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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.
When we want to simulate a clear material like water or glass, we need to show only the highlights and shadows created by light shining on that material. So we need to control the opacity of those highlights and shadows separate from the fill color of the text or the object. The Hard Light blending mode is perfect for this use. Here I have some text that I want it to look like it was made out of glass, and indeed, I used the Hard Light blending mode to show nice shadows and highlights and hide the fill color for the most part. It's slightly visible here in the clear glass and I get a nice little blue tint here in the colored glass.
Let's see how that's done. Here is the plain text, the top copy is filled with a gray color and the bottom copy is filled with a bluish color. I will select both of them and I'll go to my Effects panel and switch from the Normal blending mode to Hard Light. Now I will start applying some effects. First off, I will create a Drop Shadow. I will reduce the Opacity from 75% to 30%. I will change the Distance to 3 pixels and I will reduce the Size to 3 pixels also.
Next I'll apply an Inner Shadow and I'll reduce the Opacity to 30%. Next I'll apply our good old friend Bevel and Emboss. I'll choose an Inner Bevel with a Smooth Technique and a Direction of Up. I will leave the Size at 7 pixels, but I am going to increase the Altitude from 30 degrees to 70 degrees. My favorite setting of Altitude for making something shiny. Next, I'm going to change the opacity of both the shadow and highlight from 75% to 30%, and I am going to change the shadow to a second highlight by changing the blending mode from Multiply to Screen and the swatch from black to Paper, and I'll click OK.
I'll click OK again and now I have some nice effects, but it doesn't really look like glass. I can't really see through this. Well, this is because I haven't put an object behind this clear glass and colored glass. It always takes at least two objects for a blending mode to work. You have to have something to blend with. So behind these two text frames I am going to place another frame filled with Paper. I will click-and-drag to draw that frame. In my Swatches panel I will fill it with Paper and in the Object menu I will say Arrange > Send to Back.
And there I have my nice glass effect, clear glass and colored glass. Now let's try making some plastic. Plastic is even easier to make than glass. Really the recipe for it is just a shiny highlight made by a high Altitude setting with the Bevel and Emboss effect. I will select these text frames, I'll go to the Effects panel, open the Effects dialog box, click on Bevel and Emboss. I will apply an Inner Bevel with a Smooth Technique, a Direction of Up, and a Size of 7 pixels, all the default values.
The only thing I'm going to change here is the Altitude. Again, I am going to set it to 70 degrees, and that makes a nice shiny Highlight for my shiny plastic. I am going to increase the opacity of the highlight from 75% to 100%, because I really want this to shine, and I'd like to have some nice shadows too. So I am going to increase the opacity of the shadows to 100% and say OK. Now I've made some shiny plastic. Let's try a different technique for making plastic.
Here are some really shiny plastic that almost feels like I could see through it little bit, like it's a little bit translucent. For this I used a different blending mode, Color Dodge, to make the color of the plastic blend with that dark gray background. Here is my original text. I'll select it all, bring up my Effects dialog box, and the first I will do is change the blending mode from Normal to Color Dodge. Then I will choose Bevel and Emboss, with that 70 degree Altitude. I am going to change the opacity of my highlight from 75% to 100%, and I am going to create a second highlight by changing the blending mode of Shadow from Multiply to Screen and changing the swatch from black to Paper.
Clicking OK, and then I will also set the opacity of the second highlight to 100% and click OK. I will deselect, and there I have some nice vivid shiny plastic. When we apply the Hard Light blending mode to an object that's been beveled, we can make the fill disappear while keeping strong highlights and shadows and make things like clear glass. When you want to tint the glass, just add a fill color. To simulate materials like shiny plastic the Bevel effect with a high Altitude does the trick, and you can use the Color Dodge blending mode on top of a dark background for very shining plastic with saturated colors.
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