For Christmas this past year my wife recorded an album of 11 songs to send to my grandparents. So me being the awesome husband I am I created a custom album sleeve for her. Just a simple front and back design that would fit on an 8.5x11 template that we could assemble ourselves. By the way, if you're looking for a good resource for album cover templates I recommend checking out theses oasis cd templates. They came in quite handy.
So like all good projects, we started with a little brainstorming session and some quick sketches while we talked about what to title the cd. We settled on "HYMNS: by Amanda And Other Songs You Can Sing to Jesus".
After she decided on the design I went from sketch straight in to illustrator. I used a mixture of live trace (for all the hand-drawn type on the tracklist) and tracing the shapes by hand. As far as choosing a color palette, I wanted it to be something soft and wintery. I did have snow flakes in my initial design, but decided against them when it went to the printer. I think the light gray of the sky and the stark black silhouette of the trees and house do a good job of giving off that cold, winter-like feeling. And the North Star was icing on the cake.
I forgot to post this link originally, but you can stream the entire album over on my wife's virb page.