A globally recognized festival, Children’s Day celebrates children and their well-being. Children’s Day is celebrated in a number of different countries, but since 1925 the event has denoted a very special day for many families in Mexico, where they celebrate the event on 30 April and call it El Día Del Niño. Many schools and communities host special events, and some schools even close for the day, to allow children to share a special day with their families.
Gift- and card-giving can be a big part of the celebration; and you too can celebrate El Día Del Niño with a fun, colorful postcard, inspired by Mexican colors and design, and adorned with childlike typography. Send the card to the special little ones in your life, whether far or near!
Suitable for beginners, this tutorial will show you how to use Adobe InDesign to put together both the layout and the artwork of the postcard.
Let’s get started!
1. Create Your Postcard Document
Standard postcard sizes vary between countries, and there are also a variety of different standard sizes within countries, too. So you have plenty of options to choose from when creating your postcard design.
In this tutorial we’ll be setting up the postcard to a US standard size, 7 inches by 5 inches, but feel free to adapt the design to your own chosen dimensions if you prefer.
Open up InDesign and select File > New > Document from the menu at the top of the screen. Alternatively, select New > Document from the Welcome window.
In the New Document window that opens, set the Intent to Print and type 2 into the Number of Pages text box. Deselect Facing Pages.
Under Page Size, scroll down to the bottom of the pop-out menu and select Custom... to open the Custom Page Size menu.
Type ‘US Postcard’ into the Name text box. Type 7 in into the Width box and 5 in into the Height box. If you have your Preferences for Units and Increments set to Millimeters, InDesign will convert the dimensions to the following values: 177.8 mm Height and 127 mm Width.
Click Add and then OK to return to the New Document window.
Back in the New Document window, set the Margins on all sides to 6 mm and set the Bleed on all sides to 3 mm.
If you’re planning to send your postcard for professional print, you should be sure to include a bleed. We’ll take a look at the end of the tutorial how you can export your postcard to a print-ready file which includes a bleed.
When you’re ready, click OK to create your new document. Pull out the Pages panel (Window > Pages) from the right-hand side of the workspace to better view the two pages that make up the document. Page 1 will be the front of the postcard, and Page 2 will be the reverse.
2. Create a Suitably Mexican Color Palette
Mexican design is characterized by bold colors, with jewel-like tones that reflect the vibrant cultural heritage of the country. Let’s create our own Mexican-inspired color palette, ready to use on our postcard design.
Open the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches) and access the panel’s drop-down menu from the top-right corner of the panel. Click Select All Unused and click the Trash Can icon at the bottom of the panel to clear the default range of swatches.
Select the [Black] swatch in the panel and then click the New Swatch icon at the bottom-right of the panel. This creates a swatch called [Black] copy.
Double-click [Black] copy to edit it. Check the box below Swatch Name, that says Name with Color Value.
Ensure the Color Type is set the Process and Color Mode to CMYK, then set the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black slides to the following percentages: C=67 M=14 Y=25 K=1.
This creates a beautiful turquoise color. Click OK.
Click the New Swatch icon again and double-click the copied swatch to edit it. Adjust the CMYK levels to: C=21 M=82 Y=82 K=12, which creates a ruddy red-brown.
Repeat the process to create a further three new swatches with the following CMYK values:
- C=13 M=95 Y=58 K=3 (a deep pink)
- C=14 M=77 Y=92 K=4 (an earthy orange)
- C=61 M=14 Y=88 K=1 (a jungle green)
3. Organize Your Document Into Layers
Keeping the elements on your postcard design nicely separated into different, lockable layers keeps your artwork organized, and allows you to build elements on top of one another without having to compromise on editability.
Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers). Double-click the default Layer 1 name to open the Layer Options window.
Rename the layer Background and click OK.
Click the Create New Layer icon at the bottom of the panel to create a second layer. Double-click the layer’s default name to rename it Blue Border. Click OK.
Repeat the process to create a further three layers, renaming them in the following order: Typography, Stamp, and finally, Decoration.
Lock all the layers, by clicking in the blank square space next to the name of each layer, except for Background. Click on Background to activate it.
4. Build Up a Textured Background
Now that we’ve got ourselves organized by creating a new color palette and a series of layers to help structure our content, we can get started with the fun stuff!
First up, let’s create a textured background and geometric border to frame the design.
Remain on the Background layer, and on Page 1 of the document.
Take the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) from the Tools panel and, with the Screen Mode set to Normal (hit W on the keyboard to switch between Normal and Preview) so that the Margin lines are visible, drag to create an image frame that extends to the edge of the margin on all sides.
Go to File > Place and select a plain background photo, which has a papery texture. Here, I’ve used an image of a sheet of paper from PhotoDune.
Click Open and double-click the image frame to access the image directly. Resize the image, holding down Shift, until no edges of the sheet of paper are visible.
With the image frame selected, go up to Object on the menu bar and select Corner Options.
Set the Size on all sides to 5 mm and select Fancy from the Shape drop-down menu. Click OK.
Select the image frame and go to Edit > Copy, and then Edit > Paste in Place. We’ll be using this pasted frame as a shape with a color fill, so double-click inside the frame to select the image and then hit Delete to get rid of it.
From the Swatches panel, select [Paper] as the Fill Color of the pasted frame.
With the white frame selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency to open the Effects window.
Under the Transparency settings, set the Mode to Soft Light and keep the Opacity at 100%. This will allow the paper image underneath to peek through, and provide a light textured background to the layout.
Return to the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and Lock the Background layer. Unlock the layer above it, Blue Border.
Remaining on Page 1 of the document, take the Rectangle Tool (M) and drag to create a rectangle with the same dimensions as the two frames sitting below it on the Background layer. Position centrally on the page.
From the Swatches panel, set the Fill to [None] and the Stroke to the turquoise swatch, C=67 M=14 Y=25 K=1.
From either the top Controls panel or the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke) set the Weight of the rectangle’s Stroke to 0.5 mm.
Then go to Object > Corner Options and set the options to match the corners of the two frames below: 5 mm Size and a Fancy Shape.
5. Allocate Room for a Stamp and an Address
Return to the Layers panel and Lock the Blue Border layer. Unlock the Stamp layer.
Navigate down to Page 2 of your document, the reverse side of the postcard.
Take the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) and drag to create a frame 27 mm in Width and 31 mm in Height. Set this in the top-right corner of the page, resting it against the margins. Set the Stroke to [None] and the Fill to the turquoise swatch, C=67 M=14 Y=25 K=1.
Download the beautiful, vintage-inspired free-to-download font Vinta, by Peter Becker. Install the font and return to InDesign.
Remaining on the Stamp layer and on Page 2, take the Type Tool (T) and drag to create a long, narrow text frame.
Set your type cursor in the text frame and set the Font to Vinta Regular, Size 36 pt and Align Center from the Character Formatting Controls panel running along the top of the workspace. Keep the Font Color set to the default [Black].
Hit the Em Dash (—) key on your keyboard, and repeat five more times, until you have a sequence of six em dashes, which appear like one long line.
With the text frame selected, go up to Edit > Copy.
Then Right-Click (Windows) or Control-Click (Mac OS) > Transform > Rotate 90 Degrees CW. Position the rotated frame centrally on the page, the lower edge just shy of the bottom margin.
Edit > Paste four times to create a group of four pasted text frames, each containing its own ‘line’. Position them in a block to the right of the rotated text frame, to create a sequence of lines.
Edit > Paste a further two times, to create two further copies of the ‘line’. Shorten each of these new lines by deleting a couple of em dashes. Position each above the rotated line, on either side, as shown.
Lock the Stamp layer and Unlock the Typography layer.
Take the Type Tool (T) and create a new text frame on Page 2.
Type ‘For Correspondence’ and set the Font to Vinta Regular, Size 11 pt, and increase the Tracking (from the Character Formatting Controls panel) to 100 to space out the letters. Position the frame above the top horizontal line on the left-hand side of the page.
Select the text frame and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste.
Edit the text to read ‘For Address Only’, and position this second text frame above the top horizontal line on the right-hand side of the page.
6. Introduce Playful Typography
Navigate back up to Page 1 of the document. Remain on the Typography layer.
Take the Type Tool (T) and drag to create a new, narrow text frame.
Open the Glyphs panel (Window > Type & Tables > Glyphs) and, with your type cursor set in the text frame, set the Font to Vinta Regular, Size 15 pt, All Caps, and Align Center.
Select the glyph called ‘Bullet’ from the selection of glyphs available in the Glyphs panel for the Vinta typeface, and double-click it to insert it into the text frame.
Then type ‘(space) Children’s Day (space)’, before inserting another Bullet glyph from the Glyphs panel.
Set the Font Color of the bullets to the turquoise swatch, C=67 M=14 Y=25 K=1, and set the Font Color of the remaining text to the orange swatch, C=14 M=77 Y=92 K=4.
Select the text frame and Right-Click (Windows) or Control-Click (Mac OS) > Transform > Rotate 90 Degrees CCW. Position the text frame on the left-hand side of Page 1, as shown.
Take the text frame and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste, editing the content of the second text frame to read ‘(Bullet glyph) (space) April 30th (space) (Bullet glyph) (space) Mexico (space) (Bullet glyph)’.
Position this second text frame in a mirrored position on the right-hand side of the page.
Download the playful, childlike font ElliotSix, install it, and return to InDesign.
Take the Type Tool (T) and drag to create a long, narrow text frame on Page 1.
Type ‘EL DIA DEL NINO!’ and set the Font to ElliotSix, Size 30 pt, Align Center, and adjust the Font Color to the turquoise swatch, C=67 M=14 Y=25 K=1.
Pull out the exclamation mark in the green swatch, C=61 M=14 Y=88 K=1. Position the text frame centrally on the page, horizontally and vertically.
Highlight just the exclamation mark alone and Edit > Copy. Create a new, much smaller text frame, and Edit > Paste the character into the new frame. Right-Click (Windows) or Control-Click (Mac OS) > Transform > Flip Vertical, and position the frame to the left of the original text frame.
Return to the Glyphs panel (Window > Type & Tables > Glyphs) and then create a new small text frame, setting the Font to ElliotSix, Size 30 pt, and the Font Color to the turquoise swatch, C=67 M=14 Y=25 K=1.
You can insert accents, such as an acute accent above the ‘I’ of ‘DIA’, from the Glyphs panel directly. Do this, and then create a second text frame for a tilde accent above the second ‘N’ of ‘NINO’.
7. Embellish the Postcard With a Fan of Colors
The background, typography and basic layout of your card are complete... but it’s looking less than striking!
We can give the postcard an authentically Mexican touch with a beautiful fan of colors, put together directly in InDesign.
Lock the Typography layer and Unlock the top layer, Decoration.
Next to Page 1, on the pasteboard, to allow you plenty of space to work in, select the Polygon Tool from the Tools panel (find it in the Rectangle Tool pop-out menu) and, holding Shift, drag to create a perfect Polygon on the pasteboard.
Now select the Ellipse Tool (L) and, holding down Shift as before, drag to create a perfect circle with very similar dimensions to those of the polygon. Layer it over the top of the polygon.
Select the Scissors Tool (C) and snip the polygon at the two points demonstrated below.
Select the top portion of the polygon and hit Delete.
Take the Scissors Tool (C) again and snip the bottom of the circle shape at the points shown in the image below.
Select the lower portion of the circle and hit Delete to remove it. You now have two separate sections, which will create a teardrop shape when put together. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to get the two sections perfectly lined up.
Then, with both sections selected, go up to Object on the menu bar and select Paths > Join. You now have a teardrop shape ready to apply fills to, and repeat to create a colored 'fan'.
Take the teardrop shape and set the Stroke Color to [None] and the Fill Color to the turquoise swatch, C=67 M=14 Y=25 K=1.
Position it above the central title on Page 1, and rotate it a little to the left. We’re going to create an arc of teardrops across the top of the page, so it might be a good idea to use the Ellipse Tool (L), just to create a temporary, rough oval, positioned centrally on the page, as shown, to help guide you when placing and rotating the teardrops.
Select the first teardrop shape, and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste. Rotate the pasted teardrop a little clockwise and position to the top-right of the first teardrop.
Repeat the process, creating more teardrop shapes, rotating and repositioning them as you go, until you’ve created an arc made up of teardrop shapes, extending over the top half of the page.
Drag across the page to select all the teardrop shapes, and Edit > Copy.
Edit > Paste, and hold Shift to resize the second arc to make it about half the size of the original arc.
Position below the first arc, and adjust the Fill Color of the teardrop shapes to the orange swatch, C=14 M=77 Y=92 K=4.
Repeat the process, Copying and Pasting this second arc, and resizing it to make it even smaller. Adjust the Fill Color to green, C=61 M=14 Y=88 K=1, and position beneath the orange arc.
Repeat one last time, reducing the size of the arc right down, and changing the Fill Color to the deep pink swatch, C=13 M=95 Y=58 K=3.
Drag your mouse across the page to select all the teardrop shapes, and Right-Click (Windows) or Control-Click (Mac OS) > Group.
Then, with the group of elements selected, go to Object > Effects > Drop Shadow. Keep the Mode as Normal, and reduce the Opacity to 13%. Set the Distance to 1 mm and Size to 1 mm. Click OK.
This gives a subtle 3D effect to the colored arc.
Select the grouped arc, and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste. Then flip the pasted arc: Right-Click (Windows) or Control-Click (Mac OS) > Transform > Flip Vertical.
Position centrally on the page below the ‘El Día Del Niño’ text frame.
Congratulations! Your postcard is finished, and is looking great!
You can choose to be a bit more playful with the reverse of the card if you like.
For example, here, I’ve copied and pasted the pair of colored arcs onto the top of Page 2 and reduced them in size, placing a ‘Postcard’ title between them, set in the ElliotSix Font, Size 17 pt.
I also created a decorative group of circles using the Ellipse Tool (L), setting each with a different Stroke Weight and Type from the options available in the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke).
Repeating the group of circles again on the reverse side of the card adds an extra splash of color and interest to the design.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with the reverse side of your postcard! Play around with shapes and lines, using the colors you created earlier in the tutorial to keep the color palette consistent. Keep the opacities of the elements a little on the low side, so that it will still be easy for people to write on the postcard without the legibility of their text being compromised at all.
Once you’re happy with the design, you can get ready to export the InDesign document as a print-ready file. Read on to find out how...
8. Export Your Postcard, Ready for Printing!
Go to File > Export to open the Export window.
Choose Adobe PDF (Print) from the Format drop-down menu at the bottom of the window. Give the PDF file a recognizable name, like ‘Children’s Day Postcard_For Print’. Click Save.
The Export Adobe PDF window opens up. From the Adobe PDF Preset drop-down menu, under the General set of options, select [Press Quality].
Under the Marks and Bleeds set of options, accessible from the left-hand menu, check the box that says All Printer’s Marks under Marks.
Also be sure to check Use Document Bleed Settings to include your 3 mm bleed on the exported file.
Hit Export. And ta-dah! Your postcard is exported as a print-ready PDF, ready for sending straight to the printers.
A Final Note
You should ask your printer to print the design on minimum 350 gsm-weighted paper for an authentic postcard finish. But weights up to 600 gsm can give your card a really sturdy, luxurious feel. A matte-finish paper also gives postcards a more modern feel, and can really show off the gorgeous colors in your design.
Great work guys! Your postcard looks eye-catching and celebratory, so be sure to circulate it to your loved ones on 30 April in honour of El Día Del Niño.
Happy Children’s Day!