Apart from painting a long strip of paper by hand, there used to be no way to create a banner at home. The advent of desktop publishing programs such as Adobe InDesign allow you to use your own computer to design much more elaborate banners. Unless you have a large format professional printer, however, you probably will need to take your finished banner file to a printer for the final product.
Adjust your digital images and any other artwork you will need for your banner in a photo editing software package such as Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. For good print quality, you should set the resolution of any photos to 300 pixels per inch. You can do this by going to the "Image" menu in Photoshop and selecting "Image Size." In the pop-up dialogue box that comes up, go to the bottom section, called "Document Size," and type "300" in the "Resolution" box. Set your "Width" and "Height" dimensions according to the size of your planned banner. For artwork or type, set the "Resolution" higher, to at least 600 ppi. These "Resolution" settings will ensure good quality in the print phase.
Open your version of Adobe InDesign and select "New" from the "File" menu. The dialogue box that appears will offer you boxes to fill in according to the size you want your banner to be, along with other parameters. Set the "Number of Pages" to "1" if it is not there by default. In the "Page Size" section, fill out the "Width" and "Height" dimensions. For example, set width to "48 inches" for a 4-foot-long banner and "Height" to "11 inches" for a standard height. You can change these according to the limits of the equipment at the printer where you will have the final banner output. You can set the margins, too, in the "New Document" dialogue box. When set, click the "OK" button.
Go to your new InDesign banner document and start importing your artwork, photos and type. Use the "Place" command on the "File" menu to get a browser that allows you to select these files and place them on the banner. Make sure you set the sizes for these components large enough to show up well on your banner. Since a banner is created at a different scale than a normal document, you may need to go back and forth between InDesign and your photo editing software several times before you get the sizes correct for the banner.
Design your banner as you see fit. Take a look at it as a whole occasionally to get a full sense of how it will appear in finished form. Do not overcrowd your banner because that will make it difficult for people to read and take in the message at a glance.
Save your completed banner in a format that your print shop can use. For example, you may need to export it to a PDF file, as many printers now use this as the standard format. Ask the clerk at the print shop what file format the company prefers for printing banners before saving your file.
Do not increase image and image type sizes significantly in InDesign. In general, you cannot make a photo or any graphic image increase beyond 10 per cent of its original size in the desktop publishing program without losing quality and increasing the roughness. Instead, adjust the image sizes in a photo editing software package.