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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.
The Outer Glow effect allows you to apply a color that spreads outward from the edges of an object, similar to a Drop Shadow. You can control the size, color, and opacity, and blending mode. You can also choose between a soft glow that emanates only from the sides of an object or precise glow that follows the exact outline of an object, including the corners. Let's see how it works. So here I have a placed photo of some flowers and a little bit of text and I'd like to apply an Outer Glow to them. First, I am going to open a second window, so I can see the Outer Glow effect without my frame outlines getting in the way.
So I will choose Window > Arrange > New Window and I'll drag the divider over. So I have one large window and one small one. I will select the picture of the flowers and open the Effects dialog box to apply an Outer Glow. So for starters, choose a blending mode. Right now I am choosing Screen with Paper and 100% Opacity. If I want a more subtle Outer Glow, I can take the Opacity down or bring it back up for a more intense Outer Glow.
I can choose between a Softer diffused glow or Precise glow where the glow is the same width all the way around the objects including the corners. Usually, I like to stick with a Softer glow. It just looks more natural. I can change the size of the glow, making it really big or smaller. I will stick with 40 pixels here. I can add some noise, a little or a lot. I'll take that down. And I can change the Spread value.
Spread is the amount of the Outer Glow that's set at the full color and opacity up here in the blending area. So right now 10% of this glow is 100% white. If I increase the Spread, I'll increase the opacity of the glow. I can take it all the way to 100%, so 100% of the glow is 100% opaque, but that's never going to look good. So I am going to take that back down, maybe 25%. That's pretty good. I'll click OK. Now let's apply an Outer Glow to the text. I'll select the text, bring it up in the Effects dialog box, and click on Outer Glow.
I have the same settings. The one thing to be aware of when you're applying an Outer Glow to text is Softer is almost always the right technique to use. If I use Precise it looks more like a beveled effect, because again it's following all the exact shapes of the type, and it just doesn't look really natural like a glow. So if you're applying an Outer Glow to text, stick with the Softer technique. I'll click OK. Now let's see some of the other things you can do with Outer Glow. Here I have an alien from AREA 51 and he has an eerie greenish glow coming from his head and from the type.
And if you look it's actually two colors blended in the glow. There's a small white glow next to the alien head in the type and a larger green glow further out. Let's see how that's done. I'll move him over just so I can see him and the dialog box at the same time and I'll select his head in the other window. In the Effects panel I can see I have two effects icons, indicating that I have two Outer Glows applied. I'll start by looking at the one at the object level. So the Object level I have a green Outer Glow set to 100% Opacity, and this is the big one, this is 30 pixels.
I used the technique of Softer, but I could have used a technique of Precise and made it even larger. That's an interesting glow too, but it's just not what I wanted here. So I went with a smaller softer glow. I added some noise to give me this nice hazy effect going on, adds to the eeriness of the effect. Then if I switched from the object to the text level I can see the white glow. Here I am screening with Paper at 100% Opacity. I used the Precise technique here to make the glow bigger. Again, if I chose a softer glow, it would be a little bit smaller.
I chose a smaller size. This one is 10 pixels because I wanted it smaller and right next to the alien's head, and I still use 5% Noise. And for the white glow I added a Spread amount. I wanted it to glow more solid right next to the alien's head. If I increase this amount I'll increase the amount of the glow that's this white color. If I take it all the way up to 100%, it's almost like I had a white stroke around the alien's head. But I will take that back down to 10%. I'll cancel out and we'll look at the AREA 51 type. I will select that text frame and double -click to open up the Effects settings.
For the AREA 51 type I made some changes in the settings to accommodate the smaller size and more complex shape of the text. I changed the technique from Precise to Softer and I decreased the Size from 30 pixels down to 17 pixels. If I look at the settings at the text level, I used a Softer technique and an even smaller size, 10 pixels. But I kept that 10% Spread to make sure that the glow was white right next to the edge of the type. It really makes the glow stand out from the black text. I will click OK.
Let's see something else we can do with Outer Glow. Another use for Outer Glow is to colorize an Outer Bevel effect. By itself an Outer Bevel has no overall color. It's just made up of a shadow and a highlight, but we can apply a uniform color to the Bevel if we combine that effect with an Outer Glow. Let me show you what I mean. Here I have this text Spring in Bloom and I've set a Bevel on it and an Outer Glow and you can see what that does if I zoom in. I have this nice shiny highlight courtesy of the Bevel effect and I have this color that comes from the Outer Glow.
If I bring up the Effects dialog box and double-click to see the settings. If I turn off the Outer Glow and see just the Bevel, you can see that all it is, is a highlight. The Bevel itself is transparent, but I wanted a color there. So I chose Outer Glow and I made sure that the size was the same size as my Bevel, 5 pixels. I chose a Precise technique so it exactly fits the letter shapes and I picked a color that I wanted. I like this magenta color.
I could increase or decrease the Spread amount to increase or decrease the opacity of this color. So I could take it down for a very subtle hint of magenta or I could take it up to make a solid color. That's just too much. I am going to take it back down to 40% and click OK. I'll zoom back out and there I have a nice combined effect of Outer Glow and Outer Bevel. With Outer Glow you can make an object stand out against a dark background. You can also blend the colors of multiple glows by applying them at different levels to the same object.
It's also fun to combine an Outer Glow with an Outer Bevel and that way you can colorize the Bevel.
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