The Graphics Mod Guide (kinda)

Graphics exist for a purpose in zines. Most of the time it’s to show off how great your zine is. Sometimes it’s to give information, or to sell people something, or to share something.

There are many foundations to graphic design. Learn the rules before you break the rules. And thanks to YouTube, you can now get The Rules in 10-15 minute formats!

Know your purpose. Add visual interest. And be memorable for all the good reasons, not all the bad ones. (Unless looking bad is your thing.)


If your graphic is meant to be informational, be clear about your information.

Consider the hierarchy: Titles should be bigger, include a subtitle to describe the content now that you have the reader’s attention, and...

And do you really need to put all the information on the graphic? Does the purpose of your graphic mean you should put it there? Most people will only read a couple of lines unless the text is super relevant. Sometimes you can trust in the document.

Maybe your graphic is for showing off how awesome rad cool you are. Even though motion graphics found popularity in 2020-2021, a nice piece of art and some killer typography is timeless.

There are so many tutorials out there. I bet anyone could become an expert by watching ten minutes of graphics videos every day, five days a week, for a month. Or graphics design Tik-Toks...

Incorporate visual interest

Illustrations, rhythm/composition, colour theory, and/or animations can all work here!

Dont be afraid of whitespace. Become friends with whitespace. Let whitespace give your audiences eyeballs a chance to rest for a second before you dazzle them with your ultra awesome mega rocking content. Blam!

Look up typography basics for how to use type.

Be memorable

There are so many zines it’s important to stand out.

To us, the memorable zines all capture a certain spirit or essence. Graphics work hard at getting your project that all-important buy-in and demonstrate the journey is just as important as the end result.


Though graphics can be made in any program, some software does make it easier to achieve technical perfection a la grids and rulers and snapping.

You can also be me and measure the placement of things by copy-pasting boxes like a fake grid.

This guide is supposed to be neutral, but I use a combination of Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, Photoshop, Clip Studio, Illustrator, MS Paint, and Microsoft GIF Animator.

Aside from the usual art programs, some people use Canva and Photopea, both online, and Google Slides/PowerPoint as a way to input text for previews, e.g. Q&A, writer previews.

A lot of the Fancy Animated Graphics these days are done in: Canva, Procreate, Photoshop, Clip Studio, After Effects (list is in increasing order of software complexity)

loading single gifs to do everything manually??? love it

Additional technical considerations

Remember the dreaded Twitter Crop? The way different platforms display your graphics must be considered.

Animations and videos look very good, but consider the way they degrade. Twitter doesn’t let people zoom into videos, and it’s difficult to read text in GIFs on mobile. Different platforms have different preferred posting sizes. Work with your Social Media mod to understand the limitations you have to work around.

Or work with!

Twitter crops could be used for a special “surprise me” moment. Why not go with the limitations and invent something clever?

Additional info

As a graphics mod, you need timelines in advance. Your organisation or social media mod should be able to tell you a list of all graphics, and the dates when graphics are due. A graphics mod is able to excel in an environment where information is provided to them in advance with ample time to complete the tasks.

The good graphics mod is able to complete their tasks in advance and gather input from other mods. As part of being told what graphics they should make and when, a good graphics mod notifies the rest of the team when graphics are completed and where they are found (e.g. in a shared folder). If they do not receive a response, they follow up with the team until it is checked on.

  • Someone should always double check the accuracy of the text!

  • For items such as contributor spotlights, some projects will check with the contributor directly - by making a channel, or by having a mod (not necessarily graphics mod) send a message. This is recommended as contributors will tend to check their spotlight more thoroughly than mods who might be busy on other tasks.

    • If you have a mod with huge attention to detail then they can also often be enough (some finance and org mods anyone????)

If you need to change the text in a graphic, you should notify the person who submitted it before making the change IF they did not indicate it may be edited.

  • In other words, it is best to get confirmation they are alright with the change.

  • This is etiquette similar to not drawing over, cropping, or editing another artists artwork without prior notification.

  • If it's an obvious, major error, such as a typo, it might be acceptable to make the edit and then tell the person. But unless you have interacted with the person before, it's hard to say if it might be deliberate or accidental.

    • If it's time-sensitive, you can set a deadline for people to respond and move ahead if they do not. Be sure this deadline is realistic enough to give them a chance to respond; 7-10 days is ideal.

The team can work with graphics mods to ascertain if they will share in the work. Sometimes mods will be required to create graphics for promotional or zine assets. Aside from Art mods/artist contributors, there have also been instances where Writing mods/writing contributors have also been included in creation of promotional material too.

Graphics mods can and should use predetermined fonts, colours, and possibly templates to help standardise the overall appearance (unless this is a project where chaos is better than a coherent look). Mods should be respectful of any templates.

It’s a huge area. Remember to have fun!


Graphics modding is so unique???? I asked a bunch of graphics mods about how they go about making their graphics.

Luna Chai of Fódlan Detectives and Teyvat Travels:

I gather a lot of references before I even start creating- for Fódlan Detectives it was a lot of vintage material, newspapers, advertisements, pictures of vintage fashion and alcohol bottles. Mood boards are really helpful for creating unique graphic schemes- I find there’s too much risk of direct plagiarism if I only gather other “graphic design” references

Teyvat Travels is pretty similar, though it’s heavily weighted on Genshin’s pre established graphics scheme! Just with also some vintage flair 😄

yuzucider of Struck by Lightning, Fashion Impact and others:

My approach is honestly probably trying to make it as easy and painless for myself as possible LOL. Like when the zine starts I'll design the branding and a couple assets that fit with the brand, then just use those same couple assets in different ways throughout the whole creation period haha. And I always try to look for ways to make the graphics more eyecatching, which is usually making things move bc gifs are all the rage rn 💀

I focus on making the type look nice and neat, the simpler the better, since for me, social media graphics in general is about conveying info as much as it is about looking pretty, and people don't have the attention span to process info that's hard to read.

go crazy lol. you can literally make any branding/graphics/animation you want, literally nothing is holding u back lmao. don't feel like you have to follow trends or anything~


Thank you all for your wisdom mods 🙏

ngl I don't feel qualified to write about the graphic design Bottomless Abyss. 92.415% of this page* only exists because of my discussions with other graphics mods. You know who you are... thank you........

* number not based on real data

Additional material

If you haven't clicked the first link here it is again. Pick one video. Any video:

  • If you’re here because you just started a zine, can you delay your graphics by a week? Watch a little every day for five days then make a graphic on the weekend??

To make neat compositions, rhythm can help: Rhythm in Art: The Ultimate List of Rhythm in Art Examples (Lists types of rhythm, and provides graphic design-y examples)

To pick some colors, learn the details of Color, Value and Hue (Overview of... theory... stuff)

To give your graphics that real “graphic design” polish, consider looking into grid systems to work out how to arrange the goods?

If you're stuck on the composition itself, here's an art theory resource to go deeper: The 31 Top Composition Concepts for Great Painting (has explanations and examples)

We hear there's some graphics design mod server(s?) if you ask in Zine Town Discord.

to add: more images


light theme is for people with eye problems D<