Looking to impress someone this Valentine’s Day? This quirky letterpress-inspired card has an air of old-fashioned romance which is hard to resist. This is a great tutorial for developing or polishing print design skills, even if you’re a complete beginner.
We’ll be using Adobe InDesign to create the card design, and we’ll also look at how to export the design as a press-quality PDF ready for printing.
Ready for romance? Let’s go!
What You’ll Need to Design Your Card
As well as access to Adobe InDesign, you’ll also need to download the following images and font files:
- Brixton font
- Naive Inline font
- Mr Darcy font
- Jacques Francois font
- Lovato font
- Paper texture
- Old parchment texture
Save the images to a folder you can easily locate, and install the font files onto your system. Once that’s done, you’re ready to start designing your Valentine’s card.
1. How to Set Up Your Card in InDesign
Open up InDesign and go to File > New > Document.
Keep the Intent set to Print and uncheck the Facing Pages box. Set the Width of the page to 5 in and Height to 7 in.
Set the Top and Bottom Margins to 1.0625 in, and the Left and Right Margins to 0.875 in. Add a Bleed of 0.25 in to all edges of the page, and then click OK.
Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and double-click on the Layer 1 title. Rename this layer Background and click OK.
Click on the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the panel and rename this as Type.
Create a further two new layers, first Details and finally Overlay.
Lock all layers except Background, and click on this to activate it.
Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches). From here, you can create a complete color palette of CMYK swatches to use on your design.
Choose New Color Swatch from the panel’s top-right drop-down menu, and create the following CMYK swatches, clicking Add and OK each time:
- Forest Green: C=77 M=45 Y=100 K=48
- Peppermint: C=63 M=13 Y=39 K=1
- Orange: C=0 M=66 Y=67 K=0
- Mustard: C=21 M=24 Y=81 K=5
- Pink: C=6 M=42 Y=12 K=0
- Cream: C=0 M=5 Y=27 K=0
- Ochre: C=13 M=85 Y=87 K=3
- Purple: C=43 M=95 Y=25 K=16
- Off-White: C=0 M=0 Y=13 K=0
With the Background layer still active, take the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) and drag across the page, extending it up to the edge of the page on the left-hand side, and the edges of the bleed on the top, right, and bottom.
Go to File > Place, navigate to the paper texture image you downloaded earlier, and click Open. Allow it to fill the whole image frame.
Switch to the Rectangle Tool (M) and drag across the page, mimicking the size and position of the image frame below. From the Swatches panel, set the Stroke Color to [None] and Fill Color to Off-White.
With the rectangle shape selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency and bring the Opacity down to 75%, before clicking OK.
2. How to Map Out the Typography on Your Card
Lock the Background layer and unlock the layer above, Type.
With the rulers visible (View > Show Rulers), drag a guide down from the top ruler to Y position 2.47 in, and a second down to 2.8 in.
Drag down two more guides, to 4.2 in and 4.53 in, creating a sequence of four guides in total.
Take the Type Tool (T) and drag onto the page to create a text frame at the top-right corner marked out by the margin line.
Type in ‘V’, and from either the Controls panel running along the top of the workspace or the Character panel (Window > Type & Tables > Character), set the Font to Mr Darcy, Size 142 pt.
Create a second text frame to the right of the first and type in ‘A’, setting the Font to Jacques Francois, Size 137 pt. Rest the baseline of the letters along the top guide line.
Build up more text frames, with letters and fonts as follows:
‘L’ in Lovato Light, Size 167 pt.
Move onto the second line, and set ‘E’ in Lovato Light, Size 162 pt.
‘N’ in Mr Darcy, Size 160 pt.
‘T’ in Naive Inline, Size 136 pt.
On the third line, set ‘I’ in Naive Inline, Size 135 pt.
‘N’ in Jacques Francois, Size 140 pt.
And finally set ‘E’ in Brixton Regular, Size 145 pt.
Once you’re happy with the position and arrangement of your letters, drag your mouse across to select all the text frames, and go to Type > Create Outlines.
This will create a vectorised version of your text, which you can scale and add stroke effects to with more ease.
Apply the Mustard swatch to the Fill and Stroke of the first letter, ‘V’.
Expand the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke), and set the Weight to 1 pt. Choose Right Slant Hash from the Type drop-down menu. This will give a bit of texture to the edge of the letter, giving it a less digital appearance.
Work your way across the letters, applying different colors from the Swatches panel to your design, as well as the same Right Slant Hash stroke settings to each.
3. How to Add Extra Details to Your Typographic Design
You can create arrows which criss-cross some of the letters on your design, creating a romantic and stylish effect.
Take the Line Tool () and, holding Shift, drag from left to right across the ‘A’ and ‘L’ letters in the top row. From the Stroke panel, set the Weight to 3 pt and adjust the Cap to a Round Cap. Choose Pink for the Stroke Color.
Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a small arrow head on the left side of the line, setting the Fill to Pink.
Create a small diagonal line using the Pen Tool or Line Tool towards the right end of the arrow.
Copy and Paste the line a few times to create a feather on the end of the arrow.
Select all the feather lines and Right-Click > Group, before copying and pasting. Right-Click on the pasted group and choose Transform > Flip Vertical.
Move into a mirrored position along the bottom edge of the arrow.
Right-Click > Group all the arrow elements together, before heading up to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Multiply.
Click on Drop Shadow in the panel’s left-hand menu. Set the Effect Color (by clicking on the colored square) to Pink, and make the shadow subtle and soft by adjusting the options in the window until you’re happy.
Click OK to exit the window.
Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste the arrow a couple of times, positioning the copies over the second and third rows of letters as shown below.
Use the Swatches panel to adjust the color of the elements that make up each arrow.
Lock the Type layer and unlock the layer above, Details.
Now you can start to add quirky details to each letter, like dots and lines, to create a circus-style effect.
Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to add polka dots to the top of serifs, as I’ve done here with the ‘V’ letter.
Switch to the Pen Tool (P) to add large lines of color to letters with thicker stems, like the ‘A’ in the top row.
Use the Line Tool () and Ellipse Tool (L) to create slim dotted lines on some of the skinnier letters, like the ‘L’…
…‘E’ and ‘T’ on the second row, and ‘I’ on the third row.
Use the Pen Tool (P) to create a compass-like shape on some of the remaining letters, as in the examples shown below.
As a final touch, we can add an overlay texture to the page, to soften the look of the typography and give the whole card a more vintage style.
Lock the Details layer and unlock the top layer, Overlay.
Use the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) to create an image frame across the whole page, extending it to just the page edge on the left-hand side.
With the image frame selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Choose Multiply from the Mode menu and pull the Opacity down to 25%.
4. How to Expand Your Card Into a Printable Design
You’ve finished the artwork for the front of your card—great job! To convert it into a printable format, we’ll now look at how to expand the design into a foldable card, with outside and interior sides.
Preserve a copy of your artwork by going to the Pages panel (Window > Pages) and dragging the Page 1 icon onto the Create New Page button at the bottom of the panel, duplicating the page.
Scroll down to Page 2 to work on the layout here.
Take the Page Tool (Shift-P) and click onto the page to select it. In the top Controls panel, type in 10 in for the Width (‘W:’), to double the width of the page.
Unlock all the layers, select all the elements sitting on the page and shift it over to sit on the right side of the page, as shown below.
Lock the Type and Details layers, and then drag your mouse over the page to select all the elements sitting on the Background and Overlay layers.
Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste, and move the copies over to the left side of the page.
Return to the Pages panel and drag the Page 2 icon down onto the Create New Page button to duplicate it.
Working on Page 3, select all the elements sitting on the Overlay, Details and Type layers, and delete them.
You can bring down the Opacity of the colored rectangle sitting on the Background layer (Object > Effects > Transparency) too, to bring through a little more of the papery texture sitting beneath.
On the right side of the page, use the Type Tool (T) to create a text frame, and type in your Valentine’s message for the inside of the card. Make sure it’s centered on the right half of the card.
Use a variety of fonts and colors for a quirky look.
You can also Copy and Paste arrows from Page 2 to embellish your message, positioning them above and below your text.
With your card expanded, you’re now ready to export your artwork ready for printing!
Head up to File > Export, and choose Adobe PDF (Print) from the Format menu. Give the file a memorable name (e.g. ‘Valentine’s Card_for Print’), and click Save.
In the window that opens, choose [Press Quality] from the Preset menu at the top. Under the Pages section, check Range, and set the page range to 2-3.
Click on Marks and Bleeds in the left-hand menu. Check All Printer’s Marks and Use Document Bleed Settings, and click Export.
Conclusion: Your Finished Valentine’s Card
Your card is finished and ready for sending off to print. Congratulations! The recipient is going to be delighted with their specially designed Valentine’s card.
As well as creating a lovely, vintage-inspired card, we’ve also picked up some valuable print design skills throughout the course of this tutorial. You now know how to create greetings card templates in InDesign, how to format typography to a high standard, and how to prepare your artwork for professional printing.