Can You Design a Billboard in InDesign?

Can You Design a Billboard in InDesign?

Designing a billboard isn’t as easy as it might sound on the surface. Not only do you need to know the right scale at which to make it but you also have to have a program that can handle designing one. With Adobe’s InDesign being the leading design software on the market, you’ve got to wonder, can you use it to design a billboard?

InDesign can be used to design a billboard, however, it will have to be scaled correctly to avoid becoming blurry when scaled to the massive size of a billboard. There are programs that will let you preview your design on a Billboard as well.

If you’re thinking about designing a billboard in InDesign, then look no further. In our guide below we will discuss what all you can use InDesign to create as well as how you can scale your image for a billboard within the program. We’ll even provide you with a list of other software and services you can use if you want to take your billboard designing skills to the next level. 

What Can You Design in InDesign?

Before we dive into how to scale your billboard in InDesign, let’s first review what all InDesign is capable of designing. 

Some of the most common pieces designed in InDesign include: 

  • Brochures and flyers 
  • Newspapers
  • Postcards 
  • Stickers 
  • Comics
  • Magazines 
  • Letterhead 

You’ll notice that all of these designs are small in scale. So how exactly do you take a software that creates small scale designs and turn it into a billboard?

What Size Should You Make a Billboard in InDesign

Getting the right size can be one of the hardest parts of designing a billboard in InDesign. While we would need to know the specific specs you are using to give you a real step-by-step guide, we’ve put together a brief overview of what that process is like. 

Below are the fundamental steps in figuring out the dimensions you should use in InDesign to create a scalable billboard: 

  • Contact or find a billboard printing company: You’ll first need to pick which business you’ll want to print your billboard. Depending on the company, they may use a different scale for translating your smaller design into a larger image. 
  • Find out what scale the printer uses: You can either ask them or you can look on their website. However, they should be able to tell you what scale they print at. For example, many companies use the scale ½” = 1’. 
  • Calculate how long each side must be in InDesign: Using the scale you will now need to calculate how long each side should be in InDesign to match up with the specs provided by the billboard company. These calculations can be tricky and are best learned by watching someone else to them for their billboard first. 
  • Account for bleed: Accounting for bleed will ensure that your full image gets displayed where it is meant to. You can find what bleed to account for on the spec sheet from your billboard company. 

Once you’ve completed your calculations, you will be able to create a document in InDesign with the specs that you need. Once you are done you can send it off to the billboard company and they should be able to scale it up for a full billboard. 

What Program Should I Design a Billboard In 

While you certainly can use InDesign to create a billboard, it’s not necessarily the first option most designers would go with. So, that leaves the question, what other programs are there that are good for billboard design? 

The following programs are great options if you’re looking to design a convincing billboard: 

  • Placeit: Placeit is an excellent resource for all of your design needs. You can literally design everything from simple logos to discord themes and album covers. While they aren’t a one stop shop for billboard design, they do allow you to create billboard mockups from pre-made templates that you can hand off to the billboard company. If you want the process made easy, this is definitely the way to go. 
  • Adobe Illustrator: If you’re going to use an Adobe product to design a billboard it’s better that you go with Illustrator. That’s because Illustrator is a vector based program. Practically meaning it doesn’t end up looking all pixelated when it’s blown up to a large scale like a billboard. In fact, you could use Illustrator in conjunction with InDesign.
  • Vectr: Like Adobe Illustrator, Vectr is another vector based program great for creating large designs. Unlike Illustrator however, it is free. You can’t beat that. 

There are loads of options when it comes to designing billboards. Don’t forget, you don’t just have to choose one. You can always use multiple in conjunction with one another. 

So Really, Can You Design a Billboard in InDesign?

At the end of the day, you can, in fact, use InDesign to create a billboard. Just keep in mind that you will have to do some pretty critical calculations to make sure that you are designing it to scale. 

Overall, it might just be better to go with a vector program like Adobe Illustrator instead, as it is more geared towards creating large, clear images. You can also use services like Placeit to create mockups and really see how your project is going.