InDesign FX: Creative blend mode tricks

Published by | Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

When it comes to changing colors in photos and other artwork, you’d probably think of Photoshop first. Obviously, Photohop’s image adjustment tools are unrivaled in their number, power, and flexibility. But InDesign’s 16 blending modes offer you a handy means for tweaking and remixing the color of objects directly in your layouts. InDesign has the same blending modes found in Illustrator and Photoshop, so if you know how to use them there, you already know how they work in InDesign. The great advantage of using blending modes in InDesign is increased efficiency. You get to see color changes in the context of your design without having to save files, switch back and forth between applications, or update links.

In this week’s free video, I cover some of the fundamental aspects of InDesign blending modes, including how to combine photos and solid colors to adjust hue and saturation.

Example of hue and saturation in InDesign

I also show how to use blending modes to colorize grayscale images. You can experiment with a variety of monotone and duotone effects very quickly and easily by blending a true grayscale image with the fill of its frame, or with a color overlay.

Colorized grayscale images from InDesign blending modes

Once you get the hang of working with them, blending modes are fantastically fun to experiment with. As you try different combinations, you can often come up with new looks that you didn’t even know you were searching for. One slight word of caution though: when you use blending modes, it’s important to have a grasp on InDesign’s Transparency Blend Space feature, so you don’t get unexpected results in your output. I also recommend checking out this post I wrote on getting InDesign effects into print.

For members, I also have another new video this week in the Online Training Library® that showcases even more creative blend mode tricks, including how to completely invert colors in InDesign with blending modes. (See Creative Blend Mode tricks, Part 2.)

Using InDesign blend modes to invert colors

See you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect!

Interested in more?
• The complete InDesign FX course
• All InDesign courses on
• All courses by Mike Rankin on

Suggested courses to watch next:
Photoshop Blend Mode Magic
• InDesign CS5 Essential Training
 InDesign Secrets
• Creating Long Documents with InDesign
Designing an Event Poster Hands-On Workshop

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