How to make a magazine in Adobe Photoshop?
January 17, 2008 8:23 PM   Subscribe

Also following up on this old question of mine, this time regarding how to make something look like a magazine in Adobe Photoshop.

As talked about in my old question, I'm doing a project for school where we write a "Person of the Year" style essay on someone of our choosing. Part of the grade is connected to the actual design of it. It sounds like the teacher is expecting something in Microsoft Word, and everything I've come up with has looked pretty cheap and bad.

Given that expectations seem low, I'd like to blow this section of the project out of the water. Only problem is I'm not experienced with Adobe Photoshop. Are there tutorials out there on how to make a typical magazine lay out? Or have any of you done something similar or have ideas on how to do this? Any input is great.

NOTE: my topic switched to Pope Urban II, if anyone is interested, and the title is "TEMPUS".
posted by Corduroy to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Go buy a few magazines...see what typical layouts look like... choose one that will work with the amount of text/images/etc. you have...and copy it.
posted by clh at 8:35 PM on January 17, 2008

why not play with this instead? Put a photo in it, and use the page to add the text.
posted by birdherder at 8:38 PM on January 17, 2008

Layouts are hardly ever done in Photoshop. That's the first problem. Think: Photoshop=photos. You want a layout application, such as Indesign or Quark. It can be done, but it's not easy, and you won't get the right results. If you need open source (aka free), Scribus might help you.
posted by General Malaise at 8:56 PM on January 17, 2008

Wow, I should have previewed. That made very little sense. You can do anything you want, easily, with a layout app. Not with Photoshop. There won't be any — and I mean any — tutorials by professionals exploring layouts with Photoshop, but you might, and probably will, find some using something like Indesign or Quark.
posted by General Malaise at 8:59 PM on January 17, 2008

This way lies pain. Just use Word, seriously. You can do any kinds of divisions, column combos, background images and text flow with maybe a little sweat but not as much as if you were doing it in PS.
posted by rhizome at 9:24 PM on January 17, 2008

You could do a magazine layout in Photoshop but the reason you don't want to is that all your type will look fuzzy if you print it out. If you were actually laying out an entire magazine you'd use the programs General Malaise mentions, but if you're only really doing one page then Adobe Illustrator is by far a cheaper program than either Quark or Indesign and I think easier to learn (I've used them all and taught illustrator and photoshop).

Designing the magazine cover will be harder than building it, no matter what tool you use. If you already know Microsoft Word, it's not a terrible choice.
posted by Jeff Howard at 9:42 PM on January 17, 2008

If you have the Microsoft Office suite, check to see if you have Microsoft Publisher. It's no Quark or Indesign, but it's probably sufficient for what you're trying to do.
posted by platinum at 10:32 PM on January 17, 2008

I say USE PHOTOSHOP, at least for this project.

I'd suggest scanning in a current magazine you like to use as a template, then erase and replace elements as needed. Take a Time Person of the Year cover, for example, and replace the photo with an image of the Pope. Find a font that matches (or to your liking) and use it to replace existing text.

This, of course, requires a little Photoshop knowledge, but you'll more quickly be able to match a professional style/look.

If you're hoping to make an actual magazine cover, indeed, use InDesign or something else. But for a project like this, Photoshop will get you better results faster.
posted by Unsomnambulist at 3:16 AM on January 18, 2008

On style:
  1. Use InDesign or something like it. Photoshop is not for text.
  2. Use no more than 3 and maybe just 1 font.
  3. Use no more than 5 font sizes and/or weights, including your headlines and subheadlines.
  4. Use color in order to make things stand out that should stand out, not just because you can.
  5. Use grids and columns.
  6. Use a baseline grid for the text.
  7. Make your text wrap around an image.
  8. Use a big initial letter (maybe in another color).
  9. Leave plenty of white space.
  10. Pick good, classic fonts, not some crappy freeware one with bad letterforms and worse kerning. Something that starts with 'Adobe' and ends with 'Pro' is a safe choice, for example.
  11. Use a sans if you're going for a modern, clean look. A serif for a more serious, classical look. Don't be afraid to mix sans and serifs.
  12. Add a box in a different color or with a border for a callout or quote from the main text.

posted by signal at 4:01 AM on January 18, 2008 [7 favorites]

Just one tech note:

Using any of the last few versions of Photoshop, text is not turned into a bitmap unless you explicitly do so, meaning that it will print sharp as a razor. Doing a magazine cover is totally feasible, as the amounts of copy typically placed on a cover don't require the extensive type handling of a page layout app. Pick up a magazine that has the general layout you want, choose a pair of typefaces - a sans serif face for the title, a clean serif face for all other copy - and have at it.
posted by dbiedny at 5:13 AM on January 18, 2008

I agree that you should stick with Word and recreate some real magazine as closely as possible. NOT by scanning and overlaying, but just use a ruler and go down the page... three columns of x width, with y spacing in between, column titles are z size and such-and-such colour, and there's an n pixel high bar across the bottom highlighting the page number.... You're only doing, what, ten pages? Doing it by hand in Word is going to take less time than getting used to new software, and most real layouts are going to be fairly simple anyway, definitely nothing you can't recreate with a little attention to detail.

And my biggest tip: Use decent paper. Everything looks more real on nice paper.
posted by anaelith at 5:13 AM on January 18, 2008

Could you post back with more information about what you are trying to do in Word that does not work/look right? You could use Photoshop, but Word may be easier for this type of work (assuming that you do not already own and know a layout tool). You can find lots of Word information at the MVP site. Have you already seen this tutorial about magazine layout in Photoshop?
posted by Houstonian at 5:57 AM on January 18, 2008

I've made a fake magazine page in Photoshop - it looked all right (IMHO). I agree with the people who suggest looking through past magazines - just find elements that inspire you and emulate them. It is a bit tricky, but if your teacher's expecting Word then she's not looking for perfect kerning or spacing here.

The version I've linked to has been resized, so some of the detail is lost - I suggest working big so that it looks good when you print it out.
posted by divabat at 10:16 AM on January 20, 2008

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