Day 2: Go InDesign Pro in 5 Days!

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The transcript from today’s video is below:

Hi, welcome to the second instalment of Go InDesign Pro in 5 Days.

It’s Tuesday. And it’s time to open up the business card document we created in InDesign yesterday.

Let’s do it.

So in InDesign, File > Open, find the ‘Business Card’ file, and Open it.

This is our blank canvas, and today we’re going to do two small tasks to move us closer towards creating a complete business card design.

First, I want us to look at how to create and use layers in InDesign.

The Layers panel is usually docked over here somewhere on the right side of the workspace, or you can just go to Window > Layers.

Layers are really helpful for organising your artwork—you can lock them to avoid shifting things around while you’re working, and you can also make them invisible so you can focus better on one element of your design.

In the Layers panel we already have one default layer created for us – Layer 1. Let’s give this a more appropriate name.

So double-click on the layer’s name, and in the Layer Options panel rename this Background Color. OK.

Alright, let’s create two more new layers above this.

From the panel’s top-right drop-down menu choose New Layer. Name this Waves and click OK.

Repeat to create a second new layer, naming this Text.

Alright. To the left of each layer’s name you can click to lock or unlock the layer. And one square further you can click on the eye icon to turn that layer on and off.

OK. Second job for today, a little creative task.

Let’s create a funky wavy background for our business card. We’ll just create the basic shapes today and then on Thursday we’ll start experimenting with adding color to these.

Alright, so you can treat InDesign in much the way as Illustrator or other vector drawing software. It has a range of drawing tools here in the Tools panel, such as the Pencil Tool and Pen Tool, as well as shape tools to help you create vector illustrations.

Go to the Layers panel and lock the top Text layer and bottom Background Color layer. Click on the Waves layer.

Now from the Tools panel select the Pen Tool or hit P on your keyboard. We want to create a rough wave shape across the card from the top-left to bottom-right.

To create straight lines such as in the corners across the bleed line, just click once, move across and click.

To create a more fluid, curvy line switch to the Pencil Tool or hit N. Click back onto the last anchor point you created then just click and drag into an S-bend wave across the diagonal.

Don’t worry if it’s a bit messy, we’ll sort that out in a moment.

Back to the Pen Tool for the bottom-right corner, back to the Pencil Tool for the top wave, and connect the shape at the first anchor point.

Alright, so if your wave’s not looking super smooth there’s no need to worry, InDesign’s got a tool for that. The Smooth Tool is in the Pencil Tool’s expandable menu and it’s super handy, I love this tool.

Just click and drag the tool over the wavy lines to reduce the number of anchor points and smooth out the curve.


Let’s take the shape we’ve made and Edit > Copy it, and Edit > Paste, moving it slightly below and a little to the left. Right-Click > Arrange > Send to Back.

Edit > Paste again, and move over the bottom-left corner, and again Right-Click > Arrange > Send to Back.

Edit > Paste one more, bringing that up more towards the top-right of the layout.

OK, so this ain’t looking any great shakes right at this moment, but it’s going to be quickly transformed with a splash of color I promise.

For now, File > Save your work. Tomorrow we’re going to start pulling the design together with fonts and typography.

So make sure to check your inbox tomorrow, and if you need a bit of design stimulation in the meantime, why not try out some of the other free tutorials available on the InDesignSkills site? Check out the link below for more fun tutorials to keep you motivated and inspired this week!