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How to Create an ‘Earth Day’ Plastic Pollution Infographic in Adobe InDesign

This post is part of a series called Infographic Templates.
How to Create an Education Infographic in Adobe InDesign
How to Create a Line Clock Infographic in Adobe Illustrator
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

On 22 April the world celebrates Earth Day, which recognises and aims to educate about the impact humans have on the environment. This year, the focus will be on raising awareness about plastic pollution and educating individuals and organizations about the practical steps they can take to reduce their plastic footprint. 

This easy-to-create infographic is a great way of spreading the word about plastic pollution either on social media or in poster format. 

Short on time? You can find easy-to-edit infographic templates on GraphicRiver and Envato Elements.

What You’ll Need to Create the Infographic

We’ll create the infographic using Adobe InDesign. You’ll also need access to Adobe Illustrator or other vector software to open the illustration.

You’ll also need to download the following graphic and font files:

Install the font on your computer, save the image to a safe place, and we’re ready to get started!

1. How to Create an Ocean Backdrop for Your Infographic

Step 1

Open InDesign and go to File > New > Document. 

Set the Width of the page to 297 mm and Height to 655 mm. Uncheck Facing Pages.

Add a Bleed of 5 mm to all edges of the page. 

new document

Then click Create.

new document

Step 2

Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers).

Double-click on Layer 1 and rename this Image. Click OK

Choose New Layer from the panel’s drop-down menu and name this Type. Click OK.

layer options

Then lock the Type layer, keeping the Image layer selected. 

image layer

Step 3

Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches), and choose New Color Swatch from the panel’s main menu. 

Create a beige-colored CMYK swatch with the levels set to C=14 M=17 Y=31 K=1. Click Add and then OK.

new color swatch

As you work on the infographic, you can use the same process to create new CMYK swatches.

Step 4

Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and drag across the whole page, extending the edge up to the bleed on all sides.

From the Swatches panel, set the Fill to your new beige-colored swatch. 

background color

Step 5

Select the Pen Tool (P) and zoom into the top quarter of the page. 

About a quarter of the way down the page, draw across with the Pen Tool, clicking and dragging to create smooth curves. Aim to create a subtle wave shape across the width of the page. 

pen tool

Click down, across and up again to link the line into a whole shape with a rectangular base.

pen tool

Create a new pale blue swatch (here, C=30 M=4 Y=11 K=0) and use this as the Fill for the shape. 

first wave

Step 6

Use the Pen Tool again to create a similar wave shape on top of the first, starting it a little lower down the page. 

Set the Fill to a darker blue swatch (here, C=57 M=11 Y=21 K=0).

second wave

Repeat the process to create three more wave shapes, layered over each other. 

Graduate the color from rich blue to bottle green to dark blue as you move down the page. 

wave at bottom

Finally, add a small wave shape to the bottom of the page, setting this in a rich sand color (here, C=5 M=32 Y=55 K=18), to create a sea-bottom.

sea bed shape

Step 7

Select all the wave shapes (excluding the beige background rectangle right at the back), and go to Object on the main menu at the top of the workspace. Choose Effects > Drop Shadow.

Set the Effect Color (by clicking on the colored square) to a blue swatch, and bring the Opacity down to 10%. 

Adjust the Angle of the shadow to -90, Distance to 2mm, Size to 4mm, Spread to about 20%, and Noise to around 10%

drop shadow

Then click OK. 

image layer

2. How to Add Plastic Pollution to Your Design

Step 1

Open the trash cans EPS image in Illustrator. Select the icons above the left-hand plastic bin, and Edit > Copy.

Head back over to your InDesign document, and Edit > Paste them directly onto the pasteboard. 

pasted icons

Select the yoghurt pot icon individually, and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste. Move it over on the page, placing it on the left side of the top wave. Adjust the color of the pot if you like. 

yoghurt pot

Step 2

Copy and Paste the shopping bag icon, moving it to overlap the first and second waves.

You can expand the Image layer, and drag the bag (indicated by a colored square to the right of the element) up or down until it sits below the second wave and above the first, creating a layered look.

shopping bag layers

Step 3

Copy and Paste more of the vector icons across the page, allowing some to overlap or sit behind some of the waves. 

Try to flush the elements to the left side on the top wave, leaving a blank space to the right. 

Then reverse this for the second wave down, pushing the icons to the right side, and observe this back-and-forth arrangement all the way down. 

gas canister

Step 4

Select all the icons, and head up to Object > Effects > Drop Shadow.

Apply a subtle blue shadow, with the Opacity set to around 50% and Noise to 13%. 

drop shadow effect

Step 5

Select all the icons sitting on the pasteboard and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste.

Rotate the group about 90 degrees, and position it centrally along the bottom of the sea bed.

group trash

Paste a couple more copies, and use these to cover the whole bed in trash.

layer of trash
infographic so far

3. How to Add Type to Your Infographic

Step 1

Lock the Image layer and unlock the top layer, Type

type layer

Use the Type Tool (T) to create a text frame at the top of the page. 

Type in ‘Earth Day / 22 April 2018’, and from either the top Controls panel or the Character and Paragraph panels (Window > Type & Tables > Character / Paragraph), set the Font to Pier Sans Bold, Size 25 pt. 

Pull out some of the words in contrasting colors. 

pier sans bold

Step 2

Create a second text frame below the first, and type in the title of the infographic (here, ‘Practical Steps You Can Take to Make Our Oceans Plastic-Free’).

Set the Font again to Pier Sans Bold, and pull out the key words in a larger size and contrasting color.


Step 3

Now it’s time to start building up the info part of your infographic! Here, I’ve adapted stats from the Earth Day website’s Plastic Action Toolkit.

Create a text frame over the right side of the top wave, typing in the title of this section (e.g. ‘Reduce!’), setting the Font to Pier Sans Bold and the Font Size to 30 pt.

reduce text

Use the Line Tool (\) to create a straight horizontal line leading from one of the illustrated icons to the left side of your title. 

From the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke) set the Weight to 3 pt. Choose Circle for the Start point of the line, and Bar for the End

From the Swatches panel, set the Stroke Color of the line to [Paper].

line stroke

Set text below the heading detailing the stat, set in Pier Sans Bold and a smaller Font Size (around 15 pt).

pier sans

Step 4

You can Copy and Paste the heading, body text and line as a group, and use this to populate the rest of the infographic. 

reduce text

Move the text to the right and left sides of the page alternately as you move down. For the line, Right-Click > Transform > Flip Horizontal to reverse its position.

reuse text
recycle text
text frame remove

Step 5

Your infographic is finished—great job! 

All you need to do now is head up to File > Export to save your design as a JPEG, PNG or PDF, ready for printing or sharing online.

Help Spread the Word About Plastic Pollution

Earth Day is a fantastic opportunity for spreading the word about plastic pollution and educating people about the steps they can take to reduce their plastic footprint. 

Make sure to share this infographic on social media or pin up a copy at work or on your community noticeboard. 

You can find out more about global efforts to reduce plastic pollution on the Earth Day website.

You can find more infographic templates and icons to use on your designs over on GraphicRiver and Envato Elements.

final infographic
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