I have designed brochures and marketing materials in the past, but a friend of mine in a town association asked if I could create a billboard. I know InDesign and Photoshop, and am limited in Illustrator (which I would have to get a trial of anyway). This was all that I was provided:

"Artwork would need to be 1/2" = 1' scale, please provide a small bleed on all sides indicated with crop marks or guidelines. Hi-res files at least 300 DPI at artwork size. Everything is digitally printed so you can include photos, 4color process."

I don't know if I should set this up in InDesign or Photoshop?

I can add photos as one of the example but I'm not sure which one will be best to work in.

It says 1/2"=1' scale, Hi-res files at least 300 DPI at artwork size.

When creating my document what do I need to set the dpi, Height/Width, bleeds, etc.?


3 Answers 3


I've done large-scale graphics before (trade show displays). I created a reference/approval file at 10% size, and the final size that's sent to the printer was at full size. The printer, however, only wanted 150 dpi images (at full size). The stuff came out beautifully.

I have not done billboards - if you can find out from the person who gave you the gig who the printer is, you can contact them directly. A lot of time they will have a downloadable template for a variety of design software.

  • Thanks so much! The meeting is tonight and he wanted me to bring some examples...(really? lol) I think I'm going to design what I can and then worry about the scale once they decide on a the example they like. I appreciate the feedback!
    – T Damin
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 20:37

I think you're still gonna need more info from them. Sure, they gave you the scale, but they mentioned nothing about the dimensions, which file type they prefer, or exactly how much bleed they require. I don't design billboards, is there a standard size? I'm not sure how you can even set up your document, initially, without knowing these things.

This is what I would do:

  • Get the final billboard dimensions, file type, and bleed from them
  • Do the math to figure out what it scales down to
  • Create a new document in AI or ID. I would probably use AI for this, but since you already have ID, that will probably work fine too
  • Design your billboard and export as whichever file type they prefer, making sure that in your export settings, under Marks and Bleeds, you include the marks you need
  • Thanks! All they said was "small bleed". I've tried to contact them, but they have been unavailable. If 12'x24' is the standard size of the billboard, how would I configure that when creating a new document in ID? Thanks!
    – T Damin
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 19:12

It's likely that the company will provide you with start files that indicate the bleed, etc. (if you can get ahold of them). There are many "standard" billboard sizes so I'd wait until they give you definitive info before starting so you don't have to start over again!

If the size is 12x24' then their scale says you should create a file at 6"x12" at 300dpi.


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