InDesign FX: Creating photo corners

Published by | Thursday, November 1st, 2012

This week’s InDesign FX video shows how to create the look of a photo glued into a scrapbook. The effect is achieved by adding a stroke to the photo, plus four triangular objects that resemble adhesive photo corners.

A picture with photo corners created in InDesign

This technique is a nifty way of presenting a photo, and it illustrates effective use of small drop shadows, rounded corners, and the use of a light gray tint instead of pure white for added realism—all effects that have useful application in many other InDesign effects.

But maybe the most valuable aspect of this lesson is how it demonstrates a way to fix inconsistent shadows and highlights that undermine the realism of an effect, a common problem you can encounter when you flip or rotate objects after you’ve applied transparency effects to them.

To illustrate where the problem occurs, let’s consider each step in this effect.

First, the placed image is given a stroke and a drop shadow, so it looks like a printed photograph:

The picture with a drop shadow added in InDesign

Then, the first photo corner is created by applying Bevel and Emboss effects to a small triangular object:

Triangle shape with the Bevel and Emboss effect

And the other three photo corners are created by duplicating, flipping, and rotating that triangle:

The photo with photo corners that have inconsistent lighting

Can you spot the shadow and highlight problem with the photo corners in the image above? When they were flipped and rotated, so were the highlights and shadows of the Bevel and Emboss resulting in inconsistent and unrealistic lighting with visible highlights on all four sides.

As I show in the video, the way to fix this problem is to make the four triangle corners behave as one by converting them to a compound path. Then the Bevel and Emboss is applied to all four triangles at once, with highlights and shadows all aligned to a consistent angle.

The picture affixed with four photo corners

An added benefit of making the corners into a compound path is that you can easily make changes to the triangle’s bevel attributes or the fill color.

The picture with red photo corners

I have another member-exclusive movie in the library this week called Making new shadow effects, which shows how you can replace a typical Drop Shadow effect with shadow shapes and patterns of your own design.


Demonstration of two shadow effects in Adobe InDesign

Another patterned shadow effect

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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2 Responses to “InDesign FX: Creating photo corners”

  1. Barbara DaSilva says:

    would love to know what attributes you use in step 1 for the stroke and drop shadowing. It looks nice and subtle, Mike.

  2. Mike Rankin says:

    Hi Barbara-

    The stroke that creates the photo border is 10px wide and colored with 15% black. The drop shadow is 3px in size, with a zero offset (the other settings are left at the defaults). Thanks for watching!

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