How to Design a Magazine Cover

Nobody demonstrates the power of a well-designed cover better than the magazine industry.

Magazines are admired for creating iconic, riveting, thought-provoking cover designs. Many have come to define an era or a cultural movement.

How Do I Make a Good Magazine Cover?

Magazine cover design skills can be learned. If you’re interested in designing a magazine front cover or want to improve your cover design skills, I have a design course to suggest.

Magazine Design Start to Finish: The Cover

First presented by John McWade on LinkedIn; McWade is a graphic designer, instructor and author, who founded Before & After magazine, dedicated to teaching graphic design skills to desktop publishers. He continues to teach and inspire through his courses and books.

McWade says that his emphasis is on simple beauty and clarity and understanding design as “an essential form of communications.”

The description of the content reads:

Join John McWade as he takes you step by step through the process of magazine cover design to create designs that are attractive, logical, consistent and appropriate. John begins by providing insights on the importance of type, as type serves as your cover’s “visible voice.” Next, he demonstrates how to gather your influences, design for a specific cover size and shape, and use different fonts for your cover’s nameplate. John then shows a variety of layout options, including full bleeds, partial bleeds, and open space.”

If you want to improve your magazine design chops, this looks like a great option

Some Tips for Creating Magazine Covers

There’s no cookie cutter recipe for how to design magazine covers. Creative magazine cover design involves unique concepts that result in an eye-catching visual. While there’s no template for success, there are helpful graphic design practices to follow.

Maintain some consistency.

Obviously, each magazine issue should be unique, but some unifying factors help maintain your brand. Look at the major magazine covers. You’ll see some standardization present in the magazine cover layout, whether it’s a certain style, the title, colors or other design choices. Design software often includes magazine design templates to help you get started.

Consider the focal point of your design.

Pick a focal point, and ensure that takes center stage in the design you develop. What is the message you want to convey? What do you want readers to feel? Think of the story in terms of the image, and then narrow your lens on what drives that message home.

Color and contrast are key.

Both color and contrast play an important role in making your design stand out. Color can evoke a certain feeling, and contrast can emphasize an element of importance. The use of black and white photography is often employed to provide attractive use of contrast, but this can be achieved with colors that play off of one another or images placed on a dark background.

Play with options.

Photos? Illustrations? Computer-generated art? There are so many methods you can use to design a magazine cover. Experiment with what works for you, your message and your brand.

If you search online, you’ll find articles devoted to how to make a magazine cover. You also can read article that celebrate great covers and explain what made them work.