InDesign Secrets: Using Illustrator to tweak InDesign vector shapes

Published by | Thursday, October 11th, 2012

In this week’s free InDesign Secrets episode, David Blatner reveals the secrets of using Adobe Illustrator to tweak your InDesign shapes. This technique is really a matter of allowing each application in the Creative Suite to do what it does best: InDesign is great for page layout, but when it comes to high-powered vector manipulation Illustrator is the stronger choice.

For instance, let’s say I had this InDesign document with a ho-hum six-point star and some surrounding text:

Plain white star in Adobe InDesign

By copying the star shape from InDesign and pasting it into Illustrator I can easily leverage dynamic, transforming effects. In this case, I used the Zig Zag effect in Illustrator to quickly and efficiently change my star into a snowflake by adjusting two simple numerical settings:

Star with added Zig Zag effect in Adobe Illustrator

After the shape is modified so it’s looking how I want it, it’s just a matter of copying the new shape in Illustrator and pasting it into InDesign where it becomes a fully editable path outline:

A snowflake shape in InDesign

While Illustrator and InDesign are meant to work together, and using Illustrator to dynamically transform shapes is much more efficient than trying to make transformations in InDesign with the Pen tool or other workarounds, you should be aware of some tricks and traps along the way. In the video above, David shows you how to exploit and avoid these tricks and traps.

David’s partner in InDesign secrecy, Anne-Marie Concepción, also has an exclusive video for members this week called Automating Find/Change with the Find/ChangeByList script, in which she explores how to use a special script to automate the Find/Change command.

David and Anne-Marie will be back in two weeks with more InDesign Secrets.


Interested in more?
• The entire InDesign Secrets biweekly series
• Courses by David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción on
• All InDesign courses

Suggested courses to watch next:
InDesign CS6 New Features
 InDesign CS6 Essential Training
Illustrator CS6 Essential Training

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