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Making a business card in adobe illustrator 101

business card design by matias berra Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

As part of my last post about the creative process I went through when creating the design of my business card, I though it would be important to follow up with a hands on example of how I ended up making the actual card using illustrator. 

I would never consider myself a graphic designer, I certainly have a long way to go before I can adopt the tittle, but I do know certain aspects of design (  in the past I have created this tutorial showing how to make a minimalist movie poster) which some of you just might find useful! I mean, at the end of the day this blog was intended for those starting up their way into the world, thus will remain basic in nature ^^It’s also a good occasion to work in my tutorial making skills,

In this particular tutorial I will go through the basics of some very useful Adobe Illustrator tools:

• Quickly set up a document for print
• The shape tool
• The alignment tool

Paper before mouse, the creative process:

In all fairness, since i’m trying to consider myself a decent designer, before jumping onto the keyboard you should always let your hands and the pen play on some paper. You will notice how much more you understand  your idea once you start making it with your own hands, before letting the mouse do it’s clicks of-course (as the picture above shows, you don’t have to be too tidy either, is just for a general idea).

design on paper business card matias berra

So from the design above I was able to quickly identify all the simple elements I need. Though it might seem a bit silly, it is always very very important to attempt and brake up all designs in their most basic forms, this way we can really understand how things are built, thus, developing that famous ‘designer’s eye’. For example, the business card above, in design terms, actually consists of:

• A rectangle that acts as the frame of the card.
• Il-mato Logo (made during the creation of the website)
• Il-mato. Biz website address
• The rest of the text that describes my services.

And yes I know it seems trivial in this case, but you should do this brake down for any Project you are working on, being able to brake any design into it most basic components will help you a lot when understanding how to create anything from scratch.

Getting down with illustrator:

Now, lets go to our main tool, enter The Illustrator!

Once we open the program, lets open a new document (the short cut is Mac = command+N/ Win= crtl+N)  by going to File->New… then this panel will open:

tutorial ilustrator by matias berra




There are a few critical options we need to select here to ensure the colors we see on the screen will somehow match the colors printed (colors on the screen are not the same as the colors on your printer)

Setting up a new document:

As we see on the picture below, we have to:

  • Choose a name for the document (in my case ‘Business Card’)
  • Then we need to make sure we tell illustrator to make 2 art boards (remember we need to design both sides of the card, which is much easier to do when they are side by side).
  • Next we input the width and height of the card (checked online and 3.5in x 2in seems to be the most popular answer)
  • Lastly we choose CYMK as the color scheme (remember we are doing this document for print, thus, we choose CYMK)
  • Press OK and you will see the new document



il mato illustrator tutorial


Importing all elements into the new document:

Generally I like working with all my elements in the grey area of the document and then arrange them into the white are of the screen (which represent your piece of ‘paper’ i.e the area that will get printed). Therefore I’ll open my logo in another illustrator document and the proceed to copy and paste it into the document I just created:
copy elments in llustrator paste elements in illustrator

To create a rectangle the same size as the print area all you have to do is go to the shape tool (choose rectangle) and click one time on the document, a menu will appear where you enter the dimensions of the document (3.5 inx 2in) :



Choosing the Font:

Now this is a very important step in anyone’s branding, what feeling you want to create? What does your font choice say about your business? Does it match the rest of your branding, logo and culture?

I had already chosen a font, and yes it took me an entire day of miss-and-match until I got something I was happy with: Eccentric std, quite an old/Gothic styled font which (in my opinion of-course) seemed to reflect the creative/playful approach to design I would like to portray one day…

the text tool in adove illustrator


Once the tool is selected, we’ll write all the text we need based on the very handy paper design we created at the very beginning. I know I need my website address, and all of the services I will provide, so I will type them quickly onto the document:


design on paper business card matias berra


Notice I typed my services as 2 separate words i.e ‘Web’ and ‘Design’ are 2 separate words. This will come in handy when I want to align them in the next step.

Aligning elements with the align tool in illustrator:

Before we get started let’s turn on our best friends ever: Smart Guides in Illustrator, which are great for aligning objects visually, automatic lines will appear to tell you when two objects are aligned with each-other:

illustrator smart guides

Now this is definitely a very useful tool, lets open the alignment panel by going to window->align :

NOTE: when in doubt where to find a tool or an options panel always try window menu first as most tool options are here.


align panel illustrator tutorial by il mato


The alignment tool will allow you to symmetrically place all elements in your page, and yes, it is indispensable for the perfect straight design.

In my case I want all the first words of my services to align horizontally i.e I want all the words to end at the same line.
All I have to do is select all the text I want aligned (we can do multiple selections by holding shift while we click on each object) select the key object (by single-clicking on the element which we want all other elements aligned to) and then go to the align Panel and select “Horizontal Align Right” and all elements will automatically align to the furthest right:


key object aligment


illustrator horizontal align panel



Now we do the same for the other words and we have something like this:


Ok, now we have all the elements we need. Lets arrange them and be done with this design! Here is a picture of the alignment tools we will use:

alignment options in illustrator


Business Card Side 1:

  1. Align black rectangle to the art-board by clicking the Horizontal align center and then the Vertical align center button.
  2. Align logo to middle of the art-board by clicking the Horizontal align center and then the Vertical align center button:
  3. Align the address to top corners of  the design by using the Horizontal align left button followed by the Vertical align top panel, then you can move it bit by bit using the arrows until it looks spaced from the edge of the card


Business Card Side 2:

Remove the logo items and place services text inside the geometrical shape, we do this by selecting both objects (don’t forget to group all text first by selecting it all and pressing command/crtl + G) selecting the geometrical shape as the key object and then we Horizontal align center and  Vertical align center to place the text in the center of our shape.

il-mato.biz business card by Matias Berra

I know sometimes it can get complicated to understand the alignment tool by merely looking at text (and sometimes pictures make it more confusing) so here’s a very nice, clear and to the point video you will find very useful when mastering this very powerful tool! Here it is:

Finishing up:

Expand before printing:

Expanding helps by transforming the letters into a vector object which the printer will read effectively. By leaving it as a Font (not expanding) could mean that at the printers, if they didn’t have the exact Font that you used, your design could be changed as illustrator just changes that font for something else.


To expand the appearance of your finished card select all (command+A) and go to Object-> Expand appearance.

doing business card in illustrator for my freelance job

And that’s it! Now you are ready to go print the design, always remember to do a test run before you decide to print all the cards. Make sure the colors and the alignment look good in paper before giving the final OK!

Hope this post was helpful, becoming a freelancer and entrepreneur certainly has its number of challenges, even making a business card carries its challenges! By sharing what i have learnt i might save you some time and that’s all it matters. Please share if you found it useful, and yes feedback is indeed welcome :)


About Matias Berra

Matias Berra is a WordPress developer and content marketing writer. Mat loves learning on the internet, creating content and finding awesome people to build meaningful projects with. Mat truly believes great ideas (and cooperation) will change the world for the better. Cryptocurrencies, diving and travelling are his passions.

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