Harpers Bazaar–Color

Harper’s Bazaar doesn’t have their color palette listed on their website and if you take a look at the magazine, you would understand why. HB doesn’t use color in its publication design arsenal at all. All of the typography is either black or white, depending on what the color of the background is. However, this isn’t a monochromatic magazine. Color is commissioned through beautiful photography, which is a vital aspect of HB’s identity because they don’t use illustrations and only use Bidoni as their display typeface.

HB isn’t afraid of color. They like to use bright color and fun prints that they display through fashion, shoes, accessories, and beauty items. I think they could definitely incorporate more color into the publication with design elements but I think the reason they don’t is because they want a sleek and sophisticated aesthetic and they’d like to achieve that by only using black and white text. I think that this approach works for them because it makes photography the focal point of the magazine.

However, they don’t exclusively use loud colors. They also use muted, soft colors depending on what the tone of the article is so the above photos give more of subdued personality. I think that because they don’t use color to connect concepts, it is important that they use typography the way that they do otherwise readers would find the magazine hard to follow along. The color that is in photography brings meaning because you get a better understanding of what kind of brand HB is and the type of reader they want to attract, creating a whole picture.

Field Notes | The Nation | Week 10 – Color

The cover:

The Nation has more color on its covers than anywhere else in the magazine. The nameplate is usually red but sometimes also black, depending on the cover illustration. Although the cover uses more color, it is usually not bright colors. They tend to be more subdued with one main color.

Since The Nation covers American politics, its colors are centered around this theme. The most common colors are red, white and a bit of yellow. The nameplate is usually red, and that same color is threaded throughout the magazine. Red is used on every page in the magazine, from the title of the section, drop caps, section titles, pull quotes, and more. Red helps to establish hierarchy and draw the reader’s eye to certain parts of the page.

This overall effect works because it ties the whole magazine together. It weaves a thread through all of the pages. The red is bold and pops out on each page, which helps to tie in the political aspect of The Nation.

Yellow is used sparingly in The Nation to bring a pop of color and highlight something important, like key words of a pull quote.

Body cope is usually black text. Headlines are usually in black too, but occasionally key parts of the headline will be in red. Cutlines are usually black as well. The consistency of color across these types of text shows the more serious side of The Nation and reflects its older audience.

The qualities The Nation’s color use brings is political and serious. It adds an intellectual feel to the magazine. Keeping the colors basic adds consistency and a “harder” news element to the feel of the magazine.

Other photographs/illustrations:

The Nation uses a lot of illustrations, which are usually in black and white, with the occasional splash of red. They use more photographs for the feature section. The colors vary on the picture and the story. I think that The Nation uses the same colors in the front of book sections to establish consistency and a concrete feel to the magazine. Since they cover politics and news, the actual photographs in features vary but don’t stray away from their overall color feel.





Vanity Fair | Color

If Vanity Fair’s color palette had to be defined, it’d be black, white and red. And two of those aren’t even technically colors. The magazine, based in old-school glamour and nostalgic allure, uses color sparingly to add to its aesthetic and tone.


Let’s start with the color red. Red is a color that symbolizes power, excitement and passion, all of which are qualities that define the VF brand and its content. Vanity Fair has been regarded as one of the last cultural magazines and its editors as cultural arbiters. It deals in high-society scandal, meaning it’s concerned with the folks at the upper-echelons of society. This goes beyond Hollywood and celebrity to include business and tech leaders and other influential figures. That’s why red is the color of VF’s nameplate and the accent color to its details: it reinforces the fact that VF is a hub of powerful, exciting and passion-driven journalism, people and ideas. There’s also something timeless about it…

Red may be VF’s signature color but is used sparingly throughout the body of the magazine. With a few exceptions, all of the copy and page design are set in black and white. Most commonly, you’ll see red used for captions and sometimes column dividers to break up the dullness of an overwhelmingly black-and-white page. It also reinforces the brand association with the color. Red, which can be perceived as loud and offensive, used sparingly adds a sense of sophistication and elegance to the magazine’s design.

Aside from red, pink is another frequently used color, although less staple to the brand’s identity. This is particularly true of the in the second-half of the feature well, which covers more political/newsy stories that rely more on page design than photography to deliver color.

What’s left are the illustrations and photos (also often black-and-white). VF produces award-winning photography and uses these photos to bring color to a page. This is evident among a number of the feature stories, especially the long-form pieces in the beginning of the feature well. However, many of these stunning photos are either subdued in color or simply black-and-white, complimenting the VF brand.

On the other hand, the Front of the Book is younger and playful in tone, lending itself to a greater range and boldness of colors, although still through the photos. There are also illustrations, photo and traditional, that use solid, bold colors to draw on these qualities.

Field Notes – Color: bon appétit

Since I wasn’t able to find an official color guide for bon appétit, I decided to look at three issues to try to figure out how they approached color and why.

April 2019 cover of the bon appétit magazine.

February 2019 cover of the bon appétit magazine.

What I found is that for the most part, the designers at the magazine used a full spectrum color palette and focused on specific groups of colors depending on the particular time of year. For instance, for the April issue, there was an increased use of bright, saturated colors and even pastels which I believe to be because of April being the month of Springtime. Whereas, in comparison to the February 2019 issue, which was still technically a Winter issue where the colors were more muted and dark. The covers are a good indication of this.


Other uses of color which were consistent were the colors of sigs, bugs, highlights, rules and such furniture elements. Of course, these were matched with the imagery but they were generally, black, yellow, reddish, green or blue.

Page in the March 2019 issue.

Page in the April 2019 issue.




As you can see, this is done to create hierarchy among the different pieces of text or to draw attention to a particular element on the page that it important.




I also noticed that the “Away” section of each issue featured tinted pages. No other section of the magazine or pages (aside from advertisements) exist on colored pages but those in the “Away” section. Here, the designers make use of blocks of color and other shapes to add interest behind the text.

Spread from the 2019 March issue.

Spread from the 2019 February issue.


In the 2019 February and March issues, a prominent color was a shade of pink.

The Economist – Color

When you pick up a copy of The Economist, the first thing the eye is drawn to is that iconic red name plate. How could you miss it? Every issue it sits there, flush left, and is so bright that it is unavoidable. Though the red is eye-catching, I don’t think that is the only reason they picked it. The color red is associated with passion, energy, strength, desire, and love. I think the color red is the perfect choice for The Economist because those words perfectly describe their audience. The people that pick up this magazine are passionate about a wide array of topics, and want to learn as much as they can so they can talk about what they read as much as they can.

Image result for The economist name plate

That iconic read is used throughout the rest of the publication, and it acts as a nice piece to tie the whole magazine together. It is used in type, as a headline bar, dividers, etc. To juxtapose the bright red, however, is a light blue. While red is fiery and passionate, blue is calm and stabile. Blue is associated with trust, loyalty, wisdom, and intelligence. Light blue is used to hold the side stories of the main feature, and I think it was so smart to do this because though blue is on the back burner of red, it does not mean it does not hold equal importance. The blue is also used as a header, but to indicate when an article is already within a section.


As for the photographs, they all seem to be highly colorized, and I think that’s because they want to give the reader a break from the mundane text. In a sea of black and white, the colorful photos offer some sort of solace.


Field Notes – Images: bon appétit

As a magazine that prides itself on educating its audience on new restaurants, up-and-coming chefs, recipes, trends and other foodie related things, bon appétit does a good job with the visuals that are paired with the articles. Image use will be broken into three categories for analysis.


Bon appétit is pretty heavy-handed when it comes to illustrations as they appear on a majority of the pages in each issue, usually beginning where the sections do. For a majority of the time — mainly depicting food items or people — the illustrations are plain, un-filled line drawings.

Page in the 2019 March issue.

Page in the 2019 April issue.


On the left, in the 2019 March issue, you can observe the illustrations as are typical on the top, anchoring the section heads.


On the right, you can see the plain line drawings of contributors.




In other instances, the illustrations are more artistic with strokes and swaths of color to form an image like in the 2019 February issue. Or, as is customary in the “Home” section, illustrations are more humorous in nature with food items that have faces and are personified (see 2019 March issue image below). Other simple line illustrations are flat and have very simple color palettes like in the 2019 April issue.

Page from the 2019 February issue.

Page from the 2019 March issue.

Page from the 2019 April issue.

These aren’t really used in bon appétit aside from the lines and elements that may be considered as graphics. Mainly, these are used in type treatment for article headlines. The type is usually highly stylized with strokes, lines or other graphic elements and may also be place behind other images. An example of that may be found below.

Spread in the 2019 February issue.

Spread in the 2019 March issue.









By far, photos dominate the magazine with many of them being used throughout. They range in sizes from very small to full spreads (which occasionally even appear vertically), and can be regular block images or cut out from their backgrounds. They mostly feature foods, but sometimes include people and animals. Images cut out from their backgrounds generally have shadows added. Sometimes, illustrations are placed within the photos. Text and arrows are typically included to provide context, credit the photographer and to add other bits of information like quotes or recipes. This text is put into a text box with a solid background, skewed around the object or placed as a block of text in an inversed color. Some examples were added below.

Spread in the 2019 February issue.

Spread in the 2019 February issue.








Spread in the 2019 March issue.

Spread in the 2019 March issue.








Spread in the 2019 April issue.

Spread in the 2019 April issue.

Entertainment Weekly-Color

Overview: For color I noticed that Entertainment Weekly uses a lot. Their reason for this is because they have so much content that they need to make sure that it stands out, they use every page to its fullest and want to ensure that nothing gets lost. But the problem with this method is that sometimes things do get lost, with the amount of colors that are being used, some overpower others. I was not able to find any PDF with their color palette but I noticed the some of the main colors that they use are Red, and a Heavy Black for most of their content, favoring bold typefaces. For their sections, they consistently stick to  Green, Purple, Red and a Bright Blue.

Pattern: I noticed that they have consistency in the chaos of the amount of colors that they use. When they have a color that does not really correlate with the rest of the magazine featured in the cover, they use it for either with the captions, or pull quotes. I think that it is really interesting when they decide to put colors together that do not really go together. While going through their TV section I saw that the used a bright pink to make sure that the time for the show stood out.And for their smaller pieces that were in between the larger columns they used a bright neon yellow to make the page stand, so that it did not get lost.











Effect: I think that the effect of the magazine goes with the overall tone of entertainment. It offers at the reader a way to go to the bright colors and see the pieces that would not usually be something that stood out. They use the color in a way that puts that information front and center. I noticed that they also use it for some of their other features that are not as large as the cover story, as a way to make sure that they are still noticed by their audience. Which not only shows that the story is still important, but also makes the reader stop to process it.











Meaning to the Reader: I think that the use of color that Entertainment uses adds to the readers experience. Entertainment covers many topics in Hollywood, but  instead of “flashing lights” it has “flashing colors.” The magazine has so many different components that are brought out by color, it makes the reader take a step back to analyze everything that is going on. Which is something that may have been lost if they did not go with bold colors. But I think that there is a way to still use bright colors but in a more cohesive way when it comes to making the smaller pieces in the magazine stand out.


Field Notes – bon appétit: Furniture

Bon appétit designers seem to enjoy using furniture in various ways to highlight areas for decoration and function on their pages.These would include the usual folio, credit and bylines, section heads/flags, teasers and promos, display headlines and subheads. Here are the ways in which they use furniture elements.


The designers tend to use rules of varying lengths, shapes and widths on the spreads to separate content. For the most part, this is done to aid in organization and hierarchy. For example, in the table f content, rules are placed under the section titles to make them distinctive from page numbers and article titles, as well as from other section heads.

Table of content in 2019 February issue.

Another way that rules are used are to separate pieces of text elsewhere in the articles to add order. This allows the reader to know when a particular blurb ends so text can be placed near other pieces of text without being read together and causing confusion.

Spread in 2019 April issue.

Spread in 2019 March issue.








Sigs and Bugs 

At the beginning of each article, including the editor’s letter, the articles place little arrows (either plain colored triangles or more typical arrows with a stroke and tail). Then, at the end of articles that span multiple pages, a black square is used as a bug signal to the reader that the piece is finished.

Spread in 2019 April issue showing bug.

End spread in March 2019 issue showing sig and illustration.









Also, in the example above, we can see an illustration of Elizabeth Moss used for the BoB article. In each issue, there is a brief article featuring a celebrity or chef which is always accompanied with a “floating head” illustration of them.


Field Notes | Real Simple | Color


The covers for Real Simple are very plain, simple, and to the point. Luckily, there are often vibrant, saturated colors that are incorporated into the nameplate, headlines, and main image. The colors for the cover change from each issue, but always have a monochromatic and analogous color scheme. For example, for the February 2019 cover, the nameplate is monochromatic – the colors are two purple hues with the word “Real” in a light purple and the word “Simple” in a darker purple.

When it comes to the headlines, they are analogous, meaning that the colors appear next to each other on the color wheel. For example, for the February 2019 cover, the headlines are shown in purple, a deep red, and black (which strays away from the analogous scheme but still goes with the other two colors).

As for the images, they often inspire the color palette for the nameplate and headlines. The February 2019 cover has an image of fruit with red and deep blue/purple hues. Altogether, these colors create a vibrant and at ease feeling for the magazine. This may be chosen to stay uniform and not appear too overly colorful.

Other issues also show how the image sets the palette for the nameplate and headlines, meaning that this is not a random choice, but stylistic.

Colors on February 2019 Real Simple issue

Example of monochromatic and analogous color schemes on the February 2019 issue of Real Simple


Real Simple is not afraid to use white space, but they are also not afraid to use color. Just like the cover, many of the colors are saturated with deep hues and are bright.

When it comes to images in a story, especially service pieces, the background is a solid color that is often a primary color or a tint of a primary color. Then the main image typically has a pop of color. Altogether the background and main image create a complementary color scheme. For example, in the January 2019 issue, one service story about “Citrus Peels” has a deep blue background and the citrus peels are orange. Together they perfectly create a complementary color scheme.

Orange peels on blue background.

Example of complementary colors used in the February 2019 issue of Real Simple

This isn’t always the case though. Many images often times have a white background with products in the images having a pop of saturated color. This draws the eye to the products and keeps the overall simplistic theme.

As for typography, body copy always appears in black while headlines and deks also appear in black. As for sections, they typically appear in a primary color such as red, blue or green.  Again, this might be due to keeping the simplistic theme to the magazine and not overwhelming readers with color.

Woman applying makeup in a magazine.

An example of color used in a section name in the February 2019 issue of Real Simple.

Color – NY Magazine

When it comes to the color in NY Mag- the designers are very creative. It’s very black, white and & red themed when it comes to the text heavy pages. When the story calls for bright bold accents – NY Mag isn’t afraid to use either text or photographs to make it pop!


As you can see this issue is very photo-heavy, so I chose to focus on the colors in the images. Per each different section, there are different focal points. My personal favorite compilation is the shoe/boot spread. Not only did the designers vary the pictures but the text. The creative rainbow accent balanced by the blackness of the boot in the middle, and then towards the bottom is clever because the eye naturally moves in the direction designers want.