Magazine Cover Project

SuperDad magazine cover


The purpose of this project was to design a magazine cover with myself as the central theme and showcasing articles relevant to my own life. The project instructions included using an appropriate self portrait as the primary image.

The overall theme of the magazine is a spoof of myself with some light-hearted ribbing. I bring up some of my idiosyncrasies and frame them as superpowers. The first article title portrays me as happily married to a beautiful woman and makes fun of my red hair and light skin tone. The second article title mentions my receding hair line. The third title is about my penchant for thumb wrestling with my kids (and of course winning). Finally, a bonus article showcases my steady diet of Nutella and Dr. Pepper.

First Draft Process

magazine brainstorming sketches
Pencil Sketches

I began this project by viewing various popular magazine covers in order to inspire and inform my own ideas. Rather than patterning my project after an existing magazine, I decided to create my own that focused on humorous topics from my life. Then I pencil sketched four designs that allowed me to brainstorm particular layouts, image arrangements, and color schemes.

I named my magazine “SuperDad.” I wanted it to be slightly reminiscent of the classic Superman comics, so I settled on the triadic primary color scheme of red, blue, and yellow that are often present in Superman related designs.

shape map
Shape Map

After deciding on a particular layout, I used Adobe InDesign to create a shape map on a 8.5″ x 11″ canvas. The shape map was a general layout of where I wanted to place certain elements, and gave me a clearer view of how things would fit together on the page. I saved the shape map as a jpeg file and then began working off of the InDesign file to fill in the actual elements.

For my first design I found a photograph that I really liked, which showed myself and my wife in a humorous pose. Using Adobe Photoshop I turned it into a black and white image and extracted only the portion that included my wife and myself. Then I placed the photo in InDesign and locked it into place.

magazine cover - first draft
First Draft

After placing the background image, I began working on the magazine title. For the main title I chose a large decorative font and colored it red and blue. Then I added a yellow subtitle.

For my article titles I initially used an Italic sans serif white font with blue strokes to contrast it from the white background. For the article subtitles I used a the same font (non-Italicized) in red. For my bonus article, the title used the same decorative font, with sans serif font in yellow for the subtitle.

Finally, I added a bar code near the bottom left corner and a date/issue number near the bottom right. I saved the project as my first draft, exported it to a jpeg file, and shared it with in the class Facebook group.

Critique Process

The instructor’s critique was incredibly helpful. His first thought was to sharpen up the photograph I had extracted using Photoshop as the edges in places showed obvious signs of cropping. He also suggested I work on the alignment of my articles, as my bonus article seemed to be haphazardly placed with no alignment to either side. He stated that I should probably reduce the wording in the subtitle of my bonus article. He also proposed that I right align my date/issue number. For my article titles he reminded me to use a serif font along with my sans serif font. He also suggested that I remove the strokes on all my fonts as it was distracting. He recommended that I experiment with other ways of contrasting my text from the background.

I also received some helpful advice from other students on the class Facebook page. Several people suggested that I reduce the amount of yellow text, as it was distracting. Some people also saw the alignment issues strokes on the text and suggested I fix those.

My final critique was with Kirsten Naughton, a former design student and professional web developer. She suggested several popular serif fonts that I could experiment with for varying my article titles and subtitles. Working with her I also concluded that my photograph and background would look better in full color, rather than the drab gray scale color I had originally used. She also gave me some helpful pointers on using InDesign, which I really appreciated.

Final Draft

SuperDad magazine cover
Final Draft

My final draft included a number of design changes that were based on the helpful feedback I’d received during the critique process.

  • First, I changed the photograph to full color, which made the entire magazine cover more  vibrant.
  • Second, I fixed the alignment of all the elements on my page.
  • I shorted the text of the bonus article and aligned it to the far left.
  • Then I changed coloring of the article fonts, removed the strokes, and added a background glow to help them contrast with the photograph.
  • I gave the main article titles a serif font and colored them white for even more contrast.
  • I varied the size of the subtitles to highlight the more important words.
  • I removed most of the yellow text, except for the “Man of Flab” main subtitle and the bonus article subtitle. This created a balance between the top right and bottom left of the page.


I wanted my magazine title to communicate fun statements about my life while showing that I like to have a good time laughing about myself and about life in general.


The intended audience is men of middle age who find humor in life and are looking for a good chuckle.

Top Things I Learned

The design process is as much a science as it is an art. The principles of design such as tracking, kearning, leading, color schemes, font selection, etc. all come into play in creating a compelling and effective magazine cover. Even though I don’t consider myself an artist, working to follow those principles and receiving helpful feedback from others may be even more important than innate artistic talent.

Color Scheme

  • Triadic using the primary colors red, blue, and yellow.

Main Title Font

  • Dogma OT, a decorative font

Article Fonts

  • Titles: Bodoni MT, a serif font
  • Subtitles: Parlucent, a sans serif font

Thumbnail of Original Unedited Image

Dave & April




Image Source

This is my own personal image taken via digital camera in or around April 2012. It was taken by my sister in law, Rachel Barnett.

Video of Finished & Printed Magazine Cover