Cover Designs and Compositions

Before experimenting digitally with how my magazine cover could look, I wanted to do so by sketching designs first.  When doing this, I looked back at my magazine research and was influenced by existing contemporary magazines such as: Vogue, Billboard and Vibe, but also looked at magazines from the postmodern period and how they differed to magazines of our current age.  These magazines were “WET” and “I.D” and “Ray Gun” by David Carson.

I also wanted to experiment with how my cover could look by using different compositions.  Composition in layout is very useful in photography, but also commonly used in posters and commercial design. I looked upon and experimented in layouts such as the : grid , rule of thirds, oval, Z or Zorro, horizon line and perspective.

Cover designs

Grid Layout– similar to a table layout in Web design. Involves dividing into equal sized rectangles or squares, providing a structural layout. The quadrant layout can help centre a point of interest.

The poster on the left below shows the two actors placed along from the middle vertical line, and facing towards the centre line on an angle. The angles echoes the sky above the horizontal line and the bowling alley below.  The poster to the right displays the actors placed circularly in the centre symbolizing a golf course hole, the draws the viewer, and the rest of the page works well with the grid and helps symbolize the golf course hole.

the-big-lebowski     caddyshack_poster

This quadrant layout is a simple example of a grid.  A more complicated would divide the quadrant even further.

AC DC poster     Green Day composition poster

When using a grid like this it is very useful for text. The ACDC heading, for example, extends down beyond the top grid line and the images are centred along the grid lines rather than sitting right on top. In the Green Day poster, the title is a above centre, this is a good practice. If the title was on centre, it would look as if it was falling off the page, or make the top half look top heavy. Although the images in the posters aren’t sitting perfectly on the grid lines, the grid provides a guide as to how the elements could be placed.

Rule of Thirds- represents a classic gird layout.  The rule states that an image can be divided into nine equal parts by two space horizontal lines and vertical lines.  The intersection points can be used to focus on your main elements, or the boxes formed can provide a space for your elements. The usual tendency of the rule of thirds is that the middle box is usually left clean, so the image works around it.  You would not place an images focus point completely central using the rule of thirds layout. This can be shown in the example below.

Pirates of the carribean composition poster

Oval– takes the viewers eye around the image, often circularly, and usually an oval especially when used in posters, magazines, etc.  In the poster below, the elements are contained within a circle and within an oval including the type.

Kiss Composition Poster

Z, or Zorro- is a popular layout especially in advertising.  In most print advertisements, the elements often our placed at the top and bottom of the ad, this is usually the heading/company and a subheading/slogan.  With the image included, your eyes draw from the header to the image and onto the subheading, creating the shape of a “Z”.  An example of this is shown below.

Gone with the wind composition poster

Perspective- uses perspective to create a focal point for a specific element. It can be used to create a vanishing point or perspective and can help you to define importance of elements within the poster.  In the examples below, the Spiderman poster uses a one point perspective angle, and vanishing point,  whereas the Eragon poster uses a two point perspective angle.

Spiderman Poster composition     Eragon Composition poster

Many examples of posters and magazine covers can follow under more than one composition rule, for example the Pirates of the Caribbean poster could also be the Oval composition, therefore you do not need to over think which is which.  By creating something which fits into more than one grid it makes it a more complex composition in which should be visually effective. I had found this research and sketching the designs very useful in terms of how my cover could look.  Although I don’t favour a particular layout, I think for a magazine cover, it would be best to use either the grid, rule of thirds or zorro.  These layout are more versatile compared to oval and perspective and should work better in digitally experimenting with my magazine cover.