Cover Art Replacement Etiquette?

I’ve been on a tear finding original CDs from Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and ripping them, updating missing MB data, and in general just doing “improve metadata” scutwork. I have done 600dpi scans of all the CDs I’ve gotten and cropped and color corrected them in Photoshop. In pretty much all cases, they are better quality scans than what’s in the MusicBrainz metadata now (over 2000 pixels in size, cleaner scans, etc.)

I’m pretty new to doing anything with MB other than letting Pickard update my MP3 tags, so I don’t want to step on any feet. Should I just do “Add Cover Art” and move the image over to be the first one? Or is there something else that should be done before wholesale messing with other people’s existing uploads?



If someone else actually scanned cover art for these CDs, maybe leave it with a descriptive comment on it? Otherwise I’d say delete duplicates when you add a better version. Often they’re just sourced from the internet.

You might be interested in this discussion from when I was in a similar boat: Advice on scanning cover art

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As a first step, I say yes, do that. If someone thinks your scanned images are not well “cropped and color corrected in Photoshop” there is still a choice.
Just my 2 cents.

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I’ve also been doing lots of scanning of art this last year or two. And here are my main methods.

This is powered by wanting to see exact images, trying to stick to guide lines, but not having lots of clever editing abilities. Levels of OCD also kick in as I want this as correct as possible. There are also guidelines to follow.

First I am not a heavy photoshopper (can’t afford a licence) - so generally upload what I scanned at 600dpi but carefully cropped and saved as an 80% JPG. I don’t think an image should be changed or “improved” from the original, but I have sometimes painted out the odd tear.

The point of artwork here at MB is not to be pretty, but to help identify different editions. (But I am using this in my media centre too)

Even on my 50" TV screen it is hard to spot the difference between 80% JPG and a PNG - but some prefer the PNG, but I prefer my disk space.


When I look at a Release first I will carefully read the edit notes. See when artwork appeared.

Was the artwork all uploaded at the same time by the same person? Or lots of random sources?

If artwork is uploaded and NO comment added by that artwork uploader, then I delete it and replace with my scans.

If the artwork is under 1000x1000 - I am likely to replace.

If it came from Discogs - I’ll replace with scans.

If it is someone else’s scans, then I am likely to leave it alone. I’ll check they have everything - maybe I can add a few pages of the booklet.

ALWAYS add lots of notes to your scans. Make the source clear.

You soon get to spot the names of the better uploaders. :wink:


The BIGGEST issue I see though is many people don’t actually look at the details. Some artwork is thrown up here as it “looks close enough”. This is why I can be aggressive at replacing artwork without upload comments. No comment - then I’ll assume it wasn’t checked at upload time.

If it is scanned by someone else - I will rarely replace it. (Think of how annoyed you would be if you had your scans replaced for no real gain…)

Much more important is actually LOOKING at what the artwork is. Really close. I mean stupidly close at the exact details. Read every word on both back covers. Maybe even flip back and forth with them both on screen. Albums that have been re-released many times have all kinds of stupidly subtle differences. Changes of Label, Price Codes, just subtle tiny changes in that small print. Or a change of a price code.

This is worse on an album like Pink Floyd’s Animals that has been around for almost 50 years, and constantly changing copyright owners. You should be in a better place with NED.


OK cool. After reading some of those threads and other comments I actually want to go back and re-scan what I did with an eye towards doing a better job of eliminating moire with technique, but otherwise leaving things alone. The photoshopping I did was only really removing a couple of dust bits here and there and messing with levels to match the eye test… the scanner tended to wash out blacks a bit and such.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone.


Oh wow, tried the double-scan technique on Ned’s Atomic Dustbin - Shoot The Neds! and holy crap it turned out nice. The scanning takes a bit more time, but you make it up on not having to edit so much during cleanup.

What is the double-scan technique?

A method of doing something different when scanning, merging two images?

My google results give me lots of medical / prosthesis related results.

Scan it, turn it upside down, scan again, merge the images.

By doing this it improves the lighting of paper texture on the image.

Problem is I think you need something like Photoshop to really make it work as I can never line things up well enough in Paint.NET.


It seems like a tedious way to obtain blurry images. :wink:
I prefer sharp pictures, be they with small defects, than interpolated stuff that hides the paper texture and/or blends the printed colour dots (quadrichromie).


I agree with you @jesus2099 - the images are more real if they still have imperfections.

The worst ones are where you see someone has adjusted the colours so much that all the whites are now unnaturally white whites and you find yourself looking at something created in MS Paint instead of having spent 40 years on a shelf.

MB images are about identification of the product. If over edited art is required, that is where sites like come in.


The good thing is, that it creates an evenly lit scan without having to purchase a more expensive scanner. :wink:
Blurryness can be in issue here, indeed. I always use this technique for 45 covers, where it makes a huge difference. When the two scans are aligned perectly in the center of the image, the corners may be slightly off, causing blur or even double images. The fix is easy. Just create a copy of the scan layers, group them, realign them so the corners are sharp looking, add a mask to the group and then apply it only where it is needed.

CD covers are usually flat enough to get a good scan with really little effort. I make sure to put some weight on the booklet to scan it as flat as possible, but that’s just general good practice. Also, I will place a black piece of paper behind the scanned page so that the artwork on the back of the page will not shine through.

This is what my unedited CD cover scans look like:

While it could be inappropriate editing, it could also be caused by the scan settings.

I disagree about over editing. While has lots of arwork that is over edited (for various reasons), the better work there probably has very little done to it.
And tastefully edited images have their place here as well as covers are often used for tagging. I usually add an unedited scan for reference and a cleaned up descreened, square version with levels conservatively set (and sometimes the shadows slightly enhanced) scaled down to 1080x1080p and converted to srgb for tagging. Best of both worlds.

As far as replacement of cover art goes: I rarely do it, but when images are inaccurate it’s necessary. This was in the database:
The image has been denoised so heavily that a lot of detail in the background got lost. It looks almost like a smooth gradient, but it shouldn’t.

Here’s the scan of my copy:
It had a lot of wear and tear, so a little more editing than usual was required for the clean version:


I would just do a simple scan.
For me scans are just informative.

FWIW, you have pasted the same URL twice.

Whoops. Thanks for pointing it out. Link is fixed :slight_smile:

As long as you leave the original scan up :ok_hand:

Some of those edits are moving into preference territory rather than ‘trying to exactly match the in hand version’ (MB’s prerogative). Sometimes whites just aren’t that white on a printed booklet. And squaring covers for tagging isn’t as important as having a 1:1 cover displayed, warts and all.

That’s not a knock back though, keep up the scanning!


That’s the whole point of uploading the unedited scans :slight_smile:

Whites sure may depend on the color of the paper used and blacks depend on the printing process. They are not always neutral, that’s why I usually try to leave them alone.
In cases where paper has significantly yellowed, I would try to achieve a more neutral color, though.

We shouldn’t underestimate tagging. I think it’s one of the most important purposes of cover art and the cover art archive is one the most important sources. My CD ripping software certainly uses artwork from the archive.

Are there any guidelines about cover art other than these?

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An important part of the artwork uploads is the editing comments. Artwork needs source comments. The comments are vital so that later users can understand how accurate the images are. This thread is all about quality scans. Shout about the source of your images as they are uploaded.

If I see a scan without a comment on it in the edit history then I will assume it has not been checked and may not even match the actual cover. I’ll go find something to cross check with. Discogs being a pretty reliable source.


It’s generally accepted that MB isn’t a repository for edited cover art (links to can be a good way to tag using edited covers).

Not that I don’t want nice tagging pictures to be put up - I usually try add a digital version that has the cleanest square art so that people who don’t care about editions can use the release group image for tagging. Not a solution for every release group though.

If someone replaced a scan of mine with a contrast-upped edit as the main picture I would downvote it - but you’re uploading your own scans which is a heap of work you’re doing to the benefit of everyone, and if that involves an edited picture being put up as well go for it and keep it up :heart: