Learn how to design magazine covers in Adobe InDesign. First, we’ll review some core Magazine Cover Design Principles that professionals all know


  • 0:43 Overview of what we’ll cover today
  • 1:09 1 | Magazine Covers vs Articles
  • 2:05 2 | There is a set hierarchy for everything on a magazine cover
  • 3:01 How To Choose Fonts
  • 3:55 Choose a singular subject for your image
  • 4:34 Must Haves: Magazine Name Title | Timestamp | Issue No
  • 5:42 Which backgrounds work best: Monocolor neutral or white
  • 7:15 Recap
  • 7:22 RECAP – We covered all| Four Elements of the Perfect Magazine Cover & What To Do BEFORE Part 2 of this lesson – aka Your Homework
  • 7:47 Your Homework: Gather all 4 elements for your cover & choose your fonts Part 2 coming later this month – where we’ll be doing an InDesign walk-through

Part 2 coming later this month – where we’ll be doing an InDesign walk-through

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Transcript (with Timestamps)

Hi everyone and welcome to part one of two on how to create beautiful magazine layouts, using Adobe InDesign. Hi everyone. I’m Lisa, from Pretty Fabulous, and I hope online businesses create beautiful digital downloads using Adobe InDesign. So, if this sounds like you or something you might be interested in, make sure to hit the subscribe button below. I post new videos every Monday and Thursday. I also do unboxings on Saturdays. Today, we’re going to walk through exactly what makes a beautiful magazine layout, and we’re going to go through a ton of examples so that you have an idea of how to create your own magazine cover.

Now, in part one, we are going to go over the major principles of covers versus articles, as well as the four elements that make up a magazine cover. Then, I’m going to give you some homework at the end, so that you can pull together all of your own materials, so that when we jump to part two, you can follow along when we go into the Adobe InDesign tutorial, and you have all of your elements to create a magazine cover using your own branding. All right. So, first, I said we were going to talk about the difference between covers versus articles. The main difference is the way that text interacts with images.

So, on covers, as you can see, here in this example, we have text covering up the image. So typically, when you go to … The same thing happens over here. When you go to an article, instead, what will happen is the text will shape itself around the image like so. This makes for a more interesting layout for magazines. They all look unique, and it also helps entertain you and sort of make the article a little more interesting to read than, say, just a big block of text, versus one that’s broken up like this in a more interesting pattern. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is, let’s talk about the hierarchy of the different elements on a page.

So first, you have the text for the articles is always front and center. So, you’ll notice this is always on top of the image. The second thing is your cover photo. So this picture … I think that’s Kylie Jenner or Kendall Jenner. I’m not sure, but she is then on top of everything else. So, she gets to come second. The third thing that comes into place is your magazine title and the month or the edition, right? Special, special issue. I’ve seen some people label them as first quarter or edition number 579, if they are counting. It’s usually comic books. And then the very last image is the background.

So, let’s go through each of those different elements and what you should think about. So the first is the text, and you basically just need two, possibly three, different fonts, and that is always going to be different than your magazine title, 100%. It should never be the same. These are going to be varying sizes based on just making the text interesting all by itself, because remember, we’re not really playing with the text, with the image. We’re just trying to emphasize different parts. That’s why this ampersand is huge. The rest of these are kind of small, so we’ll eyeball it, and we’ll talk about that more in part two on different rules for sizing the text.

Same thing with the color. So, this says, “20th Anniversary,” in yellow, but the rest is white, because remember, this is a special edition, so these colors kind of match to help that stand out. The next thing you want to think about, after you’ve chosen your fonts, is you want to think about your cover photo. So, usually, a single image does best. Absolutely, positively, do not use a stock image of a styled desktop. That is not going to work well for a magazine cover. You have one subject. It sets the theme for your entire magazine or what your magazine is about or something else. So try to pick one image.

When you try to pick an image, you know, I usually say pick a transparent image, because if you don’t know what background you’re going to be using, this gives you more options. So, we’ll talk about backgrounds last. So the next is the title and month and the issue number. Over here, we can see that this magazine has a month and a year, so you need to decide if you’re going to have a month in a year, or if you’re going to produce this quarterly. So typically, obviously, if you have a month, somebody is expecting a December and then a January and a February and a March issue. If you say, “The quarterly issue,” they’re not going to expect another magazine until the next quarter.

So, something to think about when you are creating magazines, but typically, most people expect a monthly magazine. However, you don’t have to do a monthly magazine. Some people do bimonthly magazines. I know Oxygen. I think they still do a bimonthly magazine, and that’s just normal. Everyone kind of thinks about that. They expect that. When you have bimonthly magazine, it typically comes out about two weeks to one week before that month begins. So, if you have an April-May magazine, it’s going to come out right about now, which is … I’m in about the third week of March. I’m not sure when you’re watching this video.

The next thing that you’re going to think about is your background. So, you’ll notice most of these. Now, these are fashion magazines, but they have a plain background, which you think there’d be something fancy or a lot going on, but you already have so much going on with the text, and this one image, and you’ve overlaid stuff on top of that image that most magazines do not put a very complicated background. It’s just too much. It looks busy. It’s unattractive. It kind of repels people. So, your cover, just like a book cover, should attract people. So you’ll notice a lot of people just use a plain white, and there’s nothing wrong with using a plain white.

And sometimes, they’ll put a little shadow or a little gradient in, but again, plain white is always okay. That’s probably the only time weight is acceptable. I mean, this is a nice pattern that we have going on here, with the light purple and the dark purple. But again, InStyle seems to vary it, right? This kind of went better with her coloring, so sometimes your image, on the front too, can help determine what’s in the back. Now, the exception to this would be … We have traveler magazines, so obviously, it’s travels, and we’re trying to show where our cover model is traveling to. So, the other thing to think about too is we can change these, the titles and the colors, based on your background too. They should always contrast, and we’ll talk about this more when we get into the layout.

But if you have a light … I should say if you have a gray background, you want to make sure a light background, you have a dark title and vice versa. So, that is pretty much it, so let’s just recap, because that’s going to be your homework. First, we learned about the difference between covers versus magazine articles and the way text and images interact. Next, we talked about the hierarchy of order, and we confirmed that the title of the articles comes first, then your image, then the title of the magazine, and last, your background, and your background, like we talked about, could be white.

So, just start thinking about all four of those elements and what fonts you want to use, and then we will start incorporating that in part two. So I will see you back here next week for magazine covers part two. Bye

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