How to Layout a Comic Book Cover


Introduction
Learn how to lay out a comic book cover, as well as create a hybrid photograph and comic book inspired image. This style is designed to blur the lines between comic book fiction and reality, creating an image which could feasibly exist in the modern world. In this tutorial, the iconic Superman #75 cover, which begins the Death of Superman story arc, will be used as inspiration (seen below).

Preface
This tutorial is targeted towards individuals with some experience with Adobe Software, and some terminology may be confusing to those who are not familiar with the programs.

Programs You Will Need:
-Adobe Photoshop
-Adobe Illustrator
-Adobe InDesign
(This tutorial will be using the Creative Suite 4 version for all software, although previous versions should also suffice.)

Files Used
Superman Title
Superman Logo
DC Logo

Superman Cape Texture (Source: FilterForge.com)
City Scape

Step 1
Open Photoshop and create a new document with a width of 6.75 inches and a height of 10.25 Inches. Make sure to set the DPI to 300, and the color to CMYK.

Step 2
Import the City Scape into the document, and scale it up to fill the entire document.

Step 3
Go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and set the values as -22 for Brightness, and 43 for Contrast. This will give the image a more ominous and somber tone.

Step 4
Move the cape texture into the document, and enlarge it to a fairly large size.

Step 5
Using the eraser tool, remove areas of the cape to make it appear as though it has been ripped and tattered. Make sure you use a hard brush, as a soft one will make the texture’s edges fuzzy. Make sure that the cape is torn from left to right, to ensure a more uniform and realistic effect. Also, change the size of the brush on the eraser to make the effect look more natural. You can also make this as tattered and weathered as you so desire. This will be a bit of an arduous process, so be patient, and the end results will be worth while.

Step 6
Import the Superman Logo (The S-Shield), using the default import settings. Use the ink drop tool to select the yellow from the image, and then use the paint bucket tool to cover the red in the logo. Then, erase the small “TM” symbol in the bottom right corner of the shield.

Step 7
Move the logo into a new layer in the document. Scale it up so that it covers a majority of the cape, and then set the blending mode to Soft Light. You may also wish to warp the logo to make it align with the the cape’s creases a bit more realistically, although this is not entirely essential.

Step 8
Merge the Logo and Cape layers together, and go to Edit > Transform > Distort. Move the corners on the cape to a left to right, and slightly downward angle (pictured below).

Step 9
Using the warp tool, further transform the cape to this downward angle. This may take a few tries to get it to look right, so again, take your time, and be patient with the process.

Step 10
By this point, the cape may have shrunk a bit too much. Simply scale it up so that it is the dominating focus on the photo.

Step 11
Go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and set the values as -35 for brightness, and 15 for Contrast. This will make the color of the cape a bit more consistent with the lightning in the document.

Step 12
Rotate the cape so that it looks as if it is falling from the sky. Warp it again, if it still looks too flat or rounded.

Step 13
Use the lasso tool to select several small and random sections of the cape, and then Option+Click and Drag to place these pieces around the document. This will simulate some scraps flying off of the cape as it flies to the ground. Repeat this step as many times as you feel necessary.

Step 14
Save the document as a .pdf file. Close Photoshop.

Step 15
Open Adobe Illustrator, and open the Superman Title file. Delete the white box background, and save it. Also, if you’d like to change the title’s color, feel free to do so.

Step 16
Repeat Step 15 with the DC Comics Logo. Save it when you finish. Close Illustrator.

Step 17
Open Adobe InDesign. Create a document with the same settings as the .pdf file. You do not need any borders or gutters for this project.

Step 18
Place (Command + D on Mac, or Control + D on PC) the .pdf file into the new document. It should fit perfectly within the InDesign document’s borders.

Step 19
Place the Superman Title file into a new layer. Adjust the size to fit in the top most section of the document.

Step 20
Repeat Step 19 with the DC Comics logo. Adjust the size to fit the top left section of the document.

Step 21
Create another layer placed behind the DC Comics layer. Draw a small rectangle with a color of your choosing behind the Logo (see below for details). Use the type tool and rectangle tool to fill out some pertient information in a new layer above the last. Issue number, price, and date should all be considered.

Step 22
Next, credit the creators of the comic: “Dan Jurgens” and “Brett Breeding.” Place their names in the lower right corner, using a font and color of your choosing.

Step 23
Create the “Death of Superman” Title. Use any font and color you prefer.

Step 24
Go to File > Adobe PDF Presets > High Quality Print and save your file. There you have it!

Afterword
If you have any further questions or comments you would like to voice use the form below, or please don’t hesitate to e-mail me at matthew.bitley@gmail.com. Thanks for reading.

If you found this tutorial helpful, please do not hesitate to:

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15 Responses to How to Layout a Comic Book Cover

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  6. WoW :) Nice tutorial, Well defined . Thanks to share this easy and attractive tutorial post.

  7. andrii says:

    wowww… that’s quite stunning… breat! breath taking :) thnx for this one :)

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  9. I need to learn new skills , i have bookmarked this page for future reference excellent work.

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  12. ayman says:

    very very good

  13. Good Time Boy says:

    this would be really helpful, but I can’t seem to get past the whole importing the image thing. It just doesn’t seem to be working. I go to file then import and it won’t let me import a file. Then, when I click and drag the file, it creates a new layer and I can’t seem to get back to the last layer…UGH!!!!! I’m frustrated and can’t seem to get past the second step..HEEEELLLLP!!! :)

  14. @Good Time Boy. If you go to File > Open, and locate the file on your hard drive, you should be able to continue the tutorial. Let me know if you have any further problems.

  15. joan says:

    nice! i like…..tnx