A great media product combines appealing images and engaging text into a message that will grab the audience’s attention. In this tutorial, you are going to design the front cover of a media studies textbook which will interest students who are studying the subject.
If you worked through our guide to using text layers, you should already have a good understanding of how the Type Tool can be used to create colourful headlines and subheadings. For this task, you will learn how to import images into Photoshop and get to practice arranging the different items in the layer panel.
When you open Photoshop, click the “create new” button . In the new window, select the A4 Print preset and look at the settings. The 210 x 297mm refers to the width and height of the document.
The 300ppi value is the number of pixels per inch and this is really important for printing high-quality images. Although you might be able to get away with 180ppi for a lot of print media projects, anything less will definitely pixelate and look terrible on the page. More on this later.
Since you have a blank canvas, your layers panel should only include the locked background. The default colour here is white and the eye icon lets you know the layer is visible.
Add Some Text
Select the type tool and create a text layer by holding down the left mouse button as you drag the cursor across the canvas. If you layer is filled with placeholder text, it might look something like this:
The font family in this example is Arial with a regular weight and size 12pt.
Press the delete key and then type in “MEDIA STUDIES”. Change the font to bold and the size to 60pt – the letters should fill an appropriate width of the screen. Add in a few more text layers, such as the author’s name, some sort of tagline and the name of the publishers:
You can see front cover is already taking shape and the layers panel is now populated with the four text layers we have just created. Notice how Photoshop has named each text layer so they are immediately identifiable.
There are a number of ways to change the font size. For instance, you can highlight the text and edit the value in the options bar or character panel. We simply used the free transform tool to scale the words horizontally and vertically. The shortcut is control+t (Windows) or command+t (MacOS) on your keyboard.
Then we used the move tool to reposition the layer anywhere on the canvas. The shortcut is simply v on the keyboard.
Now is a good time to save the document. We named ours “front-cover-task” and made sure to use the Photoshop file extension psd.
Add an Image
If you want to use a copyright free image, you should visit Unsplash because they have an amazing selection of high-resolution stock photos you can download and modify, even for commercial use. Remember, you must use your own images in your actual media products. For this exercise, we searched for “film production”, selected a fantastic photograph taken by Jakob Owens, and added it to the canvas:
To add this particular image, we dragged the file from our folder down to the Photoshop icon in the taskbar, waited for the workspace to appear, and then dropped the image onto the canvas by releasing the mouse button. This creates a smart object – any modification to the image, such as skew or scale, will not destroy its original data.
Of course, there are other ways to add the image. You could File > Open in the main menu and search your folders for the image. Once the document is open, drag the layer across the document tabs at the top of the workspace and drop it onto your front cover:
Or you can copy and paste the layer from one document to the other by using the control+c and control+v shortcuts on Windows or command+c and command+v on a Mac computer. If you use these methods, you can resize the image using the transform function.
Pixels Per Inch
We downloaded the largest size available from Unsplash to ensure the front cover looks sharp when it comes out the printer. A low resolution and a blurry image will cost you marks in coursework, so it is vital your document is large and/or has at least 180ppi for images on an A4 page. You can find out more about image resolution in our three essential tips for taking photographs.
To see the problem for yourself, type “film production” into a search engine:
Right click on a result and select “open image in new tab” – this should give you access to the full image rather than just the thumbnail in the results page. Copy and paste a few images straight from your browser into Photoshop. Lots of the images will be incredibly small in your A4 document. Of course, you can modify the search for larger images, but some of these are probably still going to be too small for printing.
In our example, none of the layers overlapped. If you want to use the image as a background, make sure the layer is below the text layers. We simply left-clicked on the layer and dragged it down to the bottom of the list.
If you want to become more proficient in combining text and images in Photoshop, you need to make a variety of media products, including newspapers, leaflets and billboard advertisements. Try our double-page spread tutorial which takes you through a step-by-step guide to creating a great looking layout for a magazine.