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How to: Design, create and share a party invitation or business flyer

Ipad creative page layout

Pages is probably one of the most underrated iPad apps. It's much more than a Word compatible word processor, Pages is almost a fully featured desktop publishing app. I have access to some of the best page layout and design tools available on OS X, but I wanted to see how practical an iOS page layout workflow could be.

With that in mind, I decided to design, create and share a party invitation using Adobe Ideas and Apple's Pages.

Step 1 - Sketch out ideas

Pencil sketch

Every good page layout starts with a pencil sketch. You'll no doubt already have your favourite sketching app in mind, I decided to use Adobe Ideas, as I find it provides a fluid sketching experience. You can see the results of my brainstorming above, nothing too detailed, just a rough layout.

Step 2 - Gather resources

As you can't add new fonts to the iPad, by resources, I actually mean photos and illustrations. I quickly found a large photo of a bright red stage curtain on the web and I looked on my friends Flickr account for a pleasing group shot of all the family. The curtain photo was good to use as it was, but the family photo needed a little lightening in Luminance.

Step 3 - Create the page design

Background image

This is where the fun really begins. The first thing I had to do was get the red curtain to cover the entire page. The easiest way to do this is via the Document Setup page under the Tools menu (top right). Document Setup is primarily for setting the headers, footers and margins of the document, but media, tables, charts and shapes can all be added here too. The next trick with the Document Setup page is to add your sketch as a transparent layer. You do this by adding your sketch in much the same way as the background imager. The key is to make your sketch semitransparent. Do this by tapping on the sketch image then tapping on the paint brush icon. Tap Style, then tap Style Options, then Effects and set the transparency to about 30%. Now you can use your sketch as a reference as you place your text, photos and boxes in the usual manner within the main page layout view.

The real key to making your design come alive is to experiment with some of the gorgeous fonts that Apple have supplied with iOS and to get creative with transparency. If you look at my final design you'll see I've use Hoefler Text with a slight drop shadow and Bodoni Ornaments. I've used a couple of boxes with varying levels of transparency to give the design a little depth and to darken the background so that the white text stands out nicely. As you build your design you'll no doubt need to keep a close eye on how the layers are stacked in the Arrange menu. It's all too easy to assume that you've deleted an element when in actual fact it's simply under a photo or a box.

I cannot express enough how important it is to experiment with the options that Pages offer. By tastefully combining boxes, shadows and images, all with varying transparency levels, pleasing designs can be quickly created.

Step 4 - Share

By far the easiest way to share your invitation with your friends is to email them a PDF from the main document selection screen. Just tap the Edit button on the top right, tap on the preview of your invitation than tap the Share button on the top left.

Another, more traditional option, is to email the PDF to yourself and then print off the invites on your own printer or at your local print shop. The PDF files that Pages creates are of a high quality. They don't have bleed or printers crop marks and they are in the RGB not CMYK colour space, but most printers will be able to print from your PDF without much trouble.

Final thoughts

The whole process, from sketching out the idea in Abode Ideas to sending the PDF file to the printer took a little over 2 hours. Not bad for a device that so many claimed would be for content consumption only.

Why not have a go yourself? Do you have a summer garden party planned, or perhaps a family get together? With the iPad and couple of cheap apps you have all the tools you needs to create a professional looking invitation or business flyer. 

App Store Links: Pages, Adobe Ideas and Luminance

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