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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.
Knockout Group is a command that lets you target where blending modes are honored in InDesign. Usually, you can use it to make group members ignore each other's blending modes, so they act as if they were all set to the normal blending mode and knock each other out. But an interesting thing happens when you apply Knockout Group when some group members have been made invisible by a combination of a Paper fill and the blending mode Multiply. These objects knock a hole right through the group to reveal what's underneath. You can use this idea to simulate holes in a surface, like I did with this slice of cheese here in my NO CHEESY FX sign.
So let's make that a piece of Swiss cheese. I'll go to a new page, I'll press the F key on my keyboard to get my Frame tool and I'll drag out to create my slice of cheese. I'll go to my Swatches panel and target the fill and I actually have a cheese colored swatch to apply here. Then I'll press the L key on my keyboard to get my Ellipse tool and I'll click and drag to start making the holes in my cheese. I am going to make a few of them. I don't have to actually stay within the boundaries of the square. I can go outside of it and the whole idea will still work just as well.
Yeah, that looks like enough. Now I'll Shift+Click to select all of them and in the Effects panel, I'll change the blending mode from Normal to Multiply. I'll Shift+click on my cheese to select everything, group it, and now I'll apply Knockout Group and now all the holes are knocked out of the cheese shape and I can see that background underneath. And the neat thing is they stay independent objects.
So if I double-click into the group and select one of the holes, I can move it around if I didn't like where it was to begin with. Let's make another hole. Here I have an arrow and I'd like to have it fly through a shape of some material with some thickness. So I need to show the edge of that material inside the hole. I'll press the F key to get my Frame tool and I'll click and drag to draw a rectangle. I'll fill it with a color. I'll just say black. I'll press the L key to get my Ellipse tool to draw my hole shape and I'll also fill that with black, but a lighter tint of it.
This is going to be that inner edge of the hole. So I'll make it say 50% black. Now I want to get a copy of this, so I'll switch to my Selection tool and I'll Option+Shift+Drag or Alt+Shift+Drag to the left to make an exact copy of this ellipse. I am going to fill it with Paper and set it to Multiply in the Effects panel. That makes it disappear temporarily. I am going to cut it and I want to paste it into this first ellipse shape, to make it really seem like it's the edge of some kind of material.
So I'll select the ellipse and choose Edit > Paste Into. I still don't see anything and I won't until I actually apply the Knockout Group command. So I'll select both the rectangle and the ellipse, group them, and with the group targeted, apply Knockout Group. Now I can see the arrow through the hole, but I'd like to also see this part of the arrow in front of the rectangle, so it really looks like it's come through the hole, and for that I am going to need an extra copy of both the hole and the arrow.
I'll double click into the group to select this ellipse. I'll copy it and choose Edit > Paste in Place or Command+Shift+Option+V or Ctrl+Shift+Alt+V, and in the Swatches panel, I'll change the fill from 50% black to None. I'll click on the arrow, copy it, click on that new ellipse that I just created, and choose Edit > Paste Into. Now I just have to resize the ellipse to show the rest of the arrow and deselect, and now it looks like I have a hole in a material with some thickness and an object that's flying through it.
It's easy to create holes in a surface with paper filled shapes set to Multiply, grouped with a larger object and then apply Knockout Group to the whole thing. If all you want to make is some Swiss cheese, then that's all you need, but if you want to give the material some thickness, create a second copy of the whole shape and paste the Paper- filled shape into that one.
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