How to Create a Magazine Cover Mockup in 8 Steps

How to Create a Magazine Cover Mockup in 8 Steps

The way people receive information is constantly changing, with many traditional media outlets experiencing unprecedented changes as consumers adopt convenient ways of accessing content on their phones. Still, one traditional giant of the mass media–the magazine–refuses to go the way of the Dodo bird as publishers find creative ways to keep them relevant.

How do you create a magazine cover mockup? In a series of eight simple steps, a striking magazine cover mockup can be created that will allow you to see your idea in the real world prior to actual publication.

Before making your mockup, you will want to have a rough idea of your cover sketched out on a piece of paper or roughed out in a design program, with any accompanying photos you plan on using saved conveniently on your computer. With these preparations, you will be able to get your magazine cover mockup designed, saved, and ready to share in a matter of minutes.

Step #1 – Visit Placeit

Head over to to get started.

Placeit is a one-stop-shop for all things related to graphic design and will make your magazine cover mockup a breeze.

Step #2 – Locate the Mockup Tab

On the Placeit homepage, you will find the following five tabs in the top left corner of the page:

  • Mockups
  • Designs
  • Logos
  • Videos
  • Gaming

The default should have “Mockups” already chosen, but if not, hover your cursor over the “Mockups” tab. This will activate a sub-ribbon that offers mockups for dozens of different items, from apparel to business cards.

As all of the different mockup options do not fit on one page, you will need to scroll to find the tab you need. At the far right of the sub-ribbon, you should see a carrot inviting you to scroll through the mockup options.

The “Magazine” tab is among the last selections on the sub-ribbon, so you may need to click the carrot several times to scroll to it.

Once located, click the “Magazine” tab to explore the various magazine cover mockup options.

Step #3 – Choose the Right Mockup Template

After clicking on the “Magazine” tab, you will be introduced to hundreds of different magazine cover mockup templates. Each page holds about 25 different designs, so make sure you are clicking on the scroll bar at the bottom of the page to cycle through all of the different options to locate the template best suited for your needs.

When choosing a mockup template, it is important to remember that catchy magazine covers on newsstands and grocery store checkout lanes are not the primary driver of sales in this day and age.

Customers are more likely to interact with your magazine cover via social media than they are at a physical point of sale, so you need to design your mockup in a manner that conveys several important points:

  1. The image you are posting is that of an actual magazine cover and not a meme or any other creatively designed text layout intended for social media sharing. As such, mockups with a strong 3D view of the magazine cover are preferred
  2. The mockup displays some form of human interaction. You want to demonstrate that people value your magazine and that it is in circulation at trendy places
  3. Prospective buyers are able to clearly discern all important headlines and main images. After all, while a pretty cover and catchy social media mockup might spark interest and generate likes, the goal is the get people to purchase the edition and read further, and they will not do that if they do not know what the issue is about

Luckily, Placeit has you covered on all of these fronts, as there is no shortage of mockup templates to fit the bill for modern magazine marketing. Some favorite ideas include:

  • Man at a coffee shop– the proliferation of coffee shops have made them major hubs for cultural relevance, as many people take their work or study materials there. Not only does this trendy mockup put your magazine cover on full display, but it suggests that it will catch the attention of many passing eyes 
  • Woman reading in bed– this mockup gives a casual feel to your magazine, making it seem like a must-read before bed in the evening or some light perusing on a sunny weekend afternoon. This particular design gives an extremely clear view of all of the cover details
  • Young woman reading in a waiting room– magazines have long been a favorite form of complementary entertainment in waiting rooms across the country. Not only does this mockup capture your magazine cover in this realistic scenario, but it also provides a clear shot of your cover’s specific information

While all of these mockup templates effectively capture your magazine cover in trendy modern market scenarios, there are still plenty of options to choose from if you are just looking for the nuts and bolts of the cover design, say, for example, if you needed to send a mockup to a manager to get it approved.

Step #4 – Bring Color to Your Magazine

The default mockups on Placeit use a white magazine, but do not feel like you are restricted to this option. You can easily choose from the entire color spectrum to find the right color for your magazine.

After deciding on the magazine template option you want to use, click on the template. This will load a new screen that allows you to make edits to your specified selection.

On the right-hand side of this screen, you will see a dropdown box labeled “Magazine Color.” Click the down arrow on this box to open the color spectrum.

Feel free to cycle through the different color options. Remember, when you click on a color, the entire magazine in the mockup will switch to this color. Therefore, it is a good idea to start with this step when editing your mockup, as this color will be the base of your magazine.

While it is good to experiment with the different color options available, there are a few points to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you match. As this will provide the base for your magazine, how will it match with the images and fonts you intend to use? Will it clash or be overly distracting? This is why drawing a draft beforehand is important, as these considerations need to be carefully thought out
  • Be bold with your colors. Color, even more than striking images and text, is likely to be the main aspect that draws customers’ attention to your magazine cover. Traditionally, red and yellow are good base colors to use, as they are striking colors that are more versatile and less gaudy than other bold hues
  • Keep your target audience in mind. You will have a lot more leeway to use fun colors when designing for a children’s magazine than you will when making a mockup for a scientific or medical journal
  • Be creative yet consistent. While it is good to explore a variety of different colors for your magazine, you want to try and stay as consistent as possible from issue to issue. This can help build a brand, where a specific color is associated with your magazine, like red is for Time Magazine, and yellow is for National Geographic

Step #5 – Upload Your Image

After the magazine color has been chosen, arguably, the most important aspect of designing an effective magazine cover mockup is choosing the right cover image.

The image on your magazine cover will take up the majority of the cover space, so you need to make sure you get it right.

Fortunately, Placeit makes this process a breeze. A cover image can be added to your mockup using the following steps:

  1. Size your image – the Placeit mockup builder will place images of 700 X 1,000px on the cover. While it is likely that the image you plan on using will be usable in this range, if it is not, make sure you resize it locally so that it will not be stretched or blurred once uploaded to Placeit
  2. Click the “Upload Image” box – on the same screen you used to edit the magazine color; you will notice a box on the far left of the screen that says “Upload Image.” If you have chosen a mockup template that allows for a view of both the front and back cover, there may be two such boxes, so make sure you do not get them confused
  3. Choose the desired image – after clicking on the “Upload Image” box, you will be directed to your local drive. Locate your cover image in the appropriate folder and double click to upload it to the editing software on Placeit
  4. Edit your cover image – you will now have your cover image loaded in the photo editing box. There is a scroll bar at the bottom of the screen that allows you to zoom as needed. In addition, by clicking on and dragging the image, you can change where it is located on the magazine cover, allowing part of the image to be cropped off, if necessary
  5. Crop the image to the magazine cover – once you have the cover image properly sized and placed, click the “Crop” button at the bottom of the photo editing box to have the image placed on the magazine cover

If you are happy with the cover image, great–you are ready to move on to adding text. If not, the “Upload Image” box at the left of the screen will have changed to accommodate the image. Click the strikethrough box if you want to go back into the editor and make some adjustments to the photo, or click the “X” if you want to remove the image completely and start again.

Step #6 – Add Text to the Cover

While not as important as the color and image of a magazine cover, improper use of text can definitely break a mockup if not applied correctly.

Luckily, Placeit has all of the tools you need to add text to perfection.

At the top left of the cover editing screen for the template you chose, you will find, just above the box for uploading the cover image, a box titled “Add Text.” Click this box to get directed to the text editing wizard.

Once in the wizard, you will notice several items of note:

  1. There is a default message that says “Change Me” in both the text box and on the mockup cover. When you click in the text box, you can erase and re-type the message to fit your needs, with anything typed in the text box mirrored on the cover. Text can be up to 50 characters long.
  2. There is a checkbox next to the text box. If this is not checked, then you cannot make changes to the text, and the message on the mockup cover disappears, so make sure this box is checked if you are actively trying to edit the text on your cover.
  3. There is a dropdown box below the text box to change the font. The default used for Placeit is Avenir Next, but this is easily modified by clicking the down arrow on the dropdown box and scrolling through the many options.
  4. To the right of the font dropdown box, there is a color dropdown box. When clicking on the down arrow, a color spectrum is pulled up for you to choose the color of your font. If you want to change the text background color, toggle to the “Text Background” tab at the top of the spectrum to change the color your text is set against.
  5. Once you have the text worded and colored appropriately, you can click on the text in the mockup to initiate an editing box. From there, you can resize the text and drag it to the appropriate place on the magazine cover.
  6. You can add additional text, as needed, by clicking the “Add Another Text” box located just below the original text box in the upper left of the screen.

Best Practices for the Use of Text

While the cover text alone probably will not attract readers’ eyes quite like the color and image, it can quickly cause them to turn away if not executed correctly. As such, there are a number of important considerations you must make as you play with text in your magazine cover mockup:

  • Be careful with text, as the color and font of the text on covers are extremely important. It will affect the tone and overall feeling of the cover
  • You may be able to get away with colorful fonts for the major headings, but always use black and white fonts for subheadings and smaller text. If you do choose to use a colorful font for your major headings, make sure it does not clash with the cover’s main color or image
  • Do not place very long sentences on the cover. You only have a split second to capture a reader’s attention, and you do not want him or her to get bored reading lengthy text. Phrases of four words are ideal, with ten words being an absolute maximum
  • Make sure the text you include on the cover is representative of the content in the magazine. Be sure to talk to the editor to get an idea of keywords and phrases to include on the cover to spark interest and provoke customers to buy an issue and read further
  • To get the most out of the text, try to place it against a solid background, as blending against a patterned background or image is a quick way to render your words irrelevant

Step #7 – Include a Graphic

This is more of an optional step but can be an effective means of adding some pizzazz to your mockup.

On the upper right of the mockup editor screen, just below the color dropdown, there is a box labeled “Add Graphic.”

By clicking on this box, you will be introduced to a whole plethora of clipart-type graphics, with a search bar included to help you locate the one you are looking for.

While you may not want to add one of these graphics to your magazine cover itself, it can be a nice touch to include as part of the mockup, as these graphics can be a fun way to add some flavor to the mood that your magazine is trying to create.

Step #8 – Download Your Finalized Mockup

After you have gotten all of the details adjusted to your liking in the mockup editor, it is time to download your finalized version and use it to promote your magazine.

At the top center of the mockup editor screen, there will be a blue “Download” box. If you are a subscriber to Placeit, you will be able to download your mockup for free, or if not, you can easily purchase the download through a one-time fee.

With this step, you have completed the mockup design process, bringing your magazine cover to life without ever having an actual print version in circulation, all thanks to the easy-to-use mockup software brought to you by Placeit.