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How to make a magazine: A step-by-step guide to getting a look you love

A step-by-step guide to reproducing the look of a magazine

Designing a magazine can be very enjoyable yet daunting at times. Like with most things, starting is usually the most difficult part but when you get the hang of it, everything seems to fall into place and starts being easier.

As a designer, I usually begin any creative project by looking for inspiration. It helps me conceptualize and get my creative juices flowing. You’ll see: It’s a good way to find out what visual styles you like and would like to interpret in your own designs. Even if the Internet is a wonderful treasure trove of inspiration and information, keep in mind that you can also find beautiful ideas in the magazines available at your favorite bookshop. Yes, it’s nice to disconnect once in a while, and the bookshop is the perfect place to unwind while doing so.

In this article, I'll give you an easy step-by-step guide to making a magazine by replicating a magazine layout. Don’t worry, you’ll see below that it’s very easy.

Watch the full creation process in this video:

01. Find inspiration around you

This time, I started my journey by visiting one of my favorite discount bookshops. You don’t necessarily have to spend too much on magazines. Older issues are often cheaper and they can be a good source of inspiration.

Find inspiration at the bookshop

Often your local bookshop is packed with creative publications

Browsing through bookshops has always been very enjoyable for me. After about half an hour of looking around, I was already able to find a substantial number of magazines for inspiration.

Find inspiration in magazines

The magazines I picked out at the bookshop

Now that I have successfully found my sources of inspiration, it’s time to check them out and look for pages that will inspire me to design something. It’s a good idea to mark the pages you like, so you can come back to them later on. You can use a post-it to mark them.

Mark the pages you like

Mark those inspirational pages

02. Find that inspiring page and understand how it was made

After poring over the majority of the magazines, I finally found a page that I’d love to replicate and use. Let’s look at it closely and really identify its main components.

Find an inspiring page
  • A - Shapes: Using solid colored shapes against a body of text is a great way to make text more readable. I think this is a great example of how versatile and helpful shapes can be.
  • B - Heading: I liked the script font on the heading because it sets it apart and really gives it emphasis.
  • C - Subheading: Try adding a subheading to prevent your page from looking too monotonous. A sans serif font usually goes well with headings.
  • D - Body text: Always make sure to use readable fonts for the body text, like here in our inspiration page.
  • E - Image: Using a nice large image makes design feel less cluttered.
  • F - Background: Adding patterned backgrounds is a great way to add some extra oomph to your design.
  • G - Elements: You can opt to add some extra elements and details on your page. To quote Charles Eames, “The details are not the details. They make the design.”

03. Let’s start designing

Now comes the fun the part! Simply open Canva and start designing. Canva offers hundreds of free customizable templates. You can use one of those or create something from scratch, like I’m about to do here.

Click the link below to visit the homepage, then select 'Magazine Cover'(opens in a new tab or window).

As always, you’ll be starting from a blank canvas. Using one of our magazine cover templates(opens in a new tab or window) or design using our magazine mockup(opens in a new tab or window), if you don't like to use any of these, it is your choice.

Upload your own background and photos

Canva offers hundreds of backgrounds and photos but for this page, I’ve decided to upload my own. To do the same, click on 'Uploads' in the left menu.

You can create a folder to keep your photos organized. Click on the 'New folder' icon and rename it to whatever you want. Then click on 'Upload Images' or simply drag photos from your desktop. Once you’ve uploaded them, just drag them to the right folder. Finally, as for the background, just drag your favorite one to your page.

Add Shapes

Have you noticed the rectangles on our inspiration page? These boxes help the text to read better. When working with patterned backgrounds, it’s always a good idea to put a solid shape under your text to ensure readability.

To add the rectangles, click on 'Elements' and on 'Shapes'. Drag the square to your page and drag on the handles to extend your shape from a square to a rectangle. There are three rectangles on our inspiration page, but for mine I only need two. Notice that you can also change the color by clicking on the small square on the upper left of your toolbar.

Put in the content

The colors and the polkadotted background made me think of baked goods that’s why I decided to create an article about a School Bake Sale. Our inspiration page had a photo at the bottom of the biggest rectangle. I really liked this placement so I decided to do it on my page as well. If you’d like to do the same, click on Frames and drag a frame onto your page. Resize it to whatever you like and drag your photo inside.

Now let’s add the text. Go to the 'Text tab' and click on 'Add heading'. Our inspiration page used a script font for the heading. To keep the same mood, I decided to use Yellowtail, one of my favorite script fonts available in Canva.

The font color I used is a darker shade of the teal I used for the background. You can change the font color by clicking on the square (this will open your color palette). Click on the plus button to add a new color.

Clicking on 'Add subheading' and 'Add a little bit of body text' works the same way. You can change the fonts and font colors by just following the same steps. Here, I used one of my favorite sans serif fonts for the body called Roboto. TIP: I usually use font size 9 for body text and 12 -14 for subheadings.

Since this is an article about a School Bake Sale, I thought it was a cool idea to add the recipe of the best selling pastry at the event. I planned to put this on the smaller rectangle on the right. In our inspiration page, the smaller rectangles only contained text.

For my own page however, I’d like to add a photo. To do the same, you can go to the 'Elements tab' and click on 'Frames.' Pick up the one you want and drag it to your page. The frame I chose comes with an orange border that clashes with the rest of my design. No worries at all! I can adjust the color by simply clicking on it and choosing the right color I want.

Just drag your photo to the frame and start adding the text exactly the same way you did on the bigger rectangle.

Add the elements

Our inspiration page has some cute sticky tape elements that are easy to replicate. Simply go back to the 'Elements tab' and click on 'Shapes'.

Drag a square onto the page, simply manipulate the handles to create a small rectangular shape. Change the color to something that would match your page and place the elements accordingly.

TIP: there are numerous 'sticky tape' clipart(opens in a new tab or window) elements available. Use the search bar to find them.

And you're done!

Congratulations on successfully recreating a page from a magazine. I hope you enjoyed designing and creating your own article page. But before you go, here are some reminders:

  • The Internet is a great tool, but sometimes checking out your local bookshops for inspiration can be fun and fruitful as well.
  • Try to really understand how something is made so you can recreate it on your own.
  • Being inspired by something really helps with any creative process. But keep in mind that being inspired by something is different from copying something entirely.

I think you’re ready to create some more pages and finish that magazine. If you want to practice a bit more, feel free to start from the templates available in Canva. For example, you could try our Pink blue dessert food magazine(opens in a new tab or window) theme.

You can also try to convince your teachers to set up a creative assignment around magazine design. For instance, teachers could ask students to create a Teen Fashion Magazine Cover(opens in a new tab or window) or to recreate a Nordic nature travel magazine(opens in a new tab or window).

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