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.

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

Nothing Lasts Forever

Shortly before Christmas, the Casablanca Restaurant in Harvard Square closed down, after being in business since 1955. I hadn’t been there in years but my first real job in Boston was as a graphic designer for a repertory film promotion company called Pollack and Thornhill. Thornhill was a character from North by Northwest. Pollack was JD, my colorful neurotic boss who taught me how to drink at lunch then go back to work in the afternoon. He chain-smoked in the office and I still have one of his old ugly ashtrays. He pretty much lived at the Casablanca bar until they shut him down for not paying his tab.

JD ran the Brattle Theatre, a quirky space near to the hearts of cinephiles since it turned Casablanca into a cult film in the 1950s. They were one of the many movie houses we promoted. Other theaters included The Orson Welles, The Nickelodeon and the Somerville Theater. The pay wasn’t great, but I had all the movies I could eat and I worked in Harvard Square as a designer, not bad for a 22 year old. This was the pre-digital era of graphic design. My tools were a sharp Xacto knife, an IBM Selectric and a Stat camera. I mostly created display ads for the local newspapers; The Boston Globe, The Herald, and of course, the Boston Phoenix, the indie paper.

Pollack and Thornhill, in debt and hounded by creditors, laid everyone off right before Christmas, 1983. I faced 1984 unemployed and uninsured, which seemed starkly Orwellian at the time. I began freelancing and found steady work at Fidelity Investments. Perhaps the repertory film business was in trouble but business was booming in the stock market.  I also put in time at the Boston Phoenix, working a night shift creating display ads. Meanwhile, re-born as Brattle Hall Associates, programming at the art house continued and I continued designing  for them and for the Janus Cinema, another small screen in Harvard Square they bought and renovated. Eventually, debt reared its ugly head again and the Brattle changed hands. This time, the employees took over and stopped trying to run a scrappy film rep company on caviar dreams and second-hand smoke.

Brattle Theatre 100th Anniversary BookletRunning Arts, created by Connie White and Marianne Lampke was founded in 1986. They steered the theatre through its financial maelstroms, its 100 anniversary, and restored its place as a great rep house. They also programmed indie performances, such as a Spaulding Grey residency. I continued to be their designer. When I eventually moved on to CVG and other publishing companies, I still created the Brattle flyer every two months. When I started Working Media, we brought them in as a client. Sometime around 1998 or so, ready to exchange graphic design for grad school, I handed off my designs and image archives to Ned Hinkle, who was working for Running Arts and eventually took over the Brattle in 2001. He, with Ivy Moynahan, still runs it today as a non-profit organization, the Brattle Film Foundation. (They recently raised money to install a digital projector.)

I was thinking about the Casablanca, and the Brattle Theatre, because the Boston Phoenix stopped publishing abruptly, two weeks ago. While its easy to be cynical about what a rag the Phoenix had become, it still was an important independent voice and it will be missed. For me, the Phoenix and the Brattle are intrinsically intertwined. They consumed part of me when I was young but thought I was old. I was a small part of their big thing.  And, it occurred to me that I haven’t been to the Brattle in too long. I have my excuses. Like many people, I watch most of my movies at home. However, I better get my butt into one of their seats soon – because it’s great to see a film on a real screen with other people, the programming is as imaginative as ever, the concession stand still puts real butter on your popcorn, the balcony’s open, and nothing lasts forever.

Suitcase of Love and Shame

Suitcase of Love and Shame, a film by Boston filmmaker Jane Gillooly, had it premiere last Saturday at the ICA. I created the poster and identity for it, and assisted Jane with her website. The premiere was packed, S.R.O., which was heartening, since I sometimes wonder who goes to see independent films these days?

postcard-webSuitcase of Love and Shame is the kind of film that could only be made by an independent artist. Its intimacy would be corrupted by any attempt to make it a “big picture.” Its existence at all is only because there are filmmakers like Gillooly, who seek to tell the amazing stories of unknown people. Thinking she might make a film about collecting, she stumbled across a listing on eBay for the Suitcase, which had been purchased at an estate sale. Inside were 60 hours of audiotape.

The film chronicles an extramarital affair between Jeannie and Tom, mid-western professionals who used the reel-to-reel technology of the 1960s to send “living letters” to each other as well as share their most intimate moments. It is both sad and funny. We hear but never see them, only their tape players, glimpses from slides they took of each other and their hotel rooms, bits of ephemera they shared, and moody shots of places near where they lived. Jane gives the viewer just enough and purposely leaves much to the imagination. I can imagine that Jeannie looks like Joanie and Tom like Don Draper from Mad Men and it doesn’t matter if that’s true or not.

The film with be at the IFFB on April 27, 2013, and is currently being shown at festivals.

Pictures of Lily

Lilith, my dear old kitty, passed away late Friday night at home, in my arms. She was not quite 17. Since then, the old Who song has been playing in one of those brain loops that digs in deep until, you either listen to the song from beginning to end, or respond to the song lyric trigger.

Lil was a cross-eyed rag-doll cat with a kinked tail. We adopted her from the Animal Rescue League of Boston on a hot August day back in 1997. She was about a year old, sickly and malnourished. In other words, she was perfect. We named her Lilith because she was so tiny and pale. Our Lilywhite Lilith.

She thrived with us. She loved our older cat, Neville (who passed away in 2004 at the age of 21) even if the feeling was unrequited, she loved her sun-porch and her staircase – which she would roll down with abandon, or throw her self in front of you as you tried to descend. I scolded her frequently that she’d kill me one day doing that. When she was younger, she’d drag pillows and clothes from room to room, even when they were bigger than she was. She was funny and frisky, a girly-girl cat who worked her way into our hearts. I called her all sorts of silly names and, in true cat form, she ignored most of them.

We’d been treating Lily for bladder stones since last summer but she wasn’t really improving. She hated the prescription food. Never very big even in her prime, she began to lose weight. She began having accidents. It was becoming pretty obvious that there was something very wrong with her. In mid November we got the diagnosis of an untreatable mass in her bladder. She was dying of cancer. Her vet suggested we try Piroxicam, an NSAID that has shown some promise shrinking tumors in cats and dogs, and that also provided an analgesic. With that and a few other drugs to help keep her digestion functioning as well as possible we shifted to kitty hospice mode and hoped she’d make it to Christmas.

While she wasn’t getting better she was, at least for a while, feeling better. Winter settled in, she’d curl up by the fire or sit in my lap as often as I’d let her. Her appetite picked up. She started trying to jump on the counters and eat our food, things she’d never bothered with before. She’d sit by the back door and try and get out (she was always content to be an inside cat).  She developed a taste for whipped cream and cat treats. In other words, she seemed to have a bucket list and we indulged her as much as possible. Christmas, New Years, Obama’s  Inauguration, the Blizzard of 2013, Valentine’s Day; she stayed with us through all of those. I let her sit on the porch and feel the snow.

She shifted from comeback kitty to fading away pretty quickly. On Friday, she could barely walk and wouldn’t eat. I steeled myself and made the call to the vet to bring her in the next morning to be euthanized. (As if Mercury in retrograde was messing with us personally, our car wouldn’t start.) That night we sat in the living room listening to music while she slept in my lap or by the fire. Just before midnight she awoke and cried and we comforted her as she gasped and slipped away from us. Our hearts broke. 16-plus years old is a long life for a cat (about 86 in human years). We think we did what she wanted. I know we did what we could.