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CD calendar – creating the date grid easily

It’s that time of year, when I start thinking about making a calendar for next year.  Prompted by a post on UKScrappers, I went looking.  There are a lot calendar grids out there that you can print but they either use a font I’m not crazy about or have grid lines, which isn’t what I’m looking for.  There are also lots of digital scrapbooking versions or ones that are designed with the decorative elements included.  Pretty though they may be, I always fancy my version and bringing my style to my calendar each year.

I decided to have a bash at making my own.  I had a look, and found a 2012 calendar.  as I looked at it there were a few things that I noticed.  Firstly, it’s  a leap year.  So things will be slightly different for most other years.  But one thing will always remain the same:  there will only be seven vertical strips of numbers.  Next, for every year, every month, 1 will be followed by 8, followed by 15, followed by 22 followed by 29.  And 2 will be followed by 9, by 16, by 23, by 30.  The DAY which each of those dates fall will vary, so the first of the month can be any DAY, but the vertical strip will always be the same.

I was thinking it would be a huge pain to create the grid for each month, but once I realize I really only needed 7 strips of numbers it became a whole lot easier – and faster! And even better, at least for this year, there are many months that duplicate (with the subtraction of a day or two) so once you create a month, you may only need to delete a day or two to get another month with virtually no effort at all.

So I thought you might be interested in my workflow.  Now, I’m sure there will be Photoshop gurus out there who have an easier way to do this (possibly with Snap to Grid but that would only align the left or the right edged of the text box, not line up along the center point) but this works for me and I thought it was pretty fast.

and lots of people will look at all that follows and go GAK!  That is a lot of work! I’ll be happy to download one, thank you and that’s fine.  I know this level of effort is totally not to everyone’s taste, but I enjoy the working-it-out bit.

First pick a font, a size, and a colour and set this info in the first text box – every future text box will repeat the same info so you know all your numbers will be the same size and colour.  The size fo the font will determine how big your month block will be so you may need to mess about with this to get it to just the right size for your project.

Step one: create a text box.  This should not be huge.  You want it to be just wide enough and just tall enough to accommodate your font.  This text box will determine the spaces between the days and between the rows.  Every text box has to be identical for this to work so…

Step two: duplicate the layer.  You need a total of 7 layers, all identical in size.

Step three: add your numbers for the first vertical strip, and here is the full list, because you will eventually do a vertical strip for each:

1  8  15  22  29          4  11  18  25          7  14  21  28

2  9  16  23 30          5  12  19  26

3  10  17  24  31         6  13  20  27

Loosely line these up vertically then select all the layers.

Step four: With all 7 layers selected, and on the MOVE tool, click ALIGN >Horizontal center.  This will line up all seven layers in a row thru the center point of the text box.

Step five: With the layers all still selected, click DISTRIBUTE > Vertical center  This will distribute all the text boxes evenly thru the center point of the text box.

You can see how each step changes the layers here:

DO NOT merge these – you can use these strips year after year, simply changing the font.

So you see you have a perfectly aligned grouping.  In this case the text boxes are actually a little bigger than they need to be so you can see it clearly.  You may need to experiment with this, depending on the final size you want your calendar to be.

Step six: change the numbers so you have a perfectly aligned vertical strip for each of the “weeks”- I usually make each strip seven layers, leaving the text box with a O in it for the weeks with only 4 numbers. ALIGN and DISTRIBUTE are best used always with the same number of “cells.” I usually select the seven layers and duplicate all seven in a single step, then change the numbers, Align and Distribute.

Now you need to do another set of 7 layers for the line of Days (ie Sunday, Monday, etc.) To keep the text boxes the same size I do the 2-letter abbreviations.

Step seven:  Once you have the seven days laid out, select all those layers.  Align them BOTTOM or TOP Edge, as you prefer.  The Distribute > Horizontal Center.  This will give you a horizontal row of perfectly aligned and spaced day abbreviations.

OK.  So now you have all your strips, I would save this with a title like CALENDAR MASTER because this will be what you go back to every year.

Phew.  Still with me?

Right.  Now you want to create each month of the year.

Step one: Open a new file of the size you want your month.  Center a text box for the month and type that.

Step two: Select the day row and drag this into your new file – I’m assuming you can drag layers between open files on a PC?  OMG!  I hope so. If not get them from one file to another however you usually do that. This dragged selection will be grouped so you can move it in to place.  Center it under the month name.

Save this – call it something like Calendar Months.

Step three:  This is the cool bit.  In your master file, you can align each vertical strip under the day abbreviation.  Now you have a block of perfectly aligned and distributed info.  Looking at an online calendar image for the year, you can now select JUST THE DATE blocks and drag them as a complete unit into your month file.  So January is easy for 2012 – the 1st is on a Sunday and it has all 31 days.  Just drag the whole block over, center the dates under the day strip and delete any of the O cells.  January is done. Save it, as something like  January2012. Don’t close this, or merge it.  Edit the Month to JULY and Save As July2012 – the months are identical. Now, edit this again, deleting the 31st, changing the month to April, and Save As April2012.  You now have three months completed! For February, drag the strip block that includes the rows beginning with 1, 2, 3, and 4 and drag as a group and center under Wednesday  Thursday Friday Saturday.  Then select the rows 5, 6, and 7 and drag those as a block and center under Sunday Monday Tuesday, lined up so the numbers read correctly (ie 7 leads to 8, 14 to 15, etc.  Because the layers are all aligned and distributed the lining up of just two blocks is going to be easy peasy.

Here is the 2012 info in the order you want to do it,  so you are only deleting, not adding.

Save January. Change title to July and Save As July. Delete 31st, change title to April and Save As April

Save August. Delete 30 and 31, change title to February, Save As February

Save March. Delete 31, change title to November, Save As November

Save December. Delete 31, change title to September, Save As September.

So with only four changes to the Calendar Month file, you have saved NINE months.

Save March. Delete 31, change to November, Save As November

You will now need to the the final few months and save them. When you are done you will have three major bits – your CALENDAR MASTER.  From now on in, you can simply change the font and colour and size, if you want, for each cell, keeping them in line and create a totally different calendar for any other year.  I wish I could figure out how to change the font in a selection of layers all at the same time, but I need to have a play and see if that is even possible.  If you think you will use the same font every year, I suppose you could merge groups of layers and just have the seven vertical strips and the horizontal row of day names.  Then you could only change the font for the MONTH each year and leave the day strips the same.  That would be faster and easier.

What *I* did with them?  I printed them two to an A4 sheet of cardstock, then trimmed them to fit a CD case.  I stamped a pretty swirl in different colours at the top of each month and that will be my desk calendar for 2012.

and inside the CD case:

Simple, pretty and not as labour intensive as you might think from all the text.  Once you create the strips, the rest of it goes pretty fast.

I know this is crazy long and would benefit from lots more photos but I just didn’t capture the info as I was working thru it.  I may take the time to do a PDF with Photoshop screen shots but honestly?  I am just not sure there are enough people out there who would actually DO THIS to make it worth while.  If if they WOULD do it, they probably have a better way.  But maybe there is something in here that will make whatever your process is a bit easier. And because I may forget what I did in a year, it helps me to document it.  If you read this whole thing?  I applaud you!