Magazine Cover Challenge

Magazine publishers, editors, and circulation directors know the importance of the cover image as both a newsstand impulse buy and as a brand. 80 percent of consumer magazines’ newsstand sales are determined by what is shown on the cover, a fact that can mean the difference between a magazine’s success or failure over time.  The cover image and design reinforce the brand, an important identification factor because the average reader spends only three to five seconds scanning a magazine cover before deciding whether to buy that issue. Magazine covers not only offer information about what’s inside a particular issue, they also provide significant cultural cues about social, political, economic, and medical trends.  As both historical artifacts and marketing tools, magazine covers deserve closer study.

Your Job

You need to design a magazine cover using Adobe PhotoShop. Your magazine cover can be based off of an existing magazine, for example use the layout and name of Teen magazine, but design your own photos, titles and story lines, or create your own magazine totally from scratch, around an interest you have. For example, create a magazine based on Alveyworld, Pine View, Sports, Trucks, Shopping, Shoes, Life in High School, Chocolate, Music, Movies, etc.

You must have:

  1. A background
  2. A cover photo (may have smaller photos to show other features included in the magazine)
  3. A Title
  4. Several storyline titles
  5. Issue date
  6. Issue price


A good Magazine cover uses the Unity principle of design.

Carry out Unity in your magazine cover using this checklist:

_____Unity can be achieved by carrying out a common theme in the type

styles, photos, story titles and descriptions. Do all the parts work together?

_____Think about readability, can you read the type against the background? Is the type style readable? Are the sentences too long? Are the titles descriptive enough to make you know what the article is about? Does the type size signify the importance?

_____Does the photo or photos support the theme? Does the photo catch your eye? Is it too busy or too simple?

_____How is your effort and craftsmanship? You will need to be selecting, cutting, pasting and cropping. Does your cover look professionally neat?

_____Layout, how did you arrange all the elements? Is the type all lined up flush left, right, centered? Is the type over the picture or a background?  Did you add a banner with the issue date,  web site, and cost? Does the layout make it easy to read or confusing?

A good cover needs to accomplish four things:

1. Identify the personality of the magazine.

2. Attract the target audience

3. Lure the reader into the magazine

4. Establish a visual identity (consistent use of format)


I can’t stress enough how important typography is on the internet; it is even much more important in print. When you have a lot of text, as you usually do in a magazine, typography can make a huge difference between a boring article and one you would like to read. Hierarchy is one of the important concepts. What is important is always larger and maybe with another color, which has a higher contrast with the background and is more visible.

   As a designer, you decide how the information is provided to the reader. If you do it properly, then the titles will always stand out and the most important information will be easy to find. You can see in the image below that even if there are few colors and no images on the page, the designer managed to make you want to read the content on the left page. He did it through typography, headlines, pull quotes, font colors and hierarchy.

Other Resources

Tutorial about tricks for creating magazine cover in photoshop

Tips and Inspiration on how to design a magazine cover

Taking your design to InDesign