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Designing a 3D Illustrated Magazine Cover

Time Magazine Tik Tok's Deadline Time runs short cover mockup

Designing a 3D illustrated Magazine cover

covering Tik Tok's deadline

Picture of Benjamin Moseley

Benjamin Moseley

Providing Intelligent Web & Graphic Solutions since 2023.

Let's talk about how I

Created a Timeless Magazine Cover

with a 3D Illustrated Design created in Cinema 4D

**This project was created fictionally as a learning tool for me during my tenure at New England Institute of Technology (RI). While the content and case study may depict work attributed to me (Ben Moseley), it’s important to clarify that I was not actually contacted by TIME Magazine or TIK TOK or any associated parties for this assignment. The information presented here is purely fictional and does not represent any actual collaboration or engagement with TIME Magazine or TIK TOK.

Join me on a journey where concept development, meticulous research, strategic planning, precise execution, innovative solutions, and impactful results converge. Together, we’ll explore how each of these elements contributes to the creation of a cover that not only captures the zeitgeist but also stands as a testament to the power of design in storytelling. 

The Process for completing this design:

Step One


Step Two

Conduct Research

Step Three

Concept Development & Iteration

Step Four

Illustrate & Design

Step Five

Refine & Deliver

Research & Development

Heres how I

Approach the challenge

I began (step one) this process by conducting thorough research and concept development, ensuring a thorough understanding of the issue and its implications. Collaborating, and refining concepts in step two, aiming for clarity, relevance, and visual impact. With a finalized concept in hand by step three, design execution begins, followed by iterative feedback loops to ensure alignment with objectives. Step four sees the design polished to perfection, meeting TIME’s standards for print and digital publication, while Step five concludes with delivery and launch, sparking conversations and offering insightful perspectives on the evolving digital landscape and how your brand can benefit from 3D Designed Content.

Step One: Connecting with the problem

The Time Management Problem

As a designer, mastering the art of magazine cover creation demands a versatile toolkit. It’s about more than just aesthetics—it’s about leveraging every tool at your disposal to craft a cover that not only grabs attention but also resonates deeply with its audience. With the looming uncertainty surrounding TikTok’s fate in the United States, the opportunity arises to harness this narrative and channel it into a visually compelling cover for TIME Magazine.

Step two: Research

About TIME Magazine

Client Name: TIME Magazine

Industry: Media and Publishing

Position in Industry: Leading publication in the media industry

Target Customers: Educated professionals, thought leaders, individuals interested in current affairs.

Time Magazine Logo

Research on Tik Tok is also going to be important so let's conduct a

SWOT Analysis on Tik Tok for TIME Magazine

A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool used to assess internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats facing a business or project. By identifying these factors, organizations can capitalize on strengths, address weaknesses, seize opportunities, and mitigate threats, ultimately improving their strategic position.


  • Global Influence

  • Massive User Base
  • Easy-to-use & FREE


  • Negative Content
  • Addictive for users
  • Lower Monetization for Content Creators


  • Sell to U.S. Approved company

  • Better Algorithm and AI integration

  • Update reputation in U.S.


  • Government Policies
  • Competition (Youtube, Facebook, etc)
  • Public Perception



Due Diligence

In my research and development process for this project, I’ve conducted thorough due diligence on the potential ban of TikTok in the United States. Drawing from reputable sources like The New York Times and CBS News.

I’ve gathered critical insights into the legislative landscape and the implications for TikTok’s future. The administration’s efforts to present national security concerns and the legislative push to force ByteDance to sell its stake in TikTok highlight the urgency and complexity of the issue. As I craft this cover for TIME Magazine, I aim to convey the gravity of the situation and provide readers with a timely and insightful perspective on the evolving digital landscape.

CBS News

CBS News - When would a TikTok ban go into effect?

CBS News

CBS News discusses A bill targeting Tik Tok’s parent company ByteDance could lead to its ban in the U.S. within six months unless ByteDance sells its stake. Passed by the House, its fate in the Senate remains uncertain, with concerns over national security and Chinese influence driving legislation. Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell is considering the bill’s implications, while critics argue it threatens First Amendment rights. Logistical challenges and legal battles complicate any potential sale of Tik Tok leaving it’s future in the U.S. uncertain.

New York Times

The House, backed by bipartisan support, passed a bill compelling TikTok’s Chinese owner to sell the app or risk a U.S. ban, heightening tensions over technology control between the two nations. This move reflects widespread concerns about national security and Chinese influence in American social media. Despite TikTok’s efforts to mobilize its vast U.S. user base against the bill, it passed overwhelmingly. However, its future in the Senate is uncertain, with potential legal challenges looming even if it becomes law.

New York Times

New York Times - House Passes Bill to Force TikTok Sale From Chinese Owner or Ban the App

Step three: Concept Development

The Sketching Process

I began this sketch process by brainstorming and generating low-fidelity sketches, capturing initial ideas and concepts in their rawest form. These sketches were quick, rough, and served as a springboard for my creativity, allowing for rapid exploration of various possibilities. As the process evolved, I refined these rough sketches into high-fidelity iterations, where details were fleshed out, and visual elements were polished. High-fidelity sketches offered a clearer representation of the final design, with a stronger visual that conveyed the drama and impact I was looking to get from the audience This transition from low to high fidelity enabled a deeper understanding of the design direction, ensuring better visuals and a more refined end product.

High Fidelity Sketch

The final sketch is my high fidelity sketch which is a higher polished sketch that allows the viewer to understand my visual a little better without investing too much time and labor. This multi-faceted approach to research ensures that the cover design not only captures the essence of the TikTok ban but also speaks directly to TIME’s audience, making it impactful and relevant.

TIME Magazine Cover High Fidelity Sketch
TIME Magazine Cover High Fidelity Sketch
So let's build a rough draft
This wireframe serves as my preliminary visualization of the layout for our TIME Magazine 3D Illustrated Cover. As I delve into the initial design phase using Cinema 4D, I anticipate refining and revising the layout to ensure it aligns seamlessly with our vision and objectives.

Step four: Illustrate and deliver

Building the design in Cinema 4D

I began this process in Cinema 4d, A 3D illustrating software that features extensive capabilities and allows to create high quality ultra realistic 3D illustrated designs. The first task is to create a spline the I can Lathe into an hourglass shape. This is double lathed to build the glass thickness to give it more depth. After the hourglass base and glass have taken form, it’s now time to begin adding texture and patterns to the materials to make them look like wood, glass, and sand.

Iterations of our Cinema 4D Process

The Final Development and Cover Design

Once our design is in a polish mode, it’s time to begin framing our composition. Throughout the meticulous process of crafting this cover in Cinema 4D, I encountered the challenge of precisely positioning the camera and orchestrating the lighting to achieve the desired effect. Leveraging the software’s sophisticated camera photography capabilities, I meticulously calibrated the scene, ensuring each element was illuminated and captured with finesse. Employing a shutter speed of 1/15 second, I adeptly captured the fluid motion of the scene.
Cinema 4D Software Screenshot of hourglasss preparing for "photoshoot"
Cinema 4D Software Screenshot of hourglasss preparing for "photoshoot"
Final Render after clean-up in Adobe Photoshop
Cinema 4D Final Render after Photoshop

Now let's design the Time Magazine Cover

Step Five: Refine & deliver

This intricate design was meticulously crafted using Adobe Illustrator, where we harnessed its versatile tools and features to bring our vision to life with precision and finesse. From the meticulous arrangement of fonts to the faithful recreation of Time Magazine’s iconic red and white border background, every element was carefully sculpted and refined within the digital canvas. Adobe Illustrator served as our creative conduit, resulting in a polished and impactful final product.
Time Magazine Design Cover in Adobe Illustrator

To refine and deliver this cover, I had to utilize a plethora of tools within the software, such as typography manipulation, mask clipping, and image embedding, I meticulously crafted each aspect of the design to perfection.

Typography played a pivotal role in conveying the essence of both Time Magazine and TikTok’s brands. Through careful selection and manipulation of fonts like Helvetica Neue, Iowan Old Style, and Futura, I ensured a harmonious balance between sophistication and modernity.

Throughout the design process, I remained aware of color theory principles, ensuring that my color palette remained relevant to both Time Magazine’s iconic red and white border background and TikTok’s vibrant branding. 

Additionally, techniques like mask clipping allowed me to seamlessly integrate elements such as the TIME logo and the hourglass, ensuring a seamless and polished visual narrative.

TIME Magazine Tik Tok's Dealine Time runs out Mockup
Final Render of TIME Cover for Tik Tok

By upholding the standards of Time Magazine’s renowned reputation for excellence while incorporating elements that resonate with TikTok’s brand identity, I created a cover that seamlessly bridges tradition with innovation, captivating audiences while drawing attention to the Tik Tok Deadline and the effects it could have world-wide.

So how can your brand

Benefit from 3D designed content?

If a brand decides to look into incorporating 3D designs into their print materials, brands can elevate their visual storytelling and create immersive experiences that leave a lasting impression on their audience. From magazine covers to marketing collateral, the enhanced visual appeal of 3D designs captivates attention and sets brands apart in a crowded marketplace. Additionally, the versatility of 3D design allows brands to explore creative concepts and adapt the visuals across different platforms, ensuring a cohesive brand identity that resonates with consumers.

The Cover Gallery

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