Course  ·  Part 4  ·  Assignment 25


Design a Magazine Spread Using a Grid

 Time limit: 3 hours

Remember to use your visual timer! We recommend the inventor’s iOS and Android apps — just search for “Time Timer” in the app store.



It’s time to apply all your learning about layout and grids to designing a magazine spread! This assignment is also an opportunity to practise what you learned earlier in Part 4 about typography and colour.



Generate ideas

 Set your timer to 20 minutes

Read through the brief below, and then spend some time generating ideas in your notepad.

Like in previous assignments, your idea generation can begin with the ideas and keywords found in the brief, and then explore related ideas, and where they could lead to graphically.

Then, create thumbnail sketches of your design to quickly experiment with different layouts.

Remember, this is a text-heavy brief, and the focus is on somebody reading the article — so your design priority needs to be choosing and using a grid that provides a good reading experience.

The brief

Creative Commons have asked you to design a magazine feature to celebrate their twentieth birthday.

The article should use four A4 pages in two double-page spreads. You can choose any colours and fonts, but the tone should be happy and celebratory.

The text of the article is provided below — just copy and paste it into Figma once you get to that stage.

You should also choose at least two photos to accompany the text. These can be any images shared under a Creative Commons licence — see what you can find via  .

Article text*

[Feature title:] We’re Turning 20! What’s Happened Since 2001?

[Author:] Creative Commons

We are celebrating with a special Better Sharing campaign, honoring 20 years of commitment to open access and better sharing.

We invite you to join us. We have an ambitious goal to raise over $15 million in support.

When Creative Commons was founded in 2001, the internet was a budding universe with high potential, and platforms widely used today like Wikipedia and Google were only just getting started. CC’s founders were keen to hit the ground running, building on their work to ensure that, as the internet continued to grow, safeguards to knowledge, culture, and creativity were firmly in place.

While those familiar with Creative Commons may know about our CC licenses that form the backbone of open and accessible sharing, they may be less tuned into our larger portfolio of work, spanning Open Education, Open GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums), advocacy and global network building.

In celebration of 20 years of CC, we are excited to shed light on these endeavors, sharing our major accomplishments, and highlighting, too, some noteworthy appearances of CC in popular culture.

Some of CC’s Big Wins

• Today, over 2 billion works are licensed under the various CC licenses. The very first set of Creative Commons licenses were released in 2002, giving everyone from individual creators to large institutions a standardized way to grant the public permission to use their creative work under copyright law; and in 2017, CC launched CC Search, making this content easier to discover and use.

• CC licenses are behind the widely used online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Since 2009, all Wikipedia content, in every language, has been under CC license, which means that annually billions of people around the world are interacting with CC licensed content.

• CC’s Global Network has been critical to the growth of the Open Movement, and the development of accessible CC licenses available in many languages. Today, CC spans 86 countries, and continues to expand its reach with annual events like the CC Global Summit.

• The first CC Global Summit was originally called iCommons Summit and was held at Harvard Law School in 2005 followed by a 2006 Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that brought over 250 participants and high profile presenters like Brazilian music icon (and Brazil’s then-Minister of Culture) Gilberto Gil and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. Fast forward, today’s CC Global Summit is an annual event that brings together over 1,300 educators, artists, technologists, legal experts, and activists from more than 60 countries to promote the power of open licensing and global access.

• CC has sustained a 20-year commitment to Open Education. In 2017, we launched the CC Open Education Platform, welcoming over 1000 open education advocates and practitioners from 90+ countries to collaborate in identifying, planning and coordinating multi-national open education content, practices and policy activities.

• The Creative Commons Certificate helps educators, librarians and GLAM leaders to become experts in creating, engaging, and advocating for openly licensed content, offering in-depth courses on open licensing, copyright and the commons. Since its launch in 2018, we’ve registered over 980 people with 889 graduates from 56 countries.

• CC continues to work with multinational institutions, governments, foundations, and institutions to create, adopt, and implement open licensing policies. We have engaged collaborations with over 30 countries, and institutions like the Smithsonian, UNESCO, US Government Departments, World Bank, European Union, philanthropic foundations, and many more with numerous successes to date. For example, the Smithsonian recently introduced Smithsonian Open Access, releasing 2.8 million images and data into the public domain using Creative Commons Zero.

• Creative Commons licensed content is everywhere. Platforms and tools like Wikipedia, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, Google Search, the Free Music Archive, Bandcamp, Thingiverse, DeviantArt and many others use CC licensing to make hundreds of millions of images, articles, videos and other content openly accessible to the world. Many popular educational resources; science and research publishers; news sources; and arts, games, and creative projects around the world use Creative Commons licenses as well.

These examples offer a glimpse of the impact Creative Commons has had on the world in our first twenty years. You can help us celebrate, and help to ensure bigger and better sharing in the decades to come by supporting our 20th Anniversary campaign.

Find out more at


Design your grid

 Set your timer to 20 minutes

Review your thumbnail sketches, and choose the one you think is strongest. Then, still working in your notebook, create some more detailed sketches to design the grid that best accommodates this layout.

Experiment with different numbers of columns (and rows, if you’re using a modular grid). And remember to plan where all the content will go — headings, images, page numbers, etc., as well as the body text.


Set up your document

 Set your timer to 20 minutes

Create a new document in Figma, and follow the steps below to set up your spread and create your layout grid.

(If you’re already familiar with Adobe InDesign and would prefer to use that software instead, feel free. If you’re not familiar with Adobe InDesign yet, use Figma for this assignment. We’re going to cover the basics of InDesign in Part 5.)


Design away!

 Set your timer to 60 minutes

Spend the next hour placing your content into the grid and exploring different versions of your chosen layout idea.

Pro Tip

When you want to explore a different version of your layout, don’t change the one you’ve already made.

Instead, duplicate your existing work, and create another version in the new artboards. By doing this, you won’t lose any work, and later you’ll be able to choose between the different versions you’ve made.

To duplicate your artboards for this assignment, follow these steps in Figma:

  1. Zoom out enough that you can see your artboards side-by-side
  2. Using the move tool (press V to select it), click and drag a selection area around both artboards
  3. Press command D on Mac, or control D on PC, to duplicate both artboards.

If you’re working in Adobe InDesign, you can duplicate your pages instead.


Finesse and finalise

 Set your timer to 60 minutes

In the last hour of this assignment, it’s time to choose a version of your design (if you’ve made more than one), and then work on finessing and finalising it. That means checking things like this:

  • Are all your elements aligned to the grid as intended, or are some elements a few pixels off, too wide, or too narrow?
  • Did you remember to include all of the elements in the design brief, including headline, images, page numbers, footer, and body text?
  • Is your use of typography and colour deliberate and consistent?
  • Does your layout use the visual principles we covered in Part 2?

Review the example solution

Once you’ve completed your work on this assignment, take a few minutes to review the example solution below.

Example solution


Coming soon!

We’re currently in soft launch, and this example solution will be added in the next few weeks.

Questions or comments?

In conclusion...

Congratulations! This was the most demanding assignment in the course so far — and it brings Part 4 to a close.

After a reflection exercise on your work, you can get stuck in to Part 5, where we’ll look at how these graphic design basics apply to branding, editorial, and information design projects.

Keep it going!

Assignment version 1.0
Last updated 7 June 2021

Original article content sourced from Creative Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

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