Learn the history of Bauhaus design and follow these simple steps to make your own poster design in this iconic Modernist style.
2019 marks the centenary of the Bauhaus—the influential art school established in Germany that spawned a Modernist movement across architecture, furniture, graphic design, and typography.
In this simple InDesign tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a striking graphic poster in honor of the Bauhaus’ 100-year legacy. We’ll revisit the unmistakable style and color palette established by Bauhaus designers like Herbert Bayer and Joost Schmidt, and pick up some essential print design skills along the way.
Let’s get started!
What You’ll Need to Create Your Bauhaus Poster
As well as access to Adobe InDesign, you’ll need a couple of background images to add texture and depth to your poster layout:
Once you’ve downloaded the images you’re ready to get started on your poster design.
1. How to Set Up Your Poster Layout in InDesign
Open InDesign and go to FILE > NEW > Document.
Choose A3 for the Page Size, and a Portrait orientation. Keep the Number of Pages to 1, and deselect Facing Pages.
Set the number of Columns to 3, with a 0 in Gutter. Next, set the Margins to 0 in, and add a Bleed of 0.25 in to all edges of the page. Then click Create.
To create a grid on the page, we can drag guides down from the top ruler (View > Show Rulers) to create four rows.
Drag a first guide down to 4.13 in.
Drag a second down to twice that width, to 8.26 in, and a final guide to 12.39 in.
Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and double-click on Layer 1, renaming it Black Canvas.
Click on the Create new layer button at the bottom of the panel, and double-click to rename this second layer Background Color.
Create a third new layer, naming this Letters, and a final, fourth layer called White Canvas.
Then lock all the layers except Black Canvas, which we’ll work on first.
Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches) and choose New Color Swatch from the main menu.
Set the Type to Process and Mode to CMYK, and the levels below to C=0 M=23 Y=93 K=0. Click Add and OK.
Create two more new CMYK swatches, C=0 M=85 Y=78 K=0 and C=91 M=68 Y=0 K=0, to add a blue and red swatch to your palette.
2. How to Create a Textured Background for Your Poster
Working on the Black Canvas layer, take the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) and drag it across the whole page. File > Place, choose the black canvas background you downloaded earlier and Open it, allowing it to fill the whole frame.
Lock the Black Canvas layer and unlock the layer above, Background Color.
Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a shape across the whole page, setting the Fill Color to [Black] from the Swatches panel.
With the shape selected go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Multiply and bring the Opacity down to 90%.
Click on Gradient Feather at the bottom of the panel’s left-hand menu. Set the Type to Radial, allowing the gradient to become more opaque towards the center of the poster. Then click OK.
3. How to Create Bauhaus Lettering on Your Poster
Lock the Background Color layer and unlock the Letters layer.
Using the grid you’ve set up as a guide, switch to the Pen Tool (P) and click onto the page three times to create a tall triangle shape in the first square section at the top-left.
Give the triangle shape a yellow Fill.
Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a rough circle shape in the second square section along, setting the Fill of this to yellow as well.
Right-Click > Copy and Paste the circle, moving the copy to the right of the first, to complete the “100” word at the top of the poster.
Copy and Paste the triangle shape, adjusting the Fill to blue and positioning in the center square of the next row down.
Copy and Paste the blue triangle, moving the copy to the bottom-right of the first.
Use the Pen Tool to create a narrower triangle shape with a 90 degree corner, following the direction of the diagonal line of the lowermost blue triangle, as pictured below.
Copy and Paste this smaller triangle, then Right-Click > Transform > Flip Horizontal to create a mirrored shape, with a black “V” shape left between the two.
Copy and Paste the two small triangles together, moving the copy over to the center of the bottom row.
Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a block shape across about two thirds of the square below the yellow triangle, leaving the far right portion free.
Set the Fill of the shape to red.
Move over to the pasteboard, and use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a circle at any size, setting the Fill of it to red.
Use the Scissors Tool (C) to cut the circle in half at the two horizontal anchor points.
Selecting the top half, Right-Click > Transform > Rotate 90 Degrees CW.
For the top half, rotate this to 90 Degrees CCW.
Move both half-circles into a vertical alignment with each other and Right-Click > Group them together.
Move them over to the right of the red block, scaling them (while holding Shift) to the same height, to create a “B” letter.
To create an “H” letter, use the Rectangle Tool to create a tall shape on the left side of the central square of the third row, giving it a red Fill. Copy and Paste this, moving it over to the right side of the square.
Create the bridge of the “H” with a short, wide shape across the center.
Isolate one of the half-circles from the “B” letter, and Copy and Paste it, moving it down to the square at the bottom-right of the poster.
On the half-circle, Right-Click > Transform > Rotate…, and type in 135 degrees?before clicking OK.
Scale the shape up to fill up about half of the space available.
Copy and Paste the shape, rotating this 180 degrees, and position below, to create an “S” shape.
Use the Pen Tool to create an elongated half-circle shape in the square at the bottom-left corner of the poster. Set the Fill of this to [Paper].
Copy and Paste this shape, flipping it and aligning them to create an eye shape.
Use the Ellipse Tool to create the pupil in the center, setting the Fill to blue.
4. How to Add a Texture Overlay to Your Poster
To add a final professional touch to your poster design, you can place a texture overlay, which will add a bit more depth and give the design a vintage look.
Lock the Letters later and unlock the White Canvas layer above.
Create an image frame across the top half of the page using the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) and File > Place the white canvas background into it.
Go to Object > Effects > Transparency and set the Mode to Multiply and Opacity to 70%. Click OK.
Then Copy and Paste the image frame, moving the copy directly below, over the bottom half of the poster.
Your Poster’s Finished, Great Job!
With your poster layout finished, you can simply File > Export it to either a print-format (choose Adobe PDF [Print]) or web-ready format (select JPEG, PNG or Adobe PDF [Interactive]).
Don’t miss these articles and tutorials about Bauhaus and other vintage design styles:
- The Legendary, Influential Bauhaus Movement Turns 100
- Three Easy Vintage Text Effects to Add Retro Charm to Your Designs
- How to Make Photos Look Vintage in 10 Easy Steps
- Using the Creativity in Naive Art for Your Design Style
- Good as Gold: The Symbolism and Design Power Color Gold
Cover image via Sevenpixels.