Snailmail is still alive and well. You may think in this age of social media and the internet of things, that snailmail is dead but it’s been proven to have higher conversion rates than standard email campaigns. The reason: everyone has ditched letters and postcards for emails and social media which means the space isn’t as crowded anymore. Also, having everything on screens, all the time, it’s just nice to get something physical in the mail.
If you’re new to Affinity Designer or need help with Postcard Layout, here’s a tutorial for creating your own postcard design.
PS: I’d like to apologize in advance. When I originally made this post it was full of pictures at every step but due to Squarespace’s export I ended up not having the pictures here.
If you aren’t familiar with Affinity Designer here’s a post I which addresses why I use it as my preferred software for designs.
1. Create Your Document in Affinity Designer
Open Affinity Designer and go to File > New.
Set Document Units: to Inches
Page Width: 6.25”
Page Height: 4.25”
And press “OK”
The reason we are adding an extra .25 to the edge is because this will be are bleeds. When a printer prints a document, it cannot print to the edges so we add extra space that will be cut off after printing so that the document appears to be printed to the edges.
• Next take the rectangle tool [M] and add a white rectangle to the document so the background is all white.
2. Add Guidelines
• Go to View > Guides Manager
Then click on the little paper icon near the bottom until you have four entries in each of the two boxes (horizontal guides and vertical guides).
Now click and edit the Horizontal Guide, and make the four entries: 0.125; 0.25; 4; and 4.125.
Next click and edit Vertical Guide, and make the four entries: 0.125; 0.25; 4; and 4.125.
Now the final postcard after print will be 4×6 inches but the most outward guidelines are showing where to cut the document, while the second set of inner guidelines will act as a visual margin from the edge.
3. Layout your Pictures Placeholders
Click on the Rectangle Tool again [M] and click + drag to create a box. Set the dimensions to 2.5 in x 3 in. You can do this by dragging the corner of the rectangle you just created or an easier way is to go to the bottom right “Transform” section of your screen and under width do “W:” change it to 2.5 and under “H:” change it to 3.
If you need to change the fill color so it’s more easily visible go to the top right Fill: box, click on the color to the right and choose a color. Make sure that there is no stroke (the option to the right of the fill).
Next, copy (command + C) and past (command + V). Create the box over again until its aligned to the right perfectly from the precious box. It’s a good idea to have snapping enabled which is the red magnet icon in the top. Also, what I like to do is hold (option key) while clicking and dragging the box which will duplicate it; then while still holding down the click I hold down shift which will only allow me to move the object in a straight line from its source. I line it up to the right border and release.
Repeat this process a third time so there are three boxes side by side. It’s ok that they don’t all fit within the document right now. After that using the move tool [V] hold down shift and click on the three boxes, now press copy and paste (or use the trick I just mentioned to copy them) and move them down so that the three new boxes are below the previous three.
Now lets give them some space.
Click on the first box, the top left one, and move it 30 pixels to the left, and 15 pixel up. One way that is fast than clicking on the object and using the arrows on the keyboard one by one, is that if you hold shift while clicking on an arrow it moves it 10 pixels in that direction. So hold shift and click the left arrow three times, then while still holding shift click the up arrow 1 time, let go of shift and click the top arrow 5 times.
Do the same for the top right rectangle arrow only go right (30) and up (15) instead of left and up.
Do the same for the bottom left rectangle, only go left (30) and down (15).
Do the same for the bottom right rectangle, only go right (30) and down (15).
4. Tilt the Frames
Hold down shift, and click on every rectangle you created so all six are highlighted, and let go of the click.
There should be a little arm handle stick out of the top-middle of the blue outline box around the six rectangles. It has a white filled in dot. Click and drag on that and you will rotate it. You can rotate it to taste, or if you want to be precise like mine go to the Transform box again, on the bottom left, and at the R: section type in the degrees as 12.
Adjust the group of rectangles so it looks like the example, or adjust it according to your tastes. Now at this point I dragged the left side of bottom-left rectangle to make it larger so it covered more of the page.
5. Add Pictures
I suggest you use your own pics, but if you want to just follow along I used pics from Unsplash. They’re a great resource for free photography. For this tutorial I used photos by eleni koureas ; Ella Jardim; Andie Gómez-Acebo ;chuttersnap ; Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash
After you have your layout complete it’s time to add pictures to each rectangle. Drag and drop a picture into your document. When you do, it might be stuck between layers or be too large. That’s ok for now. Look at your layers panel on the right, and grab the image layer you just created with your picture and drag that onto the rectangle you want it to be. When you drag the image over the rectangle layer you should hover over the title of the the layer rather than the thumbnail image. Before releasing the click, make sure it makes a blue horizontal line beneath the title of the rectangle layer you want to place the image. (If you hover over the thumbnail image it will make a blue horizontal line to the right of the thumbnail, making a mask which will make it do something else which we are not doing right now.)
After the image is placed within the appropriate rectangle layer it might not be in the frame or sized as you would like it. Click on the image layer in the layers panel, and you’ll see a blue highlight box around your image. (if your image is very large you might have to zoom out using [“command” + “-”].)
Resize the image by using one of the blue nodes on the sides of the image. Note: holding down “shift” while you resize toggles whether you want it to resize using the same aspect ratio or not. If you’re confused by that just try it out both using shift and not using shift. Remember [command + Z] is your friend to undo things you may have messed up on.
Repeat this step until all the rest of the rectangles are filled with the images you like.
It’s best to use images that coordinate via means like lighting, temperature and colors.
6. Add Text
Now go to the Text Tool on the right. There are two different tools nestled into this one icon. Click and hold on the icon and it will show the two options. Move your cursor over the Artistic Text Tool, represented by an “A” and select it. Click and drag anywhere in your document to make an Artistic Text Box. Now type in your text.
You can change the font by going to the top left font picker, clicking on it and choosing which one you want. Another way is to go into one of your studio panels on the right which is called Character or Crtr for short. Or press [“command” + “t”] and it will give you text options as well as many more options for styling text.
Move and adjust the text by resizing it using the nodes on the side as we have done earlier. You can also rotate the text using the arm on the top or the rotate input as discussed earlier.
Add more text: Going back to the text tool, click and hold on it again, but this time choose the Frame Text tool, represented by a T in a box.
Click and drag a box onto your document and fill it with the text you want it to say. Now text boxes work differently than Artistic Text in that you cannot resize the actual font size by using the sides, instead you have to go up to the right of the font picker box, and adjust the size of the font. But when you do resize the box it will adjust how wide your text will align, with any overflow going below the box.
It’s smart to use the Frame Text Tool for longer text such as full sentences and paragraphs. Whereas the Artistic Text is great for titles.
Adjust the text boxes, and rotate it according to how you want it laid out. If you want it on the same rotation as earlier just input the same degrees of rotation in the Transform window. (In my case 12˙)
I added two more rectangles to add a bit of a frame to the postcard. I did this by making a rectangle on the inside guides, setting the Fill to none, then making the stroke white with 1.5pt thickness. I then duplicated it, resized it to fit inside the previous rectangle, and made the thickness 1 pt.
Now we’re almost done but here is where we should get into the size of the document. Say if you wanted a copy of this to put on social media or your website, you wouldn’t want the extra bleed on the sides so what you would do is use the Move Tool [V] and click on anywhere of the black space outside of your document that doesn’t have an object overlapping with it.
This will toggle your view so that you can see “Document Setup” at the top left. Click on that and it will show you the same opening window we used to create the document.
You’ll see a grid of 9 little squares with making a square shape. Click on the center one. (This means that it will resize basing the new size from the middle of the document). Now instead of 4.25×6.25 resize it to 4×6 since that is what we want to show as the finished product. Press OK.
Go to File > Export.
You will have options for export, in this case we will choose JPEG since we are using photographs is much of our document. Adjust the quality should you want to, and press OK.
It will give you an option of where to save it and what to name it, and viola, you have your Postcard.
If you don’t need to resize it, you could just export it, or if the printer wants different dimensions for the bleed lines you can adjust it in the Document Setup as we just described.