In Part 1 we looked at the fundamentals of brochure design. We considered the general design principles of Layout, fonts and headings, text and typesetting, and colour.
Now in Part 2, I want to take you on a walkthrough for creating a brochure using InDesign from scratch.
Let’s do it!
Open Up Your Document to create a brochure with InDesign
When opening InDesign, you will be greeted with this box asking which kind of document you want to create. Click “Document”.
A second box will appear – this is where you set up the document type, size and specifications. As mentioned above, it’s important that you get the size right now, for it becomes a real challenge if you change your mind later in your design – everything will be thrown out of scale and positioning. So, get this right the first time and save yourself a lot of hassle later on.
Set up your document to the required specifications – this includes intent, page size, orientation, columns, gutter and number of pages (typically for a brochure you’ll need two pages – one will be the front, the other the back).
Here we see in the above image I’ve created a brochure-style document – two equal-sized gutters for marking where the brochure will be folded, even margining all around the border, and equal column sizes.
Note that I’ve indicated which pages will form the cover, the inside cover, and the inside of the document once folded. Be careful that you get this right – the folds in brochures can lead to confusion. Indeed, it’s best that you get yourself a piece of paper, fold it into thirds and mark each third (front and back) with what content you want to go where.
This is page number two – it will form the back of the brochure. Again, I’ve indicated the layout to help me as I continue to work.
Bounding boxes are essential when creating brochures. The bounding box allows each element on the page – text blocks and images – to be moved freely and independently around the page.
To get started with bounding boxes, navigate to the Tools Panel running down the left hand side of the document.
Click the rectangle containing a cross to reveal more options for bounding boxes. You can then select either to use a rectangle, ellipse or polygon.
When inserting a bounding box, simply hold the left mouse button drag out the shape with your mouse – you can then adjust the dimensions, and drag and drop the box where you want it to go.
To add an image into the box, simply choose File > Place, select your image and it will be placed inside.
You will notice a transparent circle in the middle of your box, when clicked, the box changes to an orange colour. You can now adjust the image size to fit the box.
Bounding boxes can – and should – also be used to house text. In this instance, however, the best practice is to draw out a text box.
Navigate back to the Tools Panel and select the T symbol. Double click anywhere on the document and type out a few words. Now drag and drop the text box into the desired place on the document and continue to type – the box will expand with the amount of text.
To change the colour, font, size etc. of the text, highlight your text and navigate to the menu bar located at the top of the document.
Here you’ll find an array of text tools. Experiment a little – bearing in mind the design principles of colour harmonies and fonts we thought about at the top of this post – until you’re satisfied.
To add effects such as drop shadows, use the Selection Tool (i.e. the black arrow) to select the text box by left clicking on it. Then right click the text box – this will open a menu. Choose Effects > Drop Shadow (or whichever effect you want to add).
A further task box will then open, which will allow you to tweak the effect. If using a drop shadow, for instance, then you will be able to adjust the darkness of the shadow, its size etc. Play around until you get the effect you want, making sure you’ve ticked the Preview checkbox so you can see how the effect on your text as you tamper with it.
Gradients and Fill
The tool bar holds this option as shown above.
A gradient is a graduated blend between two or more colours, or between two tints of the same colour.
Create a bounding box where you want the gradient to be. Next, double click the gradient tool, or go to Window > colour > gradient.
With the box open, choose whether you want your gradient to be linear or radial.
To change the colour of the gradient, select the Handles and navigate to the Swatches panel on the right hand side of the document. Change each colour until happy with the result.
The Pen Tool takes much practice and patience, but, if you can master it, then you will have the ability to to draw original shape attributes.
To use the Pen Tool, navigate back to the Tools Panel and click the fountain pen symbol. Now click once on the document, and then click again in a different place – you will have created a line.
Now you can curve the line, if you like. Click once on the page and then drag the curve out. As I say, this is tricky and not something that can be learned quickly – you’ll need to practice (a lot) to get the proper hang of it.
But, whilst you’re learning, you should also experiment with changing the attributes of the Pen Tool. Use the Direct Selection Tool (i.e. the white arrow) located at the top of the Tools Panel. Hover the cursor of this tool to reveal your options.
The Pen Tool is very difficult to get to grips with, so, if you’re pressed for time creating your brochure, I’d suggest avoiding it whilst you’re still learning the InDesign ropes.
Now it’s up to you to create a brochure with InDesign. This guide provides you with all the knowledge you’ll need to start creating professional looking brochures. But, it’s just the very tip of the iceberg. Designers, like all artists, never stop learning, experimenting and creating – so, master these basics and start your own creative journey.
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