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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.
A highly reflective chrome effect may look like it was tricky to create, but in reality, all you need is a simple gradient fill using as few as three color stops to create a convincing chrome look. The key is to create a point somewhere in the gradient where the colors abruptly shift. When you have contrast, you have chrome. So here in this document, I have five separate objects filled with gradients that look like chrome. Let's take a look at them. In my Swatches panel, select the first one, and this is filled with a gradient called Basic Chrome.
I will double-click to see what Basic Chrome is made of. It's a very simple gradient ramp. Most of it is filled with just Paper, and then right here in the middle there's this abrupt shift between Paper to a dark blue color, and that's what creates the contrast and the feeling of chrome. Then I transition more gradually back again to Paper. So just three stops, but this abrupt contrast makes it feel like a shiny metallic material. Let's look at another one.
Basic Chrome Color. I will open that up and here I've taken that same Basic Chrome gradient and added some color at the ends. So I created a sky blue color on one end and sort of a sandy color at the other end. This one is called Blue-Gray-Blue, and sure enough I start out with sky blue, fading to white, then that abrupt transition to the very dark blue, and then a couple of other gray blues.
That creates a nice chrome effect. Here is what I call Beach Chrome. I start out with sky blue, fades to white, a very dark color for that contrast, and then I fade out to a couple of stops that look like dirt and sand. Lastly, I have this one called Road Chrome. Sky blue, fading to white, and then the abrupt shift to black, like this is reflecting the road.
Let's apply some of these to some text. I will select both of these text frames, target the text, and the fill, and we'll apply Basic Chrome. Instantly, just putting that gradient inside the text brings it to life. It changes it from this plain, flat white feeling to something that's actually made out of metal and reflecting things in real life. Let's try another one. Basic Chrome Color. That's nice! Now I feel like I'm reflecting the sky a little bit up here. It almost feels like I've curved the type a little bit.
We'll try Beach Chrome. That's a nice effect. Blue-Gray-Blue. I think that one is my favorite, and we'll check out Road Chrome too. A really dramatic affect. They all have their place, but I am going to switch it back to Blue-Gray-Blue Chrome for now and deselect. I will select this top text frame and press the G key on my keyboard to get my Gradient tool and now we want to reapply this gradient to change the effect a little bit. I will target my text, make sure that my fill is in front, and I will click-and-drag with the Gradient tool to reapply the gradient and change the chrome effect.
So I can change where this abrupt contrast is and make the effect different. I will drag down again to change it. Now I see mostly sky. I will drag one more time in the opposite direction. I could do that too. So there are lots of things you can do with just a simple gradient to create a chrome effect. Chrome effects are created when we fill object or type with gradients that include at least one point of abrupt change in color. This point of change and the contrast it creates matters much more than the actual colors you use in the gradient.
Once you have a basic chrome gradient, you can create variations incorporating other colors or even using blending mode tricks to tweak the effect.
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