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:

 

A Delicious Featured Stack

Update2: New delicious.com social pages are rolling out in January, 2013.

Update: In September, 2012, the powers that be decided to do away with the new Stacks and completely re-conceive the site. All stacks were converted to tags.

My “Design” stack was featured on the homepage of Delicious.com today, which is kind of cool. Stacks are a relatively new way to bundle and share weblinks. This stack is a collection of useful links for web or print designers. I will continue to add to it as I find great resources to share.

http://delicious.com/stacks/view/N0ybUi

Delicious.com, or del.icio.us, as it was once known (the clever URL still resolves), is a social weblink sharing and categorizing site.  I have been it site since 2004, shortly after it went live. Cut my teeth on RSS, tagging and discovered the early social “blogosphere” there.  My “caught in the web” blog category “daily catch” featured many of those early finds. Delicious has been through a few different owners including Yahoo, where it languished while other sites took off.  Lately, they have added the ability to share visual “stacks” of collections of links.

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Lytro Walkabout

On Feb 6th, I got a chance to join with other Lytro owners-to-be on a photo-walk around the Prudential Center. The Lytro camera is a small light field camera that will begin shipping later this spring. It represents a completely new way to take pictures. The light-field lenses capture a much wider range of light, allowing vibrant photos to be taken in low light situations with no flash. What’s truly revolutionary, though, is the software that is built into the camera. It allows for re-focusing after the photo has been taken. Photos are designed to be shared on the screen and can be modified by the viewer.

Photos taken with the camera appear to have been shot with via a powerful zoom. I have ideas for setting up some interesting scenarios that play with this exaggerated depth of field, where perhaps as one’s focus changes the meaning of the image is altered as well.

One of my images from the photo walk was posted to the Lytro gallery. I’ll see if I can embed it here… (I can if I turn off the wysiwyg editor, the embed is in an iframe) Scroll around to some of the other photos, too, and see just how different this camera is!

Feb 6, Prudential Center

Google+ and Me

I’ve gotten an account at Google+

Sharing my account address seems a bit difficult (hope they let you create unique names soon) but I think it’s Here.

After spending just a little time there adding a few friends and interesting people and checking through the features, it seems to be more of a Twitter on steroids than a replacement for Facebook. It merges your existing Google apps (if you are already a Gmail and Docs user the benefits will be clear) and makes sharing and categorizing streams of interests easy.

I am liking the new features of WordPress 3.2 also. Time to upgrade Massartlonline.org again.

Amiga, Lightspeed and early digital art

I am finally getting a chance to put up some early screen grabs from my explorations with using the Amiga to create digital self portraits, collages and paintings from video-grabs during the mid-1980s. I also had a chance to work with a LightSpeed system, and rented time to use its, then unheard of, resolution and imaging software.

These images were created between 1985 and 1986.

Old digital images

found…

during each website upgrade lots of virtual cleaning house must occur.

These are early digital sketches, created in 1993 using my photos (digitized by Kodak), Photoshop 3, Kai’s Power Tools and a long gone presentation application.

I showed these (and other, not so psychedelic images) during a presentation at the 1993 MacWorld – Boston. My notes are around here somewhere. I’ll post them when I find them.