Winter may be long, dark and cold, but that’s all the more reason to host a cosy dinner party for friends, family or colleagues. Perfect for New Year gatherings, this easy-to-create menu card recalls the geometric glamour of the Jazz Age. This is certainly a piece of print design Jay Gatsby would be proud to have on display!
In this tutorial we’ll be using Adobe InDesign to create a double-sided A5 menu card. No images required—we’ll be using typography, shapes and borders alone to imitate the Art Deco style.
A Note on Art Deco Design
Art Deco was a hugely popular visual style during the 1920s and 1930s, and its influence can be seen across all sorts of visual media from the time, in art, print, architecture, furniture, and interior decor. The main stylistic traits of Art Deco are geometric, symmetrical shapes, the use of rich, often jewel-like colors, and opulent metallics.
Art Deco styles are now enjoying a resurgence in popularity, although arguably the huge influence of the Art Deco movement has never really gone away. Contemporary interpretations of traditional Art Deco typefaces breathe modern life into the style, making Art Deco accessible for InDesign users like us today.
Let’s get started!
1. Prepare the Layout of Your Menu
Open InDesign and select New Document from the Welcome window or go to File > New > Document.
In the New Document window, keep Intent as Print and the No. of Pages to 1. Uncheck Facing Pages.
From the Page Size drop-down menu select A5 (148 x 210 mm).
Note: This tutorial shows you how to set up a menu card for professional printing. But if you’re planning to print the invitations at home using an A4 printer, you will need to place two finished cards side-by-side on a new A4 document, set up as Landscape Orientation.
Set the Margins on all sides to 5 mm, and include a Bleed of 3 mm on all sides.
The card will require a series of layers to be set up, allowing us to build up shapes, lines and text to create a 3D effect, which will give us that Art Deco look. It’s good practice to sit different elements on different layers, as it allows you to select or make edits to individual elements more easily.
Let’s create all of the layers now.
Open the Layers panel (Window > Layers). By default, this is grouped with the Pages and Links panels.
Double-click on the default Layer 1 name in the panel to open the Layer Options window. Rename the layer as Background Color and click OK.
Click on the Create New Layer icon at the bottom right of the panel to create a second layer. As before, double-click on the default name for the layer to open the Layer Options window. Rename this layer as Border One. Click OK.
Repeat to create four more layers in the following order:
- 3D Shapes
- Border Two
Now Lock all layers except Background Color by clicking in the blank space to the right of the eye icon. Click on the Background Color name to allow you to work on that layer.
On your document, it will be useful to know the center point of the menu, to allow you to place elements centrally and symmetrically.
Pull out a guide from the left-hand ruler (View > Show Rulers, if not already shown) to the vertical center of the document, at 74 mm.
2. Pick a Color Palette and Bring in a Border
Art Deco designs use all sorts of colors, but certain color combinations look classically Art Deco. Gold and black, for example, give an ultra-opulent, luxurious feel to designs, while rose-pink and silver can add a feminine twist.
Rich, jewel-like tones teamed with metallics will always look authentic to the Art Deco style. Here, we’re going to apply colors that are inspired by the Egyptomania movement, which inspired Art Deco designs in the early 1920s.
Go to Window > Color > Swatches to open the Swatches panel. Click the New Swatch icon at the bottom right corner of the panel or select New Color Swatch from the panel’s drop-down menu.
Set the Color Type to Process and Color Mode to CMYK. Set the values to the following percentages:
C=106, M=96, Y=42, K=47
Create three more new swatches in the same way, setting each to the following values:
- C=47, M=0, Y=38, K=0
- C=20, M=30, Y=65, K=0
- C=41, M=0, Y=22, K=0
You now have a set of swatches ready to use: a deep midnight blue, a jade green, a gold, and an icy mint blue.
Remaining on the Background Color layer, select the Rectangle Tool (M) and drag to create a frame that extends across the whole page, up to the edges of the bleed on all sides.
Set the Stroke Color to [None] and the Fill Color to the dark blue, C=106, M=96, Y=42, K=47.
Lock the Background Color layer and Unlock the Border One layer.
Select the Rectangle Tool (M), as before, and drag to create a frame that meets the trim edge, or page edge of the document, as shown. From the control panel running along the top of the screen, set the Fill Color to [None] and the Stroke Color to the gold swatch, C=20, M=30, Y=65, K=0.
Set the Weight of the Stroke to 2 mm. The colour will align by default to the center of the stroke edge, with some of the color edging onto the bleed. That’s what we want, as the menu will appear to have a very fine gold edge once printed.
Lock the Border One layer and Unlock the Border Two layer, which sits above the 3D Shapes layer.
Select the Rectangle Frame Tool (M) and drag to create a frame that extends to the edges of the margin on all sides. From the top control panel, set the Fill Color to [None] and the Stroke Color to the gold swatch, as before, C=20, M=30, Y=65, K=0.
Go to Window > Stroke to open the Stroke panel. Set the Weight to 1 mm and Type to Thick-Thin.
With the frame still selected, go to Object > Corner Options. Set the Size of all corners to 8 mm and Shape to Fancy. Click OK.
3. Build Up Color and Shape on the Menu
We’re going to build up some layers of colored shapes in paler tones to frame the text we’ll be adding to the design later.
Lock the Border Two layer and Unlock the Color layer.
Drag a guide down from the top ruler (View > Show Rulers) to the horizontal center point of the page, at 105 mm.
Select the Zoom Tool, or hit Z on the keyboard, and, holding down your cursor, drag to create a selection around the top-right quarter of the page. The top-right corner of the page will expand to fill the screen.
Select the Pen Tool (P) and click once where the vertical central guide meets the edge of the fancy border. Click again, forming a horizontal straight line, in the right-hand corner of the border, as shown.
Continue to click, tracing the intricate corner edge of the border.
Click where the horizontal center line meets the edge of the border.
Then click back on the starting point at the top left, to create a triangle shape.
Adjust the Stroke Color of the shape to [None] and the Fill Color to the jade-green swatch you created earlier, C=47, M=0, Y=38, K=0.
Select the shape with the Selection Tool (V, Escape) and go to Edit > Copy, and then Edit > Paste.
With the second shape selected, Control-Click (Mac OS) or Right-Click (Windows) > Transform > Flip Horizontal. Move the flipped shape into a mirrored position on the left-hand side of the page.
From the top ruler, drag a horizontal guide down to about one third of the way down the page, to around 65 mm.
Select the Pen Tool (P) as before, and click once where the new guide meets the edge of the fancy border, to the right of the page, overlapping slightly with the jade-green shape.
Click towards the bottom corner of the border, to create a straight vertical line.
As we did before, click around the corner edge of the fancy border, and click to create another anchor point at the vertical center point of the page.
Click once again on the starting anchor point to create a triangle shape.
Adjust the Stroke Color of the shape to [None] and the Fill Color to the ice-blue swatch you created earlier, C=41, M=0, Y=22, K=0.
Select the shape using the Selection Tool (V, Escape) and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste.
Control-Click (Mac OS) or Right-Click (Windows) > Transform > Flip Horizontal and move the flipped shape into a mirrored position on the left-hand side of the page.
4. Create a 3D Effect Using Shape and Shadow
Lock the Color layer and Unlock the 3D Shapes layer, from the Layers panel.
Hit Z and drag to zoom in on the top right corner of the page.
Select the Line Tool (\) from the Tools panel, and drag to create a line about 73 mm in Length, running along the edge of the jade-green shape as shown.
Set the Stroke Color to the gold swatch, C=20, M=30, Y=65, K=0 and the Stroke Weight to 7 mm.
Select the line and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste to create a second gold line. Control-Click (Mac OS) or Right-Click (Windows) > Transform > Flip Horizontal and move the flipped line into a symmetrical position on the left-hand side of the page.
Drag a horizontal guide down from the top ruler towards the bottom of the page, at 181 mm.
Allowing about a 7 mm margin between the edge of the blue triangle, select the Pen Tool (P) and click at the point where the new guide crosses the shape, as shown.
Click again, following a parallel line to the edge of the shape, where the blue shape meets the fancy border.
Click horizontally upwards, at the top corner of the blue shape.
Click downwards, adjacent to the starting anchor point. Click on the starting anchor point to join up the shape.
Set the Stroke Color to [None] and the Fill Color to [Paper].
Select the shape, and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste to create a second white shape. Control-Click (Mac OS) or Right-Click (Windows) > Transform > Flip Horizontal and manoeuvre the second shape onto the left-hand side of the page.
This is how your design should look so far:
Remaining on the 3D Shapes layer, drag a guide from the top ruler down to 49 mm.
Drag a second guide, this time from the left-hand ruler to 112 mm, and then drag a third guide out from the left-hand ruler to 36 mm.
Select the Pen Tool (P) and click once where the left-hand guide meets the edge of the fancy border. Click where the 49 mm horizontal guide meets the center point of the page to create a diagonal line.
Click where the far-right guide meets the edge of the fancy border to create a triangle shape.
From the top control panel, set the Fill of the shape to gold, C=20, M=30, Y=65, K=0, the Stroke Color to the dark blue swatch, C=106, M=96, Y=42, K=47. Set the Stroke Weight to 1 mm and the Type to Thick-Thick.
With the shape selected, go to Object > Effects > Drop Shadow to open the Effects window.
Under the Drop Shadow options, set the Mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 25%. Set the Distance to 1 mm and Angle to 135 degrees. Set the Size to 1 mm.
Navigate over to the Inner Glow option, accessible from the left-hand list of options in the Effects window. Set the Mode to Soft Light and Opacity to 83%. Keep the Technique set to Softer and Source to Edge. Alter the Size to 8 mm and the Choke to 7%.
This has given the triangle shape a soft metallic sheen and a subtle 3D look.
Select the gold triangle and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste. With the shape selected, Control-Click (Mac OS) or Right-Click (Windows) > Transform > Flip Vertical.
Position this second triangle in a symmetrical position, at the bottom of the page.
5. Introduce Gatsby-Inspired Typography
There are so many Art Deco-inspired fonts out there to choose from, many of which are free to download and use for personal and/or commercial use.
Here, I’ve chosen to use Andes. It’s a very elegant typeface, with a clean, modern feel, and has a weight strong enough to contrast against the dark background of the menu when set at small size.
Back in your InDesign document, return to the Layers panel. Lock the 3D Shapes layer and Unlock the top layer, Typography.
Select the Type Tool (T) and drag to create a text frame about 65 mm in Width and 16 mm in Height. Position this centrally on the page, resting on the horizontal guide towards the top third of the dark blue central space.
Type ‘Menu’ and, from the Character Formatting Controls panel running along the top of the screen, set the Font to Andes Regular, Font Size to 44 pt, Font Color to [Paper] and set the text to Align Center.
Click away from the text frame and, using the Type Tool (T) again, drag to create a second larger text frame, about 75 mm in Width and 78 mm in Height.
Spicy Pumpkin Soup
(paragraph break x2)
Roast Spring Lamb
Chestnut Stuffed Peppers (V)
(paragraph break x2)
You can edit the text to list your own chosen dishes.
Highlight all the text with your Type Tool cursor and set the Font to Andes Regular and Align Center.
Highlight ‘Starter’, ‘Main’ and 'Dessert’ individually; set the Font Size to 25 pt and Font Color to the jade-green swatch, C=47, M=0, Y=38, K=0.
Highlight the names of the dishes and set the Font Size to 18 pt and Font Color to gold, C=20, M=30, Y=65, K=0. Increase the Leading of the first line of each list of dishes to 28 pt to give the text some breathing space.
Select the Line Tool (\) and, holding down Shift, drag from left to right to create a short horizontal line about 32 mm in Length.
Either from the top control panel or from the Stroke panel, set the Stroke Color to the jade-green swatch, C=47, M=0, Y=38, K=0, Stroke Weight to 0.75 mm and Type to Thin-Thin.
Position the line centrally below ‘Starter’, and above the name of the first dish.
Select the line and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste twice to create two more copies of the line. Position each centrally below ‘Main’ and ‘Dessert’.
You can also add a little decorative element to the menu to give it that extra Art Deco flourish.
ArtDeco is a gorgeous decorative font with a variety of Art Deco-inspired glyphs to choose from. Download the font, and then return to InDesign.
Remaining on the Typography layer, select the Type Tool (T) and drag to create a small text frame about 11 mm in Height. Sit your cursor in the text frame and set the Font to ArtDeco Regular.
Go to Window > Type & Tables > Glyphs to open the Glyphs panel. Double-click your chosen glyph to insert it into the text frame.
Set the Font Size to 30 pt, and the Font Color to gold, C=20, M=30, Y=65, K=0.
Position the text frame to the left of ‘Menu’.
Select the text frame and Edit > Copy and Edit > Paste. Then, Control-Click (Mac OS) or Right-Click (Windows) > Transform > Flip Horizontal, and position this second, flipped text frame to the right of ‘Menu’.
6. Set Up the Reverse Side of Your Menu
To look extra polished and professional, you can set up your cards to have a printed reverse side.
In the Pages panel (Window > Pages) click the Create New Page icon at the bottom right of the panel. For now, remain on Page 1 of the document.
Lock all layers except the Background Color, Border One and Border Two layers. Drag your mouse across the entire page to select all elements on these layers. Then hop up to Edit > Copy.
Navigate down to Page 2 of the document. Go to Edit > Paste in Place. The background color and borders will appear on the page.
Your menu design is finished! Great work, it’s looking fantastic.
Now all we need to do is to export it for print...
7. Export Your Menu for Print
To export your menu for print, go to File > Export and select Adobe PDF (Print) from the Format drop-down menu.
Under the General options, select Press Quality from the Adobe PDF Preset drop-down menu.
Under the Marks and Bleeds options (scroll through the options from the left-hand side of the window) check All Printers Marks and check Use Document Bleed Settings.
Congratulations! Your glamorous Art Deco menu is ready to send to print!
Tip: Ask your printer to print on paper stock of around a 300 gsm weight to give a sturdy and luxurious feel to the menu cards.
Have a fabulous dinner party in true Gatsby style!