InDesign FX: Achieving a chopped-edge look

Published by | Thursday, September 20th, 2012

In this week’s InDesign FX movie, I show how to make a composition that looks like rough paper cutouts that have been taped to a surface.

An Adobe InDesign composition with paper cutouts taped to a wooden board

This technique is a fun approach to take when you want to convey a brainstorming or scrapbooking theme. In the video I used a photo of wood for a background, but the effect would work just as well (or maybe even better) with a background photo of corkboard.

An Adobe InDesign composition with paper cutouts taped to a cork bulletin board

One of the things that makes this effect a lot of fun to create is the spontaneity it allows. In contrast to the careful precision shown in the last InDesign FX video, Simulating Notebook Paper, you can work fast and sloppy with the rough, chopped-edge effect, since that’s exactly the kind of look you’re trying to simulate.

The basic technique involves starting with a silhouetted photo placed in InDesign.

A silhouetted picture of a motorcycle gas tank placed in InDesign

Then you click with the Pen tool to create the rough, cutout shape.

The silhouetted art with a rough cutout around it made using the Pen Tool in Adobe InDesign

Next, apply a light gray fill and a subtle drop shadow to give the appearance of paper.

The silhouetted art with a light gray fill in the cutout

Finally, create the illusion of tape and dog-eared folds to attach your cutout images to your background.

Detail of the tape effect on the cutout artThe final composition with cutout and tape effects

If you like the rough-hewn effect, you might also enjoy the peeling stickers  and sticker and tape effects I’ve written about in the past.

A peeling sticker effect achieved using Adobe InDesign

A picture that looks to have been taped to a surface in Adobe InDesign

I also have another member-exclusive movie in the library this week called Creating Speech Bubbles where I show you how to create cartoon speech bubbles to place over photos in InDesign layouts. They’re fun, easy to create, and infinitely adjustable thanks to the way they’re constructed.

A picture of a kitten with a speech bubble

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

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

Suggested courses to watch next:
• InDesign Secrets
• InDesign CS6 Essential Training 
• InDesign CS6 New Features 
 Deke’s Techniques


Share this:Share on Facebook6Tweet about this on Twitter11Share on Google+3Pin on Pinterest8Share on LinkedIn0 - start learning today

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply