In this session, we were joined by Gareth David, a content creator, creative consultant, and brand specialist who was here to tell us all about putting together a smashing social media carousel in InDesign. If you've ever struggled to manoeuvre through InDesign or simply want to up your Instagram game, then this session is for you!

Introduction to Carousels

Carousels are like digital leaflets. Back in 2015, Instagram introduced this feature that allowed users to post up to 10 single posts or 10 frames, which can be presented seamlessly. It allows you to present information in a more dynamic way. For example, education stories, how-to’s, recipes, galleries, and portfolios.

Understand Dimensions

Instagram has three main canvas sizes to work with. You can work with the square, portrait or landscape. There's no right or wrong way to this but Gareth personally uses the portrait because it gives him a bit more space to work.

InDesign is the best program for laying out your content because unlike all the other apps, it was created specifically for desktop publishing. It comes with powerful tools and programs to make designing easy.

Using InDesign is easy to duplicate and edit. It also helps in creating templates that result in a faster workflow. It is also quick in exporting files and documents, hence saving time. InDesign is all about layout and it's heavily focused on publishing communication in a variety of ways.

Digital Publication

Traditionally, InDesign was used for print media books, magazines, stationery, and publishing content, but it can be used for digital purposes with all of its functionality, interactivity and hyperlinks. See a couple of examples below of the usage of InDesign in a digital publication.

Pro tip: You can jump between preview mode and design mode.

Understand Compositing

InDesign is a compositing program. Photoshop and illustrator are where you create photos, make edits and composite your texts and then bring them all into InDesign. InDesign is where you manage everything and bring it together.

Set the Canvas

Get a project folder and put all the assets together. Collect all the images that will be used during the project, to have a streamlined workflow.

Create a new document and suitable dimensions as per your requirements. For this particular session, Gareth chose a portrait of 1080 x 1350 pixels.

Add Pages

In the pages panel, select the master page. Draw a frame to fill the canvas guides. Click on the menu and allow document pages to shuffle. Create a canvas size of 10 by pressing right-click and duplicate. Drag the page next to the master page and so on for more pages.

Organize the Layers 

Rename the current layer as base images. Create a new layer and rename it to type. When you put an image on Instagram, it shows up as a square. So always design a carousel within the square design. Add the header and footer apart from the focused square that shows up on Instagram’s feed.

Draw a square on the canvas by holding shift. Then add the guides. Draw another box on the top and bottom and color them black.

Lock these layers together. 

Add Content

Click on the pages panel and make sure all the pages are selected. Click on the layer and hit margins and columns. Set the top and bottom to 80 pixels. Use the same consistency for every page.

Go to your project folder and find your copy. Add the predefined copy. Add a logo at the top left corner. Set the copy at 55 points and change the typeface.

Add color from the assets folder. Drop the red color from a color picker onto the logo on the top.

Add another copy on the lower side of the center and change the typeface. Write the two words ‘Human’ and ‘Biology’ using different typefaces.

Add a footer by clicking on the bottom line in the control panel. Change the typeface to Montreux. Size it to 55 points and color it blue.

Add Images

Go to the project folder and add images. Size them accordingly and add them to the base image layer.

Edit it with Photoshop and change the color of the image to blue.

Select the top and bottom layer, increase transparency and click multiply to add an effect on the image. This will make the colors dense.

Design the Other Frame

Click on the image and add it to the second frame. Duplicate the elements. Add character styles and rename them to the header.

Pro tip: Look for a font family that has Italics and bold, because it adds dynamic to the compositions and can be used in a hierarchy.

Add body copy by duplicating and resizing it to 50 points. Use the Montreux font type for this. Add a footer note in the corner below. Resize that to 35 points.

On the next page, add a paragraph style. Duplicate the elements and create character styles or use a different character style.

Pro tip: Use the links panel to find your file.

On the next page, add a red background. Drop a frame and add text. Add an image from the folder and click on multiply. Duplicate a text box and color it in white.

Make changes to the copy and resize it accordingly. Use left and right alignment to text.

Use the same techniques to fill out the rest of the frames. Build up the frames by putting the frame boxes and strokes. Always end a frame with a call to action at the end.

Export the Design 

Once you've created your Instagram carousel, a powerful feature in InDesign is to export it. Click on the pages panel, select and duplicate the spread. This will form a template that can also be used later.

Pro tip: With the image selected command, hold Shift + E to fit that image in the box.

Press command E. Click on the project folder to publish. Tap export and publish. Save the file number and export it down to format. Make sure it's set to JPEG.

This will automatically load into a carousel and can be easily uploaded to Instagram.

Congratulations, you have successfully made social carousels using InDesign.