THE SCRIPT – Album Design – Show and Tell

It’s always a very exciting time for AMP Visual when a big band we’re working with, release a big album. This is especially the case when it’s the essential, career defining second. The moment that makes or breaks a group.

From the inception of the album chart back in the 40’s and the decades that followed, music’s historical archives are filled to the brim with bands and acts who created that “one big album”, the one that took the world by storm, but then, disappeared from the public eye, forever. However, it’s not always a case of the second album being bad, but more often the public loose interest and commercially they’re deemed not to be a success, and that’s all it takes. Next public appearance… Never Mind The Buzzcocks.

Of course, all of these thoughts were on the back of my mind in June 2010, when Steve Averill and myself travelled to London to meet the band in their studio. This was the first time we worked with the guys and were probably as anxious as any member of the team that this second album became a success. We were very excited that this great new Irish band had taken the world by storm and we wanted to be a part of it.

When the unmastered “Science & Faith” blasted from the mixing desk, Glen’s pristine percussion snapping, all the suspense abated. To my left stood Mark playing his invisible ‘Les Paul’ air-guitar, whilst Danny stood near the door, baseball cap on, his voice booming over the track, trademark arm pointing to the sky. I looked to my right, where Martin – the band’s manager – sat, he gave me a knowing ‘yes, good isn’t it’ smile.

Some time later, the all important tea and biscuits arrived and we got down to business and discussed the bands vision for the design.
The concept evolved from the fact that many of the songs dealt with human relationships and interactions on a very personal level. From that initial idea, the concept of using hands as a means of expression or aggression was developed. At the same time a new ‘The Script’ logo had been developed and this was an integral part of the overall look. A few weeks later a series of design concepts were presented and finally approved. That was followed by a photo shoot wherein a numerous amount of hands – male/female,  man/child, youth/age – were photographed and then manipulated to give the cover its strong graphic dynamic.
This small show and tell will visually give you a rough idea of how this iconic sleeve was achieved.

Gary Kelly

Stage 1: Original photograph of combined hands on simple neutral background for simple cropping.

Stage 2: Once hands have been neatly clipped, a neutral parchment paper effect is placed on to a new layer. On top of this I place a white circle with extreme Gaussian Blur and within the Layer Effect panel create a “Hard Light” filter.

Stage 3: On a new layer, overlay a rough distressed bitmap image.

Stage 4: Bring clipped hand layer to foreground.

At this point the hands are key. Add more depth to the hands by slightly upping the overall ‘Levels’ balance. Once this is achieved the hands will contain more colour and shadowing. Because the definition between both wrists was too slight I needed to create a dark shadow between both to lift one off the other. Initially it looks quite crude but eventually everything will blend.

Using the ‘Burn Tool’ I create shadows around all areas which need most definition – knuckles, finger nails, wrinkles and folds.

Stage 5: Using the ‘Hue Saturation’ filter I remove most (but not all) of the colour, leaving a the hands quite pasty.

Stage 6: Build the colour and density back up using the ‘Overlay’ layer filter. Take hand layer, duplicate it and overlay it two more times. This will now leave you with 3 hand layers.

Stage 7: Create another new layer and place the manipulate image below, down over full image using an ‘Overlay’ filter at 30%. This will produce a nice grain sepia effect.

Stage 8: Pull down overall curves on image to deepen colour. Pop down a nice logo, and voila, you’ve got an album cover.

Stage 9: Head over to the Letterman show in New York and play to millions of viewers. Simple!

AMP Visual work in a number of design disciplines in areas of cultural, entertainment, identity and corporate design and in assorted mediums and platforms from online to print, packaging to promotion. We work on projects both large and small and consistently strive to deliver original and clear communication solutions by working closely with our clients. Do contact us at or call us on +353 1 633 7644. We’d love to do business with you.