Sometime around 2016, before “The Force Awakens” was released I started on a new music project with my long time (musical) partner in crime Tom Hummer. Several years prior, when we were in a band together called Thoughts of Crossing, we had made a joke about starting a Star Wars-themed band called “The Han Solo Project” and we came up with satirical song titles like “Hoth = Fun”. Once we heard that Disney was going to release a new trilogy AND a ton of other new stories, we decided the idea was worth reviving and that year we released our first album as The Han Solo Project called “The Force Hits Snooze”.
Based on our personalities, our friendship, and the nature of the band we decided to personify ourselves as Han Solo and Chewbacca. I have always been a fan of comics and comic book art so I thought I would take a crack at drawing the album art myself. The first cover was pretty rough so I decided to spend some more time over the next few years learning some more fundamentals of drawing by participating in Inktober and making a habit of drawing a little each day. After attempting to draw some fairly complicated illustrations and some more simplistic ones, I decided that in terms of what I actually like drawing myself, I’d prefer to stick toward the more cartoonish styled illustrations like these — which ended up resulting in our second album cover.
As with any hobby, the way you approach it changes over time as you develop preferences or find efficiencies. With this album, we had a song called “I like your helmet” so I incorporated that into the illustration. For the next album, I wanted to avoid another cover of the two just playing music so I looked to more iconic images of bands and album covers for inspiration. As I was looking through I thought that using something like a famous photo of a band or a very recognizable album cover would save me time and also create an instant sense of familiarity with music fans who are maybe discovering our stuff for the first time— this resulted in the R.A.G.E. or Rage Against The Galactic Empire album cover.
At his point my “process” had become of a mix of gatheting inspiration from our content (the songs, track titles, album title, etc.) and then finding inspiration from bands and iconic images that we love and could relate to. For the next album we knew we would be writing a song about the ridiculous amount of dismemberment in Star Wars so we decided to call it “Admiral Ackbar’s Lonely Limbs Club Band” — inspired by The Beatle’s Sgt. Peppers.
At this point I have a good foundational process for the conceptual piece and am having to borrow less and less from other art or images. I still like using albums or iconic photos to model a cover but I have a bit more freedom in how the characters end up looking/feeling. This year I’ve done two stand alone covers for our singles and a cover for our upcoming album (Self Titled) which was inspired by The Gorillaz self-titled album art.
I use an app on my iPad Pro called “Procreate” to put the art together — mostly because it’s too expensive to buy all of the colors/materials I’d need AND I’m not great at coloring in the lines. I still tend to sketch out concepts on paper and then import them into the app as a starting point. Here’s what that process looks like in the app.