Learn how to take an ink splash image from basic to larger-than-life in this poster style that’s fantastic for promoting club nights and other events.
If you’re a relative beginner to Adobe software, this tutorial is a great introduction to creating poster layouts for print. We’ll look at how to create this on-trend design using InDesign and Photoshop.
Ready to dive in? Awesome, let’s get started.
What You’ll Need to Create Your Poster
As well as access to Adobe InDesign and Adobe Photoshop, you’ll also need to download this ink in water image. You can easily license and download this image from within your Adobe apps using the Shutterstock Plugin. Just search for the image ID, or find your own ink image to use in the design, and download it straight from the app.
1. How to Set Up Your Poster in InDesign
Open InDesign and go to File > New > Document.
Uncheck Facing Pages and set the Width of the page to 609.6 mm and Height to 914.4 mm (equivalent to a standard sized ‘Architectural D’ poster).
Set the Top and Bottom Margins to 120 mm, and Left and Right Margins to 40 mm.
Add a Bleed of 5 mm, before clicking OK.
Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and rename Layer 1 as Background Color.
Choose New Layer from the panel’s drop-down menu (at top-right) and rename this second layer Border.
Repeat to create three more new layers in this order—Photo, Type Behind and finally Photo in Front.
Lock all layers except Background Color.
2. How to Add Color and a Border to Your Design
Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches) and choose New Color Swatch from the panel’s menu.
Name the swatch Blue and set the Color Type to Process and Mode to CMYK. Adjust the levels below to C=64 M=0 Y=13 K=0. Click Add and then OK.
Repeat to create a second CMYK swatch, naming it Pale Blue and setting the levels to C=37 M=0 Y=3 K=0.
Choose New Gradient Swatch from the Swatches panel’s menu.
Name the swatch Blue Gradient, set the Type to Radial and choose Swatches from the Stop Color menu.
Click on the left-hand stop on the Gradient Ramp at the bottom and choose Pale Blue from the list of swatches. Choose Blue for the right-hand swatch, before clicking Add and OK.
Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a shape across the whole page, extending it up to the edge of the bleed on all sides.
From the Swatches panel set the Fill to Blue Gradient.
Lock the Background Color layer and unlock the layer above, Border.
Use the Rectangle Tool (M) again to create a smaller shape that rests on the margin line.
Set the Fill to [None] and Stroke Color to [Paper].
From the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke) increase the Weight of the shape’s stroke to 40 pt.
With the border shape selected, head up to Object > Effects > Drop Shadow.
Bring the Opacity of the shadow down to around 10%, increase the Size to 14 mm, Spread to around 50% and Noise to about 10%. Then click OK.
3. How to Add a Dramatic Photo to Your Poster
Minimize your InDesign document for a moment, and open up the ink in water image in Photoshop. Alternatively, you can download the image to your canvas without ever leaving the app, using the Shutterstock Plugin.
Make a copy of the Background layer, and turn off the visibility of the original Background layer.
Go to Select > Color Range, and click once onto the grey background around the ink.
In the Color Range window that opens, adjust the Fuzziness level until you are happy with the accuracy of the selection. Then click OK.
Click on the Refine Edge button in the top Controls panel. Check the Smart Radius box, and adjust the Radius slider below. You may also want to adjust the Shift Edge slider. Then click OK.
Hit Delete on your keyboard to remove the background color from the image.
Then head up to File > Save As and save the image as a Photoshop (psd) file with the name.
Head back to your InDesign document; lock the Border layer and unlock the Photo layer.
Use the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) to create a large image frame over the whole layout. File > Place and navigate to your ink splash image.
Click Open, and allow the image to fill the frame generously, allowing some of the ink to overlap the edges of the border.
With the image frame selected, go to Object > Effects > Drop Shadow. Switch the Mode to Normal and click on the colored square next to this menu to adjust the Effect Color to Blue.
Change the Opacity to 45%, Distance to 8 mm, Size to 15 mm, Spread to around 40% and Noise to about 20%. Then click OK to apply the effect.
4. How to Format Typography on Your Poster
Lock the Photo layer and unlock the Type Behind layer.
Use the Type Tool (T) to create a text frame towards the top corner of the bordered area. Type in the first letter, here ‘E’, and, from either the top Controls panel or the Character panel (Window > Type & Tables > Character), set the Font to Avenir Black, Size 450 pt.
From the Swatches panel set the Font Color to [Paper].
Add a slight drop shadow to the letter by going to Object > Effects > Drop Shadow.
Select the text frame and Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste repeatedly, building up a sequence of letters across the bordered area of the page.
A sequence of nine letters in three rows looks particularly striking.
You can add a subtitle inside the border, e.g. ‘CLUB NIGHT’, set in Avenir Black. Increase the Tracking (letter-spacing) to space out the text. Add extra details above and below the border set in Clear Sans.
5. How to Create a 3D Effect on Your Poster
Head over to the Layers panel and click on the small arrow to the left of ‘Photo’ to expand this layer. Unlock both this layer and the top Photo in Front layer.
Select the psd image element in the Photo layer and drag it down onto the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the panel, to duplicate it. Then take the duplicate and drop it into the Photo in Front layer.
Take a look at your poster layout. Can you spot any parts of the ink image which you could separate and bring forward to overlay parts of the main text title?
When you have a few areas in mind, minimize your InDesign document, and return to your Photoshop document for a minute.
Use the Lasso Tool (L) to loop off one small area of your ink image, which you’ve identified as being able to be brought forward over some of the text on your design.
Click on the Refine Edge button and adjust the options to make the selection more accurate.
When you’re happy with the selection, Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V to copy it onto a new layer.
Repeat the process, looping off another section of the image…
…and copying it onto a new layer.
When you’re happy with your work, switch off the visibility of the Background layers and go to File > Save As.
Save the image as a psd image with the name ‘Ink_Elements in Front.psd’.
Back in your InDesign document, lock the Photo layer and work on the Photo in Front layer.
Select the image frame on this layer and go to File > Place.
Navigate to your ‘Ink_Elements in Front.psd’ image and Open.
The image will drop in at the correct size, to match the larger ink image below.
And there we have it! Your poster is finished, and it’s looking fantastic. Awesome work!
Looking for more print design tips? Check out these tips and tutorials.