How to Make Photo Zines Part 2: Putting Everything Together

Zine

Are you ready to design, print, and assemble your first photo zine? Once you’ve decided on a final selection of photos, next comes creating the layout, printing, and assembling your final publication. Remember that aside from having finalized the order of your photos, you should also have prepared any text that comes with it.┬áIf you’re not yet happy or sure about your selection of photos, do check out the first part of this tutorial for tips on choosing your photos for a zine.

Materials

For this part, you’ll need the following:

  • A software that you can use to layout your zine; Adobe Photoshop is fine, Adobe InDesign is better. Best to use what you have ready and are already familiar with.
  • Sheets of regular bond paper for making dummy copies.
  • At least 80-100 grams per square meter (GSM) paper for printing.
  • A pen or pencil.
  • A regular printer or a print shop that offers laser printing for best quality.
  • A long arm stapler or rotating head stapler
  • Optional: a steel ruler and cutter if you’re making smaller-sized zines

Designing your layout

There are two things that I found tricky when I was planning my very first zine: the document size and the page number/order. Designing your zine is a lot easier when you have Adobe InDesign knowledge for making booklets. But since that’s another tutorial, I’ll cover some tips on doing the layout and page sequence by yourself using either Adobe Photoshop or even Microsoft Word.
For this tutorial, I also suggest making a letter size (8.5 x 11 inches) spread which you can fold in half crosswise into a 5.5 x 8.5 booklet. In this format, keep in mind that each sheet contains four (4) pages. So, when deciding the number of pages for your zine always, count by 4s. It’s up to you to use one photo per page, or split an image into two pages for bigger images.
Next is the page number/order. When you fold your sheet, your front cover and back cover should always be the first and last pages of your layout. Here’s a zine paging cheat sheet for making a 24-paged zine (6 sheets, printed back-to-back):
Number of pages / Page Order
4 -> 4, 1, 2, 3
8 -> 8, 1, 2, 7 (sheet one) 6, 3, 4, 5 (sheet two)
12 -> 12, 1, 2, 11 (sheet one) 10, 3, 4, 9, (sheet two) 8, 5, 6, 7 (sheet three)
16 -> 16, 1, 2, 15 (sheet one) 14, 3 , 4, 13 (sheet two) 12, 5, 6, 11 (sheet three) 10, 7, 8, 9 (sheet four)
20 -> 20,1,2,19 (sheet one) 18, 3, 4, 17 (sheet two) 16, 5, 6, 15 (sheet three) 14, 7, 8, 13 (sheet four) 12, 9, 10, 11 (sheet five)
24 -> 24, 1, 2, 23 (sheet one) 22, 3, 4, 21 (sheet two) 20, 5, 6, 19 (sheet three) 18, 7, 8, 17 (sheet four) 16, 9, 10, 15 (sheet five) 14, 11, 12, 13 (sheet six)

Confused? I was, too, when I started with mine. What really helped me visualize my zine and determine which photos go to which page was making a dummy. Simply put together your sheets of regular bond paper, fold them into a booklet, and write down the page numbers. The front cover should be 1, the back cover should be 24. Next, write down other details to help you with the layout, such as the filenames of the images or placeholder of the texts. The cheat sheet above will make sense to you once you take apart the booklet and take note of the numbers on each sheet.

I prefer using Adobe Photoshop for doing my zine layout because you can set the margins according to your liking, and you can work on each spread by layers (properly labeled, of course). Google is your friend, if you don’t know how to set margins or add/work with Layers on Photoshop yet.

Printing and assembly

Once you’re done with your layout, it’s time to test print your zine. Save each spread/layer as JPEG files and compile them into a PDF document. You can do this by inserting the images on Microsoft Word or using an online PDF maker. If you’re working with your own printer at home, just print your zine in Draft/Economy quality to check for page order, margins, and content. You can have your zines printed with an inkjet printer, but if you prefer high quality prints, I strongly advice opting for laser printing. For best results, use 80 or 100 GSM paper. After printing, simply arrange and fold your booklets then use a long-arm or rotating head stapler — which are especially designed for zines and booklets — to bind the sheets together. And you’re done!

Making a photo zine is without a doubt challenging to do the first time. Just keep in mind that your zine should showcase your best photos, highlight your visual storytelling, and reflect your attention to detail. Do let me know if you find this two-part tutorial helpful, and share your first photo zine with me at the Zinery and the Film Traveler!

Joy Celine Asto

A budding writer, aspiring photographer, and part-time traveler from Manila. Finds bliss in exploring the world around her and documenting them in photos and stories. Runs on caffeine, lives on books, savors good music, and thrives in everything creative. Also a full-time cat-mom.