It seems everyone is starting a podcast these days. And in order to stand out from the crowd, your podcast cover is just as important as the podcast itself.
Thankfully, it’s easy to create your own podcast cover. This article will walk you through how to design and create a podcast cover from scratch using Photoshop.
Step 1: Know the Theme of Your Podcast
Before you design your cover you need to ask yourself, “What is my show about?” The theme of your show will inform the design. Referencing your image back to your content will also give your listeners an idea on where the podcast is focused. For this tutorial, let’s say the podcast is devoted to the planet Mars.
Step 2: Create Your Canvas
To get started in Photoshop CC, open up the program and click Create New. You want custom specs, and it’s best to set your canvas to 1000×1000 pixels, 300 pixels/inch.
Note: If you are specifically creating an icon for your iTunes feed, you must set you dimensions to 1400×1400 pixels minimum.
These specs are bigger than you need. Web images are set at 72 pixels/inch, and most podcast covers only need to be 500×500 pixels. However, if you want to use your cover in a blog post it’s best to work big and shrink it down. That way your cover won’t look blurry if you need a larger dimension.
Note: If you’re new to Photoshop CC but are familiar with older versions of the program, you might have noticed that the opening screen has changed. See our article on new features that have been added to Photoshop CC for more information.
Step 3: Apply a Color to Your Background
Next, apply some color to your background. For this tutorial we’re going to use an orange background. We’re also going to use some sort of gradient, to add visual interest.
It’s always recommended that you work in “layers” when using Photoshop, because layers give you a lot of flexibility; you can easily delete one if you mess up.
To start a new layer, go to your Layers panel in the bottom right-hand corner of your workspace. Click on the New Layer icon, highlighted in red.
Double-click on the layer’s name to change it to something meaningful. For this tutorial I’m going to call it “Gradient”.
After you have your layer set up, move over to the toolbar on your left. Find the Paint Bucket icon. Click on the small white arrow in the corner of the icon to access the Gradient Tool, and make sure that tool is active.
Next, go to your color swatches to pick the colors for your gradient. Click on the black swatch first, and choose a new color from your Color Picker. After that, click OK.
Next, click on the white swatch and repeat the process. After this, you’ll have two new colors.
Once you pick your colors, go back to your full image. Make sure your Gradient Tool is active. Click and drag your gradient path across the page, like this:
You’ll see a line pop up. Once the path is long enough, release your hold on the mouse.
Photoshop has now created a gradient in the direction you indicated, using the colors you chose. It’s that easy.
Step 4: Add a Foreground Element
After you finish your background, it’s time to add your foreground. Your foreground is going to be your point of interest—the thing that draws people in and reminds them what your podcast is about. Because this image will be shrunk down and details could be lost, it’s best to go with a simple shape.
Before you create that shape, go to your Layers panel and click New Layer, to add a separate layer for the foreground. Give it a meaningful name.
Because we want this cover to reference Mars, we’re going to mouse over to the left-hand toolbar and click on the Marquee Tool > Elliptical Marquee Tool, to create a circle. You can access the Elliptical Marquee Tool by clicking on the white arrow in the corner of the Marquee icon:
Drag your Elliptical Marquee Tool across the page, to create a circle selection. Once you see the dotted line, click on your top color swatch to pick a Foreground Color for your circle. After your color is selected, click OK.
Go to your Gradient Tool in the left-hand toolbar. Click on the white arrow in the corner of the icon to switch back to your Paint Bucket Tool:
Make sure your marquee is still selected, then click inside your circle to fill it with a new color. Once filled, press Cmd + D/Ctrl + D to deselect.
Step 5: Add Text, If Needed
After you finish your foreground, it’s time to add some text. Not all podcasts use text in their covers, but if you decide to go this route, you need to think about how your text will look when it’s shrunken down.
It’s better to go with a font that looks better from far away, so the details aren’t lost. You also need to think about what you want to say. Are you using a letter to represent the podcast, or the full title?
To add text, create another layer. Then go to your Horizontal Type Tool, located on your left-hand toolbar. When you click on it, Photoshop automatically drops placeholder text into your new layer.
Double-click on this placeholder to activate the text box. Erase the placeholder, and start typing.
For this podcast, we’re going to go with “Mars”. But as you can see, the font isn’t working:
To change this, highlight the word, then go to the font dropdown menu in the top left-hand corner of your workspace. Pick a font style that works for you:
Next to it is the dropdown menu for font size:
Use this to adjust your text and make it bigger. To use a custom font size, type it into the size box and hit return/enter on your keyboard.
Step 6: Check Your Specs
Before you export this image to the web, you’ll want to save a “master copy”. This master copy is a hi-res file of your cover in .psd format that you can work from if you need to adjust your image again.
To save a master copy, go to File > Save As. Save your document as a .psd file with a meaningful name.
After you save your master file, check your specs and adjust them if needed. Go to Image > Image Size to make sure your image is 1000×1000 pixels, 300 pixels/inch.
Usually you don’t need to resize this image down to 500×500 pixels unless a platform specifically asks you to. If you do need to shrink your image specs, then this is the screen you would use to change it.
To change the specs, type your new dimensions next to Width and Height. Then click OK.
Now that your design is done, you’re ready to export it to the web.
Step 7: Export for the Web
To export your image, go to File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy). There are a couple of different ways you can save for the web, but we find this way to be the easiest and most comprehensive.
Once you click on Save for Web (Legacy), a new screen pops up. This screen will give you the ability to save your image as several different file formats, along with the option to include transparency, color profile, and metadata. You can also Preview your image to see what it looks like on different types of browsers.
Make sure you save your file as a PNG or JPEG. Color profiles and metadata are optional.
Once you have the right settings, click Save. Your save screen will pop up and prompt you to save your web-optimized file in an easy-to-find location.
After you save your file, the Save for Web (Legacy) box will close. Your Photoshop file will remain on the page.
You can close this Photoshop file without saving it—you already saved the master copy, and the web copy has been saved in another format.
What Does It Take to Start a Podcast?
So there we have it. You’ve now designed and created a cover for your podcast from scratch. And it was probably a lot easier than you thought it would be thanks to the simplicity of using Photoshop CC.
Now that you have your podcast cover sorted out, you might be wondering what else is involved in podcasting. Thankfully, we’ve already detailed how to start a successful podcast to help you out.