How do I create a billboard that is larger than Indesign CS5's maximum document size?


I am making a billboard with this dimensions : 2.19m x 6.09m However, indesign's maximum document size is 5486.4 mm (5.48m)

How do I increase this document size or is the another way to handle this problem?

1/8/2015 3:19:00 PM

Accepted Answer

You should be talking to your billboard company or at least working from the information on their website. That's the short and critically important answer. The rest is based on my own experience here in the US, but should apply equally to your area.

Billboards are never created at full scale in the authoring application, in my experience. For example, one size I am regularly asked for is a standard 14 foot tall x 48 foot wide (6 m x 16 m, roughly) "bulletin." These days, I work from an InDesign document that is 27 inches by 72 inches (1.8 m x .7 m, very roughly). That is 1/8th scale, which is a little large but is still quite easy to work with in InDesign. It means that my effective image resolution for images needs to be around 80 ppi or better to be sure of getting 10 ppi output, and I don't need to worry about the text or other vector data. (That "10 ppi" is not a typo. It's quite high resolution for a billboard of that size, which is viewed from a minimum distance of 50 m. The billboard company spec in this case is 9 ppi.)

Billboards are commonly done in Photoshop -- that's how I used to do them prior to CS5 -- but always small scale at high resolution. 1/48th scale, even 1/96th scale, at 300 ppi is not uncommon. Companies and products vary. The billboard company I mentioned suggests 1/33th scale at 300 ppi for one of their products, to meet that target resolution of 9 ppi.

The final resolution on the vinyl is typically between 8 and 25 dots per inch, depending on the size and intended viewing distance, so there is no reason at all to work at full scale and 300 ppi, even if you could. You would end up with an enormous file that would be mostly wasted, and might not even be usable by the RIP ("Raster Image Processor" -- the software that processes your file for printing).

The provider will scale your PDF to the final size. Ask them what they need. When you do, have them send you their PDF .joboptions file and the color profile for their digital printing equipment. That way, the colors you see in InDesign will match what actually goes up on the billboard.

Don't feel like you are going to look naive or foolish by asking. The first time I sent artwork to one national billboard company, I got an immediate phone call back. They were excited and astonished because it was the first time they had ever received artwork from an outside designer that they didn't have to fix or send back for correction. This company is all over the US and has been in business for decades. All I did was research their requirements on their website and follow a template that they supplied. That, apparently, was enough to make me a hero.

So you won't seem foolish if you ask. You'll be a hero. Trust me.

12/7/2011 2:02:00 AM

Hi I worked for 13 years at Primedia Outdoor, a South African Media owner specialising in billboards and bus shelter advertising. Our printers used to have a simple rule: Supply artwork at 10% of full size at 300dpi. (similar to answers given above) Regards.