The vinyl sketchbook (sans the vinyl)

~ 20 October 2004 ~

Humaniz album cover sketchbooks

Just recently I had the pleasure of meeting the team at Humaniz Interactive. They’ve done a good deal of respectable work for the likes of Iomega, 3Com, and even AdvancedMD.

But it’s their do-it-yourselfer album-cover designer’s sketchbook / notebook that makes this step-by-step tutorial worth penning. The only thing you’ll be asking yourself when finished is, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

  1. Head over to the local thrift store.
  2. Grab the most dated, funkadelic vinyl record album you can find.
  3. Purchase and return home.
  4. Remove vinyl.
  5. (optional) Play the album before proceeding.
  6. Head over to the local Kinko’s.
  7. Greet Kinko’s sales rep warmly and then ask, “Um, can you burn this LP to a CD?”
  8. With snicker, say “Joking. Seriously though, can you turn this album cover into a notebook?” (Note: Avoid using ‘sketchbook’ as you’ll likely get a dazed look.)
  9. Ask rep to crop the album cover to 8.75” × 11.25”, add 100 sheets of blank 8.5” × 11” paper, and then bind with spiral wire.
  10. Take to work the next day and enjoy praise from colleagues.

Oh, and need inspiration for the pages of your latest creation? Check out this little gem: The Bearskinrug Sketchbook.



Veer Veer: Visual Elements for Creatives.
Stock photography, type, and killer tees. Genuinely recommended by Authentic Boredom.

1   Gidget ~ 20 October 2004 at 10:09 AM

That is a fantastic idea! Can you do it online, by any chance? Send them an image, get back a cool sketchbook?

2   Ed Knittel ~ 20 October 2004 at 11:09 AM

This is an awesome idea. The album sleeves are typically made from a stiffer paper so they’re a bit more resistant to excessive handling.

Let me throw out some additonal thoughts:
If you’ve got your T-square and exacto knife handy you can crop a mess of these quick and easy. Plus, afterwards you’ll have a nice 8.75” x 11.25” window matte that you can use to crop out any other album art.
For extra durability, slap some lamination on the front and back covers.

Grab 100 sheets (or so) of you favorite sketch paper and then head over to your local Kinkos.

Did I mention that I love this idea?

3   Gidget ~ 20 October 2004 at 11:42 AM

Lol…I didn’t get the actual authentic cover part of the plan, I thought they were scanning it onto something.

4   Barry ~ 20 October 2004 at 12:06 PM

How much did Kinko’s charge for this?

5   Cameron Moll ~ 20 October 2004 at 12:37 PM

Got me on that one, Barry. I’ll see what I can dig up.

6   John Dilworth ~ 20 October 2004 at 01:23 PM

Here’s the history on the sketchbooks… first of all, the credit for the idea goes to Trent Jameson, a designer who worked at Humaniz a couple years ago.

We mass produce the sketchbooks, sometimes 100 at a time. Paper comes from our local paper suppliers. We try to get some nice heavy paper, that we then punch and bind them with our own binding machine. It’s great. We have an unlimited supply of sketchpads for about $1 each (50 cents for the old record, and 50 cents for the paper and binding materials). They make great christmas gifts and handouts for clients.

Everyone needs at least one authentic Barry Manilow sketchpad.

7   Billy ~ 20 October 2004 at 01:34 PM

I wish I’d known about this sooner… My local NPR station was giving away records this weekend — as many as people could carry away. I don’t have a record player and didn’t need any “record bowls,” so I passed.

Next year, though…

8   GeoffC ~ 20 October 2004 at 01:37 PM

Class… Now I have a use for that Pat Boone album!

9   Cameron Moll ~ 20 October 2004 at 01:58 PM

I saw a wicked Barry one when I was in there last, John. Shoulda snagged it.

10   Beerzie Yoink ~ 20 October 2004 at 03:51 PM

Wow. What a great idea. Now I have a use for those old Jackie Gleason Orchestra albums.

11   Tina ~ 20 October 2004 at 04:16 PM

Ha! I don’t have to go anywhere! I have all of my albums including the exact same England Dan & John Ford Coly album you have pictured here! And yes, I still play vinyl, on an actual turntable.

I really don’t think I could bear to take the covers and turn them into skecth books though. The 70’s produced some of the best cover art ever. Santana’s Abraxsis cover is a classic…….errrrrrrr……or maybe I should say ‘vintage’. God I’m old.

12   Benjamin ~ 20 October 2004 at 09:05 PM

I’m stuck: do I sacrifice my Thriller cover?

13   Rick ~ 20 October 2004 at 10:35 PM

Brilliant idea! This’ll make a good gift to retro folks. I’ve seen some of those vynil records thrown away few months back, but no use to go and find it now. I’ll bug my DJ wannabe friends on this..

14   Caleb ~ 21 October 2004 at 09:42 AM

Sounds like a fun little project. I am about to need a new sketchbook anyway. This might be a nice alternative to the typical Mead sketch books. I wonder if I can find any cool disco records to do this with. Thanks for sharing this.

15   Ryan Chimney ~ 21 October 2004 at 06:34 PM

Pure Class!

16   Scott ~ 21 October 2004 at 08:38 PM

Wow, that’s a fantastic idea Cameron :).

Also, when hovering over the url’s of comment authors, you should add a title that shows the url of the link so I know where I’m going.

17   Terry Tolleson ~ 22 October 2004 at 10:09 AM

You know, if you really dig Mr. Cornell’s (aka Bearskinrug) work, you should really check out

BSR has several design battles on the site and they are just ridiculously awesome.

Check it out, one time, won’t you!


18   John ~ 23 October 2004 at 06:16 PM

Kinko’s charges $4 for the binding alone (paper NOT included), and it took them an hour and a half to do two for me. You can also bring your own paper to use, if you want lines or a day planner or whatever.

Thanks for the idea, they’re awesome notebooks!


19   Dys ~ 23 October 2004 at 10:32 PM

Does anyone have any suggestions on brands of good quality *lined* paper? I’m thinking something comporable to standard sketchbook paper, but ruled.

20   Dabitch ~ 27 October 2004 at 10:50 AM

NOOooo Benjamin! Don’t sacrifice your Thriller cover! (unless you’ve already scratched the heck out of the vinyl…)

21   mike ~ 17 November 2004 at 11:30 AM

The Kinko’s I visited has a “no copyrighted pictures” policy, which prevented them from cropping my album covers (even though, yep, I own the covers). They said that if I cropped the covers myself, they would be able to bind them, but not before.

Did I get snowed?


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