InDesign Secrets: Converting a clipping path to a frame

Published by | Thursday, March 7th, 2013

What happens when you want to print a spot varnish or apply an effect over a small area of your document like a logo or an image? In this week’s free InDesign Secrets video, David Blatner shows you how to convert a vector clipping path into a frame that can be filled with a spot color or effect of your choice.

Watch the video above and use the companion text below to help with each step.

1. Create a duplicate of the element you want to apply the special treatment to, exactly on top of the original. In our example, we’ll use an image.

2. Choose Object > Clipping Path > Options to create a clipping path for the image.

3. When the Clipping Path dialog opens, choose Alpha Channel from the Type dropdown. Alpha Channel means “use the transparency inside the image to make the clipping path.”

Make your selection and then create an Alpha Channel

4. Once you click OK, you’ll see the clipping path appear as a light blue line around the edges of your image. This path won’t be perfect, but it’ll be good enough for this technique.

Adjust the Clipping Path settings.

5. Now it’s time to convert your clipping path into a frame. Right-click (Windows) or Ctrl-click (Mac) and choose Convert Clipping Path to Frame from the contextual menu.

Convert the clipping path to a frame

6. Delete the image inside your new frame. The original image should still appear behind the empty frame.

7. In this example, we’re going to fill the frame with a spot color varnish. Go to the Fill icon and choose New Color Swatch from the flyout menu.

8. Choose Spot from the Color Type dropdown in the New Color Swatch dialog and dial in the colors you would like to use. Click OK.

Choose Spot from the Color Type menu

9. Go to the Effects panel and change the blend setting for the fill to Multiply.

Change the blend setting for the fill to Multiply

Now, when you perform your color separation at output, you’ll have a spot color varnish for just that image. This technique can be used for images of almost any size and shape. If the image doesn’t contain an alpha channel, select the Detect Edges option from the Type menu in step 3.

Looking for more Adobe InDesign insights? Join Anne-Marie Concepción in a member-exclusive video called Adding a drop shadow to a single word inside a frame.

And as always, 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 FX biweekly series
InDesign CS6 Essential Training
• InDesign CS6 New Features

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4 Responses to “InDesign Secrets: Converting a clipping path to a frame”

  1. ClrExp says:

    Clipping path is the best technique to remove background from photography. I’ve read your blog post on clipping path on indesign and really informative article.

  2. Luke Watts says:

    we are also doing clipping paths this tutorials is very useful for our graphic designers…. thanks for sharing

  3. Creative IT says:

    Thanks a lot for this awesome tutorial

  4. Bernard Spilsbury says:

    The only thing I would change is a) make a separate layer for the varnish, then output a separate pdf just for the vanish; and b) choose a spot colour for the varnish and make it 100% magenta, since this is the standard colour used and preferred by commercial printers. And since I’d forgotten how to make a spot varnish, your tutorial saved the day.
    A must-read for anyone dealing with InDesign.

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