Summer is here, and with it come long, laid-back days flipping burgers on the BBQ. If you’re planning a big BBQ event over the coming months, you can promote it in style with this chalkboard poster.
Aimed at beginners to print design, this tutorial will focus on building up textures to create that authentic chalky look. You’ll need access to Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator for this tutorial, and it’s super simple to adapt the design to your own event details.
Can you pick up that wonderful smoky smell in the air? Let’s dive right in...
What You’ll Need to Create Your Poster
You’ll need to have access to both InDesign and Illustrator for this tutorial. You can pick up a free trial of both apps from the Adobe website. You’ll also need to download the following images and fonts:
- Blackboard background
- Wall texture
- Barbecue vector silhouettes
- Charlevoix Pro Bold font
- Heavyweight font
Once you’ve saved the images to the same folder and installed the fonts, you’re ready to get started with designing your poster. Let’s go!
1. How to Create a Chalkboard Background
Open up Adobe InDesign and go to File > New > Document.
Keep the Intent set to Print, Number of Pages to 1, and deselect Facing Pages, in order to create a single-page layout. Set the Width to 24 in and Height to 36 in, which will create a standard ‘Architectural D’ poster size.
Add Margins of 0.5 in and a Bleed of 1 in on all sides, before clicking OK.
Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and double-click on the Layer 1 name to open up the Layer Options window. Rename the layer Background.
Use the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) to create an image frame that extends across the whole page, up to the edges of the bleed on all sides. Go to File > Place, choose the blackboard background image and Open. Allow the image to fill the whole frame (you can click on the Fill Frame Proportionally button in the Controls panel at the top of the workspace).
Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches) and click on New Color Swatch in the panel’s drop-down menu. Name the new swatch Board Black, setting the Type to Process and Mode to CMYK. Set the percentage levels to C=91 M=79 Y=62 K=97. Click Add, and then OK.
Take the Rectangle Tool (M), and drag across the page to create a shape to match the dimensions of the image frame below. From the Swatches panel, set the Fill to Board Black.
Select the Board Black rectangle and go to Object > Effects > Gradient Feather. Select Radial for the Type, and adjust the direction of the gradient so that the lighter area extends outwards from the center of the page.
Click OK to exit the Effects window. And there we have it—a chalkboard background with a subtle gradient effect, which is going to showcase your typography beautifully.
2. How to Add Texture to Your Poster
Lock the Background layer and click on the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel. Rename this layer Black. We can add a slightly darker area to the central point of the page to allow the main text title to really stand out.
Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and drag onto the center of the page to create a rough circle. Set the Fill to Board Black and the Stroke Color to [None].
Go to Object > Effects > Transparency and choose a Multiply Mode. Bring the Opacity down to 70%.
Click on Gradient Feather at the bottom of the left-hand menu and create a Radial gradient, with the darkest part at the center of the shape. Click OK.
Open up the wall texture EPS file in Adobe Illustrator. Select the image and Right-Click > Ungroup.
Select the exclamation marks in the corner of the image and delete them, leaving just the plain texture behind.
Go to the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) and create a New Swatch. Name it Cream, and set the CMYK levels to C=12 M=10 Y=31 K=0.
Apply the Cream swatch to the texture; then head up to File > Save As and save the texture as an EPS file, giving it the name ‘Texture Cream.eps’.
Return to your InDesign document and lock the Black layer. Create a new layer above, naming it Texture A.
Use the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) to create a frame across the whole page, and File > Place your Texture Cream.eps image, allowing it to fill the whole frame.
With the frame selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Overlay and the Opacity to 20%, before clicking OK.
3. How to Create Chalky Typography for Your Poster
With the rulers visible (View > Show Rulers), pull out a guide from the left-hand ruler to a central position on the page, 12 in.
Then pull out two more vertical guides to around 4 in and 20 in, splitting the layout into four columns.
Create a new CMYK swatch, C=15 M=11 Y=33 K=0, naming it Cream.
Take the Type Tool (T) and drag onto the page, just above the center, creating a rectangular text frame. Type in ‘B’ and ‘G’, with a space between the two letters.
From either the Character Formatting Controls panel running along the top of the workspace or the Character panel and Paragraph panel (Window > Type & Tables), set the Font to Charlevoix Pro Bold, Size 747 pt, and text to Align Center. Adjust the Font Color to Cream.
We want the letters to meet the guides on either side, so increase the Kerning (space between individual letters) if necessary.
Select the text frame and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste it, positioning it below the first frame. Adjust the text to read ‘BBQ’ and reduce the Font Size to match up the alignment to the guides on either side, here 575 pt.
Select both text frames with your Selection Tool (V, Escape) cursor and head up to Object > Effects > Outer Glow. Adding a slight glow to your text will give it much more of an authentic chalky look, as if some of the chalk dust has extended past the edge of the text itself.
Adjust the Mode to Normal, and bring the Opacity down to around 43%. Click on the colored square to open the Effect Color window. From here, you can select Swatches and choose a matching Cream swatch for the glow effect. Click OK.
Back in the Effects window, set the Technique to Softer, Size to around 0.4 in, Noise to 12% and Spread to 17%. Click OK.
Open the barbecue silhouettes vector in Illustrator. Isolate the spatula, and Edit > Copy it.
Head straight back to your InDesign layout and Edit > Paste the vector directly onto the poster.
Position the spatula directly between the ‘B’ and ‘G’, scaling the image while holding Shift to match the height of the letters. Change the Fill Color to Cream, and apply a similar glow effect (Object > Effects > Outer Glow).
Create a new swatch, C=77 M=25 Y=30 K=0, and name it Blue.
Create a new text frame above the ‘BIG’ text frame, using the Type Tool (T). Type in an introduction to the main title, like ‘Bill’s Annual’, setting the Font to Heavyweight. Increase the Size and Tracking (space between all letters) until the text meets the guides on either side. Adjust the Font Color to Blue.
Go to Object > Effects > Outer Glow to add a glow effect to the text frame, selecting the Blue swatch for the Effect Color.
Copy and Paste the text frame, moving this below the ‘BBQ’ frame. Adjust the text to read the date and time of the event, and again alter the Font Size and Tracking to allow the text to stretch to meet the guides.
Use the Type Tool (T) to create three small text frames at the bottom of the layout, typing in individual snippets about the event in two-word pairs, set in Heavyweight. Adjust the Font Size and Tracking of each individual word to create a neat, square effect in each text frame. Change the Font Color to Cream.
Use the Line Tool (\) to create vertical dividers between the text frame, holding Shift to create a perfectly straight line. Set the Stroke Color to Cream. From the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke), change the Stroke Weight to 5 mm, and add a Round Cap to soften the ends of the lines.
Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw a rough oval towards the top of the layout. We’re going to use this as a basis for creating a curved text sub-heading.
From the Type Tool’s drop-down menu in the Tools panel, you’ll find the Type on a Path Tool (Shift-T). Click once towards the top-left corner of the oval to transform the shape into a text path. You can now type in your sub-heading (here, ‘Come along to’), and format the text as you would for any other text frame.
Set the Font to Heavyweight and Color to Cream, and move the vertical lines criss-crossing the oval to maneuver the position of the text. You want it to curve perfectly over the top of the other text frames.
Return to Illustrator and your barbecue silhouettes vector. Isolate the fork, and Edit > Copy it.
Return to InDesign and Edit > Paste it onto the page. Right-Click > Transform > Rotate 90 Degrees CW, and adjust the Fill to Blue. Go to Object > Effects > Outer Glow to add a glow effect. Position it just below the curved text frame, centrally on the page.
4. How to Frame Your Poster and Add a Chalky Texture
Our poster’s looking great so far, but we can just add a few more touches to make it feel more complete and give it more of a grungy, chalky texture.
Ensure that all the text on the page is sitting centrally on the page. If not, select all the frames with your cursor and use the arrows on your keyboard to shift the frames up or down a little. When you’re happy with the result, lock the Type layer.
Create a new layer and name it Border. Then take the Rectangle Tool (M) and drag onto the page, allowing it to sit against the margin line on all sides. Set the Stroke Color to Cream, and from the Stroke panel set the Weight to 15 mm. Adjust the Type to Thick - Thick.
With the border selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency and set the Mode to Overlay.
Lock the Border layer and create a final new layer above, calling it Texture B.
Return briefly to Illustrator, and to your Texture Cream EPS file. Add a new swatch, name it Board Black, and set the levels to C=91 M=79 Y=62 K=97. Apply this to the texture, before going to File > Save As and saving it as Texture Black.eps.
Return to your InDesign poster and create a new image frame across only the main title. File > Place and Open your Texture Black.eps image.
With the image frame selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency, adjusting the Mode to Multiply and bringing the Opacity down to 20%.
To soften the effect further, you can also add a subtle Gradient Feather to the frame, setting the Type to Linear. Click OK to exit the Effects window.
Congratulations, your poster artwork is finished! Make sure to head up to File > Save to keep all your hard work intact. If you’re printing your poster from home, you can simply head up to File > Print. If you’re sharing your poster online or via email, you can save your artwork as an Interactive PDF, JPEG or PNG by going to File > Export and choosing the file type you prefer from the Format drop-down menu.
If you’re sending your artwork off for professional printing, go to File > Export and choose Adobe PDF (Print) from the Format menu at the bottom of the window. Hit Save to open the Export Adobe PDF window. Choose [Press Quality] from the Preset menu at the top of the window.
Click on Marks and Bleeds in the window’s left-hand menu. Check All Printer’s Marks (optional, depending on your chosen printer’s preferences) and Use Document Bleed Settings.
Then hit OK to create your exported PDF. This is ready for sending straight off to the printers—great work!
Let's Get the Grill On!
You’ve finished your BBQ poster, and it’s looking fantastic. Awesome job! Before you get started on the other preparations for your event, take a moment to recap what skills and techniques you’ve picked up over the course of this tutorial. You should now feel more confident with:
- Creating print-ready poster layouts in Adobe InDesign.
- Building up background textures and gradients to create a pro-standard backdrop for your design.
- Formatting advanced typography and adding glow effects to replicate chalky textures.
- Adding finishing touches like borders and overlay textures to take your poster to the next level.
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