Today, we are going to design up a simple business card in Photoshop and get it ready for print with crop marks and bleed. Normally you’d do some of this with a tool like InDesign, but it is in fact possible to get by with just our trusty old Photoshop.
Calling Card Competition
Step 1
so the very first thing we need to do is create a New Document. Depending on where you are planning on getting your cards printed, you may need different dimensions. The printer I use here in Sydney has a default card size of 90mm x 55mm.

Step 2
Once the document is created, the first thing we need to add are some guides to show us where the edges of the business card are and where the bleed starts. So first of all press Ctrl-R to switch on your rulers. Now to add the guides, you can either click on the ruler and drag guides out on to the document, or for a more precise method, go to View > New Guide and then give it a Horizontal position of 3mm. Repeat again with a Vertical position of 3mm. Then repeat twice more with Vertical / 58mm and Horizontal / 93mm.

Step 3
You should now have a blank canvas similar to the one below with four guides, each 3mm away from the edge.

Step 4
Now because I made this card for the FreelanceSwitch Card Competition I had to use an element from Arsenal’s freebie pack of vectors and textures. I chose this nice texture of concrete because it looks nice and urban! You can download the texture yourself by visiting Arsenal’s site and clicking on the Free section.

Step 5
So after pasting the texture in, I hit Ctrl-T to transform it to roughly the right size. Now while I want the texture to be dirty and grungy, right now it’s a bit TOO dirty and noisy. So first of all we’ll get rid of the two gigantic lines running along from left to right. We can do this with the Clone Stamp (S) Tool. I discussed this tool the other day in the magazine tutorial, but just to refresh, you press Alt to select the area you want to clone (in this case I just used the area directly above) and then brush the area you want to clone over.
Using a soft brush on a texture like this concrete means it’s quite hard to detect if you’re not directly looking for evidence of cloning.

Step 6
So now we have it looking still rough and urban, but not quite so rough.
At this point I decided that I wanted to darken the texture, so I added a layer above filled with the color #797c82 and set it to Multiply. However, the look was a bit strange and has a sort of bluish cast (see below) whereas I want it darker and greyer. This is to do with the color mode we’re in – CMYK. So time to talk a little bit about color modes… (at least as I understand them)
Basically CMYK are the four process colors that most printers print with. Using these four colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black/Key) you can make most other colors. You can, in fact, get special inks like Pantones as well which we’ll discuss in a future tutorial, but for most things it’s just straight CMYK.
Now on your screen, however, you use RGB which as you know stands for Red, Green, and Blue. The difference comes because on a screen you are looking at light mixing, so if you add all the colors together you get white – that’s why in RGB the color code for white is R:255, G:255, B:255 – i.e. full red, full green, full blue.
On paper, on the other hand, you are seeing the result of light interacting with an object. From my hazy recollection of high school science class when light shines on an object – say a red wall – the object in fact absorbs the light and reflects back the ones it cannot absorb, so the red wall reflects the red, but effectively eats up the rest, giving it the appearance of being red. So basically on paper it’s the *opposite* of on-screen where it’s projected light. On paper having full Cyan, full Magenta, full Yellow and full Key in fact produces black because it absorbs all the light (which is the reverse of RGB where it produces white).
Now all of that was just some useful information explaining why there are different color spaces. The key thing to note is that the range of colors you can make with CMYK is smaller than what you can make with RGB. So when you switch to CMYK, you will find that some things don’t work as well – things like Overlays, or getting super bright colors to show. Once you actually print out, often they will still look nice enough, but sometimes to do the things you may have gotten used to in Photoshop, you have to switch between color modes. Remember though that if you switch to RGB, you should switch back to CMYK before you send it off to print. To preserve the effects, we will flatten everything down at that point (you’ll see what I mean later).
Switching Color Modes
Ok, hope you’re still with me–basically what happened at this step is that I decided I needed to switch back to RGB to get the right darkening grey, and more importantly in the next step when I want to put yellow blocks overlayed, I also will need to be in RGB.
So you can do this by going to Image > Mode > RGB Color. It will ask you if you want to flatten the image–say no! You should see an immediate shift in the coloring of the darkening effect.
And, yes, I could have made this step a lot shorter and just told you to go to RGB, but it’s useful to learn about color spaces 🙂

Step 7
So here we are in RGB mode. Next we want to draw some diagonal blocks. So grab the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) and then create a new layer.
Now you want to draw the shape shown below. To do this nicely, you should hold down Shift so that it forces the angles to be multiples of 45′ and give you a nice even shape.

Step 8
Once you have the shape, fill it with Color: #c4b10f, which is an ugly yellow color, and then set the blending mode to Color Dodge. Now you should have a bright yellow that looks like the one below. Note that if you switch back to CMYK, you will see how this effect doesn’t work at all and why we had to switch to RGB earlier.
Anyhow duplicate this layer a few times until you have six yellow bars and just roughly space them out so that one is right on the left and another right on the right with the rest clumped in between (we’ll space them accurately in the next step).


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