This brief looks at the creative laying out of a magazine article. I have researched various sources to get differing examples of grid styles ranging from 2-12 columns.
Here you can see the style that Eye uses to layout each publication. Try Before You Buy
This article asks the question…
“Our work is made up of beeps and blips that can be endlessly reworked, so why are our design systems more rigid than ink locked on paper? The fine work from our reporters and photographers and data artists deserves to be showcased. Instead, our dependence on fitting into template defaults sands away the unique contours of the work.”
I suggest that the reason behind the decision to create reusable templates in the quoted article above, is for the efficiency & repeatable qualities behind having a system that you can just insert content & upload. Money & cost effectiveness is the reason for it & what suffers is inevitably the design & the individuality of your layout.
For this brief I have chosen to present an article on the designer Paula Scher. I enjoy her work as it always feels so freeflowing & effortless in its simplicity and yet painstaking in its complexity when producing works like her Maps series. Something like that can only be produced with passion I think.
I can relate to a lot of the things Paula has to say when it comes to generating ideas, both in allowing time & space for your brain to be creative, and taking the time out to allow creativity to flow. Also, when she speaks about the occasions when an idea comes very early on in the process that it shouldn’t be discounted just because of that. It’s not that it arrived in a vacuum, it arrived as she says “after 30 seconds, & 34 years” when speaking about the creation of the CitiBank logo.
In this article, Falling into designing a 1.6 Billion Dollar logo. Paula Scher never dreamed when she redesigned the logo Pro-Bono for a one off burger joint in New York that it would go on to be a chain worth so much on the global market.
More Examples of layouts.
This article offers suggestions for using 2,3 or 4 columns in the laying out of a magazine. It also talks about the over use of too many columns & having to place content over a number of columns when you have too many.
whatsitcalled is a document explaining the anatomy of a publication layout. Lots of good information here.
Don’t Be Afraid of “White Space”
Although it can be difficult, consider leaving some areas of the page blank. Stuffing as much as you can onto a page is visually overwhelming to the reader. Experiment with leaving some column white space in your new multi-column layout.
Having looked at various publications & layout styles I have found a few that I both like & dislike.
I like the use of both full page images and large blocks of colour to give importance to elements in a layout. The use of a full page image also adds a sense of space or a feeling of room to breathe into a design. As a reader, its like a mental pause, you are not being bombarded with an overload of information. Its almost like a Sunday morning drive in the country.
I have tried to use this in my own layout below. The use of white space is also very important I feel. See article link above. (Or here.)
Some of the publications that have a lot of information or copy can be hard work to navigate or leave the eye bouncing around from content to content. If this is your intent then that’s fine, as a method of keeping the reader engaged & mentally led through the layout it has its place. However, my own preference is to have a cleaner looking layout that will both engage & keep the eye moving but does not over bombard the reader with information.
Here are some examples I found that make good use of columns & panels of copy, some in their own box and others separated by lines to create a defined area or break from one area to another.
Some layout designs just bombard you with the information or even overlay it with text or imagery which has its place, but I feel personally that it can be over used.
Raygun magazine layouts use a lot of imagery & text over the spreads. It has a reputation for being on the cutting edge but I feel its “Trick” is over used & gets a little tiring to read after a while.
In my own layouts I have tried to create a design that has both a feeling of space while also keeping an energetic dynamic between the copy & the imagery, I believe I have succeeded. I have placed the copy in 3 text blocks, each one 2 columns in width. I have kept the font the same as that used by Eye magazine with a leading of 11, or 9/11. I think this makes the copy a little hard to read but its required by the brief.
I have tried to emulate Eye magazine in the use of space, column layout & its use of placing multiple elements & blocks of colour on the page.
For the cover, I have looked at a number of publications, including Raygun, Eye and various covers by Nick Thakery.
For my own cover I have used a portrait of Paula Scher, removed the background & replaced it with a montage of quotes from the artist in the style of one of her word maps.
I have looked at various ways of laying out this article and found that the first one or two designs just didn’t feel very organic, they diddn’t feel as if the elements worked well together on the page. The reason for this lay in a number of areas.
- The font I was using was a condensed version of News Gothic rather than the light. Even when the font was 9pt the condensed version looked as if it was 7pt.
- I felt that some of the white space left on the page didn’t feel as if it had a function, it was just empty space & I felt I had to either fill it, which I didn’t want to do needlessly, or rearrange the elements on the page better.
- I had originally placed a small image with a pull quote on spread 2 alongside the large image however I felt it was just to use up this space and to a small degree even upset the balance of the page. The spread breathed much better when I removed it.
- The text on spread 3 at the top of the article felt as if it was sitting out on its own without anything to anchor it, so, taking inspiration from Eye I placed a simple stroke around the text box which then seemed to fix this text in place.
- I applied a light grey tone to the background of spread 3 on the verso side to add some grounding for the remaining elements on that side. I also applied a block of blue colour to the recto side which compliments the yellow elements on both sides of the spread.
- Lastly, having checked the brief one last time I realised that the credit for the author & Images were missing, along with the article title. While I have rectified all the above I need to note that the authors name was not provided with the copy.
Final Layout Design.