I recently had someone reach out to commission a new illustrated album cover – Reasonable Doubt by Jay-Z. If you don’t know (I know I sure didn’t when I was contacted) this is Jay-Z’s debut album, and is held in similar regard as Illmatic by Nas as one of hip hop’s landmark albums.
From an artistic standpoint, this was a big departure for me. The cover is fully in black and white, and there’s a significant depth of field in the design – the hand is fully in focus, while the face, shoulder and background are blurry. I could have designed the cover fully in focus, and then pulled the finished design into Photoshop to blur the different layers of the design, but I wanted to try and reproduce this fully in Illustrator. I guess I took it as a bit of a challenge.
I’ve been using some gouache illustrator brushes from Retro Supply Co. for a while now, and by increasing the brush size as I got “further back” in the design, I was able to fake the depth of field pretty convincingly. This one really took me out of my comfort zone, and I love it.