Process Work: Extreme Sports Magazine Cover

This quarter I’m teaching an introductory Photoshop course. The second assignment for the class is to create a cover layout for an extreme sports magazine. As with everything, I like to start by researching the competition first. After amassing a collection of magazine covers, my next task was to sketch the basic layout. Sketching is such a crucial component to design, yet many novice designers try to skip it.

Sketching allows me to focus purely on layout, without the distractive element of color or type. At this stage, I can get a sense of the basic composition. The sketch was made using the stock photo that would be used in the final design of the magazine cover. I used fonts from for this exercise.


When I’m thinking about the design aspect of this cover, I try to choose type (fonts) that add contextual information to the subject. I chose a font that had a bit of a bold edge and attitude to it, to capture the same energy that encompasses extreme sports.

After getting my type information together, I proceeded to build the cover in Photoshop. I make it a point to keep guides active, so I’m not placing any important content close to the edges. For the “X”, in Xtreme, it will get trimmed when the magazine is printed, but it will still read fine.

Below is the grayscale version, which I used to check contrast. Initially, the blue byline text was difficult to read from the yellow background, so I added a stroke to make the text stand out. I generated the UPC symbol at


And here is the final design. My goal was to make the title clear and readable, and to use warm colors with excellent contrast to make the cover stand out when placed next to other competing covers.


Questions? Ask away!