1. Design & Illustration
  2. Adobe InDesign

How to Create a New Year’s Resolution Poster in Adobe InDesign and Photoshop

This post is part of a series called Learn Adobe InDesign.
How to Combine Photography & Type for a Dramatic Effect
How to Make a Brochure
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

This tongue-in-cheek poster design will help keep your colleagues or friends motivated (or not!) to stick with their January resolutions this year. This fun design uses stylish typography and an on-trend flat design to create a simple yet effective design.

The tutorial is suitable for beginners, and we’ll be creating the poster layout in Adobe InDesign and putting together the chocolate bar graphic in Adobe Photoshop.

Need some more fresh poster ideas for 2017? Browse a range of fantastic poster templates for print over on GraphicRiver.

New Year’s Resolution posters are nothing new—people have been creating motivational postcards and posters for many decades. These early 20th Century postcards were designed to serve as a helpful reminder of the person’s resolve to self-improve for the year ahead.

Early 20th Century New Year Resolution Postcards

The modern design we’ll be creating here is a bit more realistic in its outlook. After all, do you know of anyone who can resist chocolate for a whole year?! I, for one, certainly cannot. 

Ready to get designing? Awesome, let’s get started...

1. What You’ll Need to Create Your Poster

We’ll need a few stock graphics to use as building blocks for our poster design. Download these images at high resolution and save them in a project folder you can easily find your way back to:

You’ll also need a couple of nice, clean sans serif fonts. Here I’ll be using Avenir and Futura Std Heavy, but if you want to use something different you can find a selection of contemporary sans serifs which would work just as well over on GraphicRiver.

Make sure you have the fonts installed, and then go ahead and open up Adobe InDesign. We’ll dive into setting up the poster layout right away...

2. How to Set Up the Poster Layout in InDesign

Step 1

In InDesign, head up to File > New > Document. 

Keep the Intent set to Print, Number of Pages to 1 and deselect Facing Pages. We want the Page Size to be a standard poster size—Architectural D is a good pick, and you can always scale the design up or down later to suit your final purpose. 

I’ve pre-saved Architectural D as a custom size, but you can set the dimensions manually. Type in 609.6 mm (24 in) for the Width and 914.4 mm (36 in) for the Height


Set the Margins to 50 mm, add a Bleed of 5 mm and an optional Slug of 50 mm

new document

Click OK to create your new document.

new page

Step 2

Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers), and double-click on the default Layer 1 name to open the Layer Options window.

Rename the layer Background and click OK.

layer options

Click on the Create a New Layer button at the bottom of the panel, and double-click on the new layer to rename it Gradient.

Create a further three new layers: Chocolate, Typography, and finally Texture Overlay at the top of the pile.

layer options

Step 3

Lock all the layers except the bottom layer, Background

Click on the layer to activate it.

layers panel

3. How to Create a Papery Background

Step 1

Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches) and click on the New Swatch button at the bottom of the panel. Double-click on the new swatch to edit it. 

Rename the swatch Ivory, set the Type to Process and Mode to CMYK, and adjust the sliders to C=2 M=1 Y=4 K=0. Click OK.

ivory swatch

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and drag onto the page, extending the rectangle across the whole page, up to the edges of the bleed on all sides.

Set the Fill Color to Ivory from the Swatches panel or the Controls panel at the top of the workspace.

ivory background

Step 2

Select the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) and create an image frame the same dimensions as the page and Ivory rectangle below. 

Go to File > Place, choose the Paper Texture image, and click Open

Arrange the image to fill the frame completely. 

paper texture

Then, with the image frame selected, head up to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Multiply, and bring the Opacity down to about 74%. 

effects multiply

Step 3

Return to the Layers panel and lock the Background layer. Unlock the layer in the middle, Chocolate.

layers panel

4. How to Edit the Chocolate Bar Image

Step 1

Head up to File > Save As in InDesign, save your draft poster, and minimize the InDesign window for now.

Navigate to your Chocolate Bar stock photo, and open it up in Adobe Photoshop

opened image

Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and then drag the Background layer down onto the Create a New Layer button at the bottom of the panel to duplicate it. Switch off the visibility of the original Background layer.

create a new layer

Step 2

We need to remove the white background around the edge of the chocolate bar. To do this, head up to Select > Color Range, and click once onto the white background of the image. 

color range

In the Color Range window that opens, adjust the Fuzziness slider until you are pretty sure all of the white area around the chocolate bar has been selected. Then click OK.

color range

Click on the Refine Edge button at the top of the workspace. From here, you can adjust the selection to get it as perfect as possible. Use the Smart Radius function and the Shift Edge slider if required. When you’re happy with the result, click OK.

refine edge

Then delete the selection. 


Step 3

Go to Image > Image Rotation > 90 Degrees CW

rotate canvas

Then again go into the Image menu, and choose Image Rotation > Flip Canvas Horizontal. 

flip canvas
background copy

Step 4

Take the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and drag to select the two far-left rows of chocolate sections on the bar, as shown below.

Control-C (Windows) or Command-C (Mac) to copy the selection and Control-V or Command-V to paste it onto a layer above. 

background copy

Control-T (Windows) or Command-T (Mac) to select the pasted image, and then maneuver it over to the left of the bar, so that one row of chocolate sections overlaps with the far-left row below, and the other extends past the left edge of the bar, adding another row to the bar. In total you will now have five vertical rows of chocolate, not four.

layer 1

Select both the Background Copy layer and Layer 1 (hold Shift), and Right-Click (Windows) or Control-Click (Mac) > Merge Layers.

merge layers

Step 5

Use the Crop Tool (C) to extend the canvas upwards, making it about a third taller.

Take the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), as before, and drag to select the two vertical rows of chocolate at the top of the bar. 

marquee tool

Control-C (Windows) or Command-C (Mac) to copy the selection and Control-V or Command-V to paste it onto a layer above.

Control-T (Windows) or Command-T (Mac) to select the pasted image, and move it upwards, so that again one row of chocolate extends past the original top edge of the bar, and the other row remains overlapping the original top row.

layer selection

Duplicate Layer 2 to create a copy, and then Control-T (Windows) or Command-T (Mac) to select it, and move it upwards one more row again. You should end up with a chocolate bar that’s eight pieces in height.

layer copy
crop tool

Use the Crop Tool (C) to make the canvas fit more snugly around the image.

crop tool

Step 6

Head up to File > Save As, name the file Chocolate Bar Extended and save as a Photoshop (PSD) file.

save as

Minimize the Photoshop window for now.

5. How to Integrate the Chocolate Bar Into Your Poster Layout

Step 1

Head back to your InDesign document.

Select the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) and drag onto the page to create an image frame. Go to File > Place and choose your saved Chocolate Bar Extended.psd file, and Open.

Use Shift to scale the image to roughly the size pictured below, and allow it to sit centrally on the page.

placed image

Step 2

With the image frame selected, go to Object > Effects > Drop Shadow. 

Set the Mode to Multiply, Opacity to 26%, and Distance to 4 mm, and set the angle to about 15 degrees.

Under Options, set the Size to 5 mm and increase the Spread to 8%. Click OK.

placed image

6. How to Style Your Poster’s Typography

Step 1

Head back to the Layers panel and lock the Chocolate layer. Unlock the layer above, Typography.

layers panel

From the Swatches panel, create a new CMYK swatch. Name it Dark Blue and set the ink levels to C=89 M=82 Y=41 K=45. 

swatch options

Step 2

Zoom into the top-left corner of the chocolate bar. Take the Type Tool (T) and drag onto the page to create a small, square text frame, positioned over the top-left square of chocolate.

Type in ‘T’, and from either the Character Formatting Controls panel at the top of the workspace or the Character panel (Window > Type & Tables > Character), set the Font to Avenir (or another sans serif of your choice), Align Center. 

From the Swatches panel adjust the Font Color to Dark Blue. Make sure the letter is positioned centrally over the chocolate square.

t letter

Step 3

Select the text frame, Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste, and maneuver the pasted text frame onto the next square along, to the right. Adjust the text to read ‘H’.

h letter

Repeat the Copy and Paste action, creating more text frames, each over a square of the chocolate bar. Build up the text to read: ‘THIS YEAR THOU SHALT NOT EAT’, setting each word on a new row of the chocolate bar.

completed this

Step 4

Copy and Paste another text frame, adjusting the text to ‘C’ and changing the Font Color to Ivory. Position below the ‘E’ of ‘EAT’. 

Copy and Paste this text frame, and repeat, building up the word ‘CHOCOLAT’ with the final ‘E’ missing, and the ‘C’ and ‘O’ overlapping the edges of the bitten area of the bar.


Select both the ‘C’ and ‘O’ text frames and head up to Edit > Copy.

copy paste

Step 5

Minimize the InDesign window, and head back into your Photoshop document.

Edit > Paste the letters into the document, which will be dropped in as a vector smart object. Resize using Shift to match the proportions of the original type layout in InDesign, and Enter.


Use the Lasso Tool (L) to section off the areas of the letters that extend past the bitten edge, and use the Refine Edge button to perfect the selection. When you’re happy, hit OK and then delete the selection. You will need to Rasterize the layer to do this.

refine edge
refine edge

Step 6

Double-click on the rasterized vector smart object layer to open up the Layer Style window. 

Click on Drop Shadow at the bottom of the left-hand menu. Set the Blend Mode to Multiply, and reduce the Opacity to about 30%. 

Set the Distance to 6 px, Spread to 13%, and Size to 49 px. Click OK.

layer stye

File > Save your Photoshop file, and then minimize the Photoshop window. 

Step 7

Return to your InDesign document, and select and delete the ‘C’ and ‘O’ text frames. 

In the Links panel (attached to the Layers panel), you’ll notice a small yellow exclamation symbol next to the image name. Double-click on the exclamation mark to update the file.

link image
relinked image

Step 8

Drag your cursor over the page to select all the text frames, and then head up to Object > Effects > Bevel and Emboss.

Under Style, choose Pillow Emboss, and set the Technique to Smooth and Direction to Up.

Set the Size to 1 mm, Soften to 2 mm, and Depth to 100%.

Under the Shading Options, set the Angle to 120 degrees, Altitude to 30 degrees, Highlight Opacity to 11%, and Shadow Opacity to 55%. 

pillow emboss

Click on Transparency at the top of the left-hand menu. Bring the Opacity down to 95%. Click OK.

transparency effect

Step 9

Take the Type Tool (T) and create a new text frame in the gap left by the bite mark. Type in ‘(OOPS)*’, and set the Font to Futura Std Heavy (or a sans serif of your choice) and Font Color to Dark Blue. 

oops type

Copy and Paste the text frame, and position it below the chocolate bar, resting it on the bottom margin. Adjust the text to Align Center, make it a little smaller, and type in ‘*MAYBE NEXT YEAR’.


7. How to Add the Finishing Touches to Your Poster

Step 1

Return to the Layers panel and lock the Typography layer. Unlock the Texture Overlay layer. 

layers panel

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a frame that extends across the whole page. File > Place, choose the Paper Texture image you also used for the background, and Open. Allow the image to fill the frame.

paper texture

Go to Object > Effects > Transparency, set the Mode to Overlay, and bring the Opacity down to about 20%


Step 2

Lock the Texture Overlay layer and unlock the Gradient layer. 

layers panel

Return to the Swatches panel and create a new CMYK swatch. Name it Light Blue, and set the levels to C=57 M=12 Y=6 K=0.

light blue

Step 3

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a shape across the whole page. Set the Fill to Light Blue.

light blue background

Go to Object > Effects > Gradient Feather, and apply a Radial Gradient, moving the dark slider to the far right and moving the pale slider about a third of the way across. Click OK.

finished effect

8. How to Export Your Finished Poster

Awesome work—your poster is finished, and it’s looking fantastic! If you’re getting your poster printed professionally, read on to find out how best to export it as a print-ready file...

Step 1

Go to File > Export. In the Export window, choose Adobe PDF (Print) from the Format menu, and click Save.

new year poster export

In the Export to Adobe PDF window that opens, choose [Press Quality] from the Adobe PDF Preset menu at the top of the window.

press quality

Step 2

Click on the Marks and Bleed menu option to the left side of the window.

Check All Printer’s Marks and Use Document Bleed Settings. 

bleed and marks

Then click Export to create your print-ready file. You can send this straight off to the printers!

pdf exported

Conclusion: Your Finished Resolution Poster

Your poster is ready for printing. Great work! 

Before you rush to put your design up in your office (or the kitchen might be a better choice!), take a moment to recap the skills you’ve picked up in this tutorial. You should now have more confidence with:

  • Creating poster layouts in Adobe InDesign.
  • Editing photos to suit a poster design in Adobe Photoshop.
  • Formatting typography to create an on-trend type look for your poster designs.
  • Manipulating color, texture, shadows, transparencies and gradients to create a multi-layered look.
  • Exporting your finished designs as print-ready PDF files, ready for sending off for professional printing.

Fantastic work! Feel free to share your poster designs in the comments below. Or why not let us know if you have a resolution you’re planning to stick to (or break!) this year?

Still looking for the perfect poster design? Take a moment to browse a huge range of stylish poster templates on GraphicRiver.

final poster
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