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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.
By applying different blending modes to placed graphics and InDesign objects, you can mix colors and create all kinds of special effects without once having to go back to Photoshop. Let's look at some of the things we can do with blending modes. So here I have a placed photo of a horse and I'd like to mix him with some other colors and create some special effects. So I'll select him. I'll go into the Effects panel and I'm going to double-click to select the horse. So I want the graphic selected, not the frame, and I can tell by the different color of the outline here that I have the graphic. I can also see in the Effects panel it says Graphic, and it's set to Normal right now.
I'm going to change his blending mode to Multiply. Then I'm going to double- click again to select the frame. I'll change the fill of the frame from Paper to a different color, say Cyan. And look at that! I get an instant special effect. Go back to the Effects panel, select the Graphic, and I can see he is set to Multiply. So he's multiplying the darkness of the horse with the cyan color of the frame. Let's pick a different blending mode. We'll go to Screen. Screen lightens everything, so now I get a really washed out lightened effect with that cyan.
I can choose the blending modes to add contrast like Overlay and Soft Light, and Hard Light, which really intensifies shadows and highlights. I can choose Color Dodge, which really bleaches out the image, or Color Burn, which gives me this really supersaturated intense blue color. I can choose Darken, where I'll just take the dark pixels of the horse, and replace the cyan fill with those, or Lighten, which almost makes the horse completely disappear because the horse is darker than the cyan fill.
So there are almost no pixels that are lighter than the cyan. I can choose these special effect blending modes like Difference and Exclusion, which invert the colors and give me almost like an X-ray effect. I can pick Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity to just blend single elements of the colors. So for example, if I take the hues here, I can just take the hue of the horse which is very desaturated and blend it with the cyan, so I can barely see the horse. Or I can take the Saturation. There is almost no saturation here because the horse is nearly gray, so it's a really flat image.
same thing with the color. Lastly, I can take the Luminosity, just the pure detail of the horse, and blend it with that cyan color. Let's see what else we can do with blending modes. Here I have just a single text frame and it's filled with Paper with black text and a black stroke around it and I'm going to use it to explore the power of the Difference blending mode. I'll create a new frame and drag it over here and I'll fill this new frame with Paper and I'll send it to the back.
I'll choose Object > Arrange > Send to Back. And wow! Look at this reversal effect. How did this happen? Well if I select my text frame and look in the Effects panel, I can see that it's set to the Difference blending mode. So the Difference blending mode can completely invert colors. Wherever a color is white set to Difference, it will invert what's behind it. So white becomes black and black becomes white. Now, a word of caution is advised here, because the black that we get when we do this Difference trick isn't a pure black. It's a rich black.
So if you're going to press with this and you're concerned about something like rich black text, you might want to avoid this technique and just save it for your documents that are destined for the screen. But we're not limited to just sticking to black and white; we can invert other colors with Difference. So instead of filling the frame with Paper, I could fill it with yellow and yellow is inverted into blue or magenta is inverted into green, cyan becomes orange, and so on and so forth. So Difference can completely invert colors.
By applying blending modes directly to placed graphics and other InDesign objects, you can mix their colors with the fill of the frame or other objects, and also how to use the Difference blending mode to invert colors, and in doing so open up all kinds of creative possibilities. No Photoshopping required.
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