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What makes a good magazine cover? Author Nigel French examines the design of magazine covers, dissecting the cover and explaining the purpose of the different components that make up the whole design. He then covers the design process from start to finish in Adobe InDesign, going on to show alternative workflows that exclusively use Photoshop and Illustrator. Each workflow shows you how to place and scale your image, position the masthead, add cover text, and package the end result as a print-ready PDF.
When preparing your cover image, avoid cropping the image too tight. You will probably want to place cover lines around the model, so it's preferable to have a generous amount of background, either side and above the figure. For this reason, the image when viewed by itself may appear too loosely cropped, but in the context of the whole cover, you need that extra space around the subject So with this in mind, if you have the chance to direct the cover photo shoot, or if you are the photographer, capture your subject with a loose crop.
When performing the final crop, rather than do it in Photoshop--even though in Photoshop CS6, you can crop non-destructively--I prefer to do it in InDesign, simply by positioning and scaling the image within a picture frame that is set to the cover bleed size. If we go to the Layers panel, turn off all the other layers. The Fitting option for this picture frame was set to Fit Content Proportionally, and then the image has been scaled within the picture frame.
If I select the Image content, I can scale it using the following shortcut, Command or Ctrl More Than or Less Than, and when I do so, I am scaling from whatever is the chosen point on the reference square I actually want it to be the center point. And then I can also nudge the image using my cursor arrows. I find that gives me more fine control. If I want to go in larger increments, I can hold down the Shift key.
So in a nutshell, capture the cover image with a loose crop and then perform the final crop in InDesign.
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