The Ultimate Round-Up of Print Design Tutorials


Although web design is everywhere nowadays (even when we’re not at the computer it still manages to squeeze it’s way in to our everyday life), print design is still a huge part of the design industry and is everywhere we look: newspapers, posters, prints, manuals, restaurant menus, business cards – the list goes on and on. So how do you make sure that you leave a good impression on people holding your piece of art in their hands? This is where experience and advanced print design skills come into play.

Below we present 25 useful print design tutorials as well as a collection of inspirational links at the bottom of the post to improve your skills and get your imagination running wild. These tutorials make use of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, and even the experienced designers out there can give their skills a polish by taking the time to read through these tutorials to squeeze a few more tips, tricks, do’s and dont’s up their already stuffed sleeves.

Printing and Prepress Basics (Ps, Ai & Id)1

  • Learn about four-color process printing (CMYK)
  • Find out the differences between plain & rich black

Prepress Basics2

Making a Print-Ready Business Card (Ps)3

  • Set up CMYK documents in Photoshop with bleeds
  • Use textures to spice up your backgrounds
  • Create custom shapes using the Polygonal Lasso Tool

Print-Ready Business Card4

Create a Magazine Cover Design (Id)5

  • Use the Fill Frame Proportionally Tool to save time
  • Create custom shapes with the Pen Tool

Magazine Cover Design6

Design a Super Cool Retro Poster in 10 Steps (Ps)7

  • Create custom type in Illustrator
  • Use textures to add depth to your artwork

Retro Poster8

Create a Five-Color Magazine Cover using a Spot Metallic (Ps, Ai, Id & Acrobat Pro)9

  • Learn how to print spot metallic inks
  • Create custom shapes using the Shear Tool
  • Use textures to add depth to your artwork

Magazine Cover with Spot Metallic

Create a Grid Based Resume/CV Layout (Id)10

  • Use grids to create a professional page layout
  • Work with text settings to align paragraphs to grids

Grid Based Resume11

Create and Print a Business Card with UPrinting (Ai)12

  • Use templates to assist in setting up documents for print
  • Create outlines of text to prevent problems in pre-press

Envato Business Card13

Create an Impactful Magazine Headline (Id)14

  • Learn the process of designing a page layout
  • Use several tools to learn professional page layout techniques

Impactful Magazine Headline15

Designing for Print – Setting Up Crops and Bleeds (Ps, Ai & Id)16

  • Correctly set up bleed margins in Adobe CS
  • Correctly set up crops in Adobe CS

Designing for Print17

Combining Special Finishes (Ps, Ai & Id)18

  • Turn sketches into process ready vectors
  • Design complex sculpted embosses
  • Prepare artwork for foil-blocking

Combining Special Finishes19

Create an Intense Movie Poster (Ps)20

  • Use curves, color adjustments & the burn tool to manipulate photographs
  • Use brushes & the Pen Tool to create new light sources
  • Work with different blur tools to create a spooky text effect

Intense Movie Poster21

Design & Print Bold Promo Cards in 60 minutes (Ai)22

  • Set up Illustrator print documents with bleed margins
  • Learn about different kinds of blacks used in CMYK printing

Bold Promo Cards23

Design a Print-Ready Business Card Design for Designers (Ai & Ps)24

  • Set up CMYK documents in Photoshop with bleeds
  • Use Illustrator vector images in Photoshop
  • Exporting files as print-ready PDFs

Print-Ready Business Card25

Business Card Design Walkthrough (Ai)26

  • Set up CMYK documents in Illustrator with bleeds
  • Use the Gradient Mesh Tool to add depth to print products

Business Card Walkthrough27

Design a Print-Ready Beer Label (Ai)28

  • Work with Warp Tools to create realistic shapes for labels
  • Use the Threshold and Live Trace Tools to create interesting vectors

Beer Label29

PreparingMultiple Instances of a Bumper Sticker for Print (Ai)30

  • Add Crop Marks to your artwork
  • Set up a page of multiple copies of the same artwork for print

Bumper Stickers31

Designa Print-Ready Ad (Id)32

  • Learn how to correctly place images into your InDesigndocuments
  • Use the Placeholder Text Tool to fill areas with mock-text
  • Add custom CMYK swatches to InDesign

Print-Ready Advertisement33

CreateStunning Printwork using Overprinting (Ps)34

  • Experiment with unique CMYK color combinations
  • Learn how to create an overprinted composition


Howto Create a Music Magazine Cover (Id)36

  • Set up CMYK documents in InDesign with bleeds
  • Use the Rectangle Tool to make your work more interesting

Music Magazine37

Createa Grungy Poster (Ps)38

  • Work with textures to create interesting backgrounds
  • Use the Brush Tool to add depth to your artwork
  • Combine stock photos to produce the images you want

Grungy Poster39

Design an Abstract Business Card (Ps & Ai)40

  • Set up CMYK documents in Photoshop with bleeds
  • Use vector shapes from Illustrator in Photoshop
  • Use textures to increase your artworks visual interest

Design an Abstract Business Card41

Create and Print a Brochure (Ps & Id)42

  • Learn why you should export PDFs in InDesign
  • Set up CMYK documents in InDesign with bleeds
  • Work with text and character styles in InDesign

River Brochure43

Design a Ready to Print Brochure (Ps)44

  • Set up CMYK documents in Photoshop with bleeds and column guides
  • Work with images to create grungy textured backgrounds

Tutorial Brochure45

Designa Six-Panel CD Package (Ps & Ai)46

  • Use cloning, burning and dodging to manipulate photographs
  • Work with TIFF images and text in Illustrator

Six-Panel CD Package47

Gig Poster Design: The New Sex (Ps & Ai)48

  • Combine stock photos to produce the images you want
  • Use the Live Trace Tool to produce vector images
  • Produce custom patterns to add distress to your artwork

Gig Poster49

Inspiration & Further Resources

To get your imagination running wild we’ve collected a few round-up links which are all jam-packed full of stunning print work! You’ll also find a link or two for the beginners just stepping into the world of designing for print.


  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
  19. 19
  20. 20
  21. 21
  22. 22
  23. 23
  24. 24
  25. 25
  26. 26
  27. 27
  28. 28
  29. 29
  30. 30
  31. 31
  32. 32
  33. 33
  34. 34
  35. 35
  36. 36
  37. 37
  38. 38
  39. 39
  40. 40
  41. 41
  42. 42
  43. 43
  44. 44
  45. 45
  46. 46
  47. 47
  48. 48
  49. 49
  50. 50
  51. 51
  52. 52
  53. 53
  54. 54
  55. 55
  56. 56
  57. 57
  58. 58
  59. 59

↑ Back to top Tweet itShare on Facebook

Callum Chapman is a self-employed blogger and graphic/web designer. He has recently launched a blog dedicated to visual inspiration for designers, photographers and artists called The Inspiration Blog.

  1. 1

    Don’t have the time to write it down in details but I’m with Marco on this one. I always work in a RGB workflow until I’m about to send the PDF to the printer, either I convert the images when I export from InDesign (as Marco has already explained) or sometimes I back-up the RGB images and convert the images in Photoshop and re-import them to InDesign – it depends on the project.

  2. 52

    Redstage Magento

    October 5, 2009 8:30 am

    These tutorials are mind blowing. Thank you so much for them!

  3. 103

    >>CMYK = print
    >>RGB = screen

    yes, this is what we are (were) taught since the beginning and it is true that you need CMYK separations for offset print (nobody will argue this).

    I was also taught:

    photoshop = pixel / illustrator = vector / indesign = combining both

    Surely, this has been true for a long time, but does not hold up anymore. Working with vectors in photoshop is just brilliant.

    I have learned the basics the old fashioned way, and that is great. But developments of the last five to ten years have been amazing and we need to at least be informed.

    Can’t wait for Marco’s article. His writing about a very technical subject matter is very accessible and everyone in print should, at least, be aware of what he is saying about prepress issues.

  4. 154

    Burticus Maximus

    October 5, 2009 1:28 pm

    This is great! I plan to forward this post to some of the beginning designers at work. Thanks!

  5. 205

    Awesome article!!!!! i knew some of them before but this beautiful, keep rocking smashing

  6. 256

    I look forward to reading Marcos article too! If a project is for print only, I work in CMYK, but if I know there’s a chance it could be used on a screen (i.e. the internet) I design in RGB and then convert to CMYK.

    Glad you all like my first article, and sorry to all the Quark fans, I completely forgot about it… I also don’t remember ever seeing a tutorial for Quark online, but I’ll have a hunt around and maybe it could be a future article!

  7. 307

    Quicken Websites

    October 6, 2009 6:21 am

    Nice debate! A lot to learn for the beginners) Forwarded to “fresh” designers and bookmarked!

  8. 358

    this is EXACTLY what i’ve been looking all over the web for! thanks so much!

  9. 409

    It’s good to have an article about print design once in a while, to be honest I’m tired of all those articles about CSS (only god knows what the F… is that)…

  10. 460

    “Quark? I completely forgot about it”

    Ha ha! Great comment!

  11. 511

    It’s articles like this…that make me pine for a “Print” button. (hint, hint, nudge, nudge)

  12. 562

    By the way, CMYK profiles are used only for printing, you should never work in CMYK files… I repeat: NEVER!!
    You work on RGB then change to the CMYK profile for any specific output before printing, and that’s it

  13. 613

    @Marco: Lol, it’s true! I’ve used it once and thought, what the hell, why do it in Quark when InDesign is so much easier to use with other Adobe programs such as Ps & Ai? And that was the end of that! ;)

    @Alfredo: Unless of course the file is specifically for print… For example, if you were designing a magazine cover which had embossing, foil blocking and spot uv, you just wouldn’t even think about doing it in RGB – at least I wouldn’t!

  14. 664

    Well you could just use RGB. In fact I’ve written about how to do just that some time ago: A design for a large Dutch beer brand: Full color, embossed, glossy parts on top of the embossed part. The image is RGB. The embossed parts and the selective spot uv coating were set using an extra color (Pantone). They were both set to overprint. Export to a CMYK PDF and retain spotcolors. It printed just fine and I even received quite a large shipment of beer! I think I can’t place the link because it would look like I’m link-dumping…

  15. 715

    Alas, some of us can afford neither Quark nor InDesign and are left using ancient versions of once cutting edge software. Quark recently had a promotion to upgrade to the latest version, even from versions 4 and 5, with a £500 saving. But that still amounted to upwards of £300 including VAT. Yeah, I still use Quark Xpress 4! And Photoshop 6! How I’d love to update, but I can’t justify the expense.

    This is Marco’s article: digital-engineer (dot) net (oblique) archive (oblique) entry (oblique) rgb-workflow-in-real-life

    I’m sure he will be his scratching his head at my decade-behind technology. I’m tempted to do something foolish – I may go back to Serif PagePlus, which I left behind 15 years ago. Why? Because, while it is far from a professional print production package, it is far more feature-rich than Quark Xpress 4! It even supports PDF/X-1a.

    You recently had an article on Desert Island web development. Perhaps you could draw together something for print design on a budget. Does anyone use the open source Scribus? What other options are available?

    I know the lack of capital mentioned here will sound pathetic to many designers, but it is a reality for many freelancers. It is not always easy to keep pace with developments in technology, especially when UK software and hardware prices are double their US equivalents.

    A Mac Pro would be lovely, but at £2000, + TFT, plus £1500 for Adobe CS4, and you start to see why some of us opt for a Dell and feel compelled to push our ancient software just a little harder.

  16. 766

    I totally understand. I still work in CS3 and skipped CS2 as well. I have much respect for people working with the older versions. (After all it’s not like it’s very difficult to find illegal software). The honest designers and freelancers deserve our respect. I would not recommend RGB if you’re working with Xpress 4… Perhaps Corel Ventura is worth a try? A friend of mine his publisher used Ventura to create his entire “InDesign for Professionals” book.

  17. 817

    I didn’t realise Ventura still existed… but that’s still an investment of over £600. I used to be a great fan of its brother, CorelDraw, but in the battle between it at almost £400 and its worthy competitor, Inkscape, for nothing… well one of them had to give. It’s not that I refuse to pay for good software – it’s just that individuals often don’t have that kind of money readily at their disposal.

  18. 868

    I understand – only a few months ago I was using a Dell Inspiron laptop from 4 years ago, however now, after a little saving and putting away silly little amounts of money per month I eventually had enough to buy an iMac 24″ for £1200 and Adobe CS4 Student Edition – it’s a lot of money but it definitely is worth it, I couldn’t live without my Mac now! Have you thought about getting an iMac instead of a Mac Pro? You can get 20″ for under £1k now, only downside compared to the Mac Pro is you can’t change the graphics card etc.

  19. 919

    Hope the Spot Metalic Magazine cover tutorial also shows how to use the history brush to successfully undo accidentally clicking the Frying-pan-round-the-face tool in Photoshop.

  20. 970

    @Callum Chapman Photoshop is a bitmap image editing program. It always has been and always will be. It is not a “top piece of software for making creative designs for print” it is a bitmap graphics editor. If your making a textured business card then create the texture in photoshop and move that piece over to indesign to be combined with the vector pieces.

    “Besides, people design for web in Photoshop, so why can’t they design for print?” – Uhm not sure how to respond to that exactly. There isn’t any logic in that statement. Print and Web are completely different and have completely different needs.

    “It wouldn’t be practical to have a program for each different task we do!” – Actually that is exactly what exists. Indesign is for page layout, photoshop is a bitmap graphics editor, and illustrator is a vector graphics editor. They are each uniquely designed for their piece of the puzzle and for best practices in print production should be used as such.

  21. 1021

    Have you thought about getting an iMac instead of a Mac Pro?

    That wasn’t really my point; more that a Dell with a good dual-core processor, 2GB RAM, 320GB hard disk and TFT monitor came in at a third of the price of its nearest Mac equivalent at the time. I don’t actually need a Mac.

    I do, however, need a comfortable chair.

  22. 1072

    Tim @65, I’ve used Scribus a few times for non work-related projects (favours for friends and the like) and it’s great for free software. It’s not in the same league as Quark or ID but it certainly gets the job done. Used in conjunction with GIMP as an image editor and Inkscape as your vector editor you can effectively set up a free, albeit not as good, creative suite. Marco will be pleased to hear that this will also force you down an RGB/PDF workflow route, which Scribus supports very well. The only caveat I’d give is that you’ll need to read through the Scribus documentation thoroughly to make sure your output will be good enough to print, but the documentation is all freely available and they even recommend some print shops with Scribus experience on their website.

  23. 1123

    @Josh: I understand where you’re coming from – although, as most people would agree with me, making a textured business card for example, would be easier and less time-consuming producing and exporting as a PDF in Ps than it would transferring all the files over to ID – so long as the files are correctly set up, and you choose a good printers, the outcome should look identical… We all have our own way or working though, I personally just use ID when it comes to multi-page documents. :)

    @Tim: Nothing wrong with working on a Dell whatsoever, I just lost trust in them when my charger stopped working for my laptop after only 6 months and I was forced to fork out £40 for a new one…another 6 months later the connection went in the laptop so I could only use my laptop when it was plugged in, it wouldn’t actually charge! I to need a comfortable chair ;)

  24. 1174

    I am a prepress tech, and over the years I have learned a few things…

    Rule #1, never set up type in Photoshop – if you do, make it 400 dpi and always send the layered file to your printer. But if you can avoid setting type in Photoshop, do so.

    Rule #2, do your photoshop work in RGB or CMYK, whichever way you prefer, in the end it all goes through a CMYK Rip. This leads to…

    Rule #3, ALWAYS get an Epson (or other color calibrated) hard copy proof on 4C process jobs. Unless, of course, you don’t care about color.

    Rule #4, templates for trifolds, or any folding brochure are not universal. Every printer does it a little different. Sure there are standard panel sized MOST printers go by, but some printers just chop a panel short, some actually keep the full document size and adjust the fold positions. Get a template from your printer, or better yet – if you can – take a trip out there and see how they do things. It can only make you a better print designer, and save me some headaches.

  25. 1225

    @Idtell: Great little tips. I too recommend always getting a proof of your work – and I admit I do set type in Photoshop if I’m producing an advanced poster or something, although I always save the .PDF as a 600dpi document, so always comes out perfect :)

  26. 1276

    What a cool roundup ! I need to redesign business cards and I’ve got inspired by some of those tutorials. Thanks a lot. I thumbed it up.


↑ Back to top