PART 1: Preparing your calendar with IllustratorAs first part of this tutorial we are going to create all dates and numbers in Illustrator. That’s why it could be very long and tedious writing small numbers and you can easily make mistakes.
A great solution for that is using a script that makes the job for you. It could be worthy to spend a few lines about the use of scripts.
A script is a series of commands that tells Illustrator to perform one or more tasks in an automatic way. Although creating a script is not easy, and you need to have some coding knowledge, using ready scripts is quite easy because you just have the script installed, select the object and run the script you need.
Scripts present the advantage of saving time in repetitive operation, increasing you efficiency and accuracy.
We will see how to install a script which creates our dates for the calendar in the steps below. In the mean time we have to start with creating the document in the right size and with suitable options.
Step 1Create a new document going to to File > New. The following window will open.
We want to create our calendar vertically so the height size will be higher than width size. I usually create business card sized 85 x 55 mm with 3 mm of bleed for each side. Please consider that size may vary depending on your printer.
Also remember to fill in your printer requirements for bleeds and safe area. Set the document color mode to CMYK with a resolution of 300 dpi.
Step 2After setting up the document, place in some guides to visualize the safe area, an area where you can be reasonably sure that the contents won’t be cut off.
To make the guidelines appear drag them out from the rulers. I usually draw a safe area setting a 5 mm of edges all around the artwork.
Looking at the image below you can have a clear idea of the area that you can consider as “safe” for your contents.
Step 3We have to run now the Kelso Script. Download the script and save it in your script folder under presets in the Illustrator main folder.
To run the script go to File > Scripts >calendar_v5d1
The suggested script, in my humble opinion, is really valuable. It allows to formats the text with tab stops, date box grid, and art placeholders. Beyond this specific use that we are going to see this script can help you to create many other calendar sizes.
You can choose from the available languages and size, choosing which months insert, if show the year and some other styling options.
For our tutorialI’ll use a Mini 12-up size. We want to start from January and not to visualize the year because I prefer styling it apart.
You now have your small calendar as shown below.
Name the layer as Calendar.
Step 4You can now choose the font that you want.
How to choose the right font for a so small calendar? When you look for the right font here you have to consider the huge amount of dates you are going to write and how small they are. The smaller they are more difficult will be reading them. You have to choose a plain character with a good and well balanced space between letters, rows and columns. Avoid the use of lines between dates. The more the lines, the worse the readability.
In our case I’ve chosenan Advent font in Bold3 style to make it evident.
Step 5You can also change the color. I’ve taken as reference the InstantShift logo that is a mix of reddish maroon and yellow. The maroon correspond to an RGB color 100 0 0.
Step 6We want now to add the year indication making it more interesting with a gradient.
Start with writing 2011 year with Advent Bold3 font.
Select the Rotate Tool and apply a rotation of 90°.
Duplicate the year, align them vertically and locate the two elements one on the top the other on the bottom left angles as shown below.
Set the bottom 2011 with the same reddish maroon as the months and dates. Color the other with the logo yellow RGB 250 150 0.
Here below what you get.
Step 7We want now create a line of “2011” which describe a gradient of colors which starts with our maroon and arrives to the yellow. In order to do that, we can use the Blend tool. Depending on the options set, the Blend tool will create a number of instances, between the two objects, applying a gamma of color between those of the two elements.
Go to Object > Blend > Blend Options
Set the Blend as Specified Steps and choose 7 as number of steps. Click Ok.
Go again to Object > Blend > Make
As said, Illustrator creates a serie of 7 instances colored from maroon to yellow.
PART 2: Mounting the calendar in PhotoshopTo make your calendar promotional it needs to add your logo, eventually your product image and contact information. Using photos in a twelve month calendar so small is not easy so I suggest deserving the visual, eventually, to just one side.
In our tutorial we are not going to use visual but just the Instantshift logo. To make both sides attractive we can make use of a texture, playing a little by blending the logo and using different opacity to better merge the levels.
Pay attention when you add textures to the calendar side!You must bear in mind that your aim is maintaining the calendar readability!
Step 8Create a new document in Photoshop.
Again here we have to consider adding the bleed. As we already have set in Illustrator we’re going to use a value of 3mm. By the way, Photoshop doesn’t have an automatic option which sets the bleed. So when creating the new document, instead of making it 85mm high and 55mm width we are making it 85mm + 3mm bleed on the left + 3mm bleed on the right = 91mm and, similarly, 55+3+3 = 61mm.
Set the resolution of the document to 300 pixel/inch, this because we are preparing a document for printing so we have to ensure high quality. We also should set the color mode to CMYK but, at the moment, I prefer to maintain the color as RGB to keep available some filter and options. We will turn the color mode later before preparing the Pdf ending file.
Step 9Fill in the background color with a pale red and name this level as bleed.
Step 10Create a new layer and fill it in with white.
Click on Selection Tool and select all the artwork.
Step 11Click with the right button of the mouse (or Command + Click in Mac systems) and select Transform selection. Go then to the option bar, set the unit as millimeters and change the width value to 55 and height value to 85mm.
Snap the guides to the edges dragging them from the rulers. If your rulers are not visible, press Ctrl + R (CMD + R for Mac)
Step 12Duplicate this layer and leave the new layer over that. Repeat the step 11 by changing size.Consider 10mm less for each value (5 mm for each side), so 75 x 45 mm. This is your safe area.
To make it evident apply a green border form the layer options and fill the rectangle in with a light green color.
Step 13Now that we have set up the document we’re ready to work on the background.
I’ve chosen a paper grunge texture with a pleasant grain. The color matches perfect with the Instantshift logo ones. This is an important thing. When you are looking for nice texture to making more creative your works you always have clear in your mind the whole project so that all single elements can be harmonized working well together.
Open the texture and place it in the document. Click CTRL + T to transform the texture and resize it to fit inside the artwork.
Move the texture level under that one which shows the safe area so that you are always aware of the space that you can cover with contents.
Step 14Let’s start now populating the card space with our calendar.
Open the calendar Illustrator file going to File > Place
I suggest proceeding as said by using Place instead of simply dragging and dropping the file inside. Placing a file is better because Photoshop includes the content as Smart Object. This means that you will be able to apply filters and options to the layer. This is not allowed if you drag the filein.
This is how it looks when placed. Click Return to complete the placing, remembering to stay within the safe area.
Step 15Open the Layer Style of the calendar layer and set the Outer Glow option as shown below.
This will apply a slight glow to dates and month which contrasts with the rich texture and allows a better readability.
Step 16Now personalize the card by positioning the logo. Drag and drop the Instantshift (or yours) logo inside the artwork. Otherwise, as already seen with the calendar, go to File > Place to place it as a smart object.
Step 17Turn the logo layer blending mode as Luminosity and decrease the fill down to 20%. The logo is now on the back as a watermark.
Step 18Go to the texture layer and decrease the fill percentage down to 80%. This will make the texture lighter than before increasing the calendar readability.
Step 19We have now to create the front side of our business card size calendar.
The front can be considered as the “advertising” side. For example this is the side where we can give more importance to the logo.
Have you reminded yourself saving the file? If not (bad thing to do!ALWAYS saving during the job. What about if a blackout occurs?) then save now naming it Business Calendar BACK.
Save again naming the file Business Calendar FRONT.
Rasterize the calendar layer so that you are now able to delete all dates and months just leaving the 2011 line.
To delete the dates just use the Rectangular Selection tool, select and delete.
Step 20We can still use the 2011 line as a decoration to populate our front side of the card. Simply duplicate the layer to fulfill the safe area, align all the layers and distribute them equally. Once more time, bear in mind to maintain all elements inside the safe area!
Step 21Import the logo again and center the layer to the artwork vertically and horizontally.
Step 22We want our logo to pop out from the crowd to gain more importance and become the prime element of the side. To do that we can add a glow all around.
Apply to the logo layer an Outer Glow style going to the Layer Style options and setting the values as shown below.
This is what you get.
Step 23It needs now to prepare both files, Business Calendar BACK and Business Calendar Front, ready to print, so we need now to use Illustrator again.
In Photoshop go to File >Save asand save both files as TIFF format.
Open up the file calendar.ai previously created in Illustrator and hide the calendar layer. Open the document setup (File > Document Setup) and increase the number of artworks to 2.
Import the two TIFF files and place them in the artworks. Take care of correctly centering them.
Go to File > Export to save your file as a print ready file. Select the Press Quality Pdf option and add Crops and Registration Marks by ticking the appropriate check boxes.
Your Pdf file is ready to print and you have completed the job.