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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.
It's not possible to apply multiple strokes to a single object in InDesign. For now we'll have to be jealous of Illustrator and its Appearance panel, but oftentimes where there's a will there's a way, and in this case, the way is to create a custom stroke style that looks like more than one stroke and we can even use custom stroke styles to simulate things like photo frames and mattes. Let's see how. Here I have a placed photo of a flower and it has a thick black stroke on it. And that's fine, but I'd like something a little more interesting. So I'm going to try to choose a different stroke style from my stroke panel.
I'll go to the Type menu and choose from the pop-up menu. Maybe I'll try Triple stroke. That's interesting, but in this case really what I wanted was just a thick green stroke on the outside and a thin black stroke on the inside. I don't want these other two black strokes. Fortunately, there's an easy way to accomplish this with a custom stroke style, I learned this trick from David Blatner at InDesignSecrets and it's a really easy and cool trick for creating strokes that look like multiple strokes. I go out to the Stroke panel menu and choose Stroke Styles, and I'll select my Triple stroke as the basis for a custom stroke.
I'll click on New and here I can see my Triple stroke. It's made up of three stripes separated by two gaps. What I want is just the bottom stripe. This is the inset one. I can easily get rid of the other two stripes by clicking and dragging them right out of the dialog box. Now I have a large gap and a thin stroke that will be inset from the edge of the frame. This is the outer edge of the frame and this is the inside that touches the fill. I'll give my new stroke style a name. I'll call it inset, and click OK.
Now let's apply my new stroke style to my picture of the flower, and there I have it. It looks like I have two strokes, an outer green stroke and an inner block one. If I look back at the Stroke panel, I can see that the outer green color comes from the gap color and the inner black stroke is just my regular stroke formatting. Let's see another variation on this idea. Here I wanted to have a photo that looks like it was in a frame with a matte. It's the same idea as that picture of the flower.
I'll click on it and look in the Stroke panel and the Type and this is called Photo Matte. Let's check it out. So again, I have a gap on the outside and a stripe on the inside, covering about one third of the stroke width. The gap color is what creates the black outer stroke and the inner stroke is created by my regular stroke formatting and it's this copper color.
Let's see another variation. Here is the same stroke style, but now I have a white matte, so the stroke is filled with Paper and the gap color is still black. Let's see one more variation. In this one I wanted to have a frame that looked like it had a metal edge and a matte, so I created another stroke style. This one is called Double Photo Matte. Let's check it out. So on the outside there is a gap followed by a thick stripe, a second gap, and a thin stripe.
The gap color is what provides that metallic feel. It's a shiny steel gradient and the black comes for my regular stroke formatting. Really easy and I think really effective for simulating multiple strokes. Maybe in some future version of InDesign we'll have something like Illustrator's Appearance panel, which we can use to apply multiple strokes to an object, but until that day comes, we can create the look of multiple strokes via custom stroke styles and we can do a pretty good job of giving a photo a frame and a matte with just one stroke, using both a stroke color and a gap color.
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