Magazine design. CC, please

Hello every one
The task was to design a minimum 20 pages of the magazine with any topic. For this project, I used only my own photos. I would like to get CC, please. What could be improved?
Magazine design

For one thing, the typography. It’s all over the place. Choose a good typeface or two and stick with them for most everything.

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Do design students these days even read magazines? Paper or online flipdecks? Do they have to look at, study and critique examples of well-designed real world magazines (hopefully) supplied by their college professors before diving into this?

I really like it!

The homepage is a little busy, but I think it works.
I’m not keen on the drop shadows on the Bray Air Show layout - and having the title in different colours isn’t really working that well. I’m trying to find associations with the similarly coloured letters and there isn’t any.

I really like the Bouldering layout, the gritty black and white images look great! I’m finding the body text a bit hard to read though - is it bold? If you wanted to look at your text, the second paragraph looks to be starting with a photo caption?

Again, don’t really like the drop shadow on the flower page - I think it would work well without it.

The first couple of pages have a block coloured line at the top, and then you lose that in the following pages. Seems weird to have it on just those two pages? I was expecting to see it as a theme throughout.

I think it’s looking really good - nice one!

The folio on the right hand page should always be odd.

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Wow, do I ever hate the flipbooky thing, but I’ll try not to hold it against you.

Anyway, this:

Most well designed publications develop a very small number of cohesively formulated type treatments, and apply them to a consistent standard throughout the issue. The inclination to decorate with type styles, and to do so with a different approach to each article is a very amateur one.

Flush-left body type almost always looks and reads better than justified, but if you dare to set justified, you absolutely must take the extra time to pore over every line and make adjustments that prevent word-size spaces between words and other eye-wrecking results. I see a lot of student-level work where narrow columns are just set to justify and left with horrible gaps, as though it’s just an inescapable and thus acceptable side effect. It’s not.

I have a little more time today for a more thorough critique. I also used to be the design director of an outdoor recreation magazine, a wildlife magazine and several other periodicals, so I have opinions that stem from lots of experience with this sort of thing.

In general, your photos are too dark. I realize you took them yourself and your photos aren’t the subject of the critique. As group, though, they’re too dark, which appears to be more of a image editor adjustment problem than one with the photos themselves.

My first comment mentioned your typography, but I’ll elaborate some. Publications need a consistent base look from cover to cover and from one issue to the next. This consistency contributes to the personality of the publication. Using the right typefaces and limiting the layouts to working with those typefaces is essential in developing and maintaining this consistent personality. You need a good headline typeface family and a good, solid, readable body copy typeface family. And really, that’s it. I can’t stress this enough — pick your typefaces wisely and stick to them.

You also failed to include bylines, cutlines (captions), which are almost always absolutely necessarily for a publication. Authors need credit for the work. Photographers need credit for their photos and cutlines are essential — eye-tracking studies have shown that photo cutlines are almost always read before a reader decides to commit to reading the story. In other words, they serve as entry points into getting a reader engaged in the story. Similarly pull-out quotes and initial caps provide entry points, but you haven’t really used them either.

Printed text is different from online text in that printed text does not typically rely on line spaces between paragraphs. Instead paragraph indents are used. You’ve sort of done both and done so inconsistently. You’ve also neglected typographic conventions in your text, like using em and em dashes where they’re appropriate and, instead, used hyphens.

Front cover — Your mast, nameplate, logo or whatever you might call it is awkward. The typeface — Bauhaus, was very popular in the late '70s and early '80s. This doesn’t make it a bad typeface, but when paired with a current outdoor lifestyle magazine, it seems incongruent. The nameplate also needs to be strong and consistent from issue to issue, but it won’t be possible to consistently insert that handwritten “Lifestyle” word along the horizon line of every issue. And besides, that handwritten script is really a poor choice of type for a nameplate. The photo is nice, though, Aside from it being too dark, it has rhythm, implied motion, people doing something interesting and suggests an interesting story, which is nice. I likely would not have stacked up the teasers like you’ve done, though — especially surrounding them with boxes.

Your table of contents spread is interesting. I’m not quite sure that it works, but it’s daring and different, which is good. The typography, however, definitely does not work. You should never justify lines of text in narrow columns — it creates huge gaps between the words, that look terrible and make reading less easy and enjoyable. Make the type flush left, ragged right.

As Steve mentioned, odd-numbered pages always go on the right-hand side of a spread. The inside cover does not get a page number — ever. Page 1 always begins on the first right-side page in the publication. Why this convention exists, I’m not quite sure, but it’s a convention that’s interestingly enough never broken.

Your boating spread is interesting, but it’s awfully blue. Blue is nice, but throughout the magazine, you’ve tended to go a bit overboard in making sure that most every page has a dominant color. This is neither good nor bad, but you’re over-relying on doing it as a way to unify all the spreads. What you really need to be concerned with is unifying the entire publication. Once again, your type — especially the headlines — is not working. It’s weak and inconsistent. Also again, your justified columns of type are creating gaps between the words that should not be there.

Your lighthouse spread, has changed the body copy typeface for no apparent reason. It’s also not a good typeface for periodical body copy. The script headline isn’t working well, and the story probably needs a subhead to more fully explain what the story is about — again, subheads serve as entry points into the story, so you should use them. And what’s with the big hyphen above the headline and the equal sign beneath it? Maybe you were thinking of them as graphic elements to create interest, but they come across as gratuitous elements that are confusing. The thin red bar at the top of the page lies outside the live zone, which means that during the magazine trimming, it risk being cut off or exaggerating the effect of a slightly off-kilter trim. And again, the photos absolutely need cutlines or they serve as nothing but mysterious pictures of things with no real information as to what they are.

I could repeat much of what I’ve already said on the skateboarding spread. You’ve once again changed typefaces, but this time have compounded the problem by changing the body copy point size as well. And again, terrible type for the headline, no cutlines, no subheads, no credit line, no subheads, etc.

The airshow spreads have many of the same problems (and attributes) as your boating spread, so I won’t repeat them. You’ve inexplicably including naval ships and beach scenes. The reason this is inexplicable is because there are no cutlines or subheads explaining the relevance of any of this. Is it an airshow over the ocean by a beach? if so, why is this not explained up-front?

The rock-climbing spread is your best one. It’s raw, gritty and emotional, and your layout plays up this personality. You’ve even avoided justified type, which is good. But like the other’s the body copy typeface is different from everything else. The way the headline breaks is also not ideal.

The flowers spread, is nice-looking, but suffers from the same typographical problems as the other pages.

Your Tramore beach spread has many of the same problems as the other pages, but the typography is especially bad. I don’t know what class you’re taking and what your professional end goals might be, but if you have any intentions of becoming a professional designer, you absolutely need to improve your sensitivity to and use of typography.

The Lough Dan spread is, well, very green. You might have used a few contrasting colors to make it a bit less monotone. It too suffers from the same sorts of typographic problems.

The Lugnaquilla pages have the same issues as all the others, as do the Wicklow Way pages that follow.

Finally, I’ve given you a very hard critique from the standpoint of someone who has designed magazines and other publications for years. For that matter, publication design and typography were the basis of my Master’s degree. I can really be a stickler for details on these kinds of things, and sometimes I drive my staff nuts because of it.

But there’s absolutely no way I would expect a student, like yourself, to turn out professional-quality work, so please don’t take my criticisms as me telling you that you’ve done a bad job. It’s quite the opposite, for student work, you’ve done well. You’ve taken chances on what you’ve done and that’s good. You’ve also made decisions in your layouts that suggest that you were thinking things through and trying to find solutions to problems that you correctly identified, and this is very good too. With experience you’ll get better in solving those problems.

I’ve been harsh with my critique for the simple reason that I think your work shows promise, but I also wanted you to know how far you need to go and what (at least I think) you need to improve before you get there. It doesn’t happen overnight. :wink:


For once i’m on the other side of the fence on this one. For a student level piece, I thought this was quite good. We’ve seen a lot of magazine spreads come through the forum, and many of them were disastrous. This however, with the type changes recommended above, could be a nice grade for you. It’s obvious you put time and effort into the imagery, attempted to column the typography (though it could be considerably better), and many of the spreads look quite familiar in style and design to what you might find in a magazine on the racks today (do they even sell these things anymore? like, printed? on… paper?).

I say take the critique above, and good job with overall piece!

it looks like you got some really good advice so far. I have one trick that I would do on the cover background image. Check out this video (free on YouTube).

This is a great resource in general for techniques in Photoshop.

That’s an old book binding convention. The covers were always a different paper/board/even plastic, metal and wood for very early work. So they are sent as separate “files” (or components within files) and often run on a completely different printer than the body. That’s all.

I have to give you excellent kudos man. You’ve really done a thorough job and helped this person out.

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Thanks but this is not the best way. where is 50%gray layer in this tutorial? Here is a method sometimes used by me:

I would not even dare to do that because I believe that one deep and true criticism is better than a hundred favourable opinions not perceiving problems that arose in my design. Obviously, is nice to hear the praise but my question in this topic was clear. Only on the mistakes, that I didn’t notice before but you listed me clearly, I can learn somethings and make a step forward.
Thank you very much Just-B and all the others. I didn’t expect so many useful information and tips.


That’s cool. I like this trick because it is quick and easy. There are 100’s of ways to do any one thing, but the overall takeaway was that I agreed that the pics look a little “menacing” as they are a bit dark. So really it’s just a matter of contrast.

FYI, Just -B says it right. I started watching this group about 1 1/2 years ago(?). The people here genuinely try to help and this is one of the friendliest places to get critique. You sound like you totally get it, but it should be said: critique is helpful, criticism is hurtful.

Finally, apart from questions about industry standards or yes and no questions, you will get a lot of good “opinions” here. They should all be taken as that, opinions. People are experienced and you should always be learning, but the final decisions are yours and especially your client’s to make.

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