InDesign FX: Creating highlights at the top and bottom

Published by | Thursday, April 25th, 2013

If you’ve watched a few of the videos in the InDesign FX series, you know how useful the Bevel and Emboss effect can be for creating all kinds of interesting looks. The versatile Bevel and Emboss tool allows you to apply both a shadow and a highlight to objects, unlike all the other transparency effects, which offer only a shadow or a highlight.

But one limitation you might encounter with Bevel and Emboss is the fact that you can add only one shadow and one highlight. So if you want to simulate multiple lights shining on an object, you have to come up with a workaround. One way is to use different colors and blending modes to create, in effect, two highlights or two shadows in a single effect.


Even this is somewhat limited, though, since you can pick only one direction for the light with the Angle and Altitude controls in the Bevel and Emboss settings.

Wouldn’t it be a lot cooler if you could add multiple, independent highlights and shadows to simulate as many light sources as you wanted? Well, you can—you just need to use more than one object.

In this week’s video, I show how to create type with glossy highlights at both the top and the bottom by using two stacked copies of the text and masking one of them.

An alternative method (not shown in the video, but using the same underlying idea) is to create a second object, with no stroke and no fill, and group it with the original object.

Then you can apply another Bevel and Emboss effect to the group. But since the only visible object is the original one, the result looks like you applied the effect several times to a single object.

I encourage you to try out both the grouping and masking methods to see which you like better. Either will help you create more interesting looks than you can by applying effects to a single object.

I also have a new video for members this week called Combining stroke styles. It shows how to create unique stroke effects by applying different custom stroke styles to stacked copies of a path.

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

Interested in more?

• Start a free trial membership at
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• Courses by Mike Rankin on
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