Yearbook Cover: How to Replicate a Design You Like in 3 Easy Steps


So, you’re supposed to design your yearbook cover and have a blank page in front of you. You’ve been staring at that computer screen all day, but you can’t figure out what to do or where to start.

Sometimes, starting is the hardest part. Personally, as a designer, I find that it helps if you start by looking for inspiration. It can help you visualize what you like and what you don’t like.

At my very first job. I would just start working right away without looking for inspiration or doing any research. I found it to be very difficult, because I was limiting my designs to what I knew and was familiar with. I slowly realized that looking for inspiration was the key to give me a fresh perspective and new ideas to work with.

In this article, I’ll try to bring you directly to this stage. I thought starting with the cover would be great (we can’t do everything at once!). You’ll learn how to look for inspiration first, then how to replicate or interpret a cover design you like from scratch.

Seen something interesting or inspiring online or around you? Want to get inspired and recreate something similar? Then let’s get started.

01. Find the right inspiration

Keep in mind that the goal is not to literally copy something but more to be inspired by it. This being said, as inspiration is everywhere, you can be inspired by almost everything. Luckily, you have the Internet at your fingertips and it gives you access to so much great stuff! You can google anything from “yearbook design inspiration” to “page layout inspiration” and it will link you to thousands of nice resources.

Some of my favorite websites to look for inspiration are:

Behance, an online community for creative designers

Most of the designers and creative people I know have Behance accounts. Behance is an online community for creatives and their portfolios. It allows them to showcase their work and connect with other artists, designers and even employers. It enables them to talk about their creation process in depth and even show their drafts before coming up with the final design. Apart from that, it is also a very helpful source of inspiration. Simply visit their site and use the search bar to find what you are looking for. I typed yearbook and a lot of really nice inspirational work came out of the search.

Replicate inspiring yearbook cover - behance

Dribbble, show and tell for designers

Another great source of inspiration is Dribbble. Like Behance, it’s an online community that caters to creative types. While Behance enables you to show the whole creation process, Dribbble takes in a more show and tell approach where you can showcase a fragment of your work and not really the entire process. Both are very good resources that I use a lot, and am constantly inspired by. For the image below, I typed yearbook on the search bar and here are some of the results.

Replicate inspiring yearbook cover - dribbble

Pinterest, the world’s catalogue of ideas

My personal favorite however is Pinterest. It’s a website that lets you “pin” anything that is of interest to you. Unlike the two previous websites, Pinterest caters to everyone and not just creative professionals. You can find anything from crafts, DIY projects and recipes. It is a huge hit with moms but I use it a lot to search for graphic design inspiration. Another nice thing about Pinterest is you can create your own boards. They are like folders that help you organize your pins.

You can check out Fusion’s Pinterest account and browse through our boards for some inspiration or you can also create your own account. Use  search keywords like “yearbooks”, “magazines” or “publication design” and have a look at the various inspirational work that comes up.

Replicate inspiring yearbook cover - pinterest

Your favorite bookshop or library – a place where inspiration is palpable

Inspiration is everywhere, so of course it is not limited to online searches. You don’t need to have an Internet connection to find inspiration. You can just go to your favorite bookshop or library and find inspiration there. I actually do this a lot while killing time at the mall. I go to the bookshop and browse through various art and design books, it’s actually a very enjoyable thing to do for me. I hope you can try it and enjoy it as much as I do.

So let’s say you’ve had a productive search and that you found THE cover that really inspires you. Now it’s time to understand its design and how you could get inspired by it.

02. Understand how your model has been made

Let’s take an example to help you understand the power you have with Fusion. Here is a clean and minimalist cover I found on Behance.

Let’s take a closer look at the cover.
A cover is usually made up of various elements like images, shapes, borders and text. 

Replicate inspiring yearbook cover - cover-example

A – Title
I liked how the title is placed inside a white rectangle, I think it gives it more emphasis.

B. Main Image
There are different kinds of covers and you can choose to have an image on yours or not. But in our inspiration cover’s case, it uses a grayscale photo that goes well with all the other elements on the page.

C. Text / Subtitles
Our cover needs text of course, and I liked how they used a nice clean font.

D. Border
I think the border is a nice touch. I like it’s simplicity and it does not distract us from the image. You can also use this element on the inside pages of your book to create a unified look across the pages.

E. Coloured rectangle
The coloured rectangle below is an element like the border which you can also use on the inside pages of your book to create a unified look.

Ok. So now, what can we do with that?

03. Interpret and create your own yearbook cover

This should be easy now! It’s time to open Fusion and start creating your own cover from scratch! You may have noticed that Fusion offers hundreds of free and customizable templates. You can use them if you want, or you can simply create something from scratch.

Step 1: Create a cover page and open it.

When your mouse hovers on the Cover icon, a round pencil button will appear, click on it.

Replicate inspiring yearbook cover - create-cover

You will start off with a blank page, like this.

Replicate inspiring yearbook cover - blank-cover-page

Step 2: Re-build your cover starting from your model

> Use a photo as a background

Remember? Our model used a photo as the background for the front cover. To replicate this, simply go to elements, then grids, drag & drop the very first one on your page. The grid will hold your image in place.

Replicate inspiring yearbook cover - add-grid-cover-page

Upload an image of your choice and drag it onto your grid. You can also use one of the thousands of images in our library, like what I did here.

Replicate inspiring yearbook cover - drag-photo-cover-page

I really liked how the main image is in grayscale, so I am applying that effect on my cover. To apply a photo filter, simply click on the photo. A filter button will appear (encircled below), click on that and filter options will appear. Choose grayscale for the desired effect.

Replicate inspiring yearbook cover - filter-photo-cover-page

> Add clipart or elements on your page

On our model, we also had a white border and a colored rectangle. Good to know: Fusion’s library has thousands of free elements. I am sure you’ll be able to find what you need! Here, I added the rectangular shape below and changed the color to what I wanted.

Replicate inspiring yearbook cover - shapes-cover-page

I really liked the white border on the inspiration page, so I decided to apply it on my cover as well. I simply searched the library for a border and found something I liked. I dragged it onto the page, resized it and changed it to my preferred color. I initially wanted to add the white box on top that was used for the title, like the inspiration, but it didn’t really work so I opted to just remove it and keep it simple.

Replicate inspiring yearbook cover - border-cover-page

> Add your title, subtitles and texts

Now you can add your text. Here, I opted to add the title below, and to use a clean font like on our inspiration model. To add text, simply click on the Text tab. You can either use a pre-designed text holder or type your own text and customize the font and size to what you want. Here I used a nice clean font like Montserrat.

Replicate inspiring yearbook cover - add-text-cover

> Finally, create your back cover

The front cover is done. Now, it’s time to design the back cover. Here, I opted to use a dark solid color because I think it goes well with the grayscale image. Simply add the school’s contact information and you are good to go!

Replicate inspiring yearbook cover - add-back-cover

Here is our inspiration and finished cover. Our book shares some similarities with our inspiration but is not a complete copy. Looking for inspiration and pegs is a very helpful thing but be sure to create something that is your own interpretation and adjust it to your own needs.

Replicate inspiring yearbook cover - comparison

I hope you learned something new today! Feel free to apply it to all your future covers and creative projects. Here are some reminders before you go:

> Before starting your project, it is best to do some research and to find inspiration from websites like Behance, Dribbble and Pinterest.
> You can also visit bookshops and libraries for inspiration. All of this will give you fresh ideas you can use your own way.
> Understand how your models are made.
> Try to replicate the techniques used on your model but make it yours by playing with all the options available in Fusion.

As a final suggestion, I would encourage you to be inspired but also to be careful not to copy something completely. Because copies are rarely as good as original works!

Do not hesitate to leave a comment below if you have any questions – or share your work to inspire us all!

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Thea is part of the design team at Fusion. If you use our online yearbook builder, you probably used a few of her designs already. Screen printed gig posters and letterpress stationery are her favourite art forms. Like most people, she enjoys naps and watching animal videos online.

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