“Wolf Totem” by James Horner

This requested custom covers series was an interesting one. Working on a soundtrack album that was released and marketed (from the same label mind you) under three different names was something new for me. How do I name it and what title do I put on which artwork? I liked the visual fluency of the Chinese logo. It went well in conjunction with the English title. The French one Le Dernier Loup however didn’t work for me so I left it out deliberately.

While the official album for US markets (#1) comes across a little grim, the French one (#2) is indeed beautiful and evokes a true spirit of adventure. Milan Records added a butt ugly drop shadow to the European album cover (#3), so I spent a little time fixing that one (#4).

Sometimes when I see a poster art or something I know within a heartbeat what I have to do with it. All that’s left necessary then, is to put it on virtual paper. To make it real. It’s basically just needle work. In my mind many of these custom covers exist within the blink of an eye. And James Horner’s Wolf Totem is one of those rare cases.

All of the custom covers above were done within a couple hours. They’re all based on various international posters and my goal was to come up with a distinctive version of the title logo in each one of them. I’ve utilized many different Photoshop functionalities which by now became part of my standard repertoire.

For example on cover #5, I selected the areas left and right to the wolf, cut them out and then stretched them just a little bit to get a square canvas image (hence the slight distortion). Or the white vignette that I’ve superimposed over cover #6 to make the background bright enough for the beveled text. I’ve also removed a lot of text from #7’s source image by selecting it with the magic wand tool, expanding the selection by two pixels and then removing the selected area using the content-aware fill tool. And the customized Wolf Totem logo was recreated using a multitude of stacked layer styles.

So all in all everything easy as pie, right? Well… not quite. The last one puzzled me for a fair amount of time. I wanted to put this Chinese teaser poster into cover art fame, but the original image had such a gritty noise texture, that it literally disabled the magic wand tool (and all other necessary tools). I had to cut out the wolf’s silhouette by hand and apply several colour filters and effects to achieve the washed out texture that I wanted.


  1. Hmmm, some lovely work there again mate. I think #7 is my favourite. I haven’t seen the film yet but it’s a very good score, a welcome return to form by Horner. Such a shame he died, this score has the feeling he was back on the rise again.


    1. Yeah it’s a real tragedy. I’m not the Horner fan I used to be when I was younger, but he was still a living legend. And such a kind, warm person. Ah man… no-one deserves to go out that way.


  2. abryus1337

    One word – brilliant!


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