Your first step will be to create a pair of cover images which illustrate key ideas of the two feature articles, one for each issue. These images will eventually be used in your cover layouts combined with a masthead logotype, a headline that goes with the image, and several other secondary article headlines.
You will create these cover images yourself. They may be created using photography, illustration or other image making techniques — utilizing symbolism, metaphors, etc to communicate ideas in a simple impactful way. No stock photography allowed.
Key Themes: reading through your two chosen feature articles, highlight key themes that are communicated. Write down a list of at least three key themes per article, for a total of six themes. Word associate or mind map off of these key themes as needed to come up with distilled ideas that could inform your cover image ideas. These images should not attempt to communicate everything about the article, but rather intrigue the user into reading. Minimalism is often key here. Simple, strong images work best.
Image Inspiration: Using your key themes as a guide, pull inspiration to help visualize your cover image ideas. This does not have to be specifically magazine cover inspiration. It can be any photography, illustration or imagery. Pull as much inspiration as needed, but the ultimate goal is to pair one inspiration image with each cover image thumbnail you do.
Image Thumbnails: Begin sketching thumbnails (only of image ideas, masthead and layout comes after this) for each of the six key themes identified previously. Include a inspiration image next to each thumbnail.