How to Create a Stylish Magazine Layout in Affinity Publisher | How To

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a simple and magazine spread using Affinity , 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. 

Need a quick solution for creating your own magazine designs? You can find a wide range of easy-to-edit magazine templates on Envato Elements and GraphicRiver.

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: 

  • Addington CF font family
  • Bw Modelica font family
  • Photo of a sprinting greyhound

Install the fonts on your computer, and you’re ready to get started!

1. How to Set Up a Magazine Document in Affinity Publisher

Step 1

Open up Affinity Publisher, and go to File > New.

With the Type set to Print, choose Letter from the Page Preset menu.

letter page size

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. 

left page start

From the Color Format menu, choose CMYK/8.

cmyk color

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


Step 2

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

document bleed

Step 3

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. 

add pages
extra page

Step 4

From the Master Pages panel above, click on the Add Master button. 

add master

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.

new master

Drag the Spread Master down onto Pages 1 and 2 in the Pages panel, to apply the master to both pages in your document. 

spread master

Step 5

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. 

show margins

Step 6

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. 

add global color

In the window that opens, name the color Yellow and choose CMYK Sliders from the menu below this. 

cmyk sliders

Set the levels to C=2 M=24 Y=95 and K=0, before clicking Add

global color

2. How to Format Elements on Your Master Spread

Step 1

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.

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

yellow font color

Step 2

With your text tool cursor set in the text frame, after the slashes, go to Text > Insert > Page Number. 

insert page number

Adjust the Font Color of this page number to Black

black page number

Step 3

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.

page number pasted

Step 4

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

addington font

Highlight some of the words and change the Font Color to Yellow

font color yellow

Step 5

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. 

weight stroke

Step 6

Copy and Paste the yellow line, positioning the copy to the right of the header text. 

pasted line

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. 

line extended

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.

transparency tool
master spread

3. How to Build Up Typography on Your Magazine Spread

Step 1

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. 

text frame

Step 2

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. 

linked frames

Step 3

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. 

text frames

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. 

yellow font color

Step 4

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. 

font modelica

Step 5

From the Layers panel (on the right side of the workspace) bring the Opacity of the text frame down to 95%.

layers panel

Use the Transparency Tool to create a gradient effect across the right side of the text frame. 

transparency tool

Step 6

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. 

move to back
gradient effect

4. How to Add an Image to Your Magazine Spread

Step 1

Select the Picture Frame Tool and drag across the right-hand page, creating a frame just shy of the height of the columns. 

image frame

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.

flip horizontal

Step 2

With the image frame selected, click on Move to Back at the top of the workspace.

image frame

5. How to Add a Pull Quote to Your Layout

Step 1

Use the Frame Text Tool (T) to create a text frame across the top-right of Page 2

frame text tool

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.

medium italic

Switch the font weight of some of the text, such as pulling out certain phrases in Thin Italic, to create contrast and improve readability.

thin italic

Step 2

Highlight some of the text and switch the Font Color to Yellow.

yellow color

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

pdf export

Conclusion: Your Finished Magazine Layout

Your magazine spread is finished and exported, ready to be printed. Great job!

final magazine

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. 

Looking for a quick and easy way to get started with creating your own magazine? Discover a huge range of easy-to-edit magazine templates on Envato Elements and GraphicRiver.

If you’re on the hunt for more magazine design tips, don’t miss these other tutorials:

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  • Imagine your design on the covers of magazine. Check out this list of premium magazine templates from Envato Market and Envato Elements.

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