How to make beautiful album art without CGI

No computer-generated effects were needed for the making of this cover. Hvass&Hannibal takes us behind the scenes of one of their most talked-about projects.

Magic Chairs by Hvass&Hannibal

When Nan Na Hvass and Sofie Hannibal of Hvass&Hannibal produced the cover for Danish band Efterklang's third album, Magic Chairs, there was a lot of speculation as to how, exactly, the album art was made.

"Our intern Mikkel," the studio wrote on its blog shortly after it had completed the project, "from Bergen Academy of Art and Design, told us that his class had discussed it and reached the conclusion that it must be computer-generated 3D graphics. This is not quite the case..."

Hvass&Hannibal produced all of the ribbons used in the shoot, dying textiles and sewing each by hand - the studio's then-intern, Danish creative Gry Rasmussen, coming up with the colourful design. A team of local young gymnasts was assembled to fly them.

Outside influence

The courtyard of Thorvaldsen's Museum in Copenhagen was chosen as the setting, but on the day of the shoot, rain threatened to scupper the whole project. The band itself even attempted to dry the surface to ensure the shoot went ahead.

Imagine trying to wipe dry a 300-square-metre bathroom floor - hopeless

"Imagine trying to wipe dry a 300-square-metre bathroom floor while the shower's on, and you'll have a pretty good idea of how hopeless it was," Hvass says. As the ribbons were wet, the gymnasts struggled to make them move in usual way. However, the rain proved to be the making of the shot, as the final image has, as Hvass&Hannibal describes it, a "glassy and surrealist feel". Many people speculated that the surface was marble; it was, in fact, simply wet Tarmac.

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts magazine.

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