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How to create a magazine cover in Affinity Publisher

In this step-by-step tutorial from Envato Tuts+, you’ll learn how to create a cool and colourful cover design for a digital magazine using Affinity Publisher. Complete with an ultra-stylish layout and on-trend typography, this magazine cover is also really easy to adapt with your own choice of colours and images.

Suitable for Affinity Publisher beginners, this tutorial is quick and simple to follow, and you’ll pick up pro techniques for designing impactful artwork for digital publications.

You can also download a free template of the completed cover and the internal magazine layout in the second part of this tutorial, How to Create a Style Magazine Layout in Affinity Publisher, on Envato Tuts+.

Ready to create your magazine cover design? Let’s dive in!

The magazine cover we are going to create.

What you’ll need to create your magazine cover

For this tutorial, we’ll be using Affinity Publisher to put together our magazine cover. You’ll also need to download the following free images and fonts to give your design an edgy, contemporary look:

Once you’ve installed the fonts on your computer, you’re ready to start flexing your cover design skills…

Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:

1. How to set up your digital magazine cover document

Step 1

Open Affinity Publisher and go to File > New.

Choose Web from the options along the top of the New Document window. For this, we’ll create a custom page size, so set the Page width to 612 px and Page height to 792 px, to create a Letter size cover.

From the Margins options, check Include margins, and set the width of the Left, Right and Bottom margins to 25 px. Increase the width of the Top margin to 175 px.

Then click Create.

Step 2

Go to the Layers panel (View > Studio > Layers).

Click on the Add Layer button at the bottom of the panel, and rename this layer Background.

Repeat to create a second layer, naming it Image, and again to create a final layer called Type.

Select both the Type and Image layers and lock them by clicking the padlock icon at the top-right corner of the panel.

Step 3

Go to the Swatches panel (View > Studio > Swatches).

Choose Add Global Colour from the panel’s dropdown menu.

Name the swatch Acid Yellow, and choose RGB Sliders for the colour mode. Set the R slider to 254, G to 236 and B to 2. Click Add.

2. How to add colour and images to your magazine cover

Step 1

Select the Rectangle Tool (M) from the Tools panel at the left side of the workspace.

Working on the Background layer, drag across the whole page, setting the Fill Colour of the shape to Acid Yellow.

Step 2

Lock the Background layer and unlock the layer above, Image.

Switch to the Picture Frame Rectangle Tool (F) and drag across the page, filling the space inside the margin lines.

Go to File > Place, choose an image, such as this one of a happy dog, and Open it.

Double-click inside the frame to directly select the image, and scale it down a little to make the dog’s head smaller.

Step 3

We can use the Colour Picker Tool (I) to pick up the colour from the top of the image, and save this as a swatch to use on the image frame and text.

With the Colour Picker Tool (I) selected, click onto the top of the image, on the blue sky.

In the Swatches panel, click on the picked-up colour to open the Colour Chooser window.

Highlight the colour’s hex code, and copy it. Then Close the window.

Choose Add Global Colour from the Swatches panel’s menu. Switch the colour mode to RGB Hex Sliders and paste the hex code into the text box at the bottom, before clicking Add.

Step 4

Select the image frame and apply the blue swatch to the Fill Colour of the frame.

We can use the Transparency Tool (Y) to fade the top of the image into the colour fill of the frame, creating a more seamless effect.

First, make sure the image is selected, and not the image frame. Select the Transparency Tool (Y) and click once just above the dog’s head, and click again directly above, at the top edge of the image.

3. How to format typography for your magazine cover

Step 1

To create the masthead for your magazine, lock the Image layer and unlock the top layer, Type.

Switch to the Frame Text Tool (T) and drag to create a frame across the top-centre of the image frame.

Type in the magazine title (e.g. ‘EDGE’) and from the Character panel set the Font to League Spartan Bold, around size 38 pt, All Caps, and, from the Paragraph panel, set the text to Centre Align.

Set the Font Colour to the blue swatch.

Step 2

Create a smaller text frame above the masthead for the date of the issue, setting the Font to League Spartan Bold, Size 4 pt, All Caps and a blue Font Colour.

Copy and Paste the text frame, moving it to the top-left corner of the image frame, and switching the Font Colour to Acid Yellow and alignment to Left Align. Edit the text to read the issue number and price.

Step 3

Copy and Paste this issue number text frame, editing the text to read ‘MAGAZINE’ and increasing the Font Size slightly to 6 pt.

Right-Click on the text frame and choose Transform > Rotate Left, before positioning the frame along the top-right corner of the image frame.

Step 4

The Artistic Text Tool (T) is great for creating more interesting text paths.

First up, use the Ellipse Tool (M) to create a rough shape around the perimeter of the dog’s head. From the Swatches panel, set the Fill and Stroke Colour to nothing.

Select the Artistic Text Tool (T) and click once onto the top-left corner of the ellipse, transforming the shape into a text path. Type in an article teaser (such as ‘the happiness issue’) and set the Font to Futura Renner and a white Font Colour.

You can move the position of the text by grabbing the green triangle on the perimeter of the ellipse. Make sure the text is centred above the subject.

Step 5

You can add article teasers to the space around the subject. Set a teaser title in Futura Renner, 5.5 pt, All Caps, an Acid Yellow Font Colour and from the Paragraph panel choose Centre Align.

Body text can be set in a separate text frame below, set in Futura Renner, 5 pt, and a white Font Colour.

Step 6

To help these article teasers stand out, go to View > Studio > Effects.

In the Effects panel, check Outer Glow. Set the Colour to a dark black shade, and increase the Opacity to around 85% and the Radius to about 13.8 px.

Use the Pen Tool (P) to add a small divider line between the teaser title and body text, setting the Stroke Colour to Acid Yellow and, from the Stroke panel, setting the Width of the line to around 0.4 pt.

You can use this couple of text frames and divider line as a basis for creating other article teasers on your cover. Select all the elements and Copy and Paste them, moving the copy over onto the other side.

Step 7

Your cover artwork is finished, great job! All that’s left to do is head up to File > Export, and save your file as a digital PDF, JPEG or PNG.

The final magazine cover design.


Your hard work has paid off. Now you can sit back and admire your magazine cover design, or why not try experimenting with different colours, fonts and photos to achieve a different look?

Through the course of this tutorial, we’ve created the bones of a customisable cover template. It’s super simple to adapt your cover, creating a fresh design for the next issue.

Three easy ways to customise your cover are to:

  • Change the cover photo. In this example, I’ve used this photo of a dog covered in kisses. Adorable.
  • Switch up the colour of the background and typography. Here, I’ve opted for a pale pink swatch for the background and teaser text, which I lifted from the colour of the dog’s nose using the Colour Picker Tool (I).
  • You can also experiment with the font style of the headline teaser.
The cover adapted to create the next issue.

About the contributor

This tutorial was written by Grace Fussell on behalf of Envato Tuts+. Envato Tuts+ helps you learn creative skills and shape the life you want. They offer many quality free tutorials and video courses on a variety of topics, including Affinity tutorials. They recently published a series of Affinity Publisher tutorials on common print design templates, with accompanying videos and free to download files, such as magazine, menu, newsletter, brochure and flyer templates. Visit their website to learn more.