Changes of magazine covers

For one of my projects in university I decided to gain a deeper knowledge about magazine covers and their changes through the different decades. I concentrated on Vanity Fair, as it plays an important part in the history of magazines, and recreate three three different covers of out of different time periods. To make the recreation more interesting, I used modern techniques for old covers and vice versa. Through that, I want to show how cultural standards and impacts have changed in the past centuries since this is often reflected on magazine covers.


The most recent cover , from 2019, will be recreated with techniques that were common around the change from the 19th to 20th century. For this, I am going to use screen printing, with only four different colours, and letterpress to reproduce the title and cover lines.

I decided to choose this cover from 2019 because it shows how women’s roles have changed over the years. The woman seems strong and able to fight on her own, without depending on a man, as it used to be shown. 

For the screen printing, I created a vector graphic out of only four different colours because most magazines did not use that many different colours at that time, but mainly big areas of colour. This was a complicated process for me because I still wanted to include details to make sure the picture does not look too boring. For the details, I used white, which is the background of the paper. When one compares my vector graphic and the original cover it, of course, looks different but I think it went really well, especially when you consider the fact that I only used 4 colours.

My final screenprint is printed on A5, which made the typesetting easier. Before I started with my type, I did measurements on how big the different types should be and the spaces between the single cover lines. Due to the fonts available, I was not able to stick to these measurements, but it still helped me to get a better understanding of the cover.

During that process, different problems occurred, such as not enough capital letters within one type, where I had to use small letters instead. When I started printing I wanted to print everything in white, with exception of “Vanity Fair”, because it is closet to the original. Quickly I realized that this would not be possible to do, because parts of the cover lines go over into the sky and that is white, due to only using four different colours for screen printing. Furthermore, I also decided to mix the white with a bit of blue because it was printing a little bit transparent, which made it hard to read the cover lines. The blue also did not work that well, which is why I decided to use black and red instead.

In the end, I decided to choose the cover with black cover lines, because the black is easiest to read on the background and also seems more in harmony with the cover lines on the side. Furthermore, it makes the red title stand out more. As one can see, some letters are not the right font or are a small one instead of a capital letter. This is due to the given types I had to work with. This is also an issue for the hyphen I had to use in “C-3PO”, where there were no smaller ones within the type. In the end, I decided to not photoshop anything of that because with that one can see how difficult it can be to print with individual letters.


The second cover is from 1989. I want to recreate it with modern techniques and old ways of creating covers. Therefore, I am going to do an illustration with Photoshop. With that, I can create a cover that is more outstanding in comparison to other published issues right now, that mainly only use photography.

I chose this cover because it shows how the role of females have changed. Of course, in comparison to today, with nearly nude covers, the model is still wearing a lot, but still it is clear how females have gained more right in concerns of their self-determination. In addition to that, the woman on the cover also has a darker skin colour and it portrays how their role in society has also improved in the last decades.

In comparison to the other two covers, I think this process was the easiest for me since I mainly focussed on illustrations in the past months. I started by drawing the layers and went on and added details to each one. In the beginning, I struggled with the face, since it is something where everything needs to be aligned perfectly, but due to the possibilities I had with Photoshop, I was able to get a result I like. Another tough part was the hair. I have never drawn such curly hairs and watched a lot of videos about it, but they were not that helpful, which is why I decided to create my own brush which reflects the structure of the hair.

For the final design, I added the magazine’s title as well as the cover lines. For the title, I used “OPTIVanity Fair”, which is the font that was used in the past. For the cover lines, I used “Futura”, which is close to the initially used font and is a font that is used until today. While recreating the cover lines on the right side, I realized how close they were arranged next to each other, which is not common today. On the first look, it seems like it is one long cover line, while actually there are four individual ones.


The last cover I am recreating is an issue from 1913. For this, I want to create a cover, as it could exist in the future. While nowadays celebrities are modelling for their covers, the magazine covers could get completely photoshopped, which could be cheaper than paying the models. In addition to that, I want to use AR for it. With that, I use a technic that already exists but is not used frequently in our daily lives.

I chose this cover from 1913 to recreate with modern technics because it is something completely different from what we know nowadays. Since I wanted to recreate it as a composition with Photoshop, this cover seemed to me as it could be something more outstanding, mainly because it is an unreal scene

I was not able to find any fitting pictures for the dress online, which is why I decided to take pictures of myself in that pose, with a blanket. Another struggle I had was the position of the woman on the moon. Since on the original cover it is a crescent moon, that is filled completely it looked weird in my own version in the beginning. I decided to place the woman behind the moon and use transparency which makes it look like she is sitting on the moon. I still chose to have the baskets/purses in front of the moon, because otherwise, it would look weird if they were placed behind it and they were able to be seen beneath it. In the end, I also placed the moon in the middle of the cover. On the original cover, the moon looks more centred because it is more in the shape of a circle, but this would be an unrealistic moon, which is why I decided to not use the shape. In conclusion of that, the woman is now also centred and not on the right side as can be seen on the original version.

I decided to use Augmented Reality for the cover because it is something that could be used in the future. While I did my research and worked on this project, I have been thinking a lot about what changes need to happen in the future, so printed magazines and newspapers will not die. A lot of people love the feeling of holding paper in their hand and being able to flip the pages over. Others like to read on their phones or online. Therefore, I decided to combine both with each other. For this, my vision of the future is that you look at a magazine and can only see the full cover with AR. Through that, one can also have a little insight into the content. The magazine itself would also work together with AR and make the reading experience more special. 

 The tracked image is just the background together with the moon as well as “Vanity Fair”. I wanted to include the magazine’s title to make sure it is recognized. The cover seems a little bit empty with only the moon as a primary element, which makes people wonder about its look.

You can try it with the app „Zappar“

Mock ups

This project was created in March 2020.