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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 starting with just a simple triangle, rotating it, and using the Transform Again commands, you can create all kinds of custom light ray effects inside InDesign. So here I have a simple layout and it looks like I have a lovely yellow sun rising up over a horizon. And below I have lines of perspective coming across this field that stretches to the horizon. So let's see how I did that. I'll start out taking my Polygon tool, click in the document, and I'm going to create a triangle, a very thin tall one, so I'll just use 10 pixels in Width and a Height of 100 pixels and 3 sides.
Click OK, and I'll give it a fill. I have the sun ray color, and I'm going to make sure that the reference point is set to the top center, and I'm going to double-click on my Rotate tool and I'm going to rotate it 10 degrees, and click Copy. Now I'm going to choose Object > Transform Again > Transform Sequence Again, and I like this one because it has the keyboard shortcut Command+Option+4, Ctrl+Alt+4, that I can just keep pressing over and over again to create extra copies. And I'll do that until I go all the way around the circle. So there you go! I have 36 copies now.
I'm going to group them all. I'm going to zoom way out, because I'm going to scale them up really big. I'm going to hover over one of the corner anchor points and hold down Command+Shift+Option, Ctrl+Shift+Alt, to scale proportionally from the center. And voila! Instant light burst! Now I'm going to position it about in the center of the document using my Smart Guides, and I'm going to take my Rectangle Frame tool and I'm going to click and drag to draw a rectangle over the top-half of the document. This is going to be my sky and I'm going to paste the light rays into this.
So I'm going to fill my sky with the sun ray color and I'm going to lower the Tint a little bit so I can see my light rays. Just a little bit, say 80%. Now I need to create the circle for the sun itself, so I'll press the L key on my keyboard to get the Ellipse tool, go right in the center of my document, and I'm going to Option+Shift+Drag or Alt+Shift+Drag to create a circle. I'll fill that with my sun ray color too and reduce the Tint even more, to about 60%. Now I'll select the circle, plus all my light rays, group them, cut them, and then I'll select the frame that's going to be my sky, and I'll choose Edit > Paste Into or press Command+Option+V, Ctrl+Alt+V. And there is my sky! Now I still have that sun on my clipboard.
I'm going to paste it in place, so I'll choose Edit > Paste in Place, and I'm going to use this in a different way for the lines of perspective of the ground. First of all, I'm going to double-click into the group to select the circle for the sun, because I don't need that in this instance. So I'm going to just delete it. And with this group selected, I'm going to change the color from sun ray to Darker Yellow Green. I'm going to zoom way out and now I'm going to hover over one of the control points, and I'm going to Command+ Option+Drag, Ctrl+Alt+Drag to scale it. But I'm not going to hold down the Shift key, because I don't want to scale proportionally.
I want to stretch these out. See how I'm flattening them? And if I don't go into the corner anymore, now I can hold down the Shift key and make everything bigger. I might squish them a little bit more. So I'll grab this bottom center anchor point and Command+Option+Drag up a little bit, and drag the corner a little bit more just to fill the page. Okay, that looks good. Now I'll cut this, I'll zoom in, I'll press the F key on my keyboard to get my Rectangle Frame tool again, and I'm going to click and drag to draw a frame that'll represent the ground. And then I'll choose Edit > Paste Into to paste my lines of perspective into the ground.
I'll select that frame, I'll choose Dark Yellow Green, deselect, and there I have my sunburst and by lines of perspective. Now let's try a different effect. Here is a variation on a starburst and you might be thinking, okay, I could do something like this with the Polygon tool. But the interesting thing here is see how there are two different tints of this blue color. So by having independent objects that I rotate around, I can change fill color and make a different effect that you couldn't achieve with just the regular Polygon tool. So actually, let's start with the Polygon tool for just one piece here and we'll create a triangle.
Again, it's going to be a tall, skinny triangle of 10 pixels wide by 100 pixels tall. 3 sides. Click OK. We'll give it a fill color of blue. And for this effect, I actually want a four-sided object, sort of like a diamond, and I'm going to use one of InDesign's scripts that come with the program. So I'll open my Scripts panel and there is this AddPoints script which is really handy. All you do is double-click on it and it immediately adds points in between each anchor point, exactly halfway in between the anchor points. So this way I don't have to measure or try to click around with the Pen tool and guess where the exact center of these sides are.
I'll just click on the AddPoints script, and I can zoom in and with my Direct Selection tool I can see I have a nice point added for me right in the center of the bottom of the triangle. I'll hold the Shift key on my keyboard down and I'll tap the down arrow key a couple times to make my diamond, and this will form the basis for my starburst. I'll zoom out a little and with the reference point in the bottom center, I'll double-click on the Rotate tool and I'll rotate it 20 degrees, and click Copy. Now I'll change the Tint in the Swatches panel to 50%, I'll select both of these objects, group them, and that grouping is important because that gives InDesign a common reference point for both pieces.
If I didn't group them and used the Transform Again feature, I would sort of see them spiral around off the page as I continue to rotate them. So I wanted them to stay together and rotate around the same point. That's why I grouped them. Click once on the Rotate tool and then I'm going to click and drag to move the reference point right to where these two objects come together. That's going to be the center of my starburst. Then I'll double-click on the Rotate tool and I'll double the angle of rotation from 20 degrees to 40 degrees, and click Copy. And then I can press my favorite keyboard shortcut, Command+Option+4, Ctrl+Alt+4, to transform the sequence again, and deselect.
And there you have it. An interesting starburst effect that you can use the Transform Sequence Again command, but you can't do that with just the regular Polygon tool. So again, by just starting with simple shapes like triangles or diamonds, rotating them and using Transform Sequence Again, you can create all kinds of light ray effects inside InDesign.
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