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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.
InDesign keeps track of each transformation you apply to an object. This includes scaling, sizing, rotating, skewing, moving, and fitting. With the Transform Again commands, you can apply either the last transformation or an entire sequence of transformations to existing or newly created objects. Let's see how it works. So here I have a little illustration that I made of a pinwheel and I want to use the Transform Again commands to make all the different fins for this. I want to draw one fin and then transform it again to make the other five.
So I'll start out with my Polygon tool and I'll just draw a triangle, so that's going to be the basis for my fin. I'll hold down the Shift key as I draw it because I want to draw an equilateral triangle with 60 degree angles. So this side is going to be 60 degrees from this side. That way I know I can rotate it 60 degrees and that different fins will fit together exactly. In my Swatches panel, I'll set a fill of green and I'll take that stroke off. Now I want to zoom in and I'm going to use the Scissors tool, but in order to use that precisely, I'm going to click on my Ruler and drag out a guide to halfway down the triangle.
And that's going to guide me as I use the Scissor tool and cut this into two pieces. So I'll click once and I'll click again. And now I don't need that guide anymore, so to get it out of my way I'll select it and delete it. Now I'll change the fill color of the bottom object just so I can see it differently from the top object. So I'll just reduce the Tint from 100% down to 50%, and I'll click on the top object and bring it to the front by choosing Object > Arrange > Bring to Front. Now I want to use the Direct Selection tool to start reshaping this triangle and make it look like the fin on the pinwheel.
So I'll press A on my keyboard to get my Direct Selection tool, I'll click and drag over the bottom right point, and I'll Shift+Drag it out. Now I'm going to press Command+Option or Ctrl+Alt to get my Convert Direction Point tool, and I'll click and drag on this point to make it into a curved point. Next I'll click on the top point and drag it down to the bottom left to sort of give me this folded over idea. And again, I'll hold Command+Option or Ctrl+Alt and click and drag on this point to give me a nice curve there too.
I can also hold down Shift to constrain it. So there we go! There is one copy of the fin. I'll zoom out, I'll select both pieces, and I'll group them. It's important that I group them because when I do Transform Again, I have a reference point that I'll be rotating around. And if I have two separate objects, they might have two separate reference points and they won't rotate the way I want them to, so I'll group them together. And right now, this is a little too big, so I'm going to press Command+Shift or Ctrl+Shift and grab one of the corners and drag it in to make it a little smaller. Now I'm ready to start rotating it.
I'll set the reference point in the Control panel to the bottom left and I'll double click on my Rotate tool and I'll rotate it 60 degrees and click on Copy. Now I have two precisely aligned fins. Now I can use the Transform Again command to make the other three. I'll choose Object > Transform Again > Transform Sequence Again. And this is my favorite of the Transform Again commands, because it has a built-in keyboard shortcut, Command+Option+4 or Ctrl+Alt+4. When you're transforming a whole bunch of things repeatedly, you don't want to have to keep going to this menu and choosing the item.
So remember that keyboard shortcut, Command +Option+4 or Ctrl+Alt+4. And there we go. We have all the fins. Let's try another transformation. So here I have a mockup of my fictitious cow moo- gazine, and I really like it. It looks awesome. But what would make it look even awesomer is if I had a bunch of copies of this magazine sort of fanned out in a nice arrangement. And I can use Transform Again for that too. So I'll select it, I'll set the reference point to the center, and I'll double-click on my Rotate tool. And I just want a small rotation here.
I'll choose -5 degrees, which will rotate it 5 degrees clockwise, and I'll click on Copy. So now I have two nice copies of my magazine, then Command+Option+4, Ctrl+Alt+4 to Transform Sequence Again, and I can make as many copies as I like. There! That looks good. Let's try another. So here I have a little planetary illustration where I want to show the position of the moon at different times as it goes around the earth. I need to rotate it around the Earth and I also need to make sure that the light side of the moon is always facing the sun.
So that's going to be two rotations around two different reference points. So as it goes around the earth I need a reference point on the earth, and then I also need a reference point in the middle of the moon itself to keep that white side always facing to the left. So I'll delete these three and I'll work on this one. So the first thing I'll do is click on the Rotate tool once and I can see the little proxy inside the moon. That's for the reference point. I'm going to click and drag that straight down to the center of the earth.
Now when I rotate, I'll rotate around the earth. So I can double-click on the Rotate tool and I'll choose 90 degrees and click on Copy. So now I have two copies of the moon, but you can see it's rotated it so the white side is facing down. I need to correct that. I need to bring it back up in the opposite direction. So with the reference point in the center of the moon this time, I'll double-click on the Rotate tool and choose -90 degrees and click OK. Now I can use that Transform Sequence Again to apply both of those rotations with the different reference points.
Command+Option+4, Ctrl+Alt+4. And there we go! Let's try one more. So here I have a text frame and I want to scale it and move it at the same time so it feels like it's coming down and towards me. So I'll start out with the reference point at the top center, I'll get my Scale tool, and I'll double-click on it. So I want to scale this text up just a little bit, 10%, and I'll click Copy. Now I want to move it, so I'll double- click on the Selection too,l which brings up the Move dialog box, and I want to move it down just a little bit, 5 pixels.
So 5 pixels at an angle of -90 degrees will bring it straight down. I'll click OK. So now I can just press Command+Option+4 or Ctrl+Alt+4 to repeat that sequence again. And I can do it over and over again to bring the text towards me. And I get this nice swooping effect. The key for applying a sequence of transformations is to use the Transform tools instead of the Control panel. This way all your transformations will be recorded and can be played back on existing or newly created objects.
And remember, you can combine multiple transformations around different reference points, as we did in the case of the moon diagram.
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