T H E  M E D I A  W E B S I T E   O F   B E N T O N   P A R K   S C H O O L
home MS4 Exam Questions MS3 Specifications media texts representations audience DESIGNING A MAGAZINE FRONT COVER


It is most important that you become genuinely familiar with magazine covers generally and those within your own chosen genre especially.

Collect examples for close study and make notes about your findings.

You are looking at essential ingredients as well as subtler areas like use of colour,fonts,layout and graphical presentation generally.

Below you will find a number of examples at near full size to help you in this research


Pick Me Up is the woman’s weekly magazine that sparkles with originality and warmth and sets the pace in the Real Life sector. It always provokes a smile, and takes you to a place where it is fun to be. Upbeat, vibrant and fun, it’s an intense package of the best real life stories and puzzles. The intrigue of real people's lives is Pick Me Up’s heartbeat. With its big heart and fresh look, it’s the real life magazine you want to be seen with. Altogether, it means a quality real life read that is excellent value for money. Pick Me Up has more real life than any other magazine.


What makes Marie Claire more elegant than Nuts?....how does the choice of colours help......is lack of clutter important?

How important are EXTRAS like pullouts and Prizes?

Dominance of red....what effects are produced?

This is a brilliant site for template research, image quality is particularly high.


# A physical object whose shape is used as a guide to make other objects; A generic model or pattern from which other objects are based or derived ...

Absolute musts:
If you are using photography your images must
be of the highest quality. This means that if you
blow them up to A3 size no pixelation should
be apparent.
This means large file sizes.
It is important that all images are in sharp
focus and that colour saturation is neither
underdone nor overdone. In fact any image
that looks less than professional should be
avoided unless your magazine is specialising
in real life, down-to-earth stories where
some quality loss is allowed.

Everyone should work in Serif and their
magazine, cover should be worked on
at A three size.
It is important that you measure
carefully the actual magazine that
you are using as a template.
Serif incorporates rulers round
the margin to help you to be accurate as to the size.

If you are using a photographic portrait of a person
as the central feature of your magazine
it is important that the photograph
be in a style appropriate to that magazine.

If the model is usually smiling in your chosen
magazine then it is important that your
photograph should be of a smiling model.
If the eyes of the model are well lit and
bright then your models eyes should also be
well lit and bright.

Serif offers you a vast array of fonts; be
wary using too many different fonts or
using fonts which are rarely if ever used
in mainstream magazines.
As always have your template close
by and you won’t go far wrong.

If your magazine template majors in
carefully co-ordinated colour choices
then you must do the same.

The trick is to make your magazine
indistinguishable from the
real thing in the real world.
This must impress an
Examiner while anything that makes
Him/Her think this is not really like a magazine
in a real book shop or stationers will make him think of
deducting marks.

Having a friend, mother, brother, sister,
continually monitoring your work in progress
is a very wise procedure.
They may well say that colour is not right, or
, I’ve never seen type that big, or even,
where is your barcode?

Pixilation,gympyness is vile and inexcusable

Focus is soft, eyes are dark and picture is muddy overall.


Eyes teeth good,bright but too much burn out on blouse and behind head.

Below is Amber’s cover from last year which looks strikingly similar to the actual hair magazine above,the model image is generically correct and the colour co-ordinated text is quite successful. Please note the text was entirely crisp in the original, softness here is due to conversion from PDF as well as the file size demands of the web.


Below are Charlotte’s four attempts at her cover, all are interesting with a strong graphic shape, restraint in the use of colour,good use of negative space (blank areas) and excellent choices as to fonts. Which cover to you is the most successful in doing what covers should do?

While Daisy’s cover is strong and the dutch angle used in the portrait is arresting; in one way the cover is not like the real life thing itself. What is missing?

Daisy’s cover story two page spread has caught the generic signifiers really well... blurred focus gives the feel of a paparazzo shot....don’t worry the examiner won’t know it’s really Benton drive.

Kathryn’s cover design for a niche upmarket,alternative mag is very strong in photographic terms,subtle portraits,softened and saturated with the shirt and head band helping the lippy along. Surrounding black is effective and supports the white font.  I am less happy about the legibility of the gothic font mast head.....


Remember there are always choices to be made when it comes to The Right Font...appropriate associations or resonances are important as are genreric conventions.....legibility is also a factor that has to be considered.

Would the fonts below do as well for Kathryn’s cover?

Kathryn’s three page cover story spread is brilliant even by industry standards.Her photography is generically appropriate for this type of cutting edge magazine.It has tension,drama and soul. Her heavy use of theatrical lighting and unusual angles works superbly AND the lighting and colour values are consistent across the three spreads.The bottom left side portrait brilliantly shortens depth of field giving the jack plug it’s full iconic potency.The dutch angle and the deliberate centre white out of the middle spread suggest the power of the listening experience and of course there’s the lippy....

This is work way beyond A’ level rather suggesting the thoughtful work of the creative professional. This quality is not easily achieved, it takes time and dedication.