both familiar and alien at the same time. And through creative cropping and placement, I have managed to suggest many more creatures than I have actually painted, saving me valuable time at the easel. I will use that time to smoke hashish in order to fuel more FutureVisions.

Feeling ahead of my self-imposed schedule, I pull from my desk drawer a piece of paper with three hand-scrawled phone numbers. I paid a hefty price for this information. In my psochoactive-induced stupor I dial the numbers, getting all parties on a conference call. I hear the mumbling voices of Roger Dean, H.R. Giger, and the always-arrogant Hipgnosis crew. Once their confused mumblings have ceased, I say nothing. Instead, I power up my miniKORG 700 and launch into a series of runs that would lay waste to anything Rick Wakeman or Geoff Downes could pull off - even on their best days. Once I hear the appropriate gasps, I hang up and get back to work.

I am still chuckling as I remove my finest horsehair brush from the cleaning agent. I make a final pass over my canvas, hitting the edges and applying rim lighting to the forms. This is the stage most beginning illustrators fail to accomplish. Fine, detailed highlights instantly take my prog rock album cover from good to great. "How many million units of vinyl will I sell?" I ponder. "Many," my mind's eye answers.

I do not yet have a band name as of yet, but I can simply create a logo later using Koh-I-Noor Rapidographs and my plastic shape template to draw directly onto an acetate overlay. When I hand off the art to the prepress department before printing begins, I will have them incorporate the logo overlay into the separations. I do, however, have an album title: “Shattering the Darkness by Half”. Impressive, yes? I apply my frisket to the final piece, masking out the album title's futuristic font treatment before painting it in my predetermined day-glo palette.

There. My prog rock album cover is complete. A deep feeling of satisfaction washes over me like a bath of crystal extract. It is a sensation that only true world-creators like myself will ever understand. Later, once my creation fully dries, I will apply a protective clear coat to the piece. But for now I sit on my comfy sofa, contemplating the wondrous songs I will now create. I think the first suite will be about how society needs to reinvent itself in order to reach the next level of consciousness. I will also find a way to reference gorgons, because I always found them to be sexy.

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