Possibly the first-ever look at how one of the most crowded magazine covers is designed.

Weekly Shonen Jump has long reigned as the premier mainstream manga magazine, with a steady roster of 20 or so titles at any given time filling 500 pages of material a week. It packs quite a lot of content, all of which must be represented on the cover.

So as you can imagine, Weekly Shonen Jump has an extremely crowded layout to present to prospective buyers. How do they cram it all in?

On 13 March, the official YouTube channel of the staff of the global hit manga One Piece posted a video showing the process of designing a cover layout for an issue of Weekly Shonen Jump. In it we can see all the steps Banana Grove Studios took to go from a single One Piece illustration to a full Jump cover using the Mac versions of Adobe InDesign and Illustrator.

The video has been sped up so that you don’t have to experience all of the second-guessing and tiny alterations in real-time. Still, it’s interesting to see how putting together a Jump cover is like working on a jigsaw puzzle where none of the pieces quite fit together properly, but you have to do it anyway.

It is also interesting to see how the designer tweaks each individual word or character by adjusting its size or rotation ever so slightly to give it more impact.

As the final product takes form you have to admire the patience of the designer to try and balance this cacophony of colors, characters, and catchphrases.

And then we have the finished product which will go to the desk of the publisher…who will then send it right back with dozens of notes on what they want changed.

Just kidding, I’m not sure if that’s how Shonen Jump really operates, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

▼ Before

▼ After

So, next time you’re checking out the magazine rack at your local convenience store or bookshop, don’t forget all the effort that goes into making those colorful covers each vying for your attention….ahem, such as that of our very own print edition: The Secret of RocketNews24, still available through Amazon Japan.

Source, images: YouTube/One Piece Staff Official