Author Archive

InDesign FX: Creating paper cutout letters

Published by | Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

In this week’s InDesign FX video, I show how to create the effect of letters cut out of paper.

The final effect of letters cut out of paper.

The key elements to achieving this look include a combination of two transparency effects (Drop Shadow and Inner Shadow), a bit of vector masking courtesy of the Paste Into command, and your own creativity in scattering the letter shapes for some carefully composed “randomness.”

The cutout effect begins with a simple line of text.

The effect begins with a simple line of text.

The text is then converted to outlines and filled with a photo to simulate a surface beneath the paper. In this case, I chose a wood-grain texture. A small Inner Shadow applied to the letter shapes creates the effect of looking through the cutout letter shapes.

The text is converted to outlines and filled with a photo.

Adding a small inner shadow to create the cut out effect.

A second copy of the text outline is filled with a light black tint and given a small drop shadow. Then everything is placed atop a large frame filled with the same black tint to simulate a sheet of paper.

Fill a second copy of the text outlines with black and a drop shadow.

Close-up view of the second copy.

The final step of this effect is where you get to exercise the most creativity—scattering the letters by moving and rotating them.

Get creative with how you scatter the cut out letters.

Another nice thing about this technique: you can use it with any vector shapes you have or bring into Adobe InDesign from another application (like Adobe Illustrator).

Using any vector shape with this cut out effect.

I also have a member-exclusive movie in the lynda.com library this week called Applying multiple strokes with layers. In this video I show two variations on how to create multilayered text by applying combinations of varying strokes and shadows.

Applying multiple strokes with layers.

Applying multiple strokes with layers.

Applying multiple strokes with layers.

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

Interested in more?
• The entire InDesign FX biweekly series
• Courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com
• All lynda.com InDesign courses

Suggested courses to watch next:
InDesign Secrets weekly series
InDesign CS6 Essential Training
• InDesign CS6 New Features
Deke’s Techniques

InDesign FX: Showing graphics as tiles

Published by | Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

In this week’s InDesign FX video, I show how to create the effect of an image printed on a set of ceramic tiles.

Create the effect of an image printed on a set of ceramic tiles.

The key element of this effect is a set of frames that are identically sized and equally spaced.

A set of frames that are equally sized and spaced.

There are a few different ways you could go about creating these frames. You could use the Step and Repeat feature. You could hold Option/Alt and drag an existing frame. You could even use a script that comes with Adobe InDesign called Make Grid. But by far the quickest and easiest way to make this set of frames is to use the Gridify feature. You simply start drawing a rectangle by clicking and dragging with the Rectangle tool, and before you release your mouse button, tap your keyboard arrow keys to split the rectangle into multiple copies. Tapping the up/down arrow keys adds or removes rows of frames.

Use the Gridify feature to create frames.

Tapping the right/left arrow keys adds or removes columns of frames.

Tap arrows right or left to add columns of frames.

You can adjust the spacing between the frames by holding the Command/Ctrl key while tapping your arrow keys. You can also hold Shift while you release your mouse button to create a set of perfect squares. If that all sounds like a lot of complicated keyboarding, I suggest you just try it out. It’s actually quite intuitive.

Of course, the frames are just the start of this effect. After you have created them, you then need to make them act as a single object before you can place a photo into them. This is a perfect use for the Compound Path feature. Then you’re ready to place a photo into the compound path so a small portion of the image appears in each tile.

Use the Compound Path feature and place a photo into the compound path.

Finally, a few finishing touches are needed to create the look of ceramic tile. First, I like to round the corners a bit, using the Corner Options in the Control panel. Then I add some transparency effects like Bevel and Emboss and Drop Shadow to finish the look of the tile.

Create the look of ceramic tile.

If you want to take the effect even further, you can create a texture that looks like grout holding the tiles in place. For that, I use a frame filled with gray, enhanced with a large Inner Glow. The key for creating the texture is to add a lot of noise to the Inner Glow.

Adding the appearance of grout to the tiles.

I also have a member-exclusive movie in the lynda.com library this week called Simulating chalk. In it, I show how to make live text or any object you create in InDesign look like it was written on a chalkboard.

Chalkboard effect

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

Interested in more?
• The entire InDesign FX biweekly series
• Courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com
• All lynda.com InDesign courses

Suggested courses to watch next:
InDesign Secrets weekly series
InDesign CS6 Essential Training
• InDesign CS6 New Features
Deke’s Techniques

InDesign FX: Making Translucent Objects

Published by | Thursday, November 29th, 2012

In this week’s InDesign FX video, I show how to use the Bevel and Emboss feature in combination with the Hard Light blending mode to simulate translucent objects like soap bubbles.

Creating translucent objects in InDesign

As its name suggests, the Hard Light blending mode is meant to create an effect of a strong light being shined on an object. When Hard Light is applied to colors lighter than 50% gray, the effect will lighten an underlying object. When Hard Light is applied to colors darker than 50% gray, the effect will darken an underlying object. And when Hard Light is applied to exactly 50% gray, it becomes transparent. You can observe this by filling an object with a white to black gradient, then applying Hard Light, and placing the object over something else in your document.

Filling an object with a white to black gradient

Placing an object over your gradient.

So, if we want to create something like a translucent bubble, we can start with a circle filled with 50% gray and use the Bevel and Emboss effect to create a highlight and shadow.

Use the Bevel and Emboss effect to create a highlight and shadow

Then apply Hard Light to make the 50% gray fill disappear, while retaining the shadow and highlight created by Bevel and Emboss.

Apply Hard Light to the object.

It’s also worth noting that this use of Hard Light works best with documents that use RGB Transparency Blend Space. This does not mean that you can’t create translucent objects in documents destined for print output. But in order to retain the look of those translucent objects, you must not flatten transparency or convert to CMYK when you export a PDF from InDesign. You can perform flattening and color conversion tasks in the PDF in Acrobat, or you can rely on your print service provider to do these jobs. For more information on how to get InDesign FX to print correctly, read my blog post Getting Effects into Print.

I also have a member-exclusive movie in the lynda.com library this week called Mocking Up a Film Strip. In it, I show how to add details around a series of photos to make them look like a strip of film.

Mocking up a film strip.

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 lynda.com
• All courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com

InDesign FX: Making 3D Type

Published by | Thursday, November 15th, 2012

In this week’s InDesign FX tutorial, I show how to create a variety of 3D effects with the Bevel and Emboss effect in Adobe InDesign. In this video, I use several instances of Bevel and Emboss along with Drop Shadows and Inner Glow to create a realistic replica of a California license plate.

The final California license plate made using Adobe InDesign

To start this technique, I show how to use an Outer Bevel to make raised letters that look like they were stamped in metal.

Raised type made using the Outer Bevel effect

An Inner Glow with noise helps to add some realism by roughening up the edges of the letters.

The type with an added Inner Glow with noise

Without the noise, the edges of the letters were too razor sharp to look real. I often find that adding deliberate defects, even subtle ones, can make an illustration like this look more realistic.

A close-up look at the top-left corner of the license plate reveals three different uses of beveled transparency effects:

The registration month sticker in the corner of the license plate

The addition of a small Inner Bevel creates a highlight at the bottom of the registration month sticker, which adds a little thickness. An Outer Bevel applied in combination with an Inner Shadow creates the look of the screw hole. And by applying a larger Inner Bevel to the fill of the license plate, I can make it appear raised, while keeping a flat border.

At this point, you might be wondering how I knew to use all these specific effects. The answer is that I started by finding a real California license plate to use as a reference. I happened to have one handy, so I just set it next to my computer while I worked, but I could have just as easily worked from a photograph. When you’re trying to create a realistic effect such as this, I think it’s essential to work from a reference, so you can study the details of the object and identify which effects to apply. Then it’s just a matter of tinkering with the settings until what you see on your screen approaches the real object (or photograph).

I also have a member-exclusive video in the lynda.com library this week called Making a 3D object, in which I show how to use some vector drawing techniques along with Bevel and Emboss to create a bar of soap.

a bar of soap made in Adobe InDesign

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

 

 

Interested in more?
• The complete InDesign FX biweekly series
• All InDesign courses on lynda.com
• All courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:
• InDesign Secrets
• InDesign CS6 Essential Training 
• InDesign CS6 New Features 
 Deke’s Techniques

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 lynda.com 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 lynda.com
• All courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:
• InDesign Secrets
• InDesign CS6 Essential Training 
• InDesign CS6 New Features 
 Deke’s Techniques

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 lynda.com 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 lynda.com
• All courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:
• InDesign Secrets
• InDesign CS6 Essential Training 
• InDesign CS6 New Features 
 Deke’s Techniques

InDesign FX: Creating custom InDesign buttons

Published by | Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Nowadays, Adobe InDesign is often used to produce interactive documents with features like slideshows, audio, video, animations, and hyperlinks. To make all these elements truly interactive, you have to provide readers with controls, usually in the form of buttons. InDesign has a sample library of buttons you can use as is or customize, but if you want your buttons to fit seamlessly with the rest of your page design, you might consider creating your look from scratch. In this week’s InDesign FX video, I show how you can quickly make great looking buttons by starting with simple circular shapes, and adding effects like Gradient Feather, Inner Shadow, Outer Glow, and Bevel and Emboss.

The four main elements required to make a round button that has dimension and a shiny finish are the button text, shine effect, background color, and outer boundary ring.

The four elements of a dimensional button graphic and their composite

You can, of course, tweak any of the elements to suit your taste. Try experimenting with different fonts or colors for the text and background. Adjust the opacity of the shiny highlight to make your button polished or dull, or omit the highlight altogether to make a flat button instead of a convex one. Adjust the outer glow on the text. Use different bevel settings for the outer ring, or remove the bevel if you don’t like it. The options are endless and so easy to tweak that experimentation and creativity are encouraged. Here’s a tip: When you have a version you like, just select it with the Direct Selection tool, and Option/Alt drag to make a copy. That way you can compare versions of your button side by side and never have to recreate your work.

Side by side comparison of two sets of buttons

I also have another member-exclusive movie in the lynda.com library this week called Creating wraparound headings, which shows you how to create wraparound headings that can be edited and moved intact.

Wraparound heading example in Adobe InDesign

A text box with two wraparound headings

Wraparound headings are a very trendy look in magazines and websites right now, and with good reason. They give a very clean, crisp sense of depth, and offer a fresh alternative to effects like bevels and drop shadows.

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 lynda.com
• All courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:
• InDesign Secrets
• InDesign CS6 Essential Training 
• InDesign CS6 New Features 
 Deke’s Techniques

InDesign FX: Achieving a chopped-edge look

Published by | Thursday, September 20th, 2012

In this week’s InDesign FX movie, I show how to make a composition that looks like rough paper cutouts that have been taped to a surface.

An Adobe InDesign composition with paper cutouts taped to a wooden board

This technique is a fun approach to take when you want to convey a brainstorming or scrapbooking theme. In the video I used a photo of wood for a background, but the effect would work just as well (or maybe even better) with a background photo of corkboard.

An Adobe InDesign composition with paper cutouts taped to a cork bulletin board

One of the things that makes this effect a lot of fun to create is the spontaneity it allows. In contrast to the careful precision shown in the last InDesign FX video, Simulating Notebook Paper, you can work fast and sloppy with the rough, chopped-edge effect, since that’s exactly the kind of look you’re trying to simulate.

The basic technique involves starting with a silhouetted photo placed in InDesign.

A silhouetted picture of a motorcycle gas tank placed in InDesign

Then you click with the Pen tool to create the rough, cutout shape.

The silhouetted art with a rough cutout around it made using the Pen Tool in Adobe InDesign

Next, apply a light gray fill and a subtle drop shadow to give the appearance of paper.

The silhouetted art with a light gray fill in the cutout

Finally, create the illusion of tape and dog-eared folds to attach your cutout images to your background.

Detail of the tape effect on the cutout artThe final composition with cutout and tape effects

If you like the rough-hewn effect, you might also enjoy the peeling stickers  and sticker and tape effects I’ve written about in the past.

A peeling sticker effect achieved using Adobe InDesign

A picture that looks to have been taped to a surface in Adobe InDesign

I also have another member-exclusive movie in the lynda.com library this week called Creating Speech Bubbles where I show you how to create cartoon speech bubbles to place over photos in InDesign layouts. They’re fun, easy to create, and infinitely adjustable thanks to the way they’re constructed.

A picture of a kitten with a speech bubble

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

Interested in more?
• The complete InDesign FX series
• All InDesign courses on lynda.com
• All courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:
• InDesign Secrets
• InDesign CS6 Essential Training 
• InDesign CS6 New Features 
 Deke’s Techniques