“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” by John Williams

Almost exactly two years ago I was just about to finish what would become HQCovers‘ most successful blog entry so far: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was a massive undertaking, at least from my perspective. Nineteen (quite complicated) custom covers and related in-depth liner notes. All in all it took me about eight weeks, which is quite a lot compared to other entrys on this site.

That’s why I decided that this year I’ll make it fast and easy. And by fast and easy I mean that I re-used most of my old templates and knocked out this entire collection over the course of just ten days. I admit that re-cycling my old designs is pretty lazy. Also, pretty cheap. But it was still more effort than what Disney did for their official soundtrack cover of The Last Jedi (#1).

It’s kinda disappointing to see them blatantly rehashing their own design from The Force Awakens (which in itself was already a rehash as well) and make it the official cover artwork. It probably took the designer, or any unpaid intern, ten seconds of their life and that’s just a shame for a film of this magnitude. At least the Japanese got a better artwork (#2; edited version), but it’s limited to a domestic market and that’s always a problem.

From a completist’s point of view the barebone international artwork may actually make sense. But The Last Jedi is not only the second entry of a Star Wars trilogy. This is also a stand-alone piece of work. It deserves its own proper look. Even more so as Disney will certainly make sure that there’ll be plenty of chances to release uniform looking editions in the future, when all three sequel films have been released. Given the fact that the entire marketing material for The Last Jedi was nothing short but stunning, it would be a real crime not to utilize it for additional soundtrack covers. So this is the perfect call to action for people like me…

Thanks to a newly found source of incredible high-resolution textless posters, I was able to make a lot of these covers in near print-size quality. It’s a real treat to work with high quality material like this. It almost feels like an official assignment and that’s how I approached it.

For the first bulk of customs (#3, #4, #5), which I consider to be the main covers, I did have a clear idea right from the get-go. Disney released those high-contrast, blood-red one sheets and they lent themselves perfectly to the established Star Wars trademark design (#3).

Just for the sake of it, I made an alternate version as well. And it’s quite interesting to see how much the look and feel of Star Wars is defined by its logo design. The golden bevel cut logotype immediately pushes The Last Jedi back into the prequel era, for better or worse… though it still looks gorgeous.

Most of the covers above are more or less based on pre-existing design templates. Which means that the first few days of this cover series pretty much boiled down to analyzing which The Last Jedi key art fitted which template. A working method that is quite fast, but also pretty unexcited. At least it allowed me to spend more time with Paul Shipper‘s stunningly beautiful Dolby/AMC poster (#6) and also Preedee T‘s magnificent fanart (#12). But I also felt like I needed something fresh. And the things I like doing the most, as you may have guessed already, are vintage vinyl designs.

It was my friend Sonic who made me aware of a custom poster made by Midnight Marauder and Tony Stella. A poster that harkens back to the early days of Star Wars and also shows an exceptional level of traditional handcrafting. I was immediately enthusiastic about the idea of a vinyl soundtrack (#14), especially since no official one was announced yet and thus I was breaking new grounds. For the lack of a better idea I named this one The Walt Disney Legacy Collection and conceived it as an extended cut spread over three differently coloured vinyl LPs.

Finally, I want to present another hypothetical idea of mine…

I’d like to give you a glimpse at what could have been possible with the official CD release, if only Disney had been willing to spend a little more effort. I was wondering, with all this amazing key art available, why Disney Records didn’t make better use of it? Why didn’t they produce a version that was worthy of the name Deluxe Edition? Something that fans were eager to spend their hard earned cash on.

Imagine The Last Jedi in a catchy digipack, enfolded in a clear plastic slipcase which features all text imprints. Once freed from its tight wrap, it offers a completely textless key art digipack in all its glory. I would have produced two different versions, Standard and Deluxe. One with the regular black starfield, the other one featuring six different character designs. Which one would be yours? Who would you choose? The dark side, or the light?

16 Comments

  1. Can’t say i’m a fan of Star Wars any more, but these covers are stunning – as always. And DAMN, that final piece of yours is incredible! Had Disney actually made these, i would’ve bought them for sure. (I would’ve chosen the starfield, probably, because it makes the original, simple design that much more classy.)

    1. I loved the film. It was mindblowing infuckingcredible ;) at last a Star Wars film that treaded new grounds and really knew how to surprise.

      But anyway, glad you like the digipack mockup. I made it myself using custom shapes, textures and smart objects. I wanted to have transparent elements in my CD mockups for a really long time now, even requested a new mockup from a design agency once. But they wanted €300,- for it so I had to come up with a solution myself. And I think, even though it’s not perfect, it works and gets across the idea quite well.

  2. Holy moly. Of course I’ve waited for this entry of yours, because even though there’s a new film every year now, Star Wars is always quite an event.

    I really like the marketing campaign for this film, with very strong and unique visuals. I think you did them justice.
    It’s disappointing yet not so surprising the official cover is THAT simple, but it makes me even more eager to work on covers and see others’.

    #4 looks incredible, I love it. I like #5 but I don’t think this artwork looks very good for a cover. You did a great work with it though. #6 is wonderful too.
    :
    I love #14 as well, it’s my favourite with #4. I saw the artwork a few months ago and knew a cover would be made out of it, well yours is AMAZING. I just think the artwork fits VII more but eh, it’s so beautiful.
    And your CD proposition is really good, it would have been so much better. I wonder what the covers look like this way!

    But now I’m afraid to post my own covers on FFS Forums! :D

    1. Yeah The Last Jedi was and is quite an opportunity for custom cover makers around. I guess EpIX will be no different. And please don’t let yourself be intimidated by my stuff. I’d love to see other’s attempts at it as well. Diversity is good! :)

      I tried to put together front covers from my custom digipack design, but they didn’t look THAT good to be honest… ;) But maybe I’ll add them to the post later, we’ll see.

      1. I agree with you! :D
        Ah, I see. Well it is a wonderful design nevertheless, your mockup looks very good AND very professional.

  3. Block-Busted

    #3 is my favorite since it shows a consistency with ‘The Force Awakens’ cover you created before. :)

    By the way, can you do one for ‘Coco’ based on this poster?:

    1. Yeah I made sure that everything is consistent :)

      That Coco poster doesn’t lend itself well to the square cover format though.

      1. Block-Busted

        I understand.

        But still, can you do some for ‘Coco’ as well? I don’t think a film that is rumored to have a budget as high as $225 million should be stuck with this:

      2. Pixar has always been know for minimalistic soundtrack covers, which I find pretty cool actually (see Inside Out for example). But maybe I’ll give it a go if I find the time. There’s still so much I’m currently working on….

      3. Block-Busted

        Well… they still have something like this:

  4. Anonymous

    Thank you very much
    so much better than the original
    Happy Holidays! If not sooner then see you in 2 years 😀

    1. You’re welcome! Hopefully sooner :)

  5. Craigypants

    Good Job. Disney/Lucasfilm have pathetic in the sequel soundtracks.
    No real linear nots. Shit pressed disc, sound is excellent, but there is lots missing.
    These deserve to be 2 disc or 3 disc sets with a dvd of the recording sessions.
    Or here’s an idea finally an Isolated score on the dvd/blu – ray. Don’t think that would make us not by the cd, those who want the score will have it anyway.

    1. An isolated score would absolutely kill it, but I don’t think they’re done anymore these days. Speaking of it, I found all of the bonus material on the home releases to be rather underwhelming. Regardless I’m sure Disney will delight us with multiple collector’s editions in the years to come, for both the film and the score.

  6. I have an idea for another custom “The Last Jedi” cover is to use Kylo Ren’s mask on the front cover in the style of the ESB LP soundtrack cover like the one here in the link

    1. Interesting. But wouldn’t that be more like a TFA cover since Kylo pretty much abandoned his mask for the sequel?

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