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Construction of Front Cover Hayley McCarthy Using Photoshop

Setting up the document to A4 size (210mm x 297mm) and changing the background colour to transparent.

Placing and resizing the image to fit the A4 size canvas.

Masthead Placement Placing my two chosen images on the page was my first step in constructing the front cover. I plan to use the outline of the image as a guide for the cover lines.


After limiting my final image to just two of the four, I decided to start with the placement of the masthead on the page, which, according to my flat plan, will be placed in the top left third.


Despite resizing the masthead, changing the placement, and it’s colour, I still was not happy. The masthead looked too blocky against the image, and became quite distracting. Also, the obscuring of the ’t’ meant the logo was largely illegible, and the three-letter nature of the word meant that the masthead could not be stretched across the page.


I thought that perhaps subtle adjustments including: adjusting the height of the silhouette to create a smaller version, changing the ascender height of the ‘l’ and ’t’ to create cleaner lines, and even squaring off the edge of the masthead. None of these were effective, causing quite an unprofessional aesthetic to the page.

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Determined to integrate the logo, I attempted to resize the shortened version. Whilst this smaller version is fairly inoffensive, I am still not fully happy with the impact that this masthead creates.

I then decided to remove the ‘lt’ aspect completely to see if the singular ‘A’ will create just as much impact. Yet I still feel that this is not how I imagined the cover to be, and should the masthead be smaller this will reduce the brand identity. By removing the ‘lt’ this in turn removes the name of the magazine, becoming ‘A Magazine’ rather than ‘Alt Magazine’. I am not prepared to sacrifice the namesake for the layout and aesthetics of the page, so I shall have to once again revise my plan for the masthead.

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I erased the dot of the ‘i’ to create a cleaner x-height

Altered Masthead Inspired by an accidental colour fill, the white colour removed the majority of the harshness from the masthead. This then inspired me to look back at some original sketches I completed for the masthead, as well as variations of the revised masthead which I created. The inclusion of the word ‘magazine’ proved too distracting in earlier versions, yet I still perceived my main problem with the masthead was the odd, uneven shape. By including the word ‘magazine’ below ‘Alt’ squared off the masthead and integrated within the page much better. The versatility this brought allowed me to experiment with smaller and larger versions of the logo, being placed both in front and behind the cover star.

Playing with upper case and spacing

Smaller, behind image

Larger, in front of image

Smaller, behind image

Larger, in front of image

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After placing the original image, I named the layer.

Then, I selected the ‘Magic Wand’ Tool.


As to be faster, I selected the plain background with the tool.


Layered Image In order to place the masthead beneath the image whilst keeping the background, I needed to create an identical overlay of the existing image with a transparent background, allowing background elements to show through. I used the ‘Magic Wand’ tool to create this identical image. This process will also be completed on the other version of the front cover.

I then right-clicked and selected ‘Select Inverse’. This method is much easier than having to manually select each colour of the model using the ‘Magic Wand’ tool or try and exactly outline the model using the ‘Lasso’ tool.








This selected the model, I then copied and pasted the enabling me to copy the image image using keyboard shortcuts.

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This created another image from the selection, which I named ‘Image Overlay’. This is undetectable on top of the original image, and allows me to layer items behind the image without removing the background.

Editing Cover Image Original image

Whilst I really admired the relaxed yet mysterious pose captured in this conventional mid-shot, I found it marginally unsharp, slightly over saturated, and too dark. These elements can be easily edited using Photoshop.

First I selected the ‘Adjustments’ tab.

Then the ‘Hue/ Saturation’ button.

This creates a new layer which will effect other image layers beneath it.

Edited version

I adjusted the Saturation to -12, which highlights the more greyer tones in the image, reducing the slight orange glow in some areas.


I also marginally adjusted the Lightness to +3, careful not to cause a washed-out effect.

This produced subtle differences which can be built upon further.

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Original image

First I selected the ‘Adjustments’ tab.

Then the ‘Brightness/ Contrast’ button.

This creates a new layer which will effect others beneath it. By increasing both the brightness and contrast, the whole image became more defined from the background, causing richer tones to emerge from the image.

Edited version (brightness , contrast, saturation & lightness)

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Original image

Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. The ‘Unsharp Mask’ is ironically named from an old darkroom technique.

I then adjusted the levels until I slightly sharpened the image without over-doing it.

This created a new layer when completed.

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With the original and edited versions of the same image side by side, the subtle changes made through all of the editing really makes a big impact in the end. I am very pleased with the result.

Edited image

As with all cover models, airbrushing is used to remove imperfections, and sometimes change the face completely. I will be using the ‘Stamp’ tool and ‘Blend’ tool to remove some of the imperfections such as the lens flare on the glasses.

When I had gotten comfortable with the smaller areas, I tried to remove larger areas such as the wisp of hair from her forehead.

The final image with all the blemishes and imperfections removed makes it suitable for the pristine image which conventional cover models possess. Although part of me misses the lens flare on the model’s glasses, as it almost gave a highlight to her eyes.

Edited image

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Blemish Removal

Main Cover Line

Referring back to the flat plan, I had decided to feature the main cover line in a much larger font size than the other elements on the page, hence denoting it’s importance on the page. Later on, and witnessed in my blog posts, I had limited my choice of font to an edgy brush font which will contrast against the other, more minor, sansserif, cover lines.


Perhaps my most favoured selection, here I experimented with the rotation of the font as well as their placement on the page.

Red taken from model’s lipstick using Dropper tool

I also manipulated the background to create 4 different variations: a dark grey, light grey, olive and almost white background. From these variations I was able to determine how well the main cover line stood out as well as various colour combinations which may be effective.

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My only initial reservation about this font was the quite elaborate capital letters. The weight of the font is quite impactful, however when resized, I feel that this font becomes slightly illegible. Because of this, this font will not be suitable for the main cover line.

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Art Palace

Praying Angel

Whilst this font remains mildly feminine, I think that the thin weight of the font creates a low contrast between itself and the background.

Enlarging the ‘Q’ in order to create a greater impact

The thin weight of the font means that when the bold masthead is included it is rather lost against the main image. As a main cover line needs to stand out to entice the reader, I feel that this aspect cannot be avoided. Also, the harsh slope of the ’S’ causes the ‘Queen’ to ascend the page too harshly, creating an odd contrast.

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Cider Script

I am actually quite pleasantly surprised with this font. It is not too bold as to distract too much away from other elements, yet is just the right weight to contrast against the background. Despite this, the lacking texture does not connote an edgy feel which I wanted to achieve.

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Before experimenting with the colour of the main cover line, I needed to create some backgrounds to compare the various colours with.

I also created a gradient layer to add some more depth to the background, making the image stand out. I only wanted a subtle gradient, so I set the opacity to 40% and an angle of 32º, so the gradient rises subtly from the lower corner.

When changing the background, I first noticed some areas around the hair which needed to be edited using the ‘Magic Wand’ tool.


Grey Background

Olive Background


Off-white Background

I selected the hue/saturation button from the adjustments label. This is the same tool I used when editing the original image.

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By clicking the ‘Colourize’ button, I was able to add a hint of colour to the background, which is controlled by the ‘Hue’ slider. The lower the saturation the less colour it had, so I used this to my advantage when creating a white and grey background. I then selected a green from the model’s skin tone, darkened it and almost completely desaturated it, causing a subtle olive colour to emerge.

Below are the variations of each background I have created using the Hue/Saturation tool. Olive:



Plain (without gradient):


Final Backgrounds





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Main it’s colour and how this effects the background. However, the style of the other image, whereby the model is holding the guitar outstretched, did not seem to suit any of the Cover cover line fonts. This is due to the quite complicated background of the headstock, causing the plain black background of the other image to be more aesthetically pleasing. Line Because of this, I shall continue the construction using the latter.

Having decided on Streetbrush font for the main cover line, I now needed to decide upon

Final placement

Main Cover Line Colour

I subtly adjusted the width, height and rotation of the text until I was happy with the final placement. This leaves enough room for the barcode and issue number/ date as intended on the flatplan.

By using the ‘Colour Dropper’ tool, I will take colours directly from the image and transfer them into the main cover line, to see how each colour compares with each background.


White Background Text: White Clearly white-onwhite does not hold enough contrast, so I shall not be considering this.

White+Gradient Text: White The subtle gradient creates a greater contrast, although I am unsure if there is too little contrast with the ‘e’ from ‘She’

White+Grey Text: White Despite being a flat colour, I do like this combination. However there is too little contrast, sacrificing the readability of the cover line.

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White+Grey+Gradient Text: White Similar to the White +Gradient, the extra grey darkens the background slightly, creating a greater contrast.



Grey Background Text: White The grey colour creates enough contrast without making the image too dark.

Grey+Gradient Text: White Whilst the cover line is very well defined, I am afraid that the image is background is a bit too dark.

Grey+Olive Text: White This appears like a flatter version of the Grey +Gradient, and I prefer the more varied tones in the Grey+Gradient than in this one.


Olive Background Text: White The slightly warmer tone really compliments the model’s skin tone. The text doesn’t contrast as much as I would like.

Grey+Olive+Gradient Text: White Even darker than the Grey+Gradient version, I find this too dark and slightly distracting against the cover image.


Olive+Gradient Text: White The gradient brings out the shadows in the background, and the slight colour hue is more warmer than the grey.

Olive+Grey Text: White Whilst the olive colour and contrast is heightened, I think the flatness of the background is also increased, therefore not aiding the overall aesthetics of the page.

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Olive+Grey+Gradient Text: White The inclusion of the grey behind the olive darkens the background, but unlike the others, the image appears to stand out more. I really like this background combination.

White+Gradient Text: Red (from lips) I admire how this combination extenuates the models lips, but fear that that it may not contrast enough against the black clothes.

Olive+Grey+Gradient Text: Red (from lips) Whilst this combination was very successful for the white text, this is too dark for the red text.

White+Grey+Gradient Text: Red (from lips) This combination compliments the image more than the text, with a lacking contrast in the darker areas.




Olive+Grey+Gradient Text: Off-white Considering the success of the pure white text with this background, by darkening the white slightly this creates an overall softer image.

Olive+Gradient Text: Off-white Whilst appearing very similar to the Olive +Grey+Gradient, this slightly lighter version may make it easier to include darker colours.

Grey+Gradient Text: Off-white The off-white text subtly blends with the background, creating quite a soft image.

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Grey+Gradient Text: Red (from lips) This darker background demonstrates a greater contrast, yet the red colour does not compliment the black clothing.

White+Grey+Gradient Text: Off-white The lightest of the four, I think that the overly white colour doesn’t necessarily compliment the image very well.

Favoured Combinations 1. Olive+Gradient Off-White text

3. Grey+Gradient Off-White text

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2. Olive+Grey +Gradient Off-White text

4. Olive+Grey +Gradient White text

Refining Combinations

I have limited the selection further to these two designs as I personally find them the most aesthetically pleasing.

Olive+Gradient Off-White Text Whilst the differences between these two designs may be subtle, I believe it is important to decided between the two, considering whether the lighter or darker version is the more complimentary. The lighter version above I believe contrasts the most against the image, with it looking physically separated from the background. This was not my initial intention, yet I had planned to keep the background as light as possible. Looking at the image overall, the masthead which sits in the lighter area of the gradient appears slightly more washed out than it does in the other background combination.

Olive+Grey+Gradient Off-White Text As soon as I had combined the background layers, I really admired the depth that this combination brought. The slight olive colour added warmth to the background, and appeared to compliment the models skin tone. Furthermore, olive is quite a mature colour, and suggests a more sophisticated magazine - the 16-21 year old target audience will not be mollycoddled. After experimenting with various font colours, I found white to be the most striking against the black-clothed model. Yet my one reservation with the pure white is that it would appear slightly cliché and too bright against the quite muted image. This lead me to the off-white colour, which compliments this background perfectly. I think the darker tones and heightened shadows give this background combination the edge.

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After creating my own barcode using photoshop, I decided to transfer it onto the front cover at this stage, so I can cement its placement on the page, relative to other elements

As I had saved the file as a .PNG, this meant that the original transparency will be carried across. After being resized, the transparent barcode is shown below. This is quite unconventional however, as normally barcodes would be featured on a plain background for easier scanning.

Deciding upon the bottom horizontal version, I also added the Issue number and dateline. Traditionally, a monthly magazine is sold a month before the cover date, so I have written the dateline for a month in advance. Here is the final barcode, featuring the issue date and dateline in colours taken directly from the main image.

Barcode & Own Font

After being placed on a conventional white background, I felt that it was too large in relation to other aspects of the page, so I shall resize it as to not distract from other elements.

Above is two possible rotations of the barcode. I was careful not to place the barcode in the left-hand third, as whilst it has the most space, this side should be kept free for more important content when viewed on a newsstand.

I used my own handmade font called ‘Alt’ for the issue number and dateline. This is another example of handmade elements which I have put into the magazine, considering that the barcode is also handmade.

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Cover Lines

Having already decided on Bebas Neue for the cover line font, I now needed to place the cover lines on the magazine, as well as determine where I wanted each font weight to be.

Bebas Thin Bebas Light Bebas Book Bebas Regular Bebas Bold

Whilst the above is more conventional, I personally would look beneath the main cover line for anchorage text, rather than to the top left. Also, the bottom left space looks quite empty, whereby the other variations fill this space.

Enlarging the text to draw greater attention. I also stretched the text slightly to better fill the space.

As I already had my main cover line, I had planned to include anchorage text beneath the main cover line as to tie in the relevance of the image and text. Firstly, I hid the barcode layer and placed the text below the main cover line. Whilst I quite like it’s placement overall, I am worried that it does not make as much of an impact as I would have liked. Also, generally the bottom third encompasses more regular cover lines, and I do not want this text to be dismissed for this reason.

Inspired by the above version, I included the barcode and moved the artist’s name above the anchorage text. Whilst it is quite unconventional for the main cover line and anchorage text to be placed at the bottom, I think that size of the main cover line will draw impact to the anchorage text.

On the right is the final placement for the cover line/anchorage text beneath the main cover line. This clearly has enough impact, as when resized the artist’s name can still clearly be read. I will also try changing the colour of the text to see how it effects the page.

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Once again, I will be using the ‘Eyedropper’ tool to obtain colours directly from the image.

Whilst being very eye-catching, I do not want the white colour to be overused. The subtle pink tone taken from her lips is very feminine, making it suitable for my target audience.

This red features a low contrast against the background.

Taken from her eyes, this colour is too dark against the background. Quite similar to the pale pink, whilst this is a nice colour, I do not feel that it stands out as much as the others. Perhaps the most different from this selection, this colour shares the same tones as the background. Above is my two most favourite variations, with the smaller ‘good’ and ‘bad’ featuring slightly darker versions of the associated colour. Out of the two, I think that the feminine connotations which the pink colour possesses make it more suitable for the cover. Yet despite this colour choice, I still quite admire the impact of the off-white, so I shall keep this layer hidden and reevaluate the colours once other cover lines have been added.

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Keen to vary not only the font weight but the line 36pt spacing, I set the leading of each line 32pt between 32pt and 36pt to create a slight distinction between the pullquote and band name.

I included the quotation marks separately from the cover lines so I could change the spacing more easily.

I was concerned that if the publication is dominated by allwhite text, the text of importance will become lost, despite making these areas bigger. Because of this, I changed the colour of the least important text to a slightly darker grey, causing the white text to stand out even more. To the left is the current position of all 6 cover lines (including the main cover line). I am very pleased with their placement, and I think that the subtle change of colour draws attention to important areas without appearing cluttered. Also, the limited colour palette oers a sophisticated design which my target audience will appreciate. I used white rather than bold neon colours to draw attention, which I believe makes a good design statement. I am very pleased with how the magazine is coming along.

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Puff & Buzz Transferring over the original puff, I think that the colours are too dull and do not attract attention to the ‘exclusive content’. Also, compared with the quite thin text, the quite bulky outline creates an odd visual contrast. Furthermore, the inclusion of another font, Cider Script, adds a cluttered feel to the page. For these reasons, I shall not be using this particular puff and buzz for the front cover, and I shall design a new one.

Whilst keeping the same placement, I used the Ellipsis tool with dotted edge to create a subtle puff. I then used my own font for the buzz word, but I feel that the quite rugged nature doesn't flow well with the modern thin cover lines.

After changing the buzz text to Bebas Neue (the same font as the cover lines) I was concerned that it would appear too similar to the other elements on the page. So I took the ‘Eyedropper’ tool and sourced a dark grey from the background, which will contrast against the texts lighter background. This unique colour choice gives it just the right amount of importance, without distracting away from some of the larger elements of the page.

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Construction of Front Cover  
Construction of Front Cover