Nov 20, 2004

Put Your Loved One on a Magazine Cover

Goofy Gifts--Make a Magazine Cover
adapted by Rick Blythe

I'm always looking for clever ways to use my digital photos. When it's time to give gifts, I believe that photos are some of the most personal and most appreciated gifts you can give. But just handing someone an 8 by 10 lacks that certain je ne sais quois, as the French like to say. So I like to give cookies with edible pictures, jigsaw puzzle photos, and photo slide show screen savers. The next time a birthday rolls around, here's a clever gift you can make all by yourself, without any help from a bakery: a framed mock magazine cover featuring your guest of honor.

It's really easy to do. All you need is an appropriate, high-resolution photo and an image editing program. Then send it to the printer and it's ready for framing. Ready to get started?

I'm going to make the debut issue of "Ada Magazine" in honor of my lovely wife. If you want to play along at home, you can work with one of my photos, at a drastically lower resolution than I recommend for a project like this; I reduced it for ease of download. Try to use a 2- or 3-megapixel image for your magazine cover.

Add a Border
Our first order of business is to give our picture a magazine-like outline. Load it into your favorite image editor (I'll use Paint Shop Pro) and add a blank border area around your image. You can make it any color you like, but I think a nice fire-red border will be very magazine-ish.

Paint Shop Pro provides an easy way to do this. First, right-click in the color palette (on the right side of the screen) to select red; you should see the current background color change to red. Then choose Image, Add Borders from the menu and enter a border dimension in the resulting dialog box. For the sample image I've provided, you'll want to use about 40 pixels, but a 3-megapixel image might need about 100 pixels to get a similar effect. Be sure to set the border to symmetric so all four sides are the same. Click OK, and you should see a red border around the image.

Add a Title
What's a magazine without a catchy title? Mine will be called "Ada Magazine"--after all, it's the place people go when they want to read all about Ada. Click the Text button in the toolbar (it's on the left side of the screen and shaped like the letter A) and click in the upper half the picture, more or less where you want the title to end up. You'll then get the Text Entry dialog box. Choose Create as Vector, and check the Antialias option. Type a title, then select it with your cursor and adjust the font style, size, and color. If you move the dialog box out of the way, you should be able to see the text change in the image. Don't worry about the exact placement, because you can fix that in a minute. When it looks good, click OK.

When the dialog box is gone, you can drag the text around the screen and even change its size. Move the cursor over the center of the text, then click and drag to move it. You resize the text by grabbing a corner. If you want to get fancy, you can even rotate it by clicking on and dragging the small box to the right of the center of the text.

Make It Interesting
From here, it's all up to you. Add some "cover lines" to make it look more like a real publication. Add an issue date, some revealing new feature, and more. If you're ambitious, you can photograph a bar code from a real magazine with your digital camera and paste it into the cover.