In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a simple and stylish magazine spread using Affinity Publisher, the great-value and easy-to-use alternative to Adobe InDesign.
You’ll pick up some versatile editorial design skills, as well as getting to know your way around the Publisher workspace. Although currently available only as a beta download, Affinity Publisher is slated for release later in the year, so watch this space.
What You’ll Need to Create Your Magazine Layout
You can download a free beta version of Affinity Publisher from the Serif website. You’ll also need to download the following fonts and photo from Envato Elements to create the design of the spread pictured:
Install the fonts on your computer, and you’re ready to get started!
1. How to Set Up a Magazine Document in Affinity Publisher
Open up Affinity Publisher, and go to File > New.
With the Type set to Print, choose Letter from the Page Preset menu.
With Facing Pages checked, choose Left from the Start on menu. Normally, if you were creating a full magazine, you would choose to start the document on a right page, but for our purposes here of creating one spread, a left-hand page start will suit us.
From the Color Format menu, choose CMYK/8.
Check the Include Margins box, and set the Inner and Bottom Margin to 1.25 in, and the Top and Outer Margin to 1 in.
Then click OK.
With your document created, you’ll need to add a bleed to the pages.
Go to File > Document Setup, and click on Bleed from the trio of menu options in the middle of the window. Set the Bleed to 0.25 in, and then click OK.
On the left side of the workspace, you can see the Pages panel.
Click on the Add Pages button at the top of the panel, and add one more page to the document.
From the Master Pages panel above, click on the Add Master button.
Name the master Spread Master and select Facing. All of the remaining options should match the existing settings for the other pages in your document, so keep them as they are and click OK.
Drag the Spread Master down onto Pages 1 and 2 in the Pages panel, to apply the master to both pages in your document.
To help you guide text and content into the right position, it’s a good idea to at least have the margins visible.
Go to View > Show Margins.
We’re going to use a very simple color palette in our design—just yellow and black.
In the Swatches panel (docked on the right side of the workspace), choose Add Global Color from the dropdown menu.
In the window that opens, name the color Yellow and choose CMYK Sliders from the menu below this.
Set the levels to C=2 M=24 Y=95 and K=0, before clicking Add.
2. How to Format Elements on Your Master Spread
Double-click on the Spread Master icon in the Master Pages panel to bring it up on screen.
Choose the Frame Text Tool (T) from the Tools panel, and drag across the bottom-left corner of the left-hand master page to create a small text frame.
Type in two forward slashes (
//), highlight the text, and from the Character panel (on the right side of the workspace), set the Font to Bw Modelica Bold, Size 10 pt. Set the Font Color to Yellow.
With your text tool cursor set in the text frame, after the slashes, go to Text > Insert > Page Number.
Adjust the Font Color of this page number to Black.
Select the whole text frame with the Move Tool (V) and Edit > Copy and Edit > Paste the frame, moving the copy over to the right corner of the right-hand master page.
From the top Controls panel, adjust the text to Right Align.
Use the Frame Text Tool (T) to create a frame across the top-left corner of the left-hand master page.
Here you can type in a running header, such as the magazine title and issue number.
Mix up the fonts for interest, setting some text in a sans serif, like Bw Modelica, and some in a serif, like Addington CF.
Highlight some of the words and change the Font Color to Yellow.
Switch to the Pen Tool and, while holding down Shift, click once on the pasteboard to the left of the running header, and once again where the header begins.
From the top Controls panel, set the Stroke Color to Yellow and the Weight of the stroke to 0.9 pt.
Copy and Paste the yellow line, positioning the copy to the right of the header text.
Then extend the right edge of the line so that it extends across the remainder of the left page and right page, across the whole spread.
Select the Transparency Tool and click once about a third of the way along the left side of the longer line. Click again at the far-right edge of the line, creating a gradual gradient effect across the line.
3. How to Build Up Typography on Your Magazine Spread
Double-click on Page 1 in the Pages panel to bring it up on screen.
Use the Frame Text Tool (T) to create a single tall text frame resting against the left and bottom margin.
Click on the small triangle shape on the bottom-right of the text frame to create a linked text frame.
Click and drag to the right of the first text frame to create a second linked column. A ‘thread’ will appear between the two frames, showing that they are linked.
You can either type in text directly, paste it over from a Word document, or go to Text > Insert Filler Text to create temporary text for your columns.
Set the Font to Addington CF Regular, Size 10.5 pt, and set the Leading to 15 pt.
You can add more interest to your column text by pulling out the first line in a Yellow Font Color, a Bold weight, and a larger 14 pt Font Size.
Create a very large text frame, matching the height of the columns, overlapping the right column and extending across the width of the right page.
Type in ‘GO’, setting the Font to Bw Modelica Medium, Size 610 pt, and Font Color to Yellow.
From the Layers panel (on the right side of the workspace) bring the Opacity of the text frame down to 95%.
Use the Transparency Tool to create a gradient effect across the right side of the text frame.
With the text frame selected, click on the Move to Back button in the top Controls panel, to bring the column text forward and make it more legible.
4. How to Add an Image to Your Magazine Spread
Select the Picture Frame Tool and drag across the right-hand page, creating a frame just shy of the height of the columns.
Go to File > Place. Navigate to the image of the racing greyhound you downloaded earlier, and click Open.
Use Shift to scale the image inside the frame, before clicking Flip Horizontal in the top Controls panel to flip the image so that the dog is facing towards the center of the spread.
With the image frame selected, click on Move to Back at the top of the workspace.
5. How to Add a Pull Quote to Your Layout
Use the Frame Text Tool (T) to create a text frame across the top-right of Page 2.
Type in a pull quote, only typing an apostrophe at the end of the quote. Set the Font to Addington CF, Medium Italic, Size 45 pt.
Switch the font weight of some of the text, such as pulling out certain phrases in Thin Italic, to create contrast and improve readability.
Highlight some of the text and switch the Font Color to Yellow.
Create a separate small text frame at the top-left corner of the pull quote frame, and type in an opening apostrophe (“). Set the Font to Addington CF Thin Italic, Size 160 pt, and the Font Color to Yellow.
6. How to Export Your Magazine Artwork
Whether you create a single spread or a whole magazine, the process of exporting your artwork in Affinity Publisher for printing is quick and simple.
Go to File > Export.
Click on PDF from the options running along the top of the window.
Choose PDF (for print) from the Preset menu, before clicking Export.
Conclusion: Your Finished Magazine Layout
Your magazine spread is finished and exported, ready to be printed. Great job!
In this tutorial, you’ve picked up a range of techniques and skills you can apply to editorial projects and other work using Affinity Publisher.
If you’re on the hunt for more magazine design tips, don’t miss these other tutorials: