InDesign FX - Post archive

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: 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

 

InDesign FX: Simulating ruled notebook paper

Published by | Thursday, September 6th, 2012


This week’s InDesign FX movie is another example of how you can combine simple and precise drawing techniques, transparency effects, and an eye for detail to simulate real-world objects in a convincing manner. In this case, I made sheets of notebook paper from scratch.

Sheets of college-ruled notebook paper made in Adobe InDesign

You may be wondering, why would you want to go to the trouble of making something like notebook paper, when you can find it in a piece of stock art, or simply put a sheet of it on a scanner? There are two main reasons, I think. The first is flexibility. When you create artwork from scratch, you get to make every choice about how it looks. That’s not the case when you use a piece of stock art and sometimes you have to settle for whatever you can find in a timely manner. That time you spend searching in vain could be spent drawing exactly what you want—and later on, if you’re asked to change the art, you know exactly what can be done and how to do it, because you built it in InDesign. That brings me to the second advantage: efficiency. Every high-resolution photo you place into InDesign adds complexity and size to the file, and another piece to track in your workflow. You also have to maintain image files on disks and sometimes move them between machines. While storage is cheap and plentiful nowadays, that’s not always the case with bandwidth. If I’m stuck somewhere with a slow Internet connection, I’d much rather have to retrieve a 75k InDesign snippet than a 25 MB Photoshop file.

But of course these advantages don’t really matter if you can’t get a look that’s really convincing. In the movie, I accomplish this by using dialog boxes and panels to create, size, and move objects in a precise and consistent manner, rather than dragging them around the page and approximating. For example, the lines on the paper are easily achieved with paragraph rules.

Detail of the paragraph-ruled lines on the notebook paper in Adobe InDesign

This makes it very easy to quickly add as many equally spaced lines as I want just by pressing the return key on my keyboard. I can move them all at once by selecting the text frame (no grouping necessary). And if I want to adjust them at all, I can simply select the text and change the width, color, or offset in the Paragraph Rules dialog box.

Paragraph Rules dialog box in Adobe InDesign

Holes can be punched in the page using blending modes with the Knockout Group feature.

Detail of the holes in the notebook paper made using Adobe InDesign

Another nice thing about drawing the pages from scratch is that you can copy and paste one of them to easily add as many more pages as you like. And you can add even more realism by reducing the opacity of the pages, so you can see through them just a little, as is the case with real notebook paper.

Detail of the semi-opaque ruled notebook pages made using Adobe InDesign

I also have another member-exclusive movie in the lynda.com library this week called Using multiple effects to create plastic type.

Molded-plastic type effect made using Adobe InDesign

In this new movie, I show how to create a plastic-molded type look by layering copies of text with various effects applied to each one. If you’ve never tried the Pillow Emboss option, this effect shows you one of its uses.

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

Interested in more?
• The complete InDesign FX course
• 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 an embossed leather effect

Published by | Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

In this week’s InDesign FX video, I show how to create the look of an embossed leather book cover. It’s a great example of how you can customize generic pieces of art with InDesign effects, and it illustrates the usefulness of the Hard Light blending mode.

An embossed leather book cover effect using the Hard Light blending mode in Adobe InDesign

The Hard Light blending mode is ideally suited for this effect because it allows you to easily hide the fill of an object (or text), while keeping the shadows and highlights of the Bevel and Emboss effect visible. The key point to remember is that a 50% black fill becomes transparent when Hard Light is applied to it. Anything darker or lighter than 50% black will remain visible. This is what allows us to apply embossing over photographic backgrounds and textures.

Making text look like embossed leather using the Hard Light blending mode in Adobe InDesign

Using the Hard Light blending mode in Adobe InDesign to apply embossing over photographic backgrounds and textures

By setting the direction of the bevel to Up or Down, you can create a raised design, or one that appears to be pressed into a surface.

Setting the direction of the bevel to Up or Down on the Effects panel in Adobe InDesign

You can make effects like this look even more natural by imitating details in the underlying photograph. In this case, I was careful to copy the angle of the lighting, and I used an Inverse Rounded corner option with a double stroke to match the real embossing in the photograph of the book cover.

Example of using the Inverse Rounded corner option with a double stroke in Adobe InDesign

The combination of Bevel and Emboss with Hard Light is really versatile. It’s useful for a lot more than just leather embossing. For example, try it over a photograph of wood grain for a quick carving effect.

Example of a carved wood effect achieved using the Bevel and Emboss with Hard Light effect in Adobe InDesign

One more important thing to remember is that Hard Light is one of the InDesign blending modes that yields different results with RGB and CMYK colors. To get the results shown in the video, it is essential to use RGB Transparency blend space. Choose Edit > Transparency Blend Space to check or change the blend space used by a document. For more information on outputting documents with RGB blend space to print, see my blog post “Getting effects into print.”

I also have another member-exclusive video in the lynda.com library this week called Creating a magnifying glass effect. In this new video, I show how to combine two photos in InDesign (along with some more blending mode magic) to make it look as if you’re viewing something through a magnifying glass.

Creating a magnifying glass effect in Adobe InDesign

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

 

Interested in more?
• The complete InDesign FX course
• 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: Making a design pop with 3D arrows

Published by | Thursday, August 9th, 2012

In the context of design, “pop” is a sought-after quality that makes page elements come alive, infuses them with energy and freshness, and grabs attention

So how do you make a design pop?

One way is to take a simple element used to direct the viewer’s gaze and give it a three-dimensional look. We’re using the example of an arrow because we often use an arrow to direct someone toward something in graphics such as an advertisement or signage.

In this case, instead of having a flat arrow sitting on top of other objects, we’re making the arrow look like it is wrapping around those objects, and in doing so, giving the whole design a feeling of depth.

Example of a straight InDesign arrow and an InDesign arrow that wraps around an object.

To make 3D arrows in Adobe InDesign, you don’t need any special drawing skills. All you need are the Pathfinder commands to combine simple shapes like ellipses, rectangles, and triangles to make 3D arrows in just about any size, shape, and direction.

InDesign 3D arrow wrapped over the top of an object.
InDesign 3D arrow wrapped around an object.

InDesign arrows wrapping towards the center of a circle.

As I show in the video, the basic idea is to start with an ellipse centered on the edge of an object where you want the arrow to wrap around. Then use the Pathfinder tools to combine the curve from the ellipse with a rectangle to form the line of the arrow. The arrow’s tip is made from a triangle, and you can tweak the position of points to make the tip as barbed as you like.

How to make an arrow that wraps around an object with shapes in InDesign.

One of the best things about this InDesign technique is that most people find they can do it quickly once they get the hang of it. So you can easily experiment with different looks by rotating the arrow, shearing it, or adding gradient fills, drop shadows, or bevels—you name it.

I also have another member-exclusive video in the lynda.com library this week called Creating Personal Buttons. In this new video, I show how to use blending modes and effects to create the look of a metal button you can “pin” anywhere on your design to give it more personality.

Example of a button pin effect created in InDesign.

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

Interested in more?
• The complete InDesign FX course
• 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