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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.
Basic feather gives you the ability to fade an object into the background but it works the same in all directions. What if you want to fade just one edge of an object or all the edges in a particular direction? Well you can with the Directional Feather effect. Let's see how it works. Here I have a simple document with one placed photo of some flowers and one text frame containing the words Directional Feather. I'm actually going to split the window into two by choosing Window > Arrange > New Window, and I'm going to do this so I can see the effect better.
I'll drag the divider over to the left so I have one large window and one small window and in the small window I'll click on the placed photo of the flowers. This way when I apply the Directional Feather effect I won't see these frame edges highlighted and I can see the effect better. I'll choose Effects, double-click on the Object, and in the Effects dialog box I'll choose Directional Feather. I'll Feather from the bottom. I hold the Shift key down to my keyboard and tap the up arrow key a few times, and now I can see the bottom of the photo fade into the background.
I can also apply some noise to add a little randomness or I can add a whole bunch for a special effect. I'll take that back down to zero. I can apply Choke to the hard part of the feather and emphasize only the part of the object that's 100% opaque. So as I increase the Choke I hide the feather and eventually at 100% Choke the feather is completely gone and I only see the part of the photo that's 100% opaque. We'll get into Shape and Angle in a minute.
For now I'll remove the Choke and click OK, so I have my photo feathered from the bottom. Now I select the text frame. Again I'll go to the Effects panel and apply Directional Feather. I'll target the bottom and I'll feather the text from the bottom. Now I can see there are some problems going on here. I've not only faded the bottom of the text but I'm also starting to break up the letter shapes. You can see inside the H and F and the M I've broken through the letter shapes with my feather, and that's because I choose Leading Edges for Shape.
Anywhere there's a bottom edge that's getting feathered right now. I don't want that. I only want the absolute bottom baseline of the text being feathered. So for that, I'll change the Shape to First Edge Only. And that restores the letter shapes and just feathers from the bottom. That's something more like what I want. I'll click OK. Now let's see how some of those different feathering options work. Here I have four different objects. I'll select them and in the Effects panel I'll apply Directional Feather.
This time I'll feather from the top. I'll do about 30 pixels of feather from the top and we'll look at the different shape options. Right now it's set to Leading Edges so everything along the top edges of the object is being faded. If I choose First Edge Only, I can see that these sides of the star shape are returned. They're not feathered at all, and in my pentagon it's only coming from the center not from both of the top sides. And if I choose All Edges I can see in my star shape even these bottom edges are now being feathered.
I can also change the Angle. If I highlight the Angle and increase that I can rotate the feather around. One interesting thing you can do with Directional Feather is you can use it to create this sense that there's a deep gash in your document. I'll just start out by taking my Pencil tool. I'll press the N key on my keyboard and I'll draw sort of random shape, a very jaggedy shape like something is cracked and broken open in my document. I'll press Shift+X to exchange the stroke and fill, so I have a black filled object, and I'll double-click on the Object in the Effects panel and turn on Directional Feather.
I'll fade from the top, 30 pixels, and I'll choose for Shape, All Edges. So all the random jagged edges of my shape will be feathered and I'll click OK. I'll deselect and if I want to add an extra bit of color I can do that too. I'll switch to the Selection tool by pressing the V key on my keyboard, I'll copy the object, and choose Edit > Paste In Place or Command+Shift+Option+V, Ctrl+Shift+Alt+V. In the Effects panel, I'll turn the effect off by clicking the Clear Effects button and in the Swatches panel I'll change the fill from black to this iceCrack swatch and reduce the Tint down to something low like 20%.
And finally, I'll send this object to the back by choosing Object > Arrange > Send to Back. And there I have it. I've created sort of a gash in my document. I could also use other shapes like this star for the same idea. Directional Feather gives you more control than Basic Feather when it comes to blending the edges of objects into the background. With Directional Feather, you can apply feathering at any angle and apply in three different ways: to a single edge, to the edges on one side of an object, or to all the edges at the same time.
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