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Designing a Magazine Cover
Illustration by John Hersey
Watching:

Understanding the parts of a magazine cover


From:

Designing a Magazine Cover

with Nigel French

Video: Understanding the parts of a magazine cover

Here I'm going to identify the common parts of our fictitious fashion magazine. Of course, not all magazine covers have all these elements, and the emphasis given to them will vary. I have created this in InDesign using Layers, and using my Layers panel I'm now going to reveal these Layers one by one. I'll hold down my Option or Alt key and click on the bottom layer, revealing just the cover image by itself. Typically--and is the case here--we have a single image, and it bleeds to all four corners of the page.
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  1. 1m 57s
    1. Welcome
      36s
    2. Using the exercise files
      35s
    3. Looking at the history of magazine covers
      46s
  2. 8m 27s
    1. Understanding what makes a good magazine cover
      1m 47s
    2. Deciding between photography and illustration
      1m 6s
    3. Understanding the parts of a magazine cover
      5m 34s
  3. 21m 7s
    1. Choosing a cover image
      3m 0s
    2. Understanding the technical requirements
      4m 32s
    3. Cropping the cover image
      2m 0s
    4. Working with color and tonal adjustments
      3m 50s
    5. Retouching the cover image
      7m 45s
  4. 48m 8s
    1. Setting up the cover document
      3m 17s
    2. Placing and positioning the masthead
      4m 5s
    3. Positioning, scaling, and cropping the cover image
      3m 57s
    4. Combining the cover image and the masthead
      4m 28s
    5. Creating a color palette
      8m 47s
    6. Adding cover lines
      4m 28s
    7. Using paragraph styles with cover lines
      5m 32s
    8. Refining cover lines
      4m 54s
    9. Including additional elements
      8m 40s
  5. 15m 30s
    1. Creating a preflight profile
      3m 52s
    2. Making a print-ready PDF
      9m 24s
    3. Packaging and archiving the project
      2m 14s
  6. 34m 16s
    1. Setting up the Photoshop document
      6m 19s
    2. Placing and scaling the cover image in Photoshop
      3m 11s
    3. Combining the image and the masthead in Photoshop
      5m 49s
    4. Working with text in Photoshop
      9m 33s
    5. Creating a peeling sticker in Photoshop
      6m 16s
    6. Preparing for print in Photoshop
      3m 8s
  7. 35m 7s
    1. Setting up the Illustrator document
      4m 35s
    2. Placing, scaling, and cropping the cover image in Illustrator
      3m 30s
    3. Combining the cover image and the masthead in Illustrator
      3m 5s
    4. Adding more cover lines in Illustrator
      9m 41s
    5. Adding cover items in Illustrator
      9m 32s
    6. Preparing for print in Illustrator
      4m 44s
  8. 1m 11s
    1. Goodbye and next steps
      1m 11s

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Designing a Magazine Cover
2h 45m Intermediate Oct 08, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • The history of magazine covers
  • Choosing a cover image
  • Making color and tonal adjustments to the image
  • Placing and positioning the masthead
  • Positioning, scaling, and cropping the cover image
  • Creating a color palette
  • Adding cover text
  • Creating a peeling sticker effect
  • Preparing for print
Subjects:
Design Page Layout Projects Design Skills
Software:
Illustrator InDesign Photoshop
Author:
Nigel French

Understanding the parts of a magazine cover

Here I'm going to identify the common parts of our fictitious fashion magazine. Of course, not all magazine covers have all these elements, and the emphasis given to them will vary. I have created this in InDesign using Layers, and using my Layers panel I'm now going to reveal these Layers one by one. I'll hold down my Option or Alt key and click on the bottom layer, revealing just the cover image by itself. Typically--and is the case here--we have a single image, and it bleeds to all four corners of the page.

This doesn't have to be the case, National Geographic and Time, for example, famously have colored borders surrounding their cover images. Monocle magazine, rather than using a single image, uses a grid of images. The model picture may be a full face or a body shot. I will be talking specifically about the choice of our cover image in the next movie. Next, we have the Masthead, and in the case of our magazine, the masthead has been created as a vector file in Illustrator and then copied and pasted into InDesign.

The conventional wisdom for the masthead is that it's best to use a fixed consistent masthead for easy identification. Some magazines placed their masthead against the flat field of contrasting color. While most magazines use a consistent masthead, there are again exceptions. In the early 1990s, Ray Gun magazine designed by David Carson changed his masthead every issue.

While it's rare, it's possible for the masthead to use transparency to integrate with the cover image below. With an established masthead, it's popular to have a portion of the model's head overlapped with the masthead type. Even though this partially obscures the masthead, it remains legible because the brand is already well established. I'll be showing how this can be done in a later movie. This is a popular technique, but it is not the only way to integrate the model with the masthead.

Here are a couple of other approaches. In the case of our magazine, the overlap has been created by putting a cut out portion of the image on a separate layer. So we have created a sandwich with the cut out portion at the top, beneath that the masthead, and at bottom the full frame cover image. Next we have the Cover Lines. Competition on the newsstand means that it's common to have many Cover Lines.

These are arranged around the cover image, hopefully without detracting from the image. The colors of the Cover Lines are often suggested by the colors in the cover image, and that is the case here. Here are some contemporary examples with many cover lines It's important that the Cover Lines remain readable, even if they run over the image. It's common, as is the case with our example, for the Cover Lines to have a Kicker in a large font and an explanatory line in a smaller font.

Because covers have become so crowded with Cover Lines, some magazines produce a separate subscriber's addition with fewer. Some magazines favor a poster style approach with a single often understated Cover Line, letting the cover image speak for itself. This works well when the cover model is instantly recognizable Other elements of our cover include the Barcode, which is used to provide a unique means of electronically identifying the magazine at all stages of the distribution chain up to the . final sale by the retailer Most commonly, the barcode is positioned in the bottom left, but it can be placed anywhere on the page so long as it doesn't interfere with the artwork.

The Date line and Price tend to be understated but should always be readable, set against a solid contrasting background, or a quiet portion of the cover image. Note that monthly magazine usually hits the newsstands a month before the cover date. You may also include a Model Credit, although it's more typical to include this on the contents page, rather than on the cover itself.

And then we have Flashes and Slashes, a flash above the top left-hand corner of the masthead and a sticker advertising a promotion. Finally--and this is entirely optional--I have created a layer of guides, and to see these, I am going to press W to turn on my non-printing guides, and this just gives me a framework within which I can work so that it takes some of the guesswork of where I place the different elements on the page.

So these are the parts of a magazine cover. We'll see how we can create this cover from scratch in upcoming movies.

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