InDesign FX: Creating picture frames in InDesign

Published by | Thursday, October 18th, 2012

This week’s InDesign FX video highlights the ability to apply multiple effects to a single object, and how to apply those effects to the object as a whole, or to targeted areas like the fill or stroke. I consider this to be one of the most important features for working with graphic effects in Adobe InDesign because it would be impossible, or impractical to create many kinds of interesting effects in InDesign without this kind of flexibility.

Take, for example, the picture frames in this week’s video:

Finished picture frame effect in Adobe InDesign


These frames are made from a combination of four transparency effects: Bevel and Emboss, Inner Glow, Inner Shadow, and Drop Shadow. Three of these effects are applied at the Object level in the Effects panel, so they apply to the entire object, including the stroke. But one of the effects (Inner Shadow) is applied to the fill only.

Adobe InDesign Effects panel

It’s the application of the Inner Shadow effect to the fill that allows us to have the small shadow that sits inside the stroke, and thus inside the picture frame. Little details like this go a long way when creating high-quality visual effects.

Here’s another image, without the Inner Shadow applied to the fill:

Frame without the Inner Shadow fill

And with the Inner Shadow applied to the fill:

Frame with the Inner Shadow fill effect

See the difference? By targeting that little shadow in just the right spot, we get an extra bit of realism.

Because it’s always important to be efficient with effects, I also show how to save the picture frame effect as an Object Style, so you can apply it to photos with a single click.

I also have another member-exclusive movie in the library this week called Customizing stroke styles, which shows the useful and sometimes surprising effects you can get from custom stroke styles.

In the video, I show how to create stroke styles that adhere just to the corners of a frame:

Corner stroke styles made in Adobe InDesign

Stroke styles that bracket a paragraph:

Bracket stroke style made in Adobe InDesign

And even stroke styles that look like Valentine hearts:

Heart-shaped graphic stroke style

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


Interested in more?
• The complete InDesign FX bi-weekly 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

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One Response to “InDesign FX: Creating picture frames in InDesign”

  1. Michael says:

    Thank you so much. This is really cool, and now I know what the heck that objects pane is good for. I’ve been using ID for over a year, having used IL mostly in the past, mostly for mediocre jobs. It’s nice to know I can do more that I thought I was limited to.

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