Empire of the Ant-man…

The UKs best-selling entertainment magazine gets a refresh


Simple effective design and drop cap
Loads to look at
Loads to look at

Empire has always been one of my favourite magazines to read and I am a long-time subscriber. I enjoy the magazine’s editorial consistency and mix of features and reviews. The design has always been – outside of stunning features – either rather plain or bonkers (random colour slabs behind review copy anyone?). The July 2015 issue is however, rather beautiful…

The two review sections – In Cinemas and Review – have a lovely new grid system that allows plenty of white space (without feeling empty). I love the big splash images and the delicate greyscale drop-caps. I also think the ‘like this, watch this’ box outs help break up the page well. Alongside the reviews are fantastic catch-up viewing guides, tables and more.


The whole issue is linked via a delightful set of arrows that flow throughout – pointing to important information, tidbits and images – encouraging the reader to examine even the smallest details.

The colour palette is quite muted using greys and creams alongside blues and greens but don’t let that put you off – it really lets the images and movie features stand out.

There is some weird pacing in places. I don’t personally like features that start on a single page and the Magic Mike XXL feature is a little lost because of this but, I’ve worked in magazines long enough to know this was probably due to advertising constraints.

All in all this is a very solid start and I can’t wait for the next issue to drop through the letterbox.


Ant-man teaser arrives…

Entertainment Weekly’s magnificent magnifying cover really hits the spot

1346-ANTMAN-cover-EWYou can’t move for Marvel movies these days. Following on from the success of Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers et al comes Ant-Man starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas.

I’ve never been a big fan of the character  – as I prefer my heroes to be very big, very strong, angry and green (you know who I’m talking about) – but I think you have to applaud Marvel for making movies based on less well known characters. Check out this stunning infographic to see if your favourite is heading to the big screen.

Ant-Man may have been a movie with issues (Edgar Wright leaving halfway through production etc etc) but I think the trailer looks half decent. It is only a teaser but there is something about it that gets my juices flowing.

I also love the superb cover photography from Entertainment Weekly’s January issue. It’s quirky but does a good job of promoting the movie in a visual way. I guess Paul Rudd should count his blessings that the sun wasn’t bright that day or else he’d be a bit crispy.

Ant-Man is released on Friday 17 July 2015.

Back in time…

Learn how to travel back to 1066 with issue 141 of Your Family Tree magazine.


When designing magazine covers flexibility is the key. You might have a fixed template but you need to bear in mind current trends and be able to follow these – whilst retaining your identity.

One of the current trends is to have fewer cover lines on your digital editions. When readers view your magazine on web-based newsstands – such as GooglePlay or Apple – most words are too small to view. Removing words enables you to promote the most important messages and enlarge images and logos. As you’ll see from the image above I have removed the top word-mechanics of the magazine and this has allowed the movement images and give an illusion of space on the smaller digital cover.

The single most important message on this issue was ‘going back further in time with your research’. I wanted the ‘time’ aspect to jump out and decided that the best approach was to have a combination older documents and a timepiece. I also wanted to have the illusion of moving in time so we blurred the hands of the clock. The simple blue san serif typography (Sanuk LF) also jumps out to the reader. Only ‘time’ will tell if my approach has been a success.

Your Family Tree issue 141 is on sale now. If you’re interested you can find more information on the issue and ordering details here.

© Future Publishing Limited.



Empire magazine unleash an Amazing Spiderman 2 double.

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Sometimes the best magazine covers take the direct route. The latest issue of Empire magazine does just that. Superheroes are some of the most recognisable characters and Spiderman is one of the most popular of all time. Amazing Spiderman 2 stars Jamie Foxx as villain Electro and the team have put Spidey on an electrifying background and added fluorescent green cover lines for added ‘thwip’. The subscriber edition is as direct a cover as I’ve ever seen. Big Spiderman = happy inner 10-year-old. Wonderful! You can view the Electro teaser trailer here and discover more about Empire here. It’s on sale from Thursday 25 July.

Do you feel lucky…

Well, do ya, punk?

ShortlistDirtyHarryShortlist magazine have unleashed a mighty cover for their latest issue. It’s mean, moody and impactful. Let’s face it, you can’t really go wrong when the iconic ‘Dirty Harry‘ is your cover-star and the retro font is a lovely added touch. As soon as I saw it I couldn’t help but hear the music of Lalo Schifrin and it makes me want to pick it up now! Issue 281 is out tomorrow (4th July) but if you can’t wait, just visit http://www.shortlist.com/entertainment/films/the-39-greatest-maverick-cops for their definitive maverick cop list. Stunning!

Catching up…

Get two Your Family Tree magazine covers for the price of one!



I can’t believe that two whole issues have passed since I last posted a cover on this blog – we have just been stacked out workwise and it has been hard to find the time to think.

Still, what we’ve managed to publish is one traditional style genealogy cover and one slightly different, modern approach.

YFT128 is definitely a modernist, graphical approach and is quite a departure for us. Adam (my editor) and I thought that the DNA subject matter warranted this. We then chose to use joined up DNA strands with vintage photography inserts. The striking dark blue background contrasts with the bright red elements that leaps from the page (especially in our digital editions).

YFT129 is a much more traditional cover that uses typography to ram the ‘FREE’ message home. I backed this up with an empty, distressed wallet and ornate picture frame. The simple, bullet point elements stand out with the handwritten font use.

Both jumped out from crowded shelves but for entirely different reasons and they both worked exceptionally well on digital devices.

Now is the perfect time to view these covers digitally – as we are giving away an issue free when you take out a digital subscription.* Digital subscriptions to Your Family Tree are available in the following formats and prices start from just £3.99:

*Free issue not available on Zinio

© Future Publishing Limited 2013

Stand to attention…

Discovering the last 300 years of British Military records with Your Family Tree 127


Your Family Tree 127 is a bumper special-edition that includes a free 48-page guidebook. I wanted to stir reader emotions once they had ripped the magazine from it’s bag. The nostalgic Victorian soldier was chosen to peek over the free gift because I thought that his mournful gaze would draw the reader in. He is a soulful looking chap but doesn’t have much else going on behind him. Adam the editor and I decided YFT127 should have a montage cover, in order to show as much military history as possible. I also wanted there to be a subliminal British ‘feel’ to the cover and elected to use the trusty red, white and blue colouring and a Spitfire. We’ve had a positive response from readers thus far. What do you think? You can find out more about YFT127 here.

One year of love…

A quick look back at 12 months of Your Family Tree magazine covers.


This week I received an email in the office asking for Your Family Tree’s logo and one cover example from the past year (issues 112 –124). The guys in the office needed them to be sent to the Audited Bureau of Circulations or ABC. This is an official reader count for the past year and a bit like TV viewing figures. Advertising is sold on the back of these reader numbers and it’s also a good guide to how well our readers are responding to changes throughout the magazine. But which cover to choose?

Now, It’s not often you look back at one year of work. You might compare the last two or three but rarely would you look back over all thirteen issues! What surprised me was how colourful Your Family Tree’s covers have become over the last year. Where we started off using a muted colour palette and lots of white we now have a bright and breezy coloured border and bright colour palette. This was decided from issue 118 onwards but I hadn’t seen them all together until now. When they’re all together like this, it’s fun to see which jump out from the pack.

For me it was the yellow covers of YFT120 and YFT123. In the end though, I chose YFT124 to go onto our ABC report. The birth, marriages and deaths subject with cute mother and baby sold it for me. Did I make the right choice?

The complete guide to family history…

Your Family Tree issue 125 on sale now!


I haven’t posted for a while due to a combination of Christmas/New Year deadlines and contracting some flu-type lurgy. Since my last post Your Family Tree 125 has arrived in stores and into the digital newsstand(s).

Although you can’t see it in this digital image, we have used a metallic gold pantone this issue. We wanted to make YFT125 a bit of a special event (although there are no freebies attached) and have it stand out on the crowded magazine racks. I have to say it’s been rather successful. If you pop into your local magazine retailer, the glossy metallic sheen really catches your eye and it’s almost as if it’s following you.

It’s a packed issue as well – we have high street records, military history, farming records and more. There’s also a fun look at the history of the New Year celebrations as we know them. You can find out more here.