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 Document
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.
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.
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.
Lets 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.
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
The 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.
I 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.
- Postage Postcard Guidelines (@USPS)
- Postcard Templates:
- From Greener Printer
- From UPrinting
- Try out Adobe InDesign
- Get the InDesign Cheatsheet (pdf)
- Photos used in this tutorial (zip)
- Pantone Fall color 2014 report
- Urban Autumn Fabric Collection