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Create a Stand-Out Portfolio Book in InDesign: Part One - the Cover

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In the first part of this two-part tutorial you'll learn how to create a high-impact cover for an Illustration Portfolio book intended for print, in Adobe InDesign. In these tutorials I will be using vector assets from other Tuts+ tutorials, but the tutorial is designed so that you can interchange these with your own illustration work to create your personal portfolio.


1. Set up the Layout of the Cover

Step 1

Open InDesign and go to File > New Document, to open the New Document window.

Select Custom from the Document Preset drop-down menu and ensure Intent is set to Print. From the Page Size drop-down menu select Custom... to open the Custom Page Size window. Type "Portfolio Cover" under Name, set the Width to 490.6mm and the Height to 203.2mm. Click OK.

1.1

Step 2

This will take you back to the New Document window. Leave the Column Number set to 1. Deselect the Make all settings the same icon in the Margins section. Set the Top and Bottom margins to 20mm and the Left and Right margins to 14.6mm. Set the Bleed to 9mm.

As we are creating a cover for a hardback book, it's a good idea to make the bleed quite generous for allowing the printed area to be wrapped around the edges of the cover.

1.2

You now have a 2-page layout set up for your front and back cover and the inside surfaces of the cover as well.

1.2.2

2. Prepare the Master for the Cover

Step 1

If not already open, go to Window in the top menu and click on Pages to open the Pages panel. You will see that InDesign has automatically created a master page called A-Master and applied it automatically to both pages of your document. Double-click the A-Master page icon to be able to edit the Master directly.

2.1

Step 2

Set up the dimensions of the spine using guidelines dragged out from the left-hand ruler. Go to View > Show Rulers, if they are not already visible.

For this tutorial we will be creating an 8mm spine, which is quite generous for a portfolio book - once you know how many pages your own book will have, and the weight of the paper (e.g. 80 gsm, or 130 gsm) you can calculate a suitable width for your spine, and reduce or increase the width of the document accordingly. There are a number of spine width calculators available Online, or your printer may be able to advise you.

First, drag a guideline out to 245.3mm, which is the vertical center point of the whole cover, and the center of the spine. Drag a second guidline to 241.3mm, which marks the left-hand edge of the spine; and drag a third guidline to 249.3mm, which marks the right-hand spine edge.

2.2

3. Format the Cover Background

Return to page 1 of the document by double-clicking the page 1 icon in the Pages panel. Toggle W to ensure the View Mode is set to Normal and that the bleeds and margins are visible.

Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and drag a frame which extends across the whole page, finishing at the edges of the bleed. Set the Stroke to none and the Fill to black.

3.1

4. Select and Place Your Cover Image

You want to select an image that both showcases your very best work to grab the reader's attention and works well as a cover image in conjunction with text and other graphics.

I'll be using Mary Winkler's "Disco Skull" illustration, which can be found in the Skull Decoration Challenge from last year. This should work really well as a cover image that extends over the front and back, as it has a symmetry. The bright colors also work a treat against a strong black background.

Using the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) drag to create a frame with a width of 145mm and a height of 220mm. Go to File > Place and locate and Open your selected image.

Use the Fill Frame Proportionally option from the top control panel to extend the image from the top edge of the document (not including the bleed) to the bottom edge. You may need to double-click the frame to select the image directly to maneuver it. You can hold down the Shift key to resize the image without losing its original proportions.

Select the frame and move it to the center of the spine. In this tutorial the skull should be visually split in half by the center guideline.

4.1

5. Edit your Cover Image for Impact

When the cover is finished the front cover will show just under half of the skull image.

5

The skull image will continue to wrap around the spine and back cover. It is likely you will want to introduce some text to the spine. We will therefore need to look at a technique for reducing the brightness of the image on the spine alone, to allow text to stand out against it.

Step 1

Using the default Selection Tool (V), select the image frame. Control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) and select Copy. Don't paste the copied image yet. Click-drag the left-edge of the existing image frame until its right edge meets exactly with the left-hand edge of the spine.

5.1

Step 2

Go to Edit > Paste in Place. The second skull image frame will be pasted in its original place, at its original dimensions. Click-drag the right-edge of this new image frame until its left edge meets exactly with the right-hand edge of the spine.

5.2

Step 3

Once again, go to Edit > Paste in Place. A third skull image frame will be pasted in its original position. Go to Object from the top menu, and select Transparency from the Effects pop-out menu, to open the Effects window. Set the Opacity to 70%. Click OK.

5.3.1

Click-drag the left-hand edge of the image frame to meet with the left-hand edge of the spine. Repeat with the right-hand edge of the image frame to meet with the right-hand edge of the spine.

5.3.2

6. Select the Fonts for the Cover

A general rule for professional book design is to restrict your font choice to two fonts. This should apply to both the cover and the interior pages. This helps to create a consistent and clean look throughout the book.

For this tutorial I've been inspired by the retro theme of the cover image. I feel that two different sans serif fonts would work well together. I've gone for the Eighties-themed, minimal "Web Serveroff" and the more chunky and simple "Varela". Web Serveroff will be great for titles and sub-titles, while Varela will suit body text.


7. Insert the Text for the Front Cover

Step 1

Using the Type Tool (T) create a text frame 121mm in width and 37mm in height. Set the frame to Align Text Right from the top control panel. Move the frame to the following position: X=354.5mm, Y=21.9mm.

Type "ILLUSTRATION (paragraph break) PORTFOLIO". Highlight "ILLUSTRATION" and set the Font to "Web Serveroff" Regular, Size to 76 pt and Tracking (the spacing between the characters) to 30. For now, set the color to white.

Highlight "PORTFOLIO" and set the Font to "Varela" Regular. Set the Size to 50 pt, Leading to 44 pt, and Tracking to 120 pt. Drag a guideline out to meet the left-edge of the text to make sure the two lines of text line up exactly.

7.1

Step 2

Using the Type Tool (T) create a second text frame 120mm in width and 11mm in height. Position the left-hand edge against the guideline you created in Step 1, and ensure the Y-position is set to 169mm. Type "NAME" into the frame, and set the Font to "Varela" Regular. Set the Size to 30 pt, Tracking to 50 and select Align Text Left from the top control panel. Set the color to white for now.

7.2

8. Insert the Text for the Back Cover

Using the Type Tool (T) create a text frame 94mm in width and 44mm in height. Set the frame to Justify with Last Line Aligned Left from the top control panel.

Move the frame to the following position: X=16.25mm, Y=21.9mm. This will position the frame on the back cover, aligned with the "ILLUSTRATION PORTFOLIO" text frame.

Type your blurb or biography here, or simply go to Type and select Fill with Placeholder Text to insert filler text for now. Set the Font to "Varela" Regular, Size to 13pt, Leading to 18pt and Tracking to 10. Set the color to white for now.

8.1

9. Insert the Text for the Spine

Step 1

Using the Type Tool (T) create a text frame 67mm in width and 5mm in height. Set the frame to Align Text Left from the top control panel. Type "ILLUSTRATION PORTFOLIO" and set the Font to "Varela" Regular. Set the Size to 13pt, Tracking to 50 and the color to white for now.

Control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) and select Transform and Rotate 90 degrees CW. Position the frame so the text reads directly down the center of the spine. Set the Y-position to 20mm.

9.1

Step 2

Select the text frame you've just created. Control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) and select Copy. Go to Edit > Paste in Place. Edit the text to "NAME" and change the Font to "Web Serveroff" Regular, Size to 16pt and change the color to black. Adjust the width of the text frame to 11mm to more closely match the dimensions of the text. You can adjust the width and Y-position of this frame in accordance with your own name.

Drag this "NAME" text frame down to Y-position 128mm.

9.2

Step 3

Select the "NAME" text frame and Copy and Paste in Place as before. Edit the text to say "YEAR" and move the frame downwards to Y-position 170mm.

This may be a good place to give your portfolio a date, or even an edition number.

9.3

10. Create Swatches Using the Eyedropper Tool

The skull image has some great vibrant colors which would work well (if used sparingly!) applied to some of the text we've just inserted.

Step 1

Select the Eyedropper Tool (I) and click on the bright pink section on the far edge of the skull image. The eyedropper picks up an RGB interpretation of the pink color, which is indicated by a full eyedropper icon.

10.1

Step 2

Double-click on the pink Fill swatch now shown in the left control panel, positioned just in front of the Stroke icon, which is shown with a red line through it.

Double-clicking the pink Fill icon opens the Color Picker window. Click once in the "C" percentage box. InDesign calculates an equivalent CMYK value for the RGB color you originally lifted from the image. As our cover is intended for print, we should always be looking to convert RGB colors to CMYK or Pantone swatches.

Click Add CMYK Swatch and select OK. When you open the Swatches panel by going to Window > Color > Swatches, you will see that C=6 M=86 Y=0 K=0 has been added to the list of swatches.

10.2

Step 3

We want to lift an additional color for use on text that will compliment the hot pink and contrast well against a black background.

Once again, select the Eyedropper Tool (I) and this time click on the bright blue section at the top left of the skull.

10.3

As before, double-click on the now turquoise Fill swatch in the left control panel. Click into the "C" box and select Add CMYK Swatch. Click OK. The swatch C=69 M=0 Y=26 K=0 has also now been added to to the Swatches panel.

10.3.1

11. Apply Swatches to the Text

Step 1

Using the Type Tool (T), highlight the word "ILLUSTRATION" on the front cover and set the color to C=6 M=86 Y=0 K=0.

Highlight "NAME" on the front cover and set the color to C=69 M=0 Y=26 K=0.

11.1

Step 2

Highlight the first few words of the blurb on the back cover and set the text color to C=69 M=0 Y=26 K=0.

11.2

Step 3

Highlight the word "ILLUSTRATION" on the spine and set the color to C=6 M=86 Y=0 K=0.

11.3

12. Use the Line Tool to Frame Text

The text now pops with color but we can also add a neat framing effect to give the whole cover unity and balance.

Step 1

Select the Line Tool (/) from the left-hand Tools Panel. You can find it just below the Text Tool. Make sure the Stroke panel is open by going to Window, Stroke.

Hold Shift down while dragging the mouse from right to left to create a horizontal line. Adjust the Length to 145mm by referring to the top control panel and set the Stroke color to White. Rest the far right edge of the line on the right edge of the bleed and set the Y position to 182mm. The line should now rest just below the NAME text frame on the front cover.

In the Stroke panel set the Weight to 1 pt. Set the Type to Thick - Thin - Thick, and under the End drop-down menu select Bar.

12.1

Step 2

Control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) and select Copy. Go to Edit > Paste in Place. Extend the Length to 186mm and alter the X-position to 476mm and the Y-position to 19mm. Return to the Stroke panel and edit the End value to None, and the Start value to Bar.

The line now sits above the "ILLUSTRATION PORTFOLIO" text frame.

12.2

Step 3

We can add a gradient effect to the line we've just created to create the illusion of the line disappearing into the blackness around the skull.

With the line selected, go to Object > Effects > Gradient Feather to open the Effects window.

Under Gradient Stops, move the black slider a little to the right and drag the white slider a little to the left. Set the Angle to 0 degrees. Make sure Preview is checked so you can adjust the gradient as you go.

12.3.1

Click OK. You now have a line running along the top of the front cover with a lovely fading effect.

12.3.2

Step 4

We're now going to repeat this effect on the back cover. Select the line you created in Steps 2 and 3. Control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) and select Copy. Go to Edit > Paste in Place. Control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) and under Transform, select Flip Horizontal. Adjust the X-position to 15mm.

12.4.1

This new line will now run above the blurb text on the back cover.

12.4.2

13. Add a Logo (Optional)

You may want to add an optional logo or other details to personalize your portfolio cover. In this tutorial, I've inserted an EPS logo in white to contrast starkly against the dark background.

Select the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) and, holding down the Shift key, drag to create a small image frame. Rest the base of the frame against the bottom margin and align the left-hand edge against the left margin on the back cover. Go to File > Place and select a logo image. Click Open.

13.1

14. Add a Swatch to the Inside of Your Cover

You may have forgotten by now that we set up the document with 2 pages. The second page is intended for the inside surface of the front and back cover - some printers may allow this area to be printed with a complementary color, which will give an extra professional look to your book.

Double-click the Page 2 icon in the Pages panel to edit Page 2 directly. Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and drag to create a frame which extends across the whole page, right up to the bleed. Set the Fill to C=69 M=0 Y=26 K=0. Perfect!

14.1

15. Prepare Your Cover for Print

Before we export the cover to PDF we should make a final check - make sure that the artwork extends over the edges of the document up to the edges of the bleed, and double-check there are no spelling errors!

Then go to File > Export and select Adobe PDF (Print) from the drop-down menu. Choose an appropriate file name and location to save your PDF, then click Save.

Under General, and within the Adobe PDF Preset drop-down menu select Press Quality.

15.1

Under Marks and Bleeds, select All Printer's Marks under the Marks menu and select Use Document Bleed Settings under the Bleed and Slug menu. Click Export.

15.1.1

Well Done, Your Portfolio Cover is Finished!

Nice work, you now have a cover ready to be sent to the printers! See Part Two of this 2-part tutorial to learn how to put together the inside pages.

Final_for_print

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