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Lectures & Projects

Feature Spread Design About New York

We’re going to set aside any creativity at the moment and just focus on software and technical ability. It’s difficult to learn skills and software while trying to be creative, and I feel this is where a lot of graphic design classes miss the mark. So for this assignment you can copy and match what you see. Trust me, it should be challenging enough. You can flex your creativity muscles once you complete this assignment. This project simulates a real-world hierarchy anyway; similar to an entry level or production based job, where an art director or creative director might hand off a mockup for you to produce.

I understand that you’ve taken a few classes, and have covered a lot of ground. But this intro project is your benchmark. I don’t expect you remember or understand everything from one assignment. But whether it takes you a few weeks or a few years, you should be working to get close to this benchmark, because there are other designers who can and they will be the first pick for jobs. Recently I met with a firm who was interested in bringing me in to mentor their young design staff because they didn’t know InDesign well enough.

It’s a lot like cooking (and you might hear me make make references to Gordon Ramsay from time to time). If I ask you to make an omelet, there are a lot of cool and interesting combinations you can do. But nobody likes burnt, overcooked, and/or rubbery eggs – so you need to know how to make some awesome scrambled eggs before you make an omelet. Mastering InDesign, Layout, and Typography are the scrambled eggs; the base ingredient.

If you feel you already know this stuff, prove it. And if you do in fact know it, can you do this assignment in about 2-4 hours? And if you don’t know it, you should. So for now, I don’t think anyone deserves an exception.


This is not a step-by-step manual. I unfortunately don’t have time to write a book like that. However, it is a guide designed to point you in the right direction, supplement what I demonstrate in class, and give you clues so that you can do your own research and exploration.

If you can’t figure something out in 30-60 minutes, you need to talk to me. If you’re working outside of class, you can email me, or just make a note of it, skip it for now, and we’ll deal with it in class. No heroes, please. I’ve seen a trend with students lately where they don’t ask for help. Whatever the reason, you’re only cheating yourself. I only help those who ask for it, and I will let you dig your own grave if you decide to not ask for help and not come to class. Also, if you do find information out there in the wild, I want to see it to make sure it will not mislead you.



A Word on InDesign Defaults

Right now, before you open anything, whatever you do will be come a global default. This includes things like adding swatches and all settings like font size and width. A global default will take effect for every new document you open. Once you make a new document, if you have nothing selected, you will create local defaults. If you set your fill color to red, then every time you make a shape, the fill will be red, but only for the document you are working with. Use global and local defaults to your advantage, they can be a huge time saver. But also watch out, it’s easy to set your local defaults by accident, and apply a character style to something without realizing it.


You are going to use the bullet list below to create a finished magazine layout that matches the .PDF I supplied above exactly as you see it. For anything that you don’t know how to do, each subhead below links to a point in the video below to demonstrate. In addition to this, you should be doing internet research to answer your questions.

In the past, students have messed this up by trying to follow along with the video. Let me be clear: I do not have a finished project at the end of the video, the video is only for demonstration and NOT a step-by-step-follow-along.

I’ve given you the content and images, the creative direction, and a video demonstration on top of what you can find on the internet. There is no excuse for not getting this done.

Setting up your document

Setting up the master pages

Cleaning up the text

Styling the body text and subheads

Styling the intro text


Set up the pull quote

Create the table


Create the sidebar

Create the Cross Reference