Get into the party spirit with this St. Patrick’s Day poster that will make everyone green with envy! On 17 March, people around the world honour the Patron Saint of Ireland and Irish culture as a whole.
Featuring the traditional Irish shamrock, an emerald color palette, and vintage-style textures and type, this is a fun introduction to poster layout skills in Adobe InDesign. Why not adapt the text to fit your own St. Patrick’s Day celebration?
This tutorial is suitable for beginner-to-intermediate users of InDesign. You’ll also need access to Adobe Illustrator to prepare the shamrock graphic.
Ready? Let’s go!
1. Create the Poster Document in InDesign
Open up Adobe InDesign, and go to File > New > Document.
Set the Intent to Print, deselect Facing Pages, and choose A3 from the Page Size drop-down menu.
Set the Margins to 14 mm on all sides, and add a Bleed of 5 mm all the way around.
Click OK to create your poster document.
2. Give the Poster an Emerald Backdrop
Expand or open the Layers panel (Window > Layers).
Double-click on the default Layer 1 name and rename the layer Background.
Click on the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the panel and rename the new layer Typography. Create a final new layer and rename it Shamrock.
Lock both the Typography and Shamrock layers and click on the Background layer to activate it.
Take the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) from the left-hand Tools panel and drag onto the page to create an image frame that extends across the whole page, up to the edges of the bleed on all sides.
Return to your InDesign document, and select the rectangle frame. Go to File > Place and select the paper image. Click Open.
Click on the Fill Frame Proportionally button on the top Controls panel to arrange the image in the frame.
Expand or open the Swatches panel and create a new CMYK Process Swatch. Name the swatch Dark Green and set the values to C=93 M=44 Y=82 K=54. Click Add, and OK.
Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle the same size over the top of the paper image frame.
Set the Fill Color of the rectangle to Dark Green.
Select the green rectangle and go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Multiply, and reduce the Opacity to 80%. Click OK.
Some of that papery texture sitting behind will now be pulled forward and made more visible.
From the Swatches panel’s drop-down menu, click on New Gradient Swatch.
Name the swatch Background Gradient and set the Type to Linear. Click on the left-hand stop on the Gradient Ramp, adjust the Stop Color to Swatches, and choose Dark Green from the list of swatches.
Click on the right-hand stop on the ramp, and adjust this to the [Black] swatch.
Pull the slider over slightly towards the right-side of the ramp to create a slightly paler gradient. Then go ahead and click OK.
3. Bring in a Lucky Shamrock!
It’s time to add a lucky charm to our poster design. For this step of the tutorial, you’ll need to open up Adobe Illustrator.
Download the vector and open it up in Adobe Illustrator. Isolate just one simple silhouette of a shamrock, and make sure it has a long stem.
Set the Fill Color of the shape to a solid black, then hop up to Edit > Copy.
Return to your InDesign document and to the Layers panel. Lock the Background layer and unlock the top layer, Shamrock.
Go to Edit > Paste to drop your shamrock vector directly onto the page. Hold Shift to resize it, so that it fills about two-thirds of the page, as shown below. Center it on the page as much as possible too.
From the Swatches panel, adjust the Fill Color of the vector to [None]. Then go to File > Place and choose the same paper image we used for the background of the poster. Click Open to fill the vector with the paper texture.
In the Swatches panel, create a new CMYK Process Swatch and rename it Pale Green. Set the values to C=67 M=16 Y=96 K=2. Click Add, and OK.
Select the paper-filled shamrock and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste in Place.
Double-click inside the pasted vector to select the paper image directly and delete it, so you have just the vector frame remaining. Set the Fill Color to Pale Green.
With the green shamrock selected go to Object > Effects > Transparency and set the Mode to Multiply. Click OK.
4. Fill Your Poster With Vintage-Style Typography
Return to the Layers panel and lock the Shamrock layer. Unlock the Typography layer below.
Create a new CMYK Process Swatch, named Beige, with the values C=7 M=15 Y=20 K=0.
Download and install the free font Zantroke. This is a lovely slab serif font, which is great for poster layouts.
Return to InDesign and take the Type Tool (T) from the Tools panel. Move over onto the blank pasteboard for now and drag to create a square text frame. Type in ‘P’, and set the Font to Zantroke, Size 250 pt. Adjust the Font Color to Beige.
With the text frame selected, go to Type > Create Outlines to transform the letter into a vector.
You can now resize the vector letter flexibly, holding down Shift to maintain the proportions. Make it a bit larger, and position it up on the top-left corner of the page, as shown.
Select the vector ‘P’ and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste in Place. Remove the Fill Color from the pasted vector, and then go to File > Place.
Select the paper texture image again and click Open. Click on the Fill Frame Proportionally button to fill the letter with the image.
Then Right-Click (Windows) or Control-Click (Mac) > Arrange > Send to Back.
Select the beige ‘P’ which is now on top, and go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Keep the Mode as Normal, and reduce the Opacity to 50%.
Drag your mouse over both ‘P’ vectors and Right-Click (Windows) or Control-Click (Mac) > Group.
Repeat the process detailed in Steps 2 and 3, above, for more letters, making up the whole word ‘PADDY’S’.
Position the ‘A’ just below the ‘P’, slightly overlapping. Don’t worry if parts of the letters sit behind the shamrock—this will add to the overall collage effect of the poster.
Sit the next ‘D’ over on the right side of the page, hiding behind a shamrock leaf.
Add the other ‘D’ and a ‘Y’ either side of the stem...
... then place an ‘S’ in the bottom-right corner of the page.
Add an apostrophe to finish the effect.
You’ll end up with a striking ‘PADDY’S’ type effect that looks really stylish and eye-catching. Great work!
Now all that’s left to do is to fill up the rest of the poster with details about the event...
Return to the Swatches panel and create a new CMYK Process Swatch. Rename it Emerald, and set the values to C=80 M=28 Y=81 K=14; click OK.
Move over to the pasteboard next to the page and use the Type Tool (T) to create a new text frame. Type in ‘ST’ and set the Font to Zantroke, Size 110 pt, and Font Color to Emerald.
Right-Click (Windows) or Control-Click (Mac) > Transform > Rotate 90 Degrees CCW. Position the text frame at the top-left corner of the page, so that it just slots into the gap left between the serifs of the ‘P’.
Create another text frame, type in ‘CELEBRATE’ and set the Font to Zantroke, Size 80 pt, and in Pale Green.
Position along the top of the page, to the right of the ‘P’ and extending across the rest of the width of the page.
Build up text across the top-right section of the page. Set each item of text in a separate text frame, and vary the sizes and colors to create a unified chunk of type.
You can copy the text content I’ve done here, or adapt the text to your own event details.
Scroll down to the bottom-left corner of the page, and fill this space with a few text frames as well, setting the Font to Zantroke and varying the colors between Emerald and Pale Green.
Create a new text frame, type in ‘DAY’ and set the Font to Zantroke, Size 100 pt, Emerald. Rotate the frame 90 Degrees CW, and position it over on the right side of the page, just above the large ‘S’.
Select with your mouse all the text frames except the beige ‘PADDY’S’ vectors and the ‘ST’ and ‘DAY’ text frames. Then Right-Click (Windows) or Control-Click (Mac) > Arrange > Send to Back.
It’s looking great—we’re very nearly there!
As a final step, keep the text frames selected and go to Object > Effects > Transparency, and reduce the Opacity to 80%, just to keep the ‘PADDY’S’ and shamrock looking like the most dominant elements on the page.
5. Export Your Poster for Print
Your poster artwork is finished, fantastic work!
You’re now ready to export your poster for printing. You can also save your poster as a web-friendly file, by going to File > Export and choosing Adobe PDF (Interactive) from the Format drop-down menu.
For a print-friendly version, go to File > Export. Choose Adobe PDF (Print) from the Format drop-down menu.
Choose [Press Quality] from the Adobe PDF Preset menu.
Click on Marks and Bleeds in the left-hand menu and check All Printer’s Marks and Use Document Bleed Settings.
Click on Export to create your print-ready poster file.
What You’ve Learned
In this tutorial we’ve covered a range of skills which would be equally applicable to other poster projects or layout projects in Adobe InDesign. You can now:
- Create a poster template in InDesign
- Build up background textures and colors on your artwork
- Create a strong graphic design using Illustrator vectors
- Create complex text effects and edit typography in both vector and live formats
- Export your completed poster artwork as a print-ready file
I hope you enjoy celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, wherever you are in the world! Please feel free to share your own St Paddy’s poster designs—we’d love to see them.