Deconstructing & reconstructing layouts

Yesterday in Studio Impression we had a layout/grid workshop. We each figured out the grid system of a magazine and then tried to create a page from it again in InDesign. This workshop was really useful to support the development of our first studio project, Publishing Unbound. I have only used InDesign a couple of times, and that was years ago, so it was good to practice that a bit yesterday.

DECONSTUCTION
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The spread that I chose

For starters everyone had to choose a magazine and a two page spread from it, take some tracing paper and on the paper start drawing text box lines and take all possible measurements of the page. That stage was easy. But when we had to compare those measurements to other pages in the magazine and try to figure out the grid system that’s common for the whole magazine, I began to struggle.

My chosen magazine wasn’t an easy one for this exercise. Some pages had 4 text columns and some only 3. Also columns usually used for captions and credits where really thin which confused me even more. I tried and tried to figure out the grid by drawing lines from different pages onto different sheets of tracing paper and then layering them up to see if any lines match. But I just couldn’t. They all seemed to be off.

Eventually I just gave up on the manual approach and moved on to trying to solve this “riddle” mathematically. According to my measurements columns on a 3-column page were 6,9 cm and on a 4-column page 4,7 cm. Gutters (spaces between the columns) again were 0,4 cm. I also measured that the whole page was 23cm wide, left margin 1,75cm and right margin 1,25cm. That would leave 20cm between the margins. Then I started calculating. I tried the calculating:

Assuming the 4mm gutter was correctly measured and guessing the magazine could have a 12-column grid,

  • 11 gutters x 0,4 cm = 4,4 cm (space for gutters all together)
  • 20 cm – 4,4 cm = 15,6 cm (space for columns all together)
  • 15,6 cm / 12 columns = 1,3 cm (per column)

After finding out the exact measurements I tried to draw the grid on tracing paper and then compare it to a few pages in the magazine to see if I had got it right.

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the grid that I draw on tracing paper
RECONSTUCTION

When the grid lines lined up nicely with the text columns and pictures, I knew that I had completed the deconstruction correctly this time. Now it was time to go to the computer room and start reconstructing the spread layout using InDesign. We needed to add all the measurements from earlier to InDesign to create a grid and a page exactly like the original. This part of the process wasn’t too difficult, it’s just the matter of learning to use the software. This little task, however, didn’t require anything too fancy so it didn’t take too long to have the reconstruction ready.

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