How Photoshop & InDesign Work Together in a New Era of Zine Making
The relationship between graphic design and layout has made zines and other editorial work attainable for everyone.
Over the last two decades, InDesign and Photoshop have been indispensable publishing tools.
But the relationship between the two platforms has evolved as print has given way to digital, and as publishing has again transformed to the point that creatives must now live in both worlds simultaneously.
When print was the medium of choice for brand messaging, there was much more focus on execution, and publishers leaned heavily on InDesign to fine-tune their layouts. But with the rise of digital, the design began to take center stage.
“We’re offloading stuff to our tools that we used to keep in our brains. It used to be that only a really small number of people could lay out a page of text and have it be beautiful,” says David Blatner, a writer, speaker and desktop publishing expert on Indesign, Photoshop and QuarkXPress. “Adobe has put tools into average users’ hands so they can express themselves with rich visual design.”
Today, as zines and other editorial works re-emerge, neither layout nor design overpowers the other. Photoshop and InDesign work more cohesively to empower makers and designers to create innovative work and propel the future of graphic design and publishing.
“When zines came about, it was all about a punk aesthetic of using what’s at hand, which at that time was Xerox machines and kind of this collage aesthetic that came about from that technology. Now, zines are more synonymous with short-run publications, and therefore they can have a little bit more intention in their design and production,” says Adam Lucas, a graphic designer and assistant professor at the Kansas City Art Institute.
“My publishing and design practices are closely tied, if not one and the same,” Adam says. “At the core, I’m interested in the ability of graphic design to amplify the voices and ideas of creative people — especially those who may have less opportunity to be seen or heard.”
We see the revolution of self-publishing emerge with people like Lindsey Adams, an afro-korean writer and zinemaker born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She focuses her zines around her collection of poetry and short stories to create art that reflects her home, history, and identity.
“My aesthetic has once been described by a bud as “gritty”, Lindesy explains, “ I think I prefer calling it “analog-meets-digital”, or maybe “just found this cool at the time.” Her process is reflection of old and new, combining both analog elements and digital layout tools like InDesign to create and publish her own work.
Tools like InDesign and Photoshop have opened the doors for zine enthusiast, making it accessible to design and publish editorial directly from your own devices. Take Irrelevant Press for example, a zine collective made up of four women based out of Brooklyn and Oakland, California.
“We’re definitely hobbyists – self-taught in skills like design and book-binding that are applicable to the creative work we do,” says co-founder Holly.
“Outside of the zine collective, a few of us have full-time experience with other skill sets required for the craft. Mollie has worked in printing for many years, Sarah is a professional writer and editor, Lizz has creative experience in video and post production, and Holly has done marketing work in the past.”
In a new era of entrepreneurship, creatives are finding more ways to take on different mediums with the help of the tools, technology, and resources available on the web.
But why the spotlight on zines? Zines have always given voice to people at the margins of mainstream culture. “We’re committed to creating work that we care about and supporting projects that we believe are important,” Holly says.
With the tools they now can access, zine self-publishers can tell their stories even more powerfully, and share them across a wide audience.
5 tips to push your Zine idea to execution
1. Choose a medium, or don’t
Print, digital or both!? We know the timeless effect of pretty, textured paper, but there’s a place for digital, too. Try taking advantage of both to level-up the promotion of your zine. More options is better than one.
2. Establish your message
This one is all you.
Zines are inclusive to all formats and aesthetics — a collection of poetry, illustrations, photography, or a combination of all of the above.
Ask yourself; who is this for? Is there a purpose? Is it more visual, contextual, or a balance of both? Is this for your brand or your community? What is the goal? Who am I trying to reach?
3. Decide your aesthetic
Use Photoshop for all your design creation and pre-layout.
Start with the visual aesthetics and choose a color palette, typography, graphics and imagery.
Draw your own illustrations using the brush tool and your mouse or wacom pad, or use the shape tool to create shapes and patterns to elevate your pages. Last, and certainly not least, level up your text with a beautiful font and bring in your own.
4. Layout your design elements from scratch or work within a template
This is the fun part – take the design elements you created in Photoshop and lay them out in your pages. You can get started in InDesign with the standard document size of 8.5 x 11, or skip the settings part and download a free magazine template to remix with your art and text.
To print your zine, you will want to reference your printer and adjust the dimensions accordingly. To share your work in digital form, publish online directly from InDesign.
5. Shameless plug
Expand where people can access your work.