How to Make a Zine

Introduction: How to Make a Zine

About: I feel the need, the need for zines.

I would like to have a chat with you about making a zine. Not sure what a zine is? This video pretty perfectly encapsulates the definition and origin of "the zine".

What Is A Zine?

Zines can be found almost anywhere, from bookstores to university libraries, and from punk shows to craft bazaars. They're often inexpensive, and the money you pay for them generally goes directly to the person who created the zine. One unspoken benefit to creating zines is you can swap your zine for other's zines, and make a friend in the process.

(Spoiler alert-Zines basically could cure all of the worlds ills. They're just that awesome.)

For this project, the main supply you will need is:


Other supplies will be needed, but the supplies needed will depend on how you want to make your zine, and what you want to use to make your zine with. For my zine, these are the supplies I used:

  • Paper.
    • Lots and lots of paper. I used 8.5"x14", because I like the shape of it when it's folded in half into pages for the zine.
  • Scissors
    • Lots of cutting and pasting images and text.
  • Glue sticks.
    • Lots of pasting and cutting text and images.
  • Computer
    • I used Google Docs and Microsoft Word to create my images and text, and searched Googles for images to use in my zine. I want to mention that it is not necessary to have a computer to make a zine, but sometimes it can come in handy while creating a zine.
  • Printer/Copier
    • Again, not necessarily necessary, but it does make it easier to create your zine, and to create multiple copies of your zine.

Step 1: Decide What Your Zine Will Be About

I think this is the best part of making a zine, because the subject of your zine is only limited by your imagination. It can literally be about anything! It can be a comic, or a display of your art, interviews from people you think are rad, any skill or hobby or interest you possess, anything at all. I once made a zine with a friend about serial killers and hamburgers. We wanted to make a zine together, and she was really interested in serial killers, and I about hamburgers, so we combined our interests to make a kooky little zine.

I've included a photo of a smattering of zines I recently acquired at a local zine fest. As you can see, they cover a wide array of topics.

For this Instructable, I had several ideas of zines to make as an example. I decided to make a zine about real movies, but with alternate plots and casts, because I thought it would be the most fun to make. When I started, I wasn't sure what to call the zine, but I thought it would probably come to me as I worked on the content.

(Spoiler alert, the title did come to me.)

*Fun Fact: The band Dead Milkmen started because two of the members made a fanzine for a fake band they made up called Dead Milkmen. From that fanzine spawned a show for Dead Milkmen to play, and from that show, they created a real band.

Step 2: Create the Content for Your Zine

Now that you've decided what your zine will be about, start creating content. If you're going to interview people, start asking questions. If your zine is a comic, get to drawing!

For my zine, I asked my friends to suggest movie titles. They sent me a list of about 100 titles, and I chose some that I thought could work for alternate plots. A movie like Cannibal Holocaust can really only be about one thing, so I tried to stray from titles like that. I think the ones I chose are pretty great, and I have plenty of other title suggestions to fall back on if I decide to make a second issue.

(Spoiler alert, I'm gonna make a second issue. Issue one was a lot of fun.)

Step 3: Create Your Layout

Now that you have your content ready, your next step is to create a layout for your zine. Make sure your layout fits the feel and theme of your zine.

The layout can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. Some zines are created by cutting words and images and pasting them to the zine pages. Some are created using Illustrator, Photoshop, etc. I would say most are pretty low tech, but the beauty of zines is they can be about anything, and you can use any supplies or skills you have at your disposal to create it.

For my zine, I decided to create rows of VHS cassettes in the background, and in the foreground put the plot and artwork for each movie title so it would look like an actual VHS box. This proved to be A LOT more work than I had originally anticipated. I'm kind of a stickler for details, and so I didn't want my zine to just be text, or just the VHS box in the foreground. I thought the background shelves would look really cool, and I think they turned out cool, but coming up with cover designs for each box in the background really wore me out, and I started to burn out about half way through. My wife suggested just putting the video store "logo" on some of the boxes, which I thought was a great idea. I think it turned out looking natural for video store shelves.

Making the VHS cover designs in the foreground was easier, but it still took quite a bit of time to get everything right. I tried to draw the images, but I wasn't satisfied with the drawings, so I decided to use images found through Google that were labelled for reuse. I didn't want to steal anyone else's artwork to support mine, and I feel confident that I didn't do that, while still making the images look good.

(Spoiler alert- This was the part of the process where the name came to me, and I used the name in the logo for the fake video store I had created.)

Step 4: Design a Cover for Your Zine

Nothing is worse than a boring zine cover, not even stubbing your toe. Make sure your zine is attention grabbing, and that it fits the content of your zine. You may want to screen print a cover, or cut out a wacky shape, or do something completely different.

For my zine, I decided to create a cover that looked like a catalog from a video rental chain from the 1980's. I originally was going to screen print a cover, but I think it works better as a full color digital print.

(Spoiler alert- you can see from the photo that I decided to call my zine Video Vault, the name of the fake video rental chain.)

Step 5: Printing

Now that you completed all the content, put it all together and print it. Printing it can be as simple as making copies on a copy machine (the gold standard of zines), printing the pages you've created on your home printer, or as detailed as risograph or digital printing. It’s all up to you and what works best for your zine.

I printed all of my zine on a copier. The cover I printed in color, and the rest I printed in black and white. I then used a stapler to bind it all together. While stapling is the most common way of binding zines, you can tie it all together we string, bind it together by sewing it, or even let it go commando and not bind it at all! You can even cut and fold one sheet of paper to make a tiny mini-zine (you should Google it. You'll thank me later.) As I've previously stated, zines are great because they're so customizeable.


(Spoiler alert- when you finish your zine, be sure to send me a copy, and I'll send you a copy of mine!)

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    Thanks for sharing. I had never really thought about the process of creating a zine. It might be fun to try some time.