Print work follows many of the same principles as UI design work. These two areas of design are closely related when it comes to typography and composition.
Magazines are primarily a print product, however each magazine mockup is created digitally with programs like Photoshop and InDesign. If you’re interested in print design for magazines then this post has everything you need to get started.
Plan Each Composition
Every page should flow nicely with the overall magazine. Readers expect columns, font sizes, headers, and white space to be consistent throughout each page.
Do some rough sketches for each page type to show where the content & images will be placed. This way you can see at a glance how the magazine might read when it’s finished.
Also this will make it easier to get your ideas down digitally when it comes time to add text and images.
I recommend this tutorial by Tuts+ to figure out a good magazine mockup concept design. It’ll take you through each stage and help you put together a brilliant print magazine mockup with proper gutters and margins.
Composition is the most important aspect of the initial planning phase. If you get the composition wrong then everything will look wrong.
Study other examples and copy whatever seems to work.
It can’t be stressed enough that other designs can offer ideas during your creative process. If you don’t have a solid visual library it’ll be tough to come up with ideas from your head. Build up your imagination and creative reservoirs by studying other magazines.
Spend time in your local book store browsing the magazine aisle. Take photos of any layouts that catch your eye. Or even check out current magazines and subscribe to your favorites. This way you get inspiration delivered right to your doorstep.
White Space & Focal Points
Use plenty of white space between page elements to help define the composition. Give readers a natural flow between columns of text to guide their eyes along the page.
Extra white space can be used to create distance between two elements. When you have extra distance between paragraphs you create a disconnect in the content which separates the ideas.
Images should always have a reason for being on the page. The first page of a magazine article might have a very large image to attract attention, whereas following page might use smaller images to accent the content.
Designers can use grids and rulers to organize better whitespace values. Content should follow symmetry and asymmetry at the same time. This can be done by creating unique relationships between bits of content.
I always suggest that designers go with their gut on this one. Learn what “feels” right and follow that path to see where it leads.
This checklist is a great resource if you’re new to magazine design.
Sometimes less is more, and whitespace can be used to find exactly how much less you’d want on each page. Remember that images and pull quotes should also be interspersed into the content to draw attention.
But think about how to garner focus through related images and color schemes. The use of one vibrant color can be enough to elicit a response in readers.
Adobe InDesign is the best suite for print design work. It’s used by professional publishing studios around the world and it’s the standard for freelance designers too.
I recently found this Tuts+ tutorial explaining how to use InDesign for a basic magazine spread. I highly recommend it as your first stop for learning print with InDesign.
Naturally a lot of photos start out in Photoshop and carry over to InDesign. Adobe makes the workflow seamless and very easy to run, so there should never be problems when switching between these two programs.
If you’re looking to design a quality magazine spread check out this tutorial published by 99Designs. It covers all the fundamentals of InDesign being used for a typical magazine spread with an image, header, and basic content columns.
Every designer should know these fundamentals and it shouldn’t take more than a couple months to nail this down into a workflow.
But with years of practice you’ll get much better and it’ll become a whole lot easier.
Cover design is a separate topic from page design, but it should also be part of the print designer’s workflow. Digital Arts Online wrote a magnificent tutorial on cover design teaching photo manipulation, text effects, and layered styles.
I would highly recommend all of these tutorials for new InDesign users.
But if you’re more of a visual learner then YouTube may be a better choice. Here are some of the top video tuts I’d recommend:
- How to Design a Magazine in InDesign CC
- Introduction to Magazine Layouts
- Magazine Layout Template in Photoshop
Best Free PSDs
To wrap up this post I’ve collected a small handful of PSD magazine mockups for free download. Some of these are filled with content while others are strictly templates for magazine content.
These are all free to download and use in your projects. By working from templates you’ll have an easier time learning and adjusting to the print workflow for magazine mockup design.