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Exercise: Magazine Pages

I have a habit of keeping back magazines that appeal visually, and the Country Life has always had great visual appeal. The features in particular draw you in with the use of an interesting subject matter, full bleed imagery and crisp font, never straying from accepted norm and opting for decorative fonts as the norm. Looking at Country Life objectively was not only great fun but allowed me to appreciate the work that goes into producing the magazine.

The first task was to measure the magazine and appreciate page form:

  • Each page is based on a three column grid
  • Images are a mix of full bleed, vignettes, full box with the odd touch of cropping around a subject to highlight it.
  • White space tends to be at a minimum, but when used, especially in the illustrated story, it’s used sensitively.
  • Page size is 302mm x 233mm, with a column width of 60mm with a gap of 5mm between columns.
  • Margin measurement:
    • Outer 20mm
    • Inner 15mm
    • Lower 15mm
    • Upper 20mm
    • Gutter 30 mm

Fonts are a mix of serif with the body text is the standard Times New Roman, whilst headers swing between Times New Roman, Garamond and Helvetica. Indeed the interest in font within the magazine is such that is published a wonderful article, 8 typefaces that changed the world, on its website where it includes the fonts used in-house by the design team which also includes Johnston Sans by Edward Johnston and Transport byJock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert. Interestingly both are used for sharing information to commuters on the London Underground and road network accordingly.

To replicate the Country Life layout using InDesign I resized the page accordingly and added the above measurements and necessary columns to the master profile. I decided to go with the first page of Unto Us a Child is Born. The first task is to replicate the pages as closely as possible. The header and sub headers are Schneider Libretto, which has some interesting similarities to Bodoni and is contemporary, yet at the same time traditional.

Sadly a download is cost prohibitive, so I’ll use Bodoni MT Bold and Regular as a suitable replacement for both, sizing the header at 45pts and the sub heading at 15pts. The main body text is Times New Roman at 12pts and justified with a left alignment, with the quote in Bodoni MT Regular at 20pts.

One thing that took a little time to get my head around whilst trying to save the document was to select which Master it was. Unlike Affinity Publisher the saving process is a little more involved, and with my frustration rising and trying to work out why I was only getting blank JPGs or PDFs. I finally worked out that there are two Master documents, A and B, and it’s A that saves. Lesson learned. One thing I did notice was that I had forgotten to place the bottom margin information into the original copy, so I update the file accordingly.

The one thing that had escaped my mind completely was that when it comes tcame to preparing and joining the two halves of an exported file together always create in the size it was saved not the actual size of the original document. Things can get lost in translation.

Anyway onwards and upwards. My first task is to select three sets of font combinations. Given the style of magazine Black, Fat Face and Decorative would be poor choices and whilst a Sans Serif style is used occasionally, mostly Helvetica, its use is limited to lifestyle features. So the Serif fonts I’ll be using will be:

Headline#1: Garamond Bold. Sub- Heading and Quote Garamond Regular

Body#1: Century Schoolbook Regular

Headline#2: Libre Baskerville Bold Sub- Heading and Quote Libre Baskerville Regular

Body#2: Sitka Text

Headline#3: Georgia Bold Sub- Heading and Quote Georgia Regular

Body#3: Arvo Regular

The combinations have been chosen to echo the original editorial designs. For the first series of grids I’ll retain the original design and font size before developing the grid further.  

Clearly changing Font but not size has a big impact but is a great exemplar of how fonts are sized differently in their design. This size difference also impact upon the editorial design process. So a quick tidy up gives us a tidier view of the pages.

#1 – Headline: 45pts, Sub heading: 16pts, Quote: 19pts and Footer: 11 and 10pts. Body: 11pts

Here the Garamond / Century Schoolbook combination are a nicely balance set with Garamond regular in particular sitting easily with the Century Schoolbook. Whilst a s Bold headliner it has enough presence to attract the eye but not dominate the white space at the top of the page. Century Schoolbook

#2 – Headline: 35pts, Sub heading: 12pts, Quote: 15pts and Footer: 10 and 12pts. Body: 12pts

As Libre Baskerville is a physically larger design font the re-sizing had to be pretty drastic, which leads to a small size being used for the Headlining. That said it doesn’t diminish its impact in any way, but the bold is heavier than and more suited to commercial or advertising usage. The Sitka Text on the other hand is light to the eye and strikes a delicate balance with the heavier Libre Baskerville headliner. Interesting when used as a regular font the Libre Baskerville suits the Sitka Text nicely.

Headline #3: 45pts Sub heading: 14pts, Quote#3: 17Pts and Footer: 11 and 10pts.

Body #3: 11pts

Visually the Georgia is an altogether calmer font but when used as a Bold headliner but seems more suited to ‘newspaper’ style than feature and the same could be said of the Arvo text, however the Arvo nicely compliments the regular Georgia style font of the quote.

Now I’ve experimented with various fonts, the next stage is to develop the theme of article focusing on Unto us a child is born and changing the subject matter to a more contemporary theme. To echo the new theme’s new font style will be chosen to headlines the themes. Other changes will include subheading wording to reflect the content of the piece, new quote piece and accompanying imagery.

The new themes, which still reflect the key theme of Unto us a child is born are:

  • Handels Messiah
  • Older Parents
  • Children born in Poverty
  • Refugee Camp

Each new piece will be an opportunity to change the feel of the original art to develop the theme a little more, and there is the opportunity to introduce more decorative fonts and colour options.

Child born in refugee camp – Headliner Bohemian Typewriter 40Pts Sub heading Helvetica (12Pts) Quote Helvetica (12Pts at 15% Skew)

Child born in poverty – Headliner The Pits (50Pts), Sub heading Georgia 14Pts with italic element of 15% skew and Quote Georgia 14Pts

Child born to Older Parents – Headliner Grand Hotel (41pts with Horizontal scale increased to 125%) Libre Baskerville for sub headings and Quote 12 and 18Pts

Unto us a child is born (Handel’s Messiah) – Headliner Old English Five Regular 28pts Sub Heading and Quote Garamond 16 and 18Pts

This element of the exercise also asks five questions:

  • What happens when you alter the body font or headline font?

Changing the font will always affect the appearance of an article it sets the tone. For example the Old English Five used to introduce Unto us a child is born (Handel’s Messiah) sets the style of read as both scholarly, of interested to the choral enthusiast and linked with the use of a black background page lends itself to a coffee table lifestyle magazine such as Country Life.

The scrolling Grand Hotel font used for Child born to Older Parents, with its pink scrolling form is reflective of the style that would be used to lead this style of article in a mid-end lifestyle magazine. Whilst the reportage Bohemian Typewriter linked to the stylist Helvetica used for Child born in refugee camp introduces the concept of a cutting edge contemporaneous report from the front style article. For Child born in poverty I used The Pits chalk style font to echo the premise of the articles focus on child povery. This design of article would be used for a professional magazine such as teaching or social work professions.

  • Do different kinds of images change the feel of the publication?

We remember powerful images, and when relevant to the subject matter they not only draw the reader in but also help tell part of the story. I was careful with what images I used for the Refugee article as some are, understandably, distressing and these should be used in their own right. The fine line between voyeurism and serious reporting has to be maintained, so the use of the Holy Family by Geertgen tot Sint Jans not only lent itself to the subject but also provided a linking image to the nature of the article. The inclusion of a background image was deliberate, showing children living and playing in a temporary site helps to reaffirm the helplessness of their situation. The inclusion of an extra graphic was to help add a sense of seriousness to the subject matter as well as to show it’s informative.

Again I used this approach for the Poverty article choosing to show children in worn clothing, which albeit is a Victorian-esque visual trope, but helps to get the point across. The little girls eating the biscuit also help’s to confirm the lack of variation in diet which occurs when there is little or no money for a balanced diet. Here the images add a sense of hopelessness, loss and futility.

For the Handel and Older Parent I wanted the feel to be more informative and relaxed. The smiling pregnant lady and couple with child help to convey a light/warm hearted moment indicating the subject is going to be an easy and enjoyable read. The use of Balthasar Denner’s portrait of Handel adds an element of academia to the article. This, with the black space of the page, and the image of the Winchester Choir in full swing, helps to establish the messiah as a choral work of great importance.

  • Do you think the readership for each of your variations would be the same?

Possibly, I think the readership for the Child born in refugee camp and Child born in refugee camp would be of same, working for NGO’s or in the Third Sector. Whereas the reader of the Child born to Older Parents could be professionals in any number of industries, though most likely the private sector.  The Unto us a child is born (Handel’s Messiah) article would feature in either a lifestyle or Club type magazine.

  • Does the image you choose suggest a different design?

Yes I believe they all do, they affect the use of font type, Handel by his very nature demands a serious yet flourishing decorative tone which Old English Five gives. This also echo’s the idealised font design one would associate with 18th Century England. The chalk effect of the The Pits, may seem light hearted, yet when used in conjunction with the images confirm that the article is bout children of young age. The light heart flowing coloured script of Grand Hotel gives the article a sense of celebration and hope. The direct and almost aggressive key strokes of Bohemian Typewriter add the sense of urgency to the article, echoing telex machines, placing its subject matter in a location where technology has broken down.

The use of two images allows me to further convey and develop the message and content of the article. Another simple design change was made by adjusting the layout, very slightly, of the Child born in refugee camp and introducing three columns of type. This also allowed for the inclusion of a graph which is used as an infographic, to impart further information, in this case the percentage of refugees who are children (38%).

  • Which ones work best and why?

For me Child born in refugee camp as I manipulated the three column format to suit the message and add more impact to the subject matter. Where as Unto us a child is born (Handel’s Messiah) was a great opportunity to manipulate the White Space and use it, along with the Headling Font to create a sombre yet informative looking article.

Resources Used

Country Life, December 12/19 2018, TI Media Ltd, London

8 typefaces that changed the world, https://www.countrylife.co.uk/out-and-about/theatre-film-music/8-typefaces-changed-world-134107  (Accessed 19112020)

Johnston Type https://i.pinimg.com/736x/91/94/43/919443d448966d9aa26045e5c42458e3.jpg (Accessed 19112020)

Transport Type https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_(typeface) (Accessed 19112020)

Text generator https://www.lipsum.com/  (Accessed 19112020)

Schneider Libretto font example https://en.fontke.com/font/13143725/ (Accessed 19112020)

George Frideric Handel by Balthasar Denner – https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fa/George_Frideric_Handel_by_Balthasar_Denner.jpg (Accessed 23112020)

Winchester Cathedral Choir https://www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk/worship-and-music/music-choir/  (Accessed 23112020)

Older parents https://www.verywellfamily.com/thmb/PmQQbzeG0a4Ha6G2U8G4_ph815M=/2250×1500/filters:fill(DBCCE8,1)/older-parents-with-baby-5a288580da27150036296555.jpg  (Accessed 23112020)

Pregnant lady https://www.nflwc.com/uploads/pink-t-pregnant-woman.jpg  (Accessed 23112020)

Child Poverty  https://benskippergraphicdesign.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/8fc60-dsc_0618.jpg  (Accessed 23112020)

Child with biscuit https://theconversation.com/are-there-400-000-fewer-children-in-poverty-in-the-uk-than-there-were-in-2010-128274  (Accessed 23112020)

Refugee Child and Boat https://www.voanews.com/world-news/middle-east-dont-use/un-many-syrian-refugees-educated-seeking-better-lives (Accessed 23112020)

Refugee Camp https://theconversation.com/how-to-help-refugee-children-get-through-the-trauma-of-whats-happened-to-them-64335 (Accessed 23112020)

Handel Messiah facts https://www.bsomusic.org/stories/5-things-you-might-not-know-about-handels-messiah/ (Accessed 23112020)

Baby Facts https://www.verywellfamily.com/being-an-older-parent-4155772 (Accessed 23112020)

Child Poverty facts https://www.basw.co.uk/resources/psw-magazine/psw-online/child-poverty-rise-warning (Accessed 23112020)

Child Refugee Chart https://venngage.com/blog/13-of-the-most-pressing-questions-about-refugees-answered-with-charts/  (Accessed 23112020)

Infant mortality information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5717942/  (Accessed 23112020)

Nativity at Night by Geertgen tot Sint Jans. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nativity_at_Night#/media/File:Geertgen_tot_Sint_Jans,_The_Nativity_at_Night,_c_1490.jpg  (Accessed 23112020)