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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.
InDesign doesn't have a built-in feature for creating cast shadows. A regular drop shadow retains the shape of the original object. So you have to make creative use of other features to create cast shadows. One such feature is the Type on a Path option called Gravity, which can stretch and bend the shapes of letters. Here I have just a little bit of text, Big Things, and you can see that I have these nice stretched out cast shadows coming from the bottoms of the letters. Let's see how that's done. I'll go to a new page, I'll press the F key on my keyboard, and click-and-drag out a long frame. Then I'll go to the Tool panel, click-and-hold on the Type tool, and I'll select the Type on a Path tool, or I could press Shift+T. I'll go from the top-left corner. I'll click-and-drag all the way to the top-right corner and let go.
So now I have Type on a Path applied to this frame. Let's put some words in. I'll just type in those same words, Big Things. I'll select it all and center it, and I'm going to switch my font from Minion Pro to Myriad. It's really small right now so I'm going to increase the point size from 12 pixels to 100 pixels, and that's looking pretty good. Since I'm going to reflect this type I'm going to flip it. I need to do a little work to make sure that all the letters line up exactly on the baseline.
Right now it looks like they're not. So I'm going to zoom in and see who is aligned on the baseline and who isn't. The B and the I look pretty good. The G is hovering a little bit underneath the baseline. So I want that to sit exactly on the same line as the I and the T here. so I'm going to click and select it, and then in the Control panel I'm going to go up to my baseline shift and shift it up just a little bit, maybe just 1 pixel. Deselect, switch to my Selection tool and check it, and that's going to be good enough.
Again, we're zoomed in really close here, so we're going to see any little defect in the baseline alignment. The G and the S over here are both sticking under the baseline. So I'm going to select both of them, and again add 1 pixel of baseline shift there. Now everybody should be sitting on the same line, so when I flip the type it will all align perfectly. Switch to my Selection tool, grab the frame, and with the reference point at the top-center I'm going to hold the Option or Alt key on my keyboard and click on the Flip Vertical button.
Now I have my flipped copy of my type that's going to serve as the cast shadow. Now I don't want it to be 100% black; I'd like it to be gray. So I'll go to my Swatches panel and select my Formatting Effects Type, and instead of a Tint of 100% we'll reduce that down to say 40% and say OK. Now I'll switch to my Formatting Effects Container so I can apply an effect to this. The effect I want to apply is a Gradient Feather. I want to fade this shadow out so it's opaque where it touches the text and fades out to invisible here.
And that's why I had to click on Formatting Effects Container. I'll stash the Swatches panel, I'll press Shift+G on my keyboard to get my Gradient Feather tool, and I'll click- and-drag from somewhere around the center of the frame downward to fade out my cast shadow. That's looking a little too subtle so I'll do that again. That's looking better. Now let's apply that Type on a Path Gravity option to apply some skew and stretch these letters out. So with the frame selected, I'll go to the Type menu, choose Type on a Path > Options, and change the effect from Rainbow to Gravity and click OK.
Now that's looking pretty good, but if I'd like to change the amount of Skew I can do that easily. I'll switch to my Selection tool by pressing the V key on my keyboard and if I reshape this frame by clicking-and- dragging this control point, I can reshape the Gravity option on the toe on a path like so. If I want type that's not skewed very much, I can make the frame taller, or if I want to skew it way out I can make it really short. It's up to me. So there I have my nice cast shadow courtesy of the Gravity option for Type on a Path.
So you can create dramatic cast shadows for text if you make type on a path, flip it, and then apply the Gravity option to size and shape the shadow any way you wish.
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