The photograph of David Bowie on the front cover of Hunky Dory was taken by Brian Ward. It was shot at Ward’s studio on Heddon Street in central London, where the cover for the Ziggy Stardust album was taken the following year.
Bowie had briefly toyed with an Egyptian cover concept, and shots of him wearing make-up, dressed as a pharaoh and in the lotus position were taken by Ward. Instead, it was decided to use a simpler image for the sleeve, a close-up of the singer looking skyward, pulling his long hair flat across his head.
Ward took the cover shot in monochrome, and it was colourised by Terry Pastor, an illustrator who shared a design studio with Bowie’s friend George Underwood in London’s Covent Garden. Pastor tinted the image at his small home studio in Blackheath. The colours were enhanced further on the UK release, which had a laminated finish.
The image of Bowie was used on the album’s US release, but the text was omitted. The album’s title was instead included on a sticker applied to the front.
On the back cover was another Ward photograph, surrounded by Bowie’s handwritten credits and acknowledgements. These contained various asides, such as the “Inspired by Frankie [Sinatra]” for ‘Life On Mars?’, “For small Z” for ‘Kooks’, and “Some VU, White Light returned with thanks” for ‘Queen Bitch’.
The production was attributed to “Ken Scott (assisted by the actor)”. Bowie was similarly modest about his musical contributions: “I played some guitar, the saxophones and the less complicated piano-parts (inability)”.