InDesign FX
Illustration by John Hersey

InDesign FX

with Mike Rankin

Video: 003 Exploring the Effects Panel

InDesign's transparency effects enable you to blend the colors of objects and apply special effects like Drop Shadows, Glows, feathering and more. The Effects panel is where you will find the controls for creating, applying, and editing transparency effects. Let's take a look. So here I have my Effects panel docked with my other panels. Now we will just start by taking a little tour of the controls in the panel. First off I have this pop-up menu with the different blending modes I can apply. I have 16 blending modes available to me in InDesign. They are the exact same 16 blending modes that you have for use in Illustrator.
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  1. 8h 7m
    1. Welcome to InDesign FX
      2m 42s
    2. 001 Blurring Objects with Drop Shadows
      6m 26s
    3. 002 Creating Interlocking Objects
      3m 46s
    4. 003 Exploring the Effects Panel
      8m 43s
    5. 004 Creating Long Text Shadows with Type on a Path
      4m 23s
    6. 005 Making Shiny Effects
      4m 46s
    7. 006 Producing Slime
      6m 22s
    8. 007 Exploring Bevel and Emboss Settings
      5m 34s
    9. 008 Exploring Inner Glow Settings
      2m 9s
    10. 009 Building Better Bevels
      3m 16s
    11. 010 Punching Holes
      4m 26s
    12. 011 Exploring Basic Feather Settings
      2m 52s
    13. 012 Exploring Directional Feather Settings
      5m 15s
    14. 013 Getting Effects into Print
      8m 10s
    15. 014 Getting Effects into Ebooks
      4m 32s
    16. 015 Simulating a Polaroid Effect
      3m 15s
    17. 016 Creating Metallic Strokes
      3m 18s
    18. 017 Exploring Inner Shadow Settings
      3m 50s
    19. 018 Exploring Drop Shadow Settings
      6m 15s
    20. 019 Simulating Multiple Strokes, Part 1
      3m 59s
    21. 020 Simulating Multiple Strokes, Part 2
      3m 29s
    22. 021 Creating Metallic Chrome Effects
      3m 56s
    23. 022 Creating Glass and Plastic Effects
      4m 49s
    24. 023 Exploring Satin Settings
      6m 57s
    25. 024 Exploring Gradient Feather Settings
      3m 51s
    26. 025 Simulating Carving and Chiseling
      6m 42s
    27. 026 Understanding Transparency Blend Space
      8m 2s
    28. 027 Drawing Extrusions, Part 1
      5m 25s
    29. 028 Drawing Concentric Shapes
      3m 17s
    30. 029 Creative Blend Mode tricks, Part 1
      5m 29s
    31. 030 Creative Blend Mode tricks, Part 2
      4m 6s
    32. 031 Drawing Star Bursts
      6m 7s
    33. 032 Scaling effects
      3m 0s
    34. 033 Learning Pathfinder Tips and Tricks
      9m 11s
    35. 034 Learning Transform Again Tips and Tricks
      6m 39s
    36. 035 Creating Cast Shadows, Part 1
      5m 27s
    37. 036 Exploring Outer Glow Settings
      6m 45s
    38. 037 Understanding Perspective Drawing
      4m 38s
    39. 038 Drawing 3D Banners
      3m 23s
    40. 039 Shearing to Create 3D Effects, Part 1
      6m 41s
    41. 040 Shearing to Create 3D Effects, Part 2
      6m 20s
    42. 041 Simulating a Ripped Background
      1m 53s
    43. 042 Creating a Breakthrough Effect
      2m 10s
    44. 043 Creating Spotlight Effects
      2m 22s
    45. 044 Backlighting an Object
      6m 8s
    46. 045 Simulating Stickers and Tape
      4m 23s
    47. 046 Creating Burnt Edges
      6m 26s
    48. 047 Creating Seamless Patterns
      8m 39s
    49. 048 Using Scripts to Create New Shapes
      6m 40s
    50. 049 Simulating Liquid
      2m 48s
    51. 050 Creating Editable Knockout Text
      5m 52s
    52. 051 Making Peeling Stickers
      5m 42s
    53. 052 Tips for Text Stroke Effects
      6m 44s
    54. 053 Creating 3D arrows
      3m 37s
    55. 054 Creating personal buttons
      4m 22s
    56. 055 Simulating leather with bevel and emboss
      4m 17s
    57. 056 Creating the effect of a magnifying glass
      4m 20s
    58. 057 Simulating a college notebook
      6m 11s
    59. 058 Using multiple effects to create plastic type
      3m 58s
    60. 059 Achieving a rough-hewn look
      2m 28s
    61. 060 Creating speech bubbles
      2m 41s
    62. 061 Creating buttons for interaction
      4m 37s
    63. 062 Creating wraparound headings
      5m 46s
    64. 063 Creating picture frames
      3m 24s
    65. 064 Customizing stroke styles
      5m 19s
    66. 065 Creating photo corners
      3m 44s
    67. 066 Making new shadow effects
      3m 19s
    68. 067 Making 3D type
      3m 15s
    69. 068 Making a 3D object
      5m 13s
    70. 069 Making translucent objects
      3m 10s
    71. 070 Mocking up a film strip
      4m 53s
    72. 071 Showing graphics as tiles
      3m 41s
    73. 072 Simulating chalk
      3m 7s
    74. 073 Using drop- and inner-shadows to create a cutout effect
      4m 30s
    75. 074 Applying multiple strokes with layers
      7m 1s
    76. 075 Enhancing design with skewed text
      3m 59s
    77. 076 Creating and revealing hidden objects
      3m 33s
    78. 077 Setting text vertically
      2m 51s
    79. 078 Achieving a developing Polaroid effect
      3m 38s
    80. 079 Creating ornamental frames
      5m 54s
    81. 080 Framing photos in letters
      4m 19s
    82. 081 Creating effects with paragraph rules
      3m 30s
    83. 082 Putting curved shadows on paper
      2m 40s
    84. 083 Building a puzzle
      2m 16s
    85. 084 Applying a gradient to text
      2m 2s
    86. 085 Creating a theater marquee
      4m 38s
    87. 086 Centering type on a curve
      2m 33s
    88. 087 Creating looks without fill
      2m 31s
    89. 088 Creating spiral patters from random lines
      3m 11s
    90. 089 Creating highlights at top and bottom
      3m 24s
    91. 090 Combining stroke styles
      2m 11s
    92. 091 Making a bottle cap
      1m 47s
    93. 092 Creating a 3D bevel effect behind a cover
      3m 30s
    94. 093 Creating custom frames
      2m 11s
    95. 094 Making trading cards
      4m 43s
    96. 095 Revolving an item around an object
      2m 44s
    97. 096 Creating old-fashioned spotlights
      2m 12s
    98. 097 Creating a rust effect
      1m 44s
    99. 098 Creating sparkle
      1m 54s
    100. 099 Double beveling text
      2m 24s
    101. 100 Creating a 3D pocket with bevel and gradient
      3m 2s
    102. 101 Creating metallic text
      3m 7s
    103. 102 Creating stained glass
      2m 53s
    104. 103 Bobbling a photograph
      4m 47s
    105. 104 Creating a lighted sign
      3m 9s
    106. 105 Creating a blue ribbon
      12m 58s
    107. 106 Putting items on a shelf
      6m 11s
    108. 107 Creating a shredded-document effect
      4m 12s
    109. 108 Simulating a train-station display board
      9m 54s

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Watch the Online Video Course InDesign FX
8h 7m Intermediate Aug 04, 2011 Updated Jul 08, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Mike Rankin

003 Exploring the Effects Panel

InDesign's transparency effects enable you to blend the colors of objects and apply special effects like Drop Shadows, Glows, feathering and more. The Effects panel is where you will find the controls for creating, applying, and editing transparency effects. Let's take a look. So here I have my Effects panel docked with my other panels. Now we will just start by taking a little tour of the controls in the panel. First off I have this pop-up menu with the different blending modes I can apply. I have 16 blending modes available to me in InDesign. They are the exact same 16 blending modes that you have for use in Illustrator.

Photoshop has substantially more but we can still do a heck of a lot with just these 16 blending modes. Next up, I have some Opacity controls with a slider that I can click and drag to see through objects to what's underneath them. In the main part of the panel, I have these different levels at which I can apply effects. So I can apply them at the object level, at the stroke level, at the fill level, or just to the content within a frame. So if I have a text frame selected, I can apply effects just to the text, if I have a placed graphic I can apply just to the place graphic and if I had a group selected I could also apply effects at the group level.

Underneath this I have two controls, Isolate Blending and Knockout Group. We will get to with those do in a little bit. In the panel menu I can show and hide the options. To show and hide Isolate Blending and Knockout Group. I have a menu for my nine different effects and to also open the Effects dialog box. I have controls to Clear Effects and Clear All Transparency. So I can just clear effects that have been applied or I can Clear All Transparency which also resets an object to 100% Opacity and the Normal blending mode, and I have controls for this thing called Global Light that I will also get to in a minute.

At the bottom of the panel I have buttons to clear all effects and return an object to 100% Opacity and the Normal blending mode. I have another pop-up menu to open the Effects dialog box and access the different effects and I have a Trashcan icon where I can remove effects that I have applied at any level. Now I will select a couple of these objects on the page. My sunglass frames, and when I do I can see that I have applied effects at both the stroke and the fill level. When I hover over that fx icon InDesign gives me a tool tip to tell me what effect I have applied.

In this case I have applied a Bevel and Emboss. I can also target that fx button and drag it down to the Trash to remove the effect if I want to. I will just undo that. I can also drag this fx icon to different levels. So if I wanted to move a bevel from the fill to the object level I could do that. I can also drag that fx icon from one object to another in my layout. So if I like the bevel that I had applied at the stroke level and wanted to apply to this text, I can just click and drag the fx icon and drop it on top of the text.

And there, now I have that same bevel applied to my text. That's pretty cool! Let's change some of the opacity and see how that works. So right now I have the object level selected. I will change from the Normal blending mode to Multiply and if I zoom in, I can see that I taken the whole object and multiplied it into the background and that's actually doing something that I don't want. I can see through the sunglass frames to what's beneath and that's not very realistic. So I am going to undo that and I am going to target just the fill and set the fill to Multiply.

So I have independent controls for the fill and the object. And that's looking a lot better. Now the sunglass frames are opaque, but I can see through the lenses. Now let's look at those controls for Isolate Blending and Knockout Group. Here I have two squares, one filled with cyan and one filled with magenta, and they're both set to the Normal blending mode. So in the Normal blending mode a top object knocks out what's beneath it. I can't see through this. Here I have taken the cyan square and I have set it to the Difference blending mode. So now I'm taking the difference between the cyan color and the magenta color underneath and I get this orangey color.

Now if I group these two and apply Knockout Group, I am telling InDesign to knock out all group members, to don't apply the blending mode within the group. So it's as if I'd set everything to Normal. But that Difference blending mode still applies to objects outside the group. So if I were to drag this over this dotted object, I can see that the Difference mode still applies. The cyan square is differencing with the dotted object underneath but it's knocking out the magenta square because it's grouped with it and I applied Knockout Group.

The other control, Isolate Blending, does the opposite. It tells InDesign to just apply the blending mode within the group. So the Difference mode still applies between the cyan square and the magenta square but it won't apply to anything else. So if I drag this over the dotted object, it knocks it out. It's as if I'd applied the Normal blending mode. What happens if I apply both Isolate Blending and Knockout Group? Well, that's kind of like if I told InDesign, hey, don't apply blending modes inside the group and also don't apply them outside the group; just knock everything out.

So it's like I'm back to square one and I just applied the Normal blending mode to everything. And if I drag this over the dotted object you can see that everything knocks out. Let's take a look at Global Light and what that does. Global Light is a setting that applies to Bevel and Emboss, Inner Shadow, and Drop Shadow and it's a means of having a consistent lighting effect throughout a document. We can access Global Light through the Effects panel menu and it has two controls, Angle and Altitude. If I change the Angle, I will set it to 0, I can see that at 0 degrees the light source comes from the right-hand side and shines towards the left.

And that's what I see in this little proxy. The crosshairs represents the light source and the dot in the middle of this circle is the object. Now if I change the Angle and increase it, I can see the light source go over the top of the object and move from right to left. At 90 degrees, it's directly over the object shining down. I will continue on all the way to 180 degrees where now the light source is on the left side of the object shining towards the right. So highlights on the left, shadows on the right. I will reset the Angle to 0 and now we will look at Altitude.

Altitude is like the height of the light source off of the horizon. So it's like the sun rising up. At a very low altitude say 1 degree, I have a very weak highlight almost nonexistent here and half of my object on the other side is in complete shadow. Now if I increase the Altitude, I will increase the highlight and push that shadow back and the higher I get the more intense my highlight gets until it's this really bright white spot like the sun is just beating down on you.

Altitude is a key setting for making objects look shiny. If we think about a shiny reflective object, there is an intense highlight that shines off of it and that's what you can achieve with Altitude. I will cancel out of here. Now there is one more thing to be aware of when it comes to Global Light and that's that Global Light is a document specific setting. So I can have different Global Light settings in different documents and when I copy and paste objects that use Global Light from one document to another, I might get some unexpected results. Let's change the Global Light setting in this document to something like 90 degrees and a high Altitude of 80 degrees, so I will have a very sharp intense highlight and almost no shadow.

I'll copy this object and paste it into another document. Now this document has the default settings for Global Light and wow! Look at that. I have a deep dark shadow and the highlight is coming from the top left corner and that's because this document uses Global Light settings of 120 degrees for Angle and 30 degrees for Altitude. So how do I overcome this problem? I will go back to my original document. I will open the Effects dialog box and in the Bevel and Emboss settings I will turn off Use Global Light.

Now when I do that I might see that these values for Angle and Altitude change and I will have to manually reset them to what I want. So I will set this to 90 degrees and Altitude to 80 degrees and click OK. Now this particular object doesn't use Global Light anymore, so when I copy and paste it into another document it won't change. I will copy it, go back to that other document, and paste it in and now I see I have my small intense highlight and no shadow in the beveling. Learning the controls in the Effects panel is the first step in mastering the use of InDesign's transparency effects.

Now you know where to go to adjust an object's opacity, change its blending mode, apply effects, target them to a fill, stroke, or content, and clear effects when you don't want them.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about InDesign FX .

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A: For CS4 and older versions of InDesign, please use the IDML exercise files.
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