Creating a novel is pretty different from a magazine or comic book layout. From the way the content is written to conscious design decisions, both magazines and comic books employ an intensely graphic style. Which makes creating one very different from creating a book.
Lots of options exist for book templates out there. A quick Google search will produce near-endless results. From free templates on Canva (though these are mostly covers) to paid template bundles; you can find loads of magazines and comic book templates.
Now what do you do with those templates?
Page Layout And Design Best Practices
There are lots of standards and expectations to contend with when you’re creating a book. Foremost is the need to fit the mold for your readers; if you’re creating an action-packed comic layout, you’ll need to include various panels and flashy images. If you’re making a magazine layout with longform content, you’ll need columns with standard fonts.
For example, here’s a comic template from Medialoot, a resource for loads of templates.
The left panel uses very standard square/rectangle panels. This kind of set up is great for a scene full of exposition—say if one character is telling another about a situation or if they’re moving through a location that needs to be revealed.
The middle set of panels is perfect for an argument because the top three can juxtapose close ups of characters. Then the lower panels (which could easily be replaced with one large panel or two side-by-side) can show a moment of action or resolution to the heated moment.
Finally, that right panel is perfect for a scene dominated by the graphics. Like a fight scene or the first time a character arrives in a new location.
This doesn’t mean that you couldn’t use the square/rectangle panels for a fight scene or the three-panel template for exposition. But pairing a scene with the template that readers expect will help settle them into the reading. Readers—all of us really—crave familiarity.
Elements Of The Page
Did you know that comic book and magazine pages are pretty much standardized at a specific paper size? It’s true. Comic book layouts are more often than not 6.63×10.25” and magazine layouts are 8.5×11” or 5.5×8.5”
If you go to a grocery store, bookstore, or comic book shop and look at the shelves, you’ll see the books are almost entirely uniform. Again, that uniformity is important to make sure your readers knows they’re getting a comic book or magazine.
Now once you get to laying out the interior is where you’ll find the unique and distinct elements. The general design should hold to some norms, like the page size. But a magazine or a comic book is much more than just words on the page.
Magazine And Comic Book Product Design
If there’s one thing to take away from this post, it’s this: don’t try to use Microsoft Word for your magazine or comic book. It’s just not going to work. At the least, you should use Adobe InDesign or Affinity Publisher to layout your work.
When you’re working with designs that integrate words and images, you need a powerful page layout tool to make that happen. It is awesome that desktop publishing has become powerful enough to make magazine and comic book creation possible right from home. Though it does help a lot to have templates to get you started.
Magazine Layout Resources
Magazines use some very specific elements; such as columned text and ‘title’ pages for longform content. But the way these elements are combined on the page are where design choices make a big difference.
Fortunately, using powerful tools like InDesign make it easy to customize your creation. Even with a template, the options desktop publishers offer make that template highly adaptable.
With that in mind, I’ve got two spots on the web I recommend for grabbing interior magazine templates. Both of these are meant for InDesign, but Affinity Publisher works for them as well.
If you’re interested in page layout and graphic design, InDesign Skills is a terrific site. I’m pretty bad at anything visual, but I still love their newsletter. And this magazine template is a great example of why.
Their content is simply written, easy to digest, and includes specific help for some of the InDesign’s more complicated elements.
Since we’re focusing on InDesign templates, why not go to the source? The Adobe Blog features lots of helpful information about using all of their software. This content in particular highlights a few awesome magazine templates they offer through their Adobe Stock site.
Comic Book Layout Resources
There is a lot out there when it comes to comic book templates. From simple designs for kids to learn about comic creating to complex, multi-panel designs for high-quality comics; there are a lot of options.
I’ve got two for traditional comic book styles—I’m thinking DC/Marvel type things here.
I wasn’t familiar with template.net until I was researching this article. They’ve got a bunch of, you guessed it, templates for a variety of needs. Their free downloads do require attributing the creator—so if you use these, please be sure to call out the creator in your work.
Canva a leader in the design industry for free, simple to use tools. Their comic book templates are no different. Their options are a bit basic, but if you’re creating something simple and don’t want to pay for a template or develop your own, Canva’s comic book templates are a great alternative.
Magazine And Comic Book Covers
We’re going to wrap up today with one more piece of your magazine or comic book creation puzzle: your cover.
There’s not a lot to say here. All the template providers I mentioned above offer cover templates too. What you do need to take note of is Lulu’s inside cover printing.
That’s right; when you publish a magazine or comic book with Lulu, you’ll have the ability to add content to the inside of the cover! This is important for magazines, which traditionally run full page advertising on the inside front cover.
I’ve mentioned it multiple times earlier in this post: you need to meet your reader’s expectations. For magazines, that means including inside cover content. That’s why we added this option to our platform. The more you can meet the norms for a specific type of book, the more room you have to be original in the design elements.
Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.