Creating a Postcard with InDesign

A quick tutorial on creating a graphically rich postcard using InDesign.

Postcards are great! They are perfect for announcements, artist samples, direct mailers, invitations, old fashioned correspondence, and convert nicely to an easy-to-share online graphic. In this short tutorial, we’ll import some images and then add text to create a postcard promoting a new fabric collection. Use these photos or use your own photos and text to create your personal postcard.

Postcards come in a variety of standard sizes. Some sizes can be mailed at a reduced rate, but larger cards require 1st class postage. There are many ways to get your postcard printed and online printers often have free templates you can use to make sure your art prints correctly.

We are going to create a standard 4x6in 2 sided postcard which could be mailed postcard rate.

File > New > New Documentdocument-settings

We want a 4x6in landscape card; we are going to want 2 pages; they do not need to be facing pages. Because one side will have a full bleed photo, we’ll turn bleeds on and set that for 1p.

Save the Document.

Adding Images.

I have 2 photos I’d like to use. One is a photo of a Davis Square brick sidewalk, and another is a photo of the fabric collection proofs. Because this card will be printed, I want to make sure my photos are saved at a higher resolution. Most printers require 300dpi. Prepare your photos in Photoshop or iPhoto before importing.

File > Place

Choose the 1st photo. (InDesign will let you choose multiple photos and drag and drop images right in to your layouts. We are going to add our images one at a time, so each step is clearer.) Select the photo you want. Place your cursor at the top left of your bleed and drag it to the right and down, so the image fills the background. Position the photo as you like. The Control Panel has tools for modifying your image size and placement. Deselect that frame.

Use Place again to get the second photo. I want to lay this one over the first photo, and crop it a bit. Drag the frame anchors up or down to change the shape of the frame while keeping the photo the same size.

Each of these photos is in a frame. InDesign places objects and text in frames that can be linked, moved and individually styled.

Quick tip: Choose the W key to toggle back and forth between preview and design/default mode.

The overlay photo would look better with a drop shadow. There are two ways to get to the Effects Menu, which will allow you to alter the look and add drop shadows to objects and text.

Select the object you want to add an effect to. Right click and choose >Effects > Drop Shadow

Or, from the menu bar choose Window > Effects.
Select the object you’d like to alter, then click the fx button in the menu box and select Drop Shadow.

I want my shadow to be a bit lighter and with less cast, so it blends nicely with natural shadows in the other photo. Play around with the effects settings with the preview checked to see how your changes will look.postacrd-in-progress-idd-preview

Adding Text. 

The name of this collection is Urban Autumn. It is influenced by city bricks and features colors from the Pantone fall colors for 2014 palette.

I want to use a bold font. I’ll use Impact since it’s handy. You may want to spend some time trying different fonts to see how they change the mood of your card. You’ll see your font options in the Control Panel. Use the Character menu to fine-tune your text.

color-theme-toolLets use one of the colors in the swatch fabric photo to color the text. There are two ways to quickly add colors to your swatches:

Use the nifty Color Theme Tool to quickly create a palette of colors from a photograph.

Or use the Eyedropper tool to select individual colors, then right click on the color and select ‘Add to Swatches,’ to save the color.

add-to-swatches

Lets give the text a white stroke, so it stands out a little. Use the stroke window to size the stroke.

Continue adding more text by choosing the text tool, drawing your text frames and typing in your short text. I will add ‘New Fabric Collection by Eleanor Ramsay’ near the bottom of the card.

Lets give the text a drop shadow too. Use the Selection Tool to choose the text you want to add the effect to. In the effects window choose Text, then  fx > Drop Shadow

urban-autumn-card-previewThe keyboard arrow keys are useful for fine tuning your object placement.

That looks bright and bold, like the collection. In just a few steps we’ve created a promotional postcard.

 

Postcard back; page 2 in our document.

There are postal regulations that determine where you can put type on your cards and where the address should go. There needs to be space for the postal barcode, too. To be safe, use a postcard template to make sure you put everything in the right place. Many printers and the USPS have templates you can use.

postcard-back-templateI am going to place a template guide as a graphic and put it on its own layer. That way its visibility can be easily be turned on and off and it can be discarded before I export the design as a PDF.

Place your text, create a border for the stamp area (or an indicia if this is going to be a large mailing) and add any other objects or text you’d like to the back of your card.

In the next tutorial we’ll discuss exporting your postcard art for print and converting it to a graphic suitable for the web.

Links:

 

2015 Graphic Calendars

My 2015 calendars are now available at Spoonflower. These can be ordered on 18×27″ linen-cotton for tea-towels or as posters either in the wallpaper (heavy stock or sticky-back) or giftwrap (lighter-weight paper). Click any image to go to its shop page.

2015-color-block-calendar-web
Color Block Calendar – new for 2015

2015-popgardencalendar-web
Pop Garden Calendar – updated for 2015

once-more-around-web
“Once More Around the Sun” Calendar for 2015
(Cosmic Journey Collection)

New WIP: Vessels

IMG_1195
The fabric has arrived! 

My vessel panels have been printed and the process of beading and embroidery begins. With the changing of the season, it seams a perfect time to participate  in a bit of meditative task. Also, I am hoping to get these into a show at the Nave gallery later this year.

Vessels protect and obscure their contents until altered by an outside force, hiding mysteries within embellished exteriors.  It is human nature to be curious about the unknown and protective of possessions. A veil also obscures while it adorns. These layers of inside and outside space, known and unknown have structured our human relationships and concepts of wealth and power since the beginning of time. Overt objects of desire, these bottles may contain an exotic scent or a deadly poison. They demand you look at them and the medium allows a glimpse through them, yet their contents remains a mystery.

vessels-tryptic-poster-webtriptych  – perfume. (artist digital proofs)

Eleanor Ramsay
three fabric panels.
inkjet inks on 24” X 56” poly-silk knit embellished with hand embroidery and glass beading.

Cosmic Journeys – fabric collection

What does it mean to go on a cosmic journey? Spoonflower artists were challenged to create designs exploring this theme in June 2014. I’d been creating some bold geometric space-like prints influenced by a long cold winter listening to Sun Ra. So, I took some of these ideas and created this collection inspired by the Cosmos, Mythology and Afro-futurism.

See the entire Cosmic Journeys collection and purchase fabric, wallpaper or giftwrap at my Spoonflower Shop.

Geode Treasures – new fabric designs

Geode Treasures
seamless design

Geode Treasures – a new seamless design created for my Spoonflower pattern collection -just won their Weekly Design Challenge (Feb 26-March 7, 2014). Every week, Spoonflower presents a design theme and hundreds of fabric designers submit original work for consideration then vote for their favorites. This week, the challenge was Geodes and Gemstones. It’s a theme that resonates with me and my art making so I am pleased my design peers liked it, too.

This design has a varied scatter repeat, which makes it great for larger projects.

Geode Treasures is part of a collection of new fabrics and prints based on sketches of rock formations and imaginary orbits and maps I’ve been working on and translating to seamless repeats.

See Geode Treasures at Spoonflower.
Please visit my Spoonflower Store to see many more designs by Eleanor Ramsay.

Geode - original sketch
Geode – original sketch
Design of the Week
Banner at Spoonflower
geode treasure on sateen
Printed on Sateen

Fractal Explorations

I have been spending much of the past year working on fabric design. Lately, I have been focusing on the fractal geometry and digital collages that drew me to the Spoonflower website last year. I had a few earlier works printed on delicate cotton voile fabric. I’d been working on these large prints for a few years, but at a bit at a loss on how to finish them, make them something more than light on a screen or flat digital prints. Fabric flows and moves and allows light to pass through it. It is dynamic and alive where paper is static. Since the early tests, I dived in pretty hard, researching ornament and pattern and retuning to a process that has rekindled my creativity. Spoonflower hosts a theme contest each week and I have approached them as a learning opportunity. While not all of my contest designs have been successful, they’ve all challenged me in different ways, getting me to draw again and explore the commercial side of fabric design.

You can see my current collection at Spoonflower.

New Geometrics (or, will work for shoes)…

Here are a few small images of some of my latest geometric designs.

 

 

cut and sew – mini backpack

backpack sketch
original sketch

This is my first try at a cut and sew pattern. Since my sewing skills are minimal, it needs to be something I could actually make. Spoonflower, where I have been selling and sharing fabric designs, has a weekly theme contest and many designers participate. This week the challenge is to create a cut and sew pencil case. I thought a variation of a drawstring backpack sized for pens, pencils and a small notebook and phone would be a fun thing to have.

Continue reading

Running Up That Hill

I’ve been walking through the Tufts campus near my home – for the exercise but also because the pay off is so worth it. Tufts is built in a hilly area that straddles Medford and Somerville. Once at the summit, you can walk out onto the roof of the library and be greeted with an expansive view of the Boston and Cambridge skylines, some of the biggest sky to be found in the area.

Normally, the winters in Massachusetts are quite cold and snowy but this year, despite an early snowfall at Halloween and a few isolated show showers, winter never really arrived. Tufts Hill is also the prime sledding hill for the neighborhood. Bales of protective hay carefully placed in front of each large tree by the ever-busy Tufts maintenance crews just served as a reminder of how unusual this winter was.

The The Tisch Library rooftop garden and open lecture space is called Alex’s Place, named for a student who committed suicide in 2003. It is not an accident that the views from there are soul renewing and awe inspiring. The plantings and structures are simple and manage, at least in my opinion, to deftly tie this special place to the original brutal architecture of the library in an understated but perfectly conceived way.

Most of these images were just taken with my phone. I did bring along my new Nikon a few times. As this mild winter turns to spring, I will continue to trek up that hill and capture the changes. Maybe next year I’ll get to sled down.

Clicky for bigger versions and more info.