Photo converting for print magazine layout using Photoshop and Indesign

adobe design for print design tools magazine design photo edit Jul 06, 2021

Here is the process of placing photos into a magazine layout that is going to be printed. These are basic formatting details for those starting to design and layout print publications that use photos. The process below uses Adobe Photoshop and Indesign.
The article uses affiliate links.

Canva pro £10.99 month
Photoshop £19.97 month

Indesign £19.97 month
Adobe Creative Cloud (includes 20+ apps including Photoshop and Indesign starts at £39.95 monthly)
Envato Elements £14.50 monthly or £174 yearly

Canva v Adobe 

If using Canva, Canva automagically sizes photos for your layout, but bear in mind if creating your magazine in Canva there is a limit on the amount of pages you can have in one document. You'll need Canva pro to have the correct licensing for images if you are selling your publication.

Canva is a great starting point but using Adobe Creative Cloud applications is the professional standard for design and layout, there is more control over text treatments in Indesign, and photo editing in Photoshop, plus when you output a pdf from Indesign there is more control over the settings for the printer.  

Image selection

First there is the image selection process which will be based upon the categories you decide for your project. In the video above, the selection process for the images is based upon the aesthetics - colour - mood, the season, the shapes, and article content, for this iola bookazine Joy issue's particular feel.

Image licensing

If publishing you need to check you have the right permissions for the images. If it involves an individual you will want to know that there has been a model release form signed by the person in the photo and that the photographer has given permission for the photo to be used in a commercial project. For this photo I have used a photo from Envato elements for which I pay a subscription and have commercially licensed this image for this particular project: iola the joy issue.

Download size

I download the photo at the largest file size as for print the images need to be high resolution.

Photoshop editing

The image will download as an RGB photo, for a print publication, if it is colour, you will need to convert it to a CMYK file. In the menu that is image>mode>CMYK.

Then for print the photo needs to be at least 300 ppi at actual size (actual size when printed in cm) When scaling photos by resolution it is best practice to only downsize not up size. So if for example your photo is 300 ppi at 10cm x 10cm and you want it to fill a space that is 20cm x 20cm the photo is too small and you can't upsize it without losing quality in the image. That is why it is always best to get the largest image you can so you can downsize it. So if it is 72ppi at 105 cm x 105 cm you can change 72 ppi to 300 with the width height and resolution boxes linked and it will change the photo to 35 cm x 35cm at 300 ppi.

(See more details on this at this article at Adobe.)

Check your image resolution and change it via the menu >image>image size>resample box (ticked to change resolution) Save the image as a jpeg.

Indesign placement

In your layout in Indesign you'll need an image box on your page, click then file>place>image name will place the image into your box. If you double click the box you will get the image lines for it's size at 100%. If it needs to fit the box better, hold down the shift key and drag the corner in towards the image box to downscale the image proportionally. 

I hope that this is helpful for you as you design your magazine style publication.

If you want to make a mini-mag quickly I have free magazine page templates for you to use in Canva.

You can get them here.