This is a CD jacket I designed for a song called "Touch of Destiny" by Japanese dance-rock band 1.G.K. It's a combination of photography, illustration, design and typography. 
I based this design, as I often do, on a basic template that shows a rectangle divided up according to the Fibbonacci sequence. I use this as a rough guide for the general placement of the main points of focus I want to include in my design.
The ship represents the vessel that ferries the souls of the dead to the afterlife, which is refered to in the song's lyric. Those "souls of the dead" that are rising out of the water were drawn on an iPad while I was on the road, then imported into Photoshop.
I skewed and distorted the shapes, added some adjustment layers and redrew on the layer to ensure that they blended with the overall image and to create a sense of distance.
The ship, which is a combination of photograph and hand-drawn elements, was by far the most time-consuming part of the process. I knew that the ship would be barely visible on the CD jacket, but I wanted to give the band the option of blowing it to poster or banner size, so the ship alone was a detailed project containing dozens of layers.
The birds in the sky were created using a black brush. I then used layer style adjustments to make them look like 3D animals, rather than flat symbols. I then digitally lit them to ensure they blended with the scene.
Here's the original photo of the sky so you can see where I masked it to create the sunset.
Here's a combination of the sky layer and the beach layer after I masked out the bottom of the sky photo.
I shot the model, the beach and the sky separately. I then composited them using Photoshop and added a range of effects, filters, gradient maps, a high pass filter and drew directly onto the image to ensure that the lighting and color palette was uniform and correctly evoked the atmostphere I was trying to create.
Here you can see how the image was arranged according to the rule of thirds along the horizon and in the placement of the figure.
I then created a wooden desk-like back drop using a photograph of a wooden texture and around 20 other adjustment layers. I used create a parchment layer. I placed the text on the parchment and added effects to evoke an aged, burned or antique look. I wanted to evoke a vaguely fantastical atmosphere, much like a pirate adventure movie, to meet the mythopoeic nature of the lyric.
On top of all of those layers I created the necklace bearing the band's name in Photoshop. The 1.G.K was created using the text tool and a range of adjustment layers. The chain was a combination of photography, freehand drawing and adjustment layers.
The finished image was a perfect square exported at 1600 x 1600 to meet the band's digital vendors' requirements.
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