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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.
Let's start by looking at this gear shape. Can you imagine trying to draw all of this with the Pen tool? It would take you forever and you still might not end up with the exact look that you want. But if you pause and really look at it, try to see each individual shape and then you might start to see how you could use the Pathfinder tools to make this. Overall it seems sort of like a starburst effect but with all the sharp points snipped off. And then I have a series of circles that make up these rings and the circle in the middle. And then I have these wedge shapes which sort of seem like triangles that have been combined with the circles.
If you think like this, you can start to see simple shapes combined together, you can make anything, including this gear shape. It's sort of like solving a puzzle and it's actually kind of fun. I'll start by taking my Polygon tool and I'll click in my document and I'll create a polygon that's 300 pixels wide and tall with 30 sides and a Star Inset of 20%. So it's basically a starburst effect that we start with. Then I want to cut off the sharp tips of all the stars, so I'll go to my Object menu, choose Corner Options, and I'll choose a Bevel, and click OK.
And immediately it starts looking less like a starburst and more like a gear. Next I want to copy this and choose Edit > Paste in Place or Command+Shift+Option+V, Ctrl+Shift+Alt +V, so I have a second copy right on top of the old one. Then I'll go up to my Object menu and choose Convert Shape > Ellipse to make it into a circle. Now I want to scale this down a little bit. I'm going to make those holes that are punched out of the gear shape. And I'm going to start by making this a little bit smaller than the overall gear shape. So I'll hold down Command+Shift+Option, Ctrl+Shift+Alt, and scale from the center of the object.
I'll click and drag down and scale it to about there. And let's add a stroke so I can see what I'm doing a little bit better. Let's target the stroke and give it a little black stroke. I'll copy it and paste it in place again and I'm going to make another circle, slightly smaller than this one. I'll Command+Shift+Option+Drag, Ctrl+ Shift+Alt+Drag again to scale from the center, down to about there. I'll Shift+Click to select both circles and head over to the Pathfinder panel. Now I'm going to subtract the smaller circle from the larger one, so I'll press the Subtract button. Now I have sort of a donut shape.
If I move it out here, we can see what's going on. That's what I want, so I'll undo to put it back where I need it, I'll copy it, paste it in place. And now I'm going to convert it into a triangle by choosing Object > Convert Shape > Triangle. I'm going to reduce the width of this triangle down to about 100 pixels. And what I'm trying to do now is to create these curved wedge shapes that are cut out of the gear shape. I'm going to click and drag straight down holding the Shift key to constrain until the top of my triangle is right at the center of my gear shape.
And I'm going to create more triangles rotated all the way around the circle. I'm going to do that with my Rotate tool. First I'll make sure that the Reference Point is set to the top center, then I'll double-click on the Rotate tool and I'll use this angle, 72 degrees, because I want five copies of the triangle rotated around the 360 degrees of the circle. For the first one I'll click Copy. for the rest of them, I'm going to press a keyboard shortcut, Command+Option+4 or Ctrl+Alt+4, to transform again. There I have my copies.
I'll press V to get my Selection tool again, and I'll Shift+Click to select all of the triangles, plus once on the donut shape. Then I want to subtract all the triangles from the donut shape, so in the Pathfinder panel, I'll click Subtract. Yeah, those are cool. Now I'll Shift+Click to select the gear shape and I'll click Subtract again. Now I just what one more thing. I want a hole right in the center of the gear. So I'll Copy, Paste In Place, and then Command+Shift+Option+Drag, Control+Shift+Alt+Drag to reduce this in size and down to the center.
I'll choose Object > Convert Shape, to an ellipse, because I want a circular hole, and then I'll Shift+Click on the gear shape, and one more time I'll press Subtract. There! There's my gear shape. Now let's make it a little more realistic. We'll add some effects, like a Bevel and Emboss. I'll double-click to bring up the dialog box, click on Bevel and Emboss, and I'll choose an Inner Bevel, with a Technique of Chisel Hard, and I'll reduce the size a little bit. There! That looks good.
I'll click OK and there's my gear shape. Let's try another trick. Here I have a couple of interesting frames that sort of fit together with this nice wavy side, and I did this with the Pathfinder tools. Let's see how. Starting from a simple rectangle, I'll press the A key on my keyboard to get the Direct Selection tool and I'll click on the bottom left anchor point. Then I'll hold down Command+Option, Control+Alt to get my Convert Direction Point tool and I'll click and drag up. I'll keep these keys held down and I'll click on the outer direction handle to snip it off.
And once again, holding Command+ Option, Ctrl+Alt, I'll drag on the bottom right anchor point to drag out direction handles, and then I'll click on the outside one to snip it off. And that gives me the nice wavy shape at the bottom of my frame. I'll press the V key to get my Selection tool again, I'll copy this, I'll choose Edit > Paste in Place, so I have a copy right on top of the original, then I'll choose Object > Convert Shape > Rectangle. And then I'll Shift+Drag it down. I'll Shift+Click to select both frames.
And in the Pathfinder panel, I'll choose Minus back to subtract the original frame from the lower frame. Now I'll choose Edit > Paste in Place to put my original frame back and I'll drag the bottom one down to separate them a little bit. Now I have this nice wavy area where the two frames sort of fit together. Now I can paste some content in and make a little design, so I'll copy this picture of the boat and paste it into the top frame. And I'll scale it a little bit up so it fits. There we go! That's pretty cool. Let's try another trick.
Not only can we create interesting shapes, we can also solve some problems that can happen when we transform objects that we've applied effects to. Now here I have two crescent shapes that I have applied a Bevel and Emboss and a Drop Shadow to. And the angle is the same on both of these effects. it's 90 degrees, meaning that the light is shining straight down on these objects from above. Now if I take the left crescent shape and say I want it to rotate it 180 degrees, I could click on the Rotate buttons in the Control panel couple of times to rotate it around.
But wait. Look at the problem I've just created. I still have the drop shadow, but the drop shadow won't rotate at all. So now I have a drop shadow underneath and I have a beveled highlight right next to it. That doesn't make any sense. How could I have a highlight and a shadow right next to each other? But I can use the Pathfinder commands to fix this. I'll just press the F key on my keyboard to get my Rectangle Frame tool and I'll click and drag a small shape that fits entirely inside the crescent shape, and I'll double-click on my Eyedropper tool.
I'll make sure that all my settings are turned on so the eyedropper will grab any attribute of an object that I click on. I'll click OK, and then I'll click on my crescent shape. What I want to do here is grab the fill and all the effects, the strokes, everything to do with this crescent shape, so these two objects match. The small one and the crescent shape have everything in common. I'll select both shapes and I'll choose Pathfinder > Add. And when I add the two shapes together, the beveling from that small object takes precedence, because that was sitting on top of the crescent shape.
So now my effects are in sync. The lighting is consistent from the top again, so I have my rotated crescent with a highlight at the top and the drop shadow at the bottom. Nice! Let's do another variation on this trick. Say I wanted this crescent shape flipped horizontally. So I'll press the Flip Horizontal button on the Control panel. And if I wanted to fill this with type, I could press the T key or my keyboard and click in it, and choose Type > Fill with Placeholder Text. But wait, look what happened. because I flipped the crescent shape, the type is flipped too. That's no good.
I want type that people can actually read. So I can use the same Pathfinder > Add command to fix this backwards type. I'll undo and deselect, I'll press the F key on my keyboard to get my Frame tool, click and drag a small shape that fits inside the crescent shape, I'll press the I key to get my Eyedropper, and click on the crescent shape to grab all its attributes. Then I'll press the V key to get my Selection tool and Shift+Click to select both objects, and then I'll choose Pathfinder > Add.
I've added the two shapes together, and now this crescent is no longer flipped. If I look in the Control panel, I see the P has its normal orientation. It's not flipped. So now I can press the T key to get my Type tool, click in the frame, and fill it with placeholder text, and it's not backwards. Awesome! The Pathfinder commands can help you draw interesting shapes precisely, like gears and wavy frames that we saw in this video. And they can also help you straighten out conflicting effects that can occur when you transform an object.
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