HAX Apex legends magazine

19 weeks
140 hours
Photoshop, InDesign
HAX is a monthly video game magazine with a quarterly "Special Edition" game specific strategy guide. HAX usually provides facts, tips and tricks to readers, but in our “Special Editions” we focus in on one game, exploring the rich lore, character stories and relationships, and, well, tell the whole story.
In this special edition, the first person shooter Apex Legends becomes the center of attention. Special care was put into thoroughly researching the lore, characters, relationships, maps, gameplay strategies, fun game modes, guns, and glitches. The visual design system was based on the UI of the game and all associated media.
Extensive research was conducted into every small detail of the world of Apex Legends. Reading every comic, dissecting every page of the wiki fan pages, and studying the UI and marketing design systems. Alongside this research, several hours were dedicated to studying the content layouts of skateboarding and motocross magazines. With their shared focus on high intensity action packed visuals, these magazines were an excellent source of inspiration.

Users are people age 16-30 who enjoy first person shooters, high intensity, and action packed video games.
Before beginning designing the magazine layouts, images, stats, and stories were gathered. Alongside this process, the UI of the game as well as the visual design system of all Respawn’s Apex Legends marketing materials were studied so as to stay on brand during production. 

When creating the HAX logo, the focus was on gaming as a whole. It had to be easily associated with video games and the culture around the video game industry. After many iterations, it was discovered that if the X looked like a controller’s D-pad, this would be a simple yet effective way to create this association.
After researching current magazines present in retail stores as well as the Apex Legends’ brand system, the HAX and Special Edition design systems for the magazine took shape. In order to achieve the look and feel of a magazine that had it’s own design system and was incorporating a separate design system as a sort of “takeover” event, two design systems needed to be developed and used appropriately. The HAX magazine design system was built to achieve a clean and impactful aesthetic. The fonts were chosen for their legibility and their overall tone: Edgey, modern, direct, and reliable. Meanwhile, the Apex Legends design system was directly inspired and based on the design systems present for the property. The fonts were the fonts used on their website, the UI boxes and other decals were inspired on the UI of the game and marketing materials. The colors were determined by looking at the property’s use of color, with black, white, grey, and red being the primary colors, and other secondary colors being used as needed. Both systems were very visuals focused and were to have any photographs/imagery take up a bulk of any page as applicable.
Once the content for the magazine had been determined, the layout of content on the magazine spreads was planned. The major lore behind the game was determined to be of the utmost importance and needed to be a major main article. The secondary, albeit largest section directly following were the pages describing the legends - their backstory, stats, patch notes, and fun facts. From there smaller articles regarding legends’ relationships and battle strategy compatibility would be added to help ease the density of the content up to this point. This would be followed up by analyzing the maps and determining winning strategies within points of interest. From there, small articles on glitches and special events would be present. Ads were to be placed in between articles sections to help separate the content more overtly. Initially, the magazine was projected to only be 48 pages, however once the content was flowed in it became all too apparent this number would increase.
As visual content began to take form within the magazine, the main character pages were built in Photoshop. In order to achieve a similar backdrop to that of Apex Legends’ home screen, a cement base with a beam of spectacular light was to shoot out from below and behind the legends. An image online was sourced of a room with a cement floor with bulb lights reflecting off it. Cropping, scaling, and retouching this image would provide the base needed for the legends to stand on. An image with smoke on a black backdrop was sourced and using Channels in photoshop, the smoke was pulled from its original image and applied as a mask on solid color layers to create dynamic, vivid smoke within the scene. Adding two gradient layers overlapping the smoky backdrop and the floor, a bursting light was made. From there, the legends’ were cut out of their original PNG image files using the lasso tool and masks and were placed relative to their in-game scale within the scene, with shadows applied to their feet so as to make them fully a part of the scene.
Going back to my inspiration board, the image with the name of the athlete in large, impactful letters behind them that intervalled between solid and outlines was chosen to display the legends’ names. Not only is this style of headline typography bold, modern, and edgy, but it was also present in some earlier Apex Legends merchandise that was dropped in August of 2020. In order to get the names to be affected by the burst of light and smoke within the backdrop, the names were created in Illustrator, brought over into Photoshop, and had an overlay blend mode applied to it.

Moving forward, several variations of content layout began to take form. There was experimentation with copy laid over images, with and without low opacity backdrops for contrast. There were pages with content laid out in three columns and some only in one. As testing went on, a system began to take form and become utilized throughout. 

While revisiting the project a month later, a motocross magazine found at a local coffee shop provided some much-needed inspiration and clarity to the tone and visual aesthetics of the mediums highlighted in the HAXmagazine. The motocross magazine’s ability to focus almost purely on visuals and have the copy seamlessly blended within it was insightful and inspirational. The magazine was longer horizontally than vertically, and it allowed the action-packed visuals to really stand out and make an impact on the reader. Applying these new techniques to the HAX magazine became priority number one. HAX magazine was reformatted to have longer horizontal pages and to increase the scale and impact of imagery, focusing on the visuals as a primary component to the magazine.

However this reformatting posed a new challenged when it came to the character pages. It was difficult to choose whether to showcase all of the character statistics on the first page, or begin the character’s story and have it continue on the following pages, putting the statistics near the end. After much testing, it was decided that the first page would hold the character’s statistics, followed by their story on the following pages, ending with fun facts and patch notes. See mockup spread below for final render.