Illustration • How-To How to make an album cover in Adobe Illustrator.

Use graphics, color swatches, and custom brushes to apply patterns to your design.

Hoodzpah founders and co-creators, Amy and Jennifer Hood design brands and identities that inspire and delight. See how they create in sync with Creative Cloud Libraries in Adobe Illustrator.

Jennifer and Amy Hood stand together looking off to the side

Hoodzpah is a studio based in Orange County, Calif. Founded by designers Amy & Jennifer Hood, coauthors of Freelance, and Business, and Stuff. Hoodzpah specializes in brand strategy, identity design, and typography. Check out their fonts at #hoodfonts.

Illustration of a sun in the sky over an ocean in orange, blue, turquoise, and cream. Adobe Illustrator logo is bottom left

Take a one-minute look at Hoodzpah’s technique; the steps are written out below.

Before you start.

Hoodzpah provided sample files including Illustrator document (AI); a Creative Cloud Library (.cclibs) with graphics and color swatches; and a brushes file. Feel free to use these for practice, or create your own.

Step 1: Make waves.

Use the Pen (N) tool to draw freeform foam patterns on the waves. Feel free to use Hoodzpah’s starting artwork in the AI file they provided, or create your own.

Digital drawing of waves in black outlines, pencil tool at top left, and black type at bottom reads ‘Saltwater Slackers’

Step 2: Collect inspiration.

Import the Creative Cloud Library that Hoodzpah provided in order to leverage colors and patterns they created. Open the Libraries panel (Window > Libraries), choose Import Library from the Libraries flyout menu, select the Library location, then select the .cclibs file provided with the practice files.

Import Libraries panel over beach drawing shows Creative Cloud Libraries file location & Libraries panel shows color palette

Step 3: Splash some color.

Use the colors in the Library to fill in different areas of the artwork. Hold the Shift key as you click with the Selection tool (V) to select multiple shapes. Then, click the color swatch you want to use.

Creative Cloud Libraries panel with blue selected – orange for sky and alternating blue, turquoise, and cream for the waves

Step 4: Reveal patterns.

Choose the Rectangle (M) tool and draw a rectangle to cover the sky. Then, open the Swatches (Window > Swatches) panel to see the patterns Hoodzpah provided. Use the Selection tool to select the new rectangle, then click a striped pattern from the swatches. Apply another pattern to the foam in the waves.

If the patterns do not appear when you open the Swatches panel, click the Swatch Libraries icon, choose Other Library, then select the swatches file from the practice files.

Swatches panel shows patterns, swatch library selected to show specific swatches file, striped pattern on sky

Step 5: Style your stroke.

Hoodzpah provided brushes for you to apply a custom stroke to different areas of the artwork. Choose the Brushes (Window > Brushes) panel, then choose the Brushes Library icon, and import the brushes file from the practice files. Choose the Selection tool then Shift+click to select all the shapes you wish to outline. Then choose a pattern brush from the drop down and set the Stroke width.

Selection tool and stroke properties across the top, stroke is 1.5 pt, orange pattern applied as stroke to foam in the waves

Step 6: Make it cloudy.

Add design elements to enhance the artwork. Hoodzpah provided cloud, sun, and other graphics you can add to the composition. Expand the Graphics category in the Libraries panel, then drag a graphic on to the artwork and click where you want to place it.

Creative Cloud Libraries panel shows graphics, clouds with orange outlines added to the sky

Step 7: Type your identity.

Hoodzpah provided character styles in the Type category of the library. Use the Selection tool to select a block of text in the design. Then double-click the character style thumbnail to apply the formatting. You can sync these fonts from the thousands of fonts available in Adobe Fonts.

Libraries panel shows Type section, Saltwater Slackers and other album cover text added to the bottom of the artwork

Create and iterate.

Add colors, graphics, and character styles to a Creative Cloud library and reuse the same elements across multiple designs to create a cohesive look for your brand or identity.

Two album covers show artwork with same color palette and similar graphics, one is beach scene, one is a diner

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.


Get to know the sisters better—in "Hoodzpah Shines On," they share their thoughts on building a business and branding. Plus, they're giving away a rate-calculation worksheet every creative can benefit from!


You may also like