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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.
With InDesign's effects we can simulate light coming from any angle, including directly behind an object. The main tool for simulating backlighting in InDesign is Outer Glow. Let's check it out. So for backlighting we need a background that's darker than all the other objects on the page. So we'll start by creating a black background. I'll click my Rectangle Frame tool and drag across the page. In my Swatches panel I'll give it a fill of black and I'll lock it so it stays out of my way. I'll press Command+L or Ctrl+L. Next, I'll click in the document and I'll create a rectangle.
I want to create a square, so I'll do 150 pixels wide and tall. And just so I can see it, I'll temporarily change the fill to Paper. Now I want to make a few other shapes just to compare the effect. So, I'm going to Option+Drag or Alt+Drag to have another square and then I'll go up to the Object menu and choose Convert Shape > Ellipse. So now I have a circle and I'll Option+ Drag or Alt+Drag again, and I'll choose Convert Shape and I'll try a triangle, just so I've some different shapes to compare this Outer Glow effect.
I'll Shift+Click to select all three and I'll change the fill to black. Now to see the Outer Glow effect more clearly, I don't want to see these frame edges highlighted. So I'm going to create a new window. Window > Arrange > New Window, and I'll drag a vertical slider over so I have one big window and one small one. I'll make sure I have my shape selected in the small one and now I'll be able to see that Outer Glow effect really clearly. I'll click on Effects, double-click at the object level, and click on Outer Glow.
I'll change the color from Paper to yellow and I'll make the Size bigger so we can see it more clearly. I'll make a 30 pixel glow to start with. That looks pretty cool. I can change the Technique. Right now I am using Softer, which only puts a glow on the sides of objects and doesn't go into the corners. See the top of this triangle and the side. There is almost no glow there. But I'll change it to Precise and now the glow goes evenly all around the triangle. If I want to, I can add some Noise.
That's a different effect, or I can add some Spread to make the Outer Glow more opaque. I'll bring it back down. I can change the fill color. I can make it magenta or cyan. Cyan is pretty cool. I'll leave it at that. I'll click OK. Now this was a really simple backlighting effect, courtesy of the Outer Glow effect. Let's do something a little more interesting. Here I've an Eclipse effect. I sort of have this idea of a planet eclipsing some light source out in space and some cool black text with the same effect.
And the nice thing here is I have a blended color of the glow. It's white near the objects and it blends nicely into this large diffuse blue glow. Let's see how I did that. So here I'll start from scratch. I just have some plain white text and a plain white circle and I'll select them in my small window, again so I can see the Outer Glow effect clearly. First, I'll start with the circle. I'll bring up my Effects panel. Double-click to open the dialog box and click on Outer Glow. Now to achieve that blended effect, I'm going to use two effects, Outer Glow and Drop Shadow.
First, I'll use Outer Glow. I'll keep the Screen blending mode and the white paper swatch, but I'll change the size. I'll make it much larger. 48 pixels and I'll add a little bit of Noise, say 2%. I'll also increase the Spread to increase the opacity of the glow to 30%. Then I'll turn on Drop Shadow. This might sounds strange that I'm using a Drop Shadow for a Glow effect, but remember our background is black. So if I choose any other color than black, it will act more like a glow than a shadow.
I'll change the blending mode from Multiply to Normal and the swatch from black to cyan. I'll click OK. I'll nudge up the opacity a little bit to say, 80% and I'll change the Distance to zero. I want this right behind my planetary object here. The big change I'm going to make is to increase the size a whole bunch. I want a big shadow here, so 150 pixels, and I'll make it more opaque by adding some spread, say 30%, and a little bit of Noise, 2%.
That's what I'm looking for. I'll click OK and now I can go to the Swatches panel and change the fill from Paper to black, and now I get that cool Eclipse effect. Let's do it on the text. I'll select the text frame. In the Swatches panel I'll make sure that my Formatting effects container, and then I can use the Effects panel to add the glow and the shadow. I'll double-click to open the dialog box and I'll start with the shadow. I'll change the blending mode from Multiply to Normal and the swatch from black to Paper.
I'll increase the Opacity all the way to 100% and again make the Distance zero. I'll increase the size from 5 pixels up to something like 43 pixels, and increase the opacity by changing the Spread to 20%. And there's always a little bit of noise, 2%. Now for the Outer Glow. I'll keep the Screen blending mode and change from Paper to Cyan, and I'll increase the Size to 144 pixels, a really big blue glow.
2% Noise and let's increase the opacity with a 20% Spread. I'll click OK and then go to my Swatches panel. Select my text and change the fill to black and there I've my Eclipse effect, using both the Drop Shadow and an Outer Glow. Backlighting requires three things: a background darker than the light we're simulating, a foreground object,and the lighting effect supplied by either Outer Glow or Drop Shadow or a combination of both.
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