Adding Dates to a Calendar in Illustrator

Welcome to the delicious dregs of 213, my dekeLanders. For the final project of the year, I have reached into the Deke’s Techniques archive and extracted an ingenious method that Deke developed last year for creating dates in calendar in Illustrator. I’ve used this ingenuity to update last year’s festival of hexagons calendar for the year ahead.

A 2014 calendar created in Illustrator

If you’d like to follow along, my starting file is downloadable here. If you’re a member of, you can see this project in action by watching Deke’s Techniques 185-187, during which you’ll create your own starting background. If you’re not a member of (yet), you can get a free week’s membership at Here’s the step-by-step tutorial if video’s not your thing or you need to review a step along the way:

1. Open the file to which you’d like to add 214 dates.

If you’re using my file, open it in Illustrator and make sure the Dates layer is active in the layers panel. (Or you can use last year’s project with the dates deleted and year updated. Or use any calendaresque graphic you like and extrapolate to taste.)

2. Grab the Type tool from the toolbox and drag out a text frame for January.

For now, you don’t need to worry about the dimensions, just fill the area under January with a reasonable approximation.

Create a text box for the calendar dates

3. Establish the Character settings.

Click the word Character in the options bar, and in the ensuing panel, set the following features (all of which are indicated in the graphic below).

Font Family: Myriad Pro
Font Style: Bold
Font Size: 6 points
Kerning: Optical

Click the All Caps icon, too.

Set the options for the days of the week text

4. Type out the days of the week, separated by paragraph returns.

First, click the Align Center button as shown below in order to center the text you’re about to type. Then type out each day of the week (using the first three letters) placing a hard paragraph return (with the Enter/Return key) between each day.

Type the days of the week separated by paragraph returns

5. Use the Area Type Options settings to create a table.

From the Type menu, choose Area Type options. Then set the following (as indicated in the graphic) in the ensuing dialog box to make a table.

Width: 12 points
Height: 94 poinst
Rows Number: 7
Columns Number: 7
Rows Gutter: 4 points
Columns Gutter:  points

Set up a table for the dates in Illustrator

6. Type in the dates.

January 214 starts on a Wednesday. To place the 1 correctly, click after the T in SAT on the top line, then hit return four times. Type a 1 and hit enter, then type 2 through 31, hitting the Enter/Return key after each date.

When you have all the dates typed in, click before the 1 and drag to the end to select them all. Then click Character in the options bar to open the Character panel. Set the Font Style to Bold Condensed and the Type Size to 1 points as shown below. Set the text color to white at the far left of the options bar.

Change the text for the date numbers

7. Adjust the position of the days of the week.

Select the days of the week text by dragging across the top row, then set the type to white as well. To position the days slightly lower in the frame, click Character in the options bar and set the Baseline Shift to -2.5 points as shown below.

Use baseline shift to move the days of the week into place

8. Move the month grid into place.

Press Command-Y (Ctrl-Y) to enter the Outline view which will make it easier to snap things into place. Double-click the black arrow in the toolbox to bring up the Move dialog box. Set the Vertical position to 11 points and click OK.

Use the Move tool to move the table into place

9. Duplicate the month grid to the other months.

To give yourself an easy handle with which to duplicate your month grids, grab the Pen tool from the toolbox and make a single point at the top of the January hexagon. Then, switch to the black arrow tool and Shift-click the month grid below. Once the point and the grid are both active, choose Object > Group.

Now you can grab that point with the black arrow tool, and drag it to the top of the February hexagon, bringing the months along with them. Hold down the Option (Alt) key to make a duplicate and release the point+grid when it snaps into place. Make a duplicate for each month.

Copy the dates to each month by dragging the alignment point

10. Easily update the months using the Return (Enter) and Delete (Backspace) keys.

The table format allows you to adjust each month quickly according to the number of days it should have and the day it should start on. So for February, click in front of the number 1 and press Return (Enter) twice to move it to Friday. Then click after the 1 in 31 and hit Delete (Backspace) until you’ve trimmed February to its appropriate 28 days.

Repeat this quick adjustment for each month in your calendar.

11. Return to Normal view and have a great 214!

Press Command-Y (Ctrl-Y) to return to normal view, and enjoy the new year! And if hexagons are not to your liking, Deke’s Techniques will be back (on Thursday this week) with a new calendar idea.

Next entry:Deke’s Techniques 282: New Year Graphic with Dynamic Effects in Illustrator

Previous entry:Introducing Introducing Photoshop: Design (No Experience Required)


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