Getting Album Cover Art Images to Look Their Best

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27 Feb 2009, 6:06

Getting Album Cover Art Images to Look Their Best

I've noted that the supposedly automated imports of cover art images for many albums come in various sizes. Sometimes they're perfectly square, sometimes they're not. A couple of typical sizes include 350x350 and 350x308 (wide), but there are certainly several other dimensions and proportions, not least of all digipaks, which are exceptional cases. As the "jewelcases" on last.fm's album pages are square, the latter non-square images present a problem.


a typical non-square (350x308) original cover art image

The imported originals are scaled down to several different sizes for various purposes:

300x300 - on the page where you can preview and vote on each cover art image (notice the bad crop):


view original page

174x174 - on the album page itself, within the jewelcase (again, notice the bad crop):


view original page

126x111 - in the artist's album gallery:


view original page. notice there's no cropping, but either side can only be 126px at most to fit within the 126x126 jewelcase, hence the whitespace at the bottom.

As you can see for yourself, the way non-square images, like the 350x308 example above, are being scaled down to 300x300 is by first resizing their height to 300px and then cropping out the extra bits on the left and right to achieve a width of 300px, hence losing image detail! The same applies to the 174x174 album page images. (Often, this cropping isn't apparent to most users; it's only when the text layout creeps to the edges that the problem becomes evident.)

Shouldn't it be possible for last.fm to scale down the original source to the smaller sizes using the width instead of the height of original images as the starting point, so nothing is lost in the reduction? And this change will naturally not affect square originals. Isn't this totally within their control to fix? The only possible issue is we'll have a little white band (or black, if you prefer) at the top and bottom edges of the cover art image. but i think that's much better than having portions of the cover art cropped off.

So can this be done? Make your voices heard if you concur. Speak up in the forums! (here)

Addendum:
It seems the record labels either do listen or have good sense sometimes. Check these pages out:

Michael Jackson's Thriller cover (added by Epic, 17 Dec 2008)
Michael Jackson's Bad cover (added by Epic, 30 Jan 2009)
Michael Jackson's Off the Wall cover (added by Sony, 11 Feb 2009)

Notice the whitespace added to the top and bottom to square up the images.

This entry is adapted from a post (permalink) submitted to the website support forum thread, Way to Fix the Wrong Album Artwork Featured on LastFm?

The writer is leader of the Users.aGainst.LousY.images, who call themselves U.G.L.Y. for short. Watch the group's official music video.
Tagged:
A Fraction Of You
Affection
Real Love
Face Up
Thriller 25th Anniversary


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Comentarios

  • fmera

    i thought it was just me - yes there's an offset by 1px (sometimes more) in the album gallery, but not the album page. (on mac both safari and firefox for me). the layouts with the jewelcases are a bit messy, with nested divs & spans, so i'm not surprised. re therion - "official" album cover. sucks, i know. happens with several other labels as well.

    27 Feb 2009, 12:24
  • fmera

    that happens to me sometimes, not just with pngs. you get a transparent (empty) cover sliding into view, with the ? icon. i just upload again. one of those off-and-on bugs, i guess.

    21 Mar 2009, 7:05
  • Tecfan

    I tried adding white borders to a 324x290 image, to get it 324x324, it looks like this: http://www.last.fm/music/GEITUNGEN/Bra+Kast!/+images/40222579 (original: http://www.kultivator.no/vegar/bilder/indexbil/brakast.gif best I could find), but it doesn't look good at all on the album page: http://www.last.fm/music/GEITUNGEN/Bra+Kast! do you have any advises? let me know in my shoutbox if you reply, no tracking here >.<

    5 Ene 2010, 14:13
  • fmera

    i'll reply both here and in your shoutbox: 1. in general, png uploads on this site tend to blur if the originals contain an alpha channel mask, so you need to strip it away and resave the png before uploading it. it will also help reduce the filesize to some degree. 2. for cover art uploads especially, originals that measure less than 500x500 will also begin to blur when reduced to other sizes (300x300 - previews, 174s - jewelcase, 126 - album gallery) 300x300 originals give the worst results. we recommend you upload at least a png of 600x600 w/o any alpha for the sharpest results.

    6 Ene 2010, 7:46
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