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InDesign FX is a collection of self-contained effects projects designed to be completed in ten minutes or less. Taught by expert Mike Rankin, the series explores every aspect of InDesign's graphic effects capabilities through real-world examples, all without relying on Photoshop or Illustrator. The intent is to reveal the quick, practical, and sometimes surprising application of InDesign effects to creative projects.
All objects in InDesign have a stacking order. Everything is either in front of or behind something else. You can move objects up or down in that order but you can't create interlocking objects, things like links in a chain. But with the little masking trick using the Paste Into command, you can make it look just like two objects are interlocked. Here I have three ellipses that make up the links in a chain and I've created this effect by taking extra copies of the ellipses and pasting them into extra frames to act like a little mask.
It's a really simple trick but it's really effective. Let's try it. So here I have my three ellipses laid one on top of the other and it doesn't look like they're interlocked. It just looks like they're stacked on top of one another and in reality they are. I will select the first one, copy it, press the F key on my keyboard, and I am going to click and drag over this area where I would like to create the interlocking illusion. And I'll choose Edit > Paste Into and deselect. Just like that, it looks like I have an interlocked object.
Now I will try it again over here. I will press the V key to switch to my Selection tool, click on the middle ellipse, copy it, press the F key, click and drag, and choose Edit > Paste Into and deselect. And just like that I have created my interlocking links in a chain. Let's try another variation on this. Here is my ringed planet. I used a different technique with this to make it look like the rings were both in front of and behind the planet and it was even simpler than the masking trick with the Paste Into.
In this case, all I did was create another copy of the circle of the planet and delete the bottom anchor point so it's only a semicircle and it's laid on top of the ellipse that makes up the rings. Another really simple but really effective trick. Let's try it. I will press the L key to get my Ellipse tool and click in my document. I will create my planet shape, 250 pixels wide and 250 pixels high. And in my Swatches I have a PlanetColor that I will apply to the fill of my ellipse and give it a stroke of None.
And I would like to actually reposition this gradient a little bit to look like the light source was coming up from the top left corner. So I will press the G key on my keyboard to get my Gradient tool, target the fill, and click and drag. There, that's more like what I want. Now I will press the L key to get my Ellipse tool again and I'll click and drag to draw the planet's rings. Something like that. I will change the color of the stroke from black to PlanetRing and I will increase the width of the stroke to 20 pixels and I will change the stroke style from Solid to Thick-Thin-Thick and that gives me my nice planetary rings.
Now I want to switch to my Selection tool, click on the planet, copy it, choose Edit > Paste in Place, and then switch to my Direct Selection tool by pressing the A key on my keyboard. I want to click and select just this bottom anchor point and press the Delete key on my keyboard to delete it. Now I just have this semicircle but it's laid on top of the ellipse that makes up the planet's rings and completes the illusion. You can't really create interlocking vector objects. They just don't work that way, but with an extra copy of an object pasted into a frame that acts like a mask, you can create the exact same appearance as if paths were interlocked.
You can also change paths just by deleting anchor points and sandwiching them around other objects to make them look like they're both in front of and behind objects.
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