Best program to design a business card/letterhead in?

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by orangeillini14, Feb 4, 2009.

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  1. macrumors regular

    Jul 1, 2008
    I feel stupid for asking this question, but need to know the answer to it. :p

    My cousin asked me to design some stuff for his new company and I was wondering what program I should design them in? Should I use InDesign or just Photoshop (or Illustrator?...)

    The main reason I'm asking this is because I don't know how he is going to get them printed. How do printing companies go about doing that? If in Photoshop, what resolution should I use?

    Sorry for being a rookie, haha. :p
  2. macrumors 65816


    Aug 16, 2004
    Typically we use Adobe Illustrator. Most print places will take your AI files or High Resolution PDF's. If you're going to use Photoshop, I would suggest setting up your document using 300dpi CMYK. Photoshop isn't the ideal for for Print but it will work.
  3. macrumors 65816


    Oct 24, 2003
    Tucson AZ
    Use 300ppi CMYK in Photoshop, for photos and other continuous tone artwork.
    Include bleeds in your PSD; .125" on each side is more than adequate.
    So for example, 3.5" x 2" business card with .125" full bleed, would be set up in Photoshop as 3.75" x 2.25" document.

    The PSD would then be placed into an InDesign layout; 3.5" x 2" with .125" bleeds.
    Compose the text within InDesign.
    Be sure that text elements and placed EPS files are on a layer ABOVE any placed PSD files.

    You can either "package" the InDesign file, or export the document to PDF, depending on the requirements for your printing service.
    I virtually always use PDF.
  4. macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    If you don't know, unfortunately your designs are probably not fit for a company.

    It's like asking, I am commissioned to do a painting, what paint brushes I should buy...

    Can you live with your cousin not be happy with your work?
  5. macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2008
    Wow, that was kind of harsh. Maybe this is just a hobbyist asking a basic question to help out a family member. I mean if you don't have anything to add why get on here just to say someone isn't 'fit' to design for a company?
  6. macrumors regular


    Dec 14, 2007
    My immediate jump was to Illustrator. If you are starting from the ground up designing a corporate identity I would defiantly start in illustrator. Build your logo in Illustrator. Then you could go to either InDesign or Illustrator. But keep in mind that by staying in Illustrator you have less of a chance of you cousin screw something up.

    Let me explain what I mean. If you hand your cousin a single illustrator file for each design, he will be able to give the printer a native file and not have to worry about anything. Now with InDesign you will need package up the file to include all linked files and fonts. This will give you cousin a folder full of files to deal with. It is my personal experience that if I am not handling the printing, it should be a simple as possible for the other person to handle. And to me there is nothing simpler than a single native file.

    Agree or disagree, just my thoughts. Hope it helps.
  7. macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Because countless people like these are always dragging down the fees for the creative industry.

    They do not consider the cost of doing business. Here is one for photography.
  8. macrumors 65816


    Dec 7, 2001
    Charleston, SC
    Allow mw to play Devil's Advocate for a moment...

    This is how some smart and talented people get into the industry and end up becoming successful because of and in spite of their lack of experience. Designwise, these people have the potential of bringing a new perspective into the field.

    Also, the more talented you are, the more you can charge.

    Ignoring the current economy for a moment... From a buyer's perspective, the more money a person in need of design work has, the more he can afford. How is it different than a consumer choosing to shop at Wal-Mart vs. Saks Fifth Avenue? Is Wal-Mart bringing down the entire fashion industry because they charge $2.88 for a pair of pants? Obviously Wal-Mart is cheaper, but the quality is far inferior. Same with design.
  9. macrumors 68040


    Apr 11, 2003
  10. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2003
    Between a rock and a midget

    I usually use InDesign or a combination of Illustrator and InDesign

  11. macrumors 604


    Dec 12, 2007
    off world.
    I don't do much print work anymore, but when I do I always go with this ^^. It's worked okay in my limited use for a several years. Most printing places will accept PSD format anyway since it's so common.
  12. macrumors G3


    Jun 3, 2006
    One Nation Under Gordon
    Not particularly harsh for, oh, e.g. a normally pompous type who likely doesn't have that much practical experience of all the stuff he goes on about. But anyhoo, in this case we are probably talking about 'a favour for a relative whose company probably is no more than a mom & pop outfit' level. Or was that kind of harsh? :p

    Back to the point at hand, you could try

    teh video tutorials:

    $70. Not bad.

    Typically, if you don't want to spend a lot but get good quality printing for office stationery, then you'd choose e.g. 2-colour printing. And in such cases, a vector-based package such as Illustrator and this one may give you better output / control over your drawing and especially typefaces. In this case you'd have to design everything using two colours. Full-colour printing is of course possible, but not only is this more expensive in many cases, generally speaking the more inexperienced you are, the more likely it is that the ability to deliver your design in full colour will result in a design disaster. You may be the exception, but I wouldn't count on it. If you're working in full / more than a limited number of colours then Photoshop may well be the better option - and I can't really think of any cheaper alternatives that I could recommend to do print work on. I'm not sure if Pixelmator is up to the task: Never really got heavily into it.

    Generally speaking the best business card / stationery designs are simple, and use two - or even one - colour printing. Trying too hard to be fancy detracts from the purpose of the card/letterhead. Some inspiration

    A print shop should should be able to accept the PDF or EPS file that Vectordesigner can output. Go to a local printing shop with the first result you're fully happy with, profess ignorance of the subject and if they aren't (insert expletive here) they should be able to help you out.
  13. thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 1, 2008
    For the record... I already have PS, Illustrator, and InDesign... and I'm not exactly a rookie at designing, I've just never worked with a company to create their identity. I didn't want to make something in one format and then find out that they couldn't get it printed.

    Sorry for causing such a hassle for some of you... :confused:
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Apr 29, 2004
    London, UK
    With illustrator you will still need to provide the fonts - unless you turn them all to outlines.

    Edit: If it is a mainly type based design, I would use InDesign. It has better control over type, and a built in preflight to tell you if your document is ready for print - it will point out any problems with colours and images.
  15. macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    Sorry that is capitalism for you. If a smaller group of people can do something with less overhead and thus charge less then they should. So what if it puts the bigger players out of business? Tough luck.

    Or are you advocating price fixing as a solution?
  16. macrumors 65816


    Oct 17, 2007
    London / U.K.
    My general practice is to produce the card artwork in Illustrator and then place in InDesign to export a print ready PDF. All printers will take a properly prepared (CMYK and/or PMS, crops, bleed, correct size) PDF file.
  17. macrumors regular


    Dec 14, 2007
    Yes this is very true, I did forget to mention to convert all type to outline.

    But also on a side note, if the logo as anything beside straight typography, doing it in illustrator will have another benefit. If the client comes up to you later and say we want to create a banner or some other large print, it is no worries. Having a vector logo is a wonderful thing.
  18. macrumors 68040


    Apr 11, 2003
    Doing the logo in Illustrator has nothing to do with whether or not you do the card(s) in Illustrator. You just place them in Quark or Indesign anyway. That's what those programs are for, like Illustrator is for logos, etc.
  19. macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2003
    Start with the logo first in Illustrator. Remember that logos are used really small (biz cards) and really big (posters/signs) and also may need to be printed in just black and white. When you have an approved logo, build the business cards/letterhead in inDesign.

    As far as the "hassle", there are people out there that have no business designing anything. Do they take money out of my pocket? No. The clients they attract would never pay the costs for my services. If they actually do, they tend to nickel and dime me to the point where I resign the account.

    I looked at your deviant account and you have talent. Which pretty much makes the hassle a moot point.
  20. macrumors regular

    Feb 11, 2008
    I can't believe it took that long for that post.

    Using Illustrator for the logo is fine, but once the logo is done, put it into InDesign. The notion of using Photoshop and the thought of people saying they use Illustrator is putting me in tears.
  21. macrumors regular

    Dec 17, 2008
    I would install Bootcamp on your PC, and then use PAINT.

    The paint in Vista received a overhaul and is up to par if not better then photoshop.

    Just look at the new paint review
  22. macrumors G3


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    I don't know if that is sarcasm but you have got to be freaking kidding me.

    As countless others have said, Illustrator, Photoshop or Indesign.
  23. macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2006
    If you have to ask how, then you have no business doing it!

    Oh well, the world is full of cheap and crappy logos that reside on the sides of pickup trucks that promote hauling rubbish or mowing lawns. Your logo might as well join them even though it cheapens the profession.

    Be sure to post what you wind up doing so that I can have a laugh or eat my words.

    Seriously though... do you have ANY clue to the process that goes into designed a good logo? Do you even care?


    Sigh... let me see if I can bring some reality to what it takes to do a GOOD logo mark.

    1. Start by finding out what the use of the logo is going to be. Print? Web? Silkscreening? Billboards? 4 color? One color? Vector or bitmap? Etc...

    2. Begin research. Find out everything there is to know about the business. Brainstorm concepts and ideas... but don't design anything other than to get an idea out of your head so that you can let it go. Take your research and begin to brainstorm keywords, metaphors, positive/negatives. Create a matrix and start to refine the words. Brainstorm images to find relationships. What are the key element of the business? Should the design be abstract or representational? Research type. Is the client willing to pay for a typeface? Custom typeface? Etc....

    3. Once you have a distilled a couple dozen of ideas based on research, get out your pencil or pen and start sketching thumbnails. Initially you might want to use newsprint or cheap tracing paper because you need to do a couple hundred (minimum) thumbnails for EACH idea or concept. Make the thumbs big enough to see detail but not so large that they take too much time. You'll want to work fairly fast so that you don't intellectualize it too much. You should be able to knock out one thumbnail every minute or less. Once you get those hundreds of thumbnails done, go through them and pick a couple dozen to work on refinement. Get out better paper and start over by refining the concept. Do a couple hundred of those. This is when you start tying in the relationships of the graphic elements. Figure ground relationships? Isomorphic correspondence? Continuation? Proximity? Simplify, simplify, simplify....

    Do a hundred or so of those until you feel you're getting a concept/direction you like. Get critiques from others. What does the client think? Is there a design direction that's working? Why? Why not?

    Next, choose 3 of the strongest concepts and do revisions. Refine, refine, refine and simplify. How many should you do? Keep doing them until it works. If it's not working... then you skipped a step, so you need to go back. Make BIG changes in your edits or you'll find yourself spinning your wheels. Pretty soon, all of your revisions will look the same if you don't keep it fresh.

    Now, take your "final" choices and render them out on marker paper. You should be using black ink only with clean lines! Do them around 3 or 4 inches so that you can see them from a distance of 5 feet. Take those to your client and have them choose the concept they like the most. GET FEEDBACK!

    Do one more round of refinements based on the feedback you got. But don't let the feedback change your direction too much!! Your job is to add the feedback that makes sense and doesn't change the design. Remember, you went through the process... not your client.

    4. Now it's time for Illustrator! Scan your "final" sketches and trace them in Illustrator. Plan to spend a lot of time cleaning up the edges and tweaking alignment. Test your mark by printing it 1 inch and also at 6+ inches. How well does it hold up? Does it need further refinements? Does it stand out well as a black on white logo? Is there trapped white space? Is there a positive association? Is there detail that gets lost or has no meaning? Etc....

    5. Start working on a color palette. Get out your research and come up with a scheme. Or is there already one in use? Decide one a single color, 2 colors and a 4 color palette. Use Pantone and 4/C to create your palette to insure printing consistency. Go into illustrator and apply the colors to the logo. How well does it hold up?

    6. Print out the logos on nice laser or quality inkjet. Does the colors shift from the Pantone swatches you chose? If so, you need to run some calibration checks and do it again. Perhaps you can print a swatch guide and "cheat" the color so that the colors print close to what you see in the swatch guide?

    7. Once you print the "final" logos, mount them on nice black museum matte (not foam core) and take them to your client for final approval and selection. At this point, you should be close to finished so don't let the client take you back into doing more revisions unless they have paid for extra rounds of design. You should be able to apply any client tweaks without spending a lot of time if you did your job correctly.

    Of course, this only applies to the logo part of the process. If you are doing other collateral such as a complete identity system, you'll have to show how the mark fits into the whole concept. But if it's just the logo, then go back into your illustrator files and setup the correct Pantones, clean up your files and then save a version for each color. Simple one color, black, 2 color and 4/C if required. Save them as EPS and deliver electronically, CD, or memory stick that works on Mac and PC.

    Better yet, instead of going through all of this... hire a PROFESSIONAL who knows what they are doing. :rolleyes:
  24. macrumors 65816


    Nov 30, 2003
  25. macrumors 604


    Dec 12, 2007
    off world.
    Overkill. I don't that really answers the question posted by the OP though..
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