I need to design graphics for a billboard in illustrator or indesign.

The billboard is also not square / rectangular, but rather custom polygon shape. The overall dimensions are around 20m x 3m.

I have a survey of the custom polygon shape in Vectorworks (CAD software) as a vector object that i can copy and paste to into Adobe Illustrator / InDesign.

But it always imports the shape at the wrong size.

I also tried to setup a custom document size in InDesign and re-draw the shape, but this did not work either as the largest document size InDesign seemed to allow was around 5m wide.

Any idea how i can get this large custom shape into Adobe Illustrator / InDesign ?

Ive thought of a work around where i just work in Illustrator / InDesign at 1:10th scale, but this seems like an un-nessacery work around, as lots of other people must have designed billboards before and I wondered how they do it ?

The billboard graphics itself are just going to be text and vector shapes, no images / gradients. I would like to work at 1:1 scale just so i can get an idea of the text / graphics size as im developing them.

  • 4
    While not always 1:10, designing at scale for things like billboards is a common practice. If you speak to your vendor about how to set-up the file, they'll probably recommend some amount of scale. Not only does it mean smaller files for you to work with (not just dimension but also bytes), but also a file that doesn't take hours for the printer to rip into their system. Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 17:58
  • 5
    Also, designing "at size" so you can get a better feel for how everything is working together/text sizing doesn't really make sense in this case unless you have a monitor that's 20 x 3 meters - you're still going to be zooming out to some scale in order to preview the whole document on screen anyway. Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 18:00
  • (a monitor of 20x3m...) This last comment is pure wisdom.
    – Rafael
    Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 14:26
  • Could use a projector for a monitor.. need a heck of a large room though :)
    – Scott
    Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


at 1:10th scale, but this seems like an unnecessary workaround

No, it is not unnecessary, you need to do it because you can not make documents that big.

lots of other people must have designed billboards before and I wondered how they do it?

Making them at scale.

I can get an idea of the text/graphics size as I'm developing them.

Use a 1:10 scale, if the program says 10 cm you know its 1 m.

Almost everything big needs to be planed at a scale. A house, a stadium, a road, a big billboard.

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