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The primary part I'm confused about:

The thickness of the magazine with slightly bent pages underneath other pages?

Do I model each page individually?

I would like the edges of the underlying pages to show also.

What is best practice? (going for photo realism, its ok if its high poly)

enter image description here

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I would model the profile of the open magazine -

magazine profile

then extrude it to the height of the magazine and add a solidify modifier. extruded and thickness

One end can be scaled out to get the variation at the top. Apply the solidify and add a crease to the outer edges, then use an edge split and subsurf modifier to finish it off. Some parts can then be expanded where the pages are separated.

finished magazine

I would then add the "space" between the pages and the page variations to the texture.

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