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Create a 3D calendar with InDesign

Jo Gulliver reveals how you can create a 3D calendar by creating and manipulating cube nets in InDesign

In this tutorial I’m going to create a cube net utilising some of the great functions in InDesign, including smart guides, X and Y positioning, and the height and width text fields. The usual choice for vector graphics work would be Illustrator, but for me it’s faster to work in InDesign – the program has many of the same functions as Illustrator, so it can easily be used to create simple vector-based graphics. You can always lay out the cube net in InDesign and save it as a PDF to import into Illustrator to finish.

For this tutorial, it’ll be useful to be able to spread your work over multiple pages. Also, make sure your smart guides are turned on. They are found under View>Grids and Guides>Smart Guides, and help with aligning the squares of your map.


01 Take some time to plan your calendar: you’ll need to work out how many cubes you need and what will go on each face of each one. I’m going to work with four cubes – one for the days of the week, two for the date and one for the month. This can be done by doubling up some of the information on the week and month cubes.


02 In a new document, select the Rectangle tool and double-click on the page to open the Rectangle panel. Enter your cube face measurement in the field: I’m creating mine at 50mm square. Using the Selection tool, hit Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift and duplicate the image frame, then drag the frame into position. The smart guides will show you when the frames are lined up, then duplicate the boxes until you have six faces to match your plan.


03 To create the tabs on the net, duplicate one of the frames and align it to the left side of the net. Select the central-right option from the Reference Point tool in the Application bar, and using the width measurement fields, reduce the size of the box by four by adding /4 to the end of the measurement value.



04 Use the Direct Selection tool to select the top-left point of the tab rectangle, and affix the + symbol followed by your width measurement (for example: +12.5) to the end of the measurement in the Y text field. This moves the point to create a 45° angle. Repeat the process at the bottom on the tab using - instead of +.


05 Use the Selection tool and hit Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+ Shift to duplicate and place all the tabs down the left side of the cube net. Select all three tabs and use Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/ Alt+Shift to duplicate, aligning them to the right side of the net. Select the central point on the Reference Point tool and use the Flip Horizontal tool in the Application bar so they face the correct way. Duplicate one last tab, and use the 90° Rotation button to align it with the bottom edge of the net.

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