1. Design & Illustration
  2. Print Design

Create your own Calendar with Illustrator & InDesign


A calendar is a great way to make something appealing and practical from your creations. In this tutorial you will learn how to create a print ready 12 month calendar using grunge text, the Linked Text tool, master pages and layers.

Step 1

Open Illustrator and create a new document, set the number of Artboards to 12, Spacing to 20pt, Width: 234pt, Height: 522pt. The size of the calendar will be 3.25" by 7.25". This way we can print two calendar pages out on one letter sized paper. Set 9pt for bleed.

Step 2

Click OK, this is what you will get. 12 artboards, 1 for each month.

Step 3

The color palette is up to personal preference. I thought of the months and the seasons and wanted to reflect a pastel feel. Adobe Kuler is a great resource if you don't know where to start. Below I outlined the colors and set the color mode to CMYK. The first color on the left will be used as the background color for the calendar pages. The other colors are for the months.

Step 4

Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a rectangle onto the artboards, including bleed. Fill the shapes with the green color. Copy and paste the shape onto each artboard.

Step 5

I kept the font simple. Please feel free to pick your own. I chose Arial Black. Select the Text Tool (T) and start typing the alphabet. Then copy and paste the created text underneath each other (9 times) and offset them to the left. Leave a little space.

Step 6

Select all the text and outline it using Command + Shift + O.

Step 7

Group the text (Command + G) and place it onto the first artboard. Align the "A" towards the top left.

Step 8

Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle as big as the artboard (without the bleed) and place it above the text.

Step 9

Select the rectangle and open the Pathfinder Palette. Click the Crop button. This will crop the extra text.

Step 10

Copy the text and paste it onto the remaining artboards. Once that is done, go back to the first artboard and start coloring your letters. I picked the colors according to the seasons. A cold blue for January, a warmer green for April etc. Select the letters of the month (Pick the letters for January for example) and color them with the Swatch Palette.

Step 11

Here's February and March. Please feel free to choose any color or font.

Step 12

April and May. I selected the letters of each month and colored them.

Step 13

June and July. I tried to stick to colors that would represent the month. For example, a warm pink for June and an orange for July.

Step 14

August and September received subdued colors.

Step 15

October and November.

Step 16

Here's all of the months completed. If you wanted to leave it at this, that's cool. The next step will have a cool tip on how to grunge things up.

Step 17

I've created a simple texture in Photoshop. Below you can see the image on the left.

Step 18

Open Photoshop and create a new document the same size as the calendar (no bleed).

Step 19

Fill your document with white and open the Fibers Filter under Filters > Render > Fibers. Set the Variance to 23 and the Strength to 8. Click OK.

Step 20

You should have something similar to what you see in the image below. Save this image as a Tiff.

Step 21

Go back to Illustrator and place your texture file onto the artboard (File > Place). Make sure that the Tiff file is placed above the text. As an example I placed the texture file over half over the text, but it should cover all of the text. Tip: Make sure that you place all the background shapes onto one locked layer. It is better to select the text and the tiff. Select the tiff file and the cropped text, go to the Transparency Palette and from the small arrow on the top right, select Make Opacity Mask.

Step 22

The tiff file will only be visible where the text outline is.

Step 23

Here is a full image of the tiff grunge file applied to the text.

Step 24

To give the text a dramatic look, make a copy of the Opacity Mask (Command + C then Command + F) and set the Layer Mode to Multiply. This will give the text a darker grunge look. Repeat this with each artboard/calendar month.

Step 25

We are almost at the end of the Illustrator setup. You now need to export the artboards as individual eps files ready for import into InDesign.

Step 26

Select Save As under File in Illustrator and create a folder called "links". Call the file whatever you like and set the file type to eps. Underneath the file type you will find a check box "Use Artboards". Click it and select "All". Click OK and the artboards will be saved individually.

Step 27

Open InDesign and create a new document with the following settings: 12 pages, 19p6 width, 43p6 height, 9pt bleed.

Step 28

Create four layers and name them as you see in the image below.

Step 29

Double-click on the first page, make sure you are on the eps layer and select the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) and draw a rectangle as big as the page with bleed. Press Command + D and place the first calendar eps (January). Repeat this Step with the rest of the pages and place all the eps files.

Step 30

This is how the page with the placed file should look like.

Step 31

Lock the eps layer and then click on the "bg" layer to make it active. Double-click on the A master. We will create a background for the months. We want the same look for each month, so the background will need to be placed on the A-master. Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a small rectangle and fill it with light green.

Step 32

Then draw a smaller longer rectangle and fill it with brown. We will place the month name on it.

Step 33

Next, select the Text Tool (T), set the columns to seven and the gutter width to 0 . Add the first letter of each week day in each of the columns. To jump to the next column, press the Enter Button on your Number Pad.

Step 34

Create another text box with the Text Tool (T) and rotate it counter clockwise. Set the text to a really small, 3.75pt. Then type the rest of the week day, for example "onday". Repeat that with each week day letter.

Step 35

Play around with the size, color and character attributes. You might need to squeeze it, stretch it or choose an even tighter font. This part is really up to you.

Step 36

This is how the setup on the A-Master should look like.

Step 37

Go go back to the pages by double-clicking the first page. Select the text layer. We want to add the month names and we need to do that on each page individually. Create another text box and add the name for the month on top of the brown background we created on the master.

Step 38

Now let's have some fun with the monthly dates. Create another text box with 7 columns and a gutter width of 0pt. This will be the setup for our dynamic monthly dates.

Step 39

Make five more copies and place then underneath each other.

Step 40

I created a text file with numbers form 1 to 31. They are each on their own line. Click with the text tool on the first column and press Command + D to place the text file.Once you click OK, the numbers will be placed in each column, but only on one text box. On the end you can see a red plus sign. This means that we have more text than fits in the text box. We want to link up each text box so all numbers will be placed. Click on the red plus sign and you will see a "link" sign appearing next to your cursor.

Step 41

With this "link" cursor, click on the next text box on the left. A red arrow will appear and the next numbers will be placed. Repeat this until the numbers from 1 to 31 are in the columns.

Step 42

Highlight all the numbers with the Text Tool (T) and choose a smaller font (Arial) and set the color to white.

Step 43

Press Command + B and within the Text Frame Options set the Vertical Justification Alignment to Center.

Step 44

Here are the monthly numbers. If you place the Text Tool (T) in the first column (day one) and press the Tab Key on your keyboard, the numbers will be pushed to the next column. Neat trick, since not every month will start on the same day.

Lock the text layer for now and select the circles layer. Start drawing a small circle behind each day with the Ellipse Tool (L). I chose two colors, brown with a green stroke, for Saturday and Sunday. Set the Stroke to align on the outside.

Step 46

I chose a gray circle with a green stroke for the rest of the days.

Step 47

Copy and paste the circles to fill up the month. Below is our first month, January.

Step 48

Repeat this with each month. Make sure you look up the starting day for the first of the month and make sure that you delete day 31 if the month only has 30 days and don't forget February.

Step 49

Double-click the A-Master again. We need to add the year 2011. Create another green rectangle. On top, create a text box and add the year in a white font.

Step 50

Now your calendar is done. These are your calendar pages, 12 in total.

Step 51

Now let's export the pages to a PDF so we can print the calendar. Click Command + E (or go to File > Export > Save as File type, PDF). Check the settings you see below.

Step 52

Select the Compression settings and set all to Do Not Downsample.

Step 53

Then click on the Marks and Bleeds and check "Crop Marks" and under Bleed and Slug check the box next to "Use Document Bleed Settings".

Step 54

Click Export and voilà, here is our PDF calendar.


I printed my calendar using an inkjet printer and some linen paper. I placed two calendar pages per 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. You may have noticed, the creative process is broken up into two distinct tasks, making the calendar image and designing the months. You can add your own images to the calendar using the same import techniques you learnt here, you can even change the page dimensions and export your images as JPGs to make a wallpaper calendar for your computer. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

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