Photo Magazine Cover

Assignment:   Design and Produce a Magazine Cover

Goals:             Learn about the impact of Magazine Covers and then design a realistic cover (compared to samples) using Adobe Photoshop

Tools:              Adobe Photoshop, digital camera to capture your own images





Please visit the most current version of this page:










Intro: An interesting time-lapse with insight to what when behind to make this cover:


  (Note: Macworld is NOT a valid sample for which you to replicate.)



Magazine Cover Rough Draft - home work for the Magazine Cover Photoshop Project will be:

  1. Title of Magazine that you are going to use NOTE: Students MUST choose one of the commercial magazines on THIS PAGE as their sample.

  2. Pictures you will use - Note: You may shoot again if you need to during class and I may try to plan a day you will get a few minutes to get any additional shots from around campus for the Mag cover and other. In the mean time, plan to use a photo you CURRENTLY have already taken.)

    a. Cover Art

    b. Picture Insets, at least one (1).

  3. List of 7 possible article titles     They can either be:

        a. REAL as in from a real magazine (easiest)

        b. fake, made up (more time consuming, but more fun)

Review this page for ideas, then write up your own 10 article TITLES. IOW, you will use one of the samples on this page for your layout, but the pictures and titles can/will be your own. The name of your magazine and exact font MUST match the commercial exactly. The layout of article titles, banner, flag, UPC bar code, volume info, etc. should resemble very closely one or more of the samples from this page. In other words, you may have to look at several to get an idea of how yours needs to look. In addition, there may be other things that you need to put on your front cover.




NOTE: You need to try to finish before the end of the 5th 6 weeks in time for the EOYC. There will not be any time after the end of the 5th 6 weeks to work on the project. I will still grade the project for the 6th 6 weeks. This project takes time, and if you fall behind and fail to get it completed in time for the EOY, then you will miss the opportunity to enter the project in the contest. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security that since the project is not graded until the 6th 6 weeks, that you will not need to finish it in the 5th 6 weeks. If you do NOT finish it by the end of the 6th 6 weeks, it needs to be completed OUTSIDE of class time.


Approved Mag Cover Titles - with Font Matching List (not the official font...just best match that has been found in the past...if you find a better font, let me know):

People                      =  Cairo SF

seventeen                      =  Onyx

ESSENCE                         =   Tahoma is close, but the C does not match very closely. Let me know if you find a better.

VOGUE                            =   Engravers NT   or Modern 20 (teen - seems to be a modified Gothic 725 BT Black Italic)

US Weekly                     =  Tahoma

Men's Journal               =  Cambria

Entertainment Weekly =   Franklin Gothic Demi Cond - tougher to do...get the word Entertainment correct before attempting to type set the word "Weekly". Or, try Haettenschweiles...make taller.

Sports Illustrated           =  Impact


Font for the Titles varies. Match the font the best.


Others Font Titles - DO NOT USE for class project...for reference only

Nick = Ballonist SF

Rolling Stone = Verdict SF

Instructions for creating the cover: 

  1. Open a New Photoshop Document. Set the size to 8”x10.5” with a Resolution of 200 dpi. (See screen shot below) (You can choose Preset - US Paper of 8.5 x 11 to start, then set size and resolution to 200).

  2. Type in the title of your magazine. (it does not have to be TYPSET correctly, just type it in).

  3. Use one of the samples below to layout your magazine. Google for a current issue if you like. Things change. It does not have to look the same but should look very similar to your ACTUAL ART WORK...with your own words, article titles, etc etc. Click on the sample below, copy the image, then go paste on your Mag Cover Document. This is not your picture inset, as you will delete the picture sample inset when you are done. This is to make it easier for you to reference.

  4. Drag in your MAIN ART as a new layer to your Mag Cover Document (this is your background, although Photoshop will call it Layer 1)

  5. Move the title layer to above the Main Art layer. And position.

  6. Resize the title, position the artwork, resize the title, etc. back and forth, until the Main Art and Title look reasonably correct based on your sample.

  7. Duplicate the Main Art (right click the layer and duplicate). Move it to ABOVE your title. Click on the eraser, and on the COPY of Main Art, erase to reveal the title underneath.

    • You have actually have two (2) options regarding the Main Art on your cover.

      • USE EXISTING BACKGROUND. Duplicate your photo to two layers so that you can splice the Magazine Title into the middle of the two layers so that it is behind the main subject but in front of the background of the subject.

      •  REPLACE BACKGROUND. You can cut out the main subject and place on entirely different background with the title between your main subject and the background.

        • Backgrounds can come from 1) your other pictures 2) my pictures (look in the edit folder) 3) Clipart More (backgrounds) or 4) Clipart 600K (Disks 25, 26, or 27)

  8. Work on Article Titles, Additional Art, etc. See below for list of items that need to be on your cover.

  9. The pictures need to be mostly BY you. The MAIN art work needs to be SHOT by you. You MAY include a picture of you in one of the insets. Do not include pictures from other magazines on the front cover. Although, you MAY keep a sample of the cover you are replicating on the front while you are working on the project, just be sure to HIDE the sample cover layer when you finished and are uploading to the Web Gallery. In other words, the sample of the cover is NOT your required picture inset.


WRONG       Right




This will be the most complex graphic design you have done yet. Look at the samples. Notice very carefully the consistent style change between article title and article description, the use of fonts, bolding and color to set the style and emphasize various articles. Make the design your own (your picture, your words, etc.) but you must have the required items listed below. Be sure to stay caught up with the class on the Magazine Cover as you can only work on this with Photoshop in this classroom. (i.e. you can do the Focus in the F Hall Lab or Library). Your Mag Cover should be realistic, add some funny article titles, etc. Your cover should LOOK like your REAL sample...that is the litmus test. Compare it to any of the real covers around the room or on this page. You may need to research and download the font for your magazine. You can try at home...or . Another tip is to copy an image from below, open a new document in Photoshop and PASTE. You can save it as an EXAMPLE to have open each day.


Check List of Required Items on your Magazine Cover:

  1. Your Main Art (a picture of somebody that you shot) must be floating above the Title of the magazine. The background must be behind the Title and either be the original background or one that fit the picture.

  2. Volume Info (April 2016) and website (

  3. Bar code (See Clipart the image...and drag the layer to your magazine may need to resize it.)

  4. Pricing (US $3.99, CAN $4.99, or something like that) Put a white box around your bar code...and MAYBE put the pricing and volume info above the bar code.

  5. At least 1 picture inset (or 2 or 3, etc.)...even if your sample does not have any other pictures on the front cover. This CAN be of you. A sample of your magazine is NOT a picture will be hidden when you are done with the project.

  6. One flag and/or banner. Create a box, and rotate for a flag.

  7. At least one "See p.##" reference. (BTW, why do you think magazines don't tell you the page more often?)





Grading Criteria for Magazine Cover




Bar Code - Right click, Copy, then Paste and resize on your Mag Cover. You will need to put a stroke of your own.








Using Photoshop to Create a Magazine Cover:


  1. Background removal/replacement
    1. Both of these features involve making a copy of the main layer as a “Background Copy”. Then, on the top layer, delete the entire picture but the main portion.

                                                               i.      To Duplicate Layer, first turn on the “Layers Pallet” if it is not already visible. Then, right click on the word “Background” and “Duplicate Layer” and call it “Foreground”.

                                                             ii.      Turn off the visibility of the Background layer by click the “eye” icon.

                                                            iii.      Be sure the New Layer is active (click on it in the layer pallet so that it is highlighted).

    1. Use various editing tools (Lasso, Magic Wand, Eraser, Quick Mask, etc.) to delete everything but the main object. If you select what you want to delete, just delete. If you select the object to keep, INVERSE the selection, and then delete.
    2. After you have isolated the main subject adjust the levels and any other changes that you want to make to the image BEFORE doing the next step.

                                                               i.      Save As a copy to preserve the original.

  1. Creating the Composite Image
    1. Keep the image you just created open …now also open a New Photoshop Document (if you do not already have a Mag Cover Open), set the size to 8”x10.5” with a Resolution of dpi.
    2. Go back to the previous document (your image). Click on the duplicated layer and drag to the new document and drop it (the layer that is).
    3. Use the Move tool (v) to move around. When the Move tool is active, you will see the bounding box to resize the image as needed.
    4. Use the text tool to layout the images.

                                                               i.      When using the text tool, it will remain editable until you convert it. Be careful of accidentally converting the text, but as long as it stays in it’s own layer, you can always delete the text layer and try again.

    1. Bring in other elements as necessary. Keep items on their own layer. Be sure to click on the correct layer when trying to modify. Move layers around to get the correct layering that you are looking for.

                                                               i.      You can use one of the Special Scenes from the ClipArt Supplemental or and of the Photos from Disk 16-23.

                                                             ii.      Be sure to include a UPC code and volume and date information for authenticity.

    1. To keep your document size manageable, merge and join layers, but only when you are certain that you don’t need them separate. You can save as along the way to a different version, like “Mag Cover 2”, so that you can go back to “Mag Cover 1” if you really mess up.
    2. When you are completely done, save a final time, then flatten the image (click on the triangle of the Layers Palette) and do a Save As to a jpeg. We will need to print from the JPEG. This project will be printed after final approval.




Text Control

When you select text, you will get a new Menu Bar. Click on  the Page Looking Icon to go to the Character Properties.






Above Image Source, with descriptions of each label:


Text Control in Photoshop is a bit odd. Depending on if you have the text selected and try to stretch it out or increase the font size manually. If it has closely spaced dots vs. a solid line makes a difference.



Horizontal Scale and Tracking have to be controlled on almost texts boxes.


Leading has to be controlled on any two line text boxes. Font Size * 10% = FS + that 10%. Font is 100. What is the leading?   110



Final Steps to Save and Finish:

  1. Don't ask me if you are finished...I want it to look as REALISTIC as your sample. If it doesn't look realistic...keep working. This project is very easy to know when you are done...when it looks like your sample exactly!

  2. Save (this will save one last time as a PSD)

  3. Hide the sample of the magazine cover on your front if it is still visible.

  4. "Save As"...change format to .jpg (this will flatten all layers)

    1. Modify name to indicate flat version

    2. Set compression to 10-12 to keep the "size" of the image around 1mb.

  5. Go to Picasa and find the JPG version and upload to Picasa Web. *Note: Technically, Picasa will now read the Photoshop Document (a .psd) and upload a JPEG for you, but it is good to have a jpeg saved from your project to your Dropbox for other purposes.





Commercial Samples (Use one of these as YOUR SAMPLE BASE): or


NOTE: Although any of the following commercials covers are to be used as your is ONLY a starting point. Please keep in mind that YOUR cover needs to have all of the items from the check list above. You may also need to look at additional samples from the internet to get a good idea of what yours should look like.


The People on the left is a near perfect example with a proper picture inset as well as UPC, as the Haiti Earthquake title across the top is the banner. The Font for People: Cairo




Sports Illustrated font is: The closest that Windows can provide is the 'Impact' font. It is slightly different, but most people wouldn't notice the difference.



If you use the Vogue sample below, you will need a picture inset....and unlike the one on the right, the title would need to go between the model and the background. These examples also lack a picture inset...which you must have.




Notice Vogue's variation in Title...from in FRONT of the title, to BEHIND the title, to MIXED in the title:





If you use EW below, you would need a UPC code.




InStyle is a good sample with a proper picture inset as well as UPC, etc.




Essence is a good sample with a proper picture inset as well as UPC, etc.




USWeekly is a good sample with a proper picture inset as well as UPC, etc. Font for US Weekly: Tahoma (Thanks Anna)







Interesting variation...same cover, slightly different markets. OTHER THAN the color variations, can you spot the differences?




Here is an interesting comparison of Layout Variation between different business that have the same products:





The following are ok...except you will need picture insets, UPC code and a flag.







Previous Student Samples:


        See public server...look for "Student Examples" then for "Magazine Cover" although note that note all are like what I want to see from you.




Screen shot of the layers created for the poster above:



As you can see, you will end up with quite a few layers. You can group items together.



When you are done with the cover for class, take a look at this website:





What is the impact of Magazine Covers in general on society?




Magazine Covers are Big Business! Notice how Chaney Electronics celebrates their 40 years in business by showing their catalog covers over the years. Or the collection of Obama and Jobs.


In the case of life, you can see the dramatic changes over time from black and white to color.


Magazine Covers have great historical significance. It is a big deal to make the front cover...and even how many times somebody makes the front cover.






Here is an interesting article about how the cover or Rolling Stone changes:


Magazine Covers  have tested American ethical standards and what is acceptable with controversial covers such as Demi Moore on Vanity Fair, to as simple an image as a noose on Golfweek.



Controversy becomes Controversy

Even in today’s more enlightened age Golfweek pushed the envelope a little too far. On Jan. 19, 2008 Golfweek magazine chose the image of noose to illustrate a story about a TV anchor’s racially tinged comments, but the graphically powerful photo of a noose became a controversy all its own. The editor was fired after a public backlash of negative comments. or another MOST controversial with more images

Another intrusting story: about copyright and parody (read at home).


And finally, Magazine Covers are Style Statements. One issue cover even counted how many colors had been used:




Notice how Montages/DCI have made it on to the front over of magazines.






For a long time it has been a NEAT thing to put yourself on the front cover. Today, you can use an iPhone and immediately take a photo you just took and put it on a cover.




So, an INTERESTING Project with MANY levels of learning, from desktop society pressures.



Top Magazine Covers Yearly Contest:




Last 40 years (Including the #1 cover of all time with John Lennon not long before he died.)   - an interesting link to try out...maybe at home