How to Design A Magazine Cover in Photoshop

In this tutorial we will learn how to design a magazine cover in Photoshop. I usually design covers using Photoshop and InDesign, but for this tutorial we will be using Photoshop for everything. When you set out to design your own magazine cover you’ll need to pay close attention to details and carefully lay out the artistic aspect of it, working towards a well planned and complete artistic concept. Taking the time to formulate a strong concept is extremely important to the success of the magazine. I will take you through the process of creating a cover and reveal techniques that designers use to make their covers stand out.


Final Image

the apologist



Additional Resource, Includes “City.jpg” and “Lens Flare.jpg”



Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop, 8.5×11 inches, 300dpi (for printing), RGB color, (You can change the color mode to CMYK, after the image is finished and flattened). Begin with a radial gradient, by double clicking the background layer to activate the Layer Styles menu, then apply a Gradient Overlay.


circular gradient

Color Codes:


gradient overlay


Step 2

Download and open the Lens Flare I created within Knoll Light Factory plugin, drag it above the gradient layer and change the blending option to screen at 21%.


lens flare


Open and drag the City.jpg above the lens flare layer and change the blending mode to Soft Light.


lens flare city

[sam id=3 codes=’false’]

Step 3

Open the Stock illustration: Planet drag it above the City.jpg layer, use a large, soft eraser bush and erase, the edges. Change the blending mode to Screen.




city moon


Step 4

Duplicate the Lens Flare image and place the duplicate above the “Stock illustration: Planet”. Give the lens flare 5% Gaussian Blur at 83% Opacity. Make sure the blending mode is still set to Screen.


lens flare city


Step 5

Now we will generate some Photoshop clouds to soften up the background a little more. Create a new layer and fill it with black. Generate the clouds by pressing Filter > Render > Clouds (make sure your colors are set to black and white). I also used a large soft eraser brush to erase the top of my clouds.


Change the Blending Mode to Soft Light at 35% Opacity




Step 6

Now we will create a subtle yellow glow. Create a new layer, draw a circle with the Elliptical Marquee Tool and fill it with yellow #fbc531.


Elliptical Marquee

Apply a Gaussian Blur with a Radius of 114 pixels. Lower the Opacity to 45%


[sam id=3 codes=’false’]

Step 7

Open the Model Face Handsome from PhotoXpress, use the pen tool to cut out the model from the background. If you do not know how to use the pen tool, you can learn how by reading this tutorial .


business man


After you are done drawing your path with the pen tool. Create a selection from the path. Go to the Path tab in the layers menu and click the Load Path as Selection tool (Third symbol with the dotted lines).


Path as Selection


Copy the model and paste him inside your magazine document, above all the other layers.


magazine document


Use the Brush Border Pack -27 from Media Melitia to paint on some dust and scratches. I used brush number 15 in the package. Make a new layer above the model, then start painting the dust and scratches.


Brush Border Pack


Use a large soft eraser to erase the border of the dust and scratches. lower the opacity between 72%-82%. Duplicate the layer or paint other around the model.


dust and scratches

[sam id=3 codes=’false’]

Step 8

Open the Stock illustration: Planet from Stock.Xchng again and drag it above the dust and scratches, use a large eraser brush and erase the planet from the middle.


Stock illustration


Change the blending mode to screen.




Step 9

Now we will add some graphic flare to the cover for some extra pop! Create a new layer, use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to draw a rectangular selection. Add a gradient from white to transparent to the selection.


Rectangular Marquee


Erase the edge of the gradient with a large soft eraser brush.




Change the blending mode of the gradient to Overlay. Rotate the gradient and place it in selected areas over the model. I did this by duplicating the layer over and over again and placing them until I feel I had balance in the image.




Add a color balance layer above all the current layers, with the settings below, this will help to brighten the image and tie all the colors together.





Step 10

First drag in some margin lines at 0.25 inch to keep your text away from the edge. Create a Masthead for your magazine, (The term “Masthead” is often used to refer to the nameplate of a publication, its designed title as it appears on its front page..). I created a simple but strong masthead with Helvetica Inserat Roman Font. Place the Mast Head behind the model, this overlapping technique, helps to create depth. I also included the publication date and the mission statement of the magazine. (Before you create your Masthead, research some magazines for inspiration on design and placement.)




Step 11

Create Several story line titles around and over the model.

  • Main Story Title. Here I used a large font to pull the readers eyes.
  • Secondary Story Title. Here I used a smaller font, but color and a transparent box.
  • Here I used different size fonts to separate Title and Sub Titles.


Step 12

Now we will finish up our magazine by adding a barcode. Download the Free Vector Barcode Graphics by Airopia.


Final Image

the apologist


You can play a little bit more with color to achieve different moods for the magazine, I changed the gradient on the background and other color changes to the model to get the additional samples below. I hope you enjoyed it.


Affordable Magazine Templates

Magazine Cover Templates Magazine Template Magazine Template


About loswl
I’m a graphic designer with over 15 years experience. I love design and take great pride in producing quality artwork,. I specialize in producing high quality print designs. Follow me on Graphicriver.


  1. Nathan T
    May 26, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    It’s awesome to see some Christians that know how to design well 🙂

    • loswl
      May 26, 2010 at 11:39 pm

      Thanks Nathan, for the kind comment, I really appreciate that 🙂

  2. Brian
    May 27, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Great design and tutorial. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Marc_C_889
    November 26, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Very nicely done! Very nicely done indeed!! And very refreshing to see such a tutorial not using the usual scantily clad model and trite oversexed topics. Awesome tut! God Bless!

    • loswl
      November 29, 2010 at 11:31 pm

      Thank you Marc, that is a great complement…very encouraging.

  4. Leslie
    January 11, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I am an aspiring designer. You have some great work. Thank you for sharing!

  5. wallpaper
    February 2, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Step 6 helped me alot thanks 🙂

  6. courtney
    June 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    This is a great tutorial but the second download is a .rar file and can’t be opened.

  7. nanesh
    July 27, 2011 at 2:20 am

    sutch a great creation good
    i lurn it

  8. daniel
    August 12, 2011 at 8:15 am

    God bless you we need more christians like you who use there gifts for God

    • loswl
      August 12, 2011 at 10:05 am

      Thanks for checking out the tutorial, God Bless 🙂

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