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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.
With all due respect to drop Shadow, Bevel and Emboss may be the most versatile and useful of InDesign's effects. But it does have an Achilles heel. When the path crosses itself, the effect goes awry and shadows and highlights get distorted. Fortunately, we can overcome this limitation quickly and easily by copying path segments and pasting them into new frames that serve as masks. So here I have just one single path that loops over itself and you can see that the Bevel and Emboss effect gets distorted here where I have the intersections of the path. InDesign gets kind of confused.
It doesn't know which direction the shadow and highlight should go in, and if you think about it, this going to make sense. This is one single path. It doesn't have any stacking order. It's just a single object and it's perfectly flat. So how would InDesign know which segment should go on top of another? It's impossible. But we can create our own stacking order by copying some of the path segments and pasting them into little frames that will serve as Vector masks/ So let's do that. I will press the A key to switch to my Direct Selection tool, and I'll just hover over this path segment and click on it.
I now have it selected, because I can see that two control handles at either end. I am going to copy it. I am going to choose Edit > Paste in Place. I am immediately going to cut that segment so I have on my clipboard, and going to press the F key on my keyboard, to get me the Rectangle Frame tool. Now I am going to click and drag over the area where the Bevel effect is distorted. I can hold down my spacebar on my keyboard to reposition the frame if I didn't place it exactly where I wanted to in the beginning, then I am going to choose Edit > Paste Into, and this will paste the past segment into the frame that acts as a mask.
I will deelect, and now I can see I have a nice unbroken Bevel effect in this new segment and overlays the other one. Let's try it again on this main vertical segment. I will press the A key to get my direct selection tool again, I will click on the segment till I see those direction handles and make sure I can actually have it, I'll copy it, and choose Edit > Paste in Place, I will cut it, press the F key again to get my Rectangle Frame tool, and I am going to click and drag all the way down here, because there is a lot of distortion going on down here at the bottom and up here at the top and I want to cover over all that stuff.
Then I am going to choose Edit > Paste into to paste that segment right into my mask. I will deselect. That's looking better, I will press the A key one more time, and then I am going to click down here. I am actually going to click right on the control point here, because it's very close to where the beveling is getting distorted, so I am going to grab this whole segment, both sides. I will copy it, I will choose Edit > Paste In Place, or I can press Command+Shift+Option+V or Ctrl+Shift+ Alt+V. I am going to cut it, press F one more time to get my Rectangle Frame tool, and click and drag over here, all the way to this area where the bvel is broken.
And last I'll just choose Edit > Paste Into again. I'll deselect and there you have some nice better bevels. It looks more like a real 3D object, instead of something that was just stamped out of a piece of material or molded out of plastic. This has a real sense of dimension to it. So again, to fix the distortion that occurs in the Bevel and Emboss effect when you have a self intersecting path, copy path segments, paste them into empty frames that serve as masks, and you can build better bevels.
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