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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.
Transparency blending modes allow us to mix the colors of objects. You can even make objects disappear with blending modes. You may wonder, what's the use of an invisible object? Well, one cool use is Knockout Text, where the text acts like a mask revealing objects underneath, and the name of this effect suggests the key to creating it: the Knockout Group feature. So here I have a nice placed photo of some flowers and some green grass giving me this nice summery feel and I can actually see the photo through the letters. And I have a slightly opaque background here. I can kind of see the flowers through that too.
But there's different opacity of the letters and the text frame and this is live text here. This is actual letters, not some kind of Outline Text effect. Let's see how I did that. So here I have the plain frame. The frame is filled with white and the text is black. In my Swatches panel, I will target the text and change the fill from black to Paper. That makes it match the background of the frame, so we can't really see it right now, but that's okay. Then I will select Formatting Affects Container and go to my Effects panel. I will target the text and change the blending mode from Normal to Multiply.
Then I will target the Object level and I will click on Knockout Group, and this makes the text knock out right through the frame, and I can see what's underneath. So again, I fill it with Paper and set it to Multiply, then when I click Knockout Group, that knocks the text right through the frame so I can see the photo. What's really cool is I can also control the opacity of the fill separately, so I can target that and change its opacity by dragging the slider. So I can bring that down to 75% or so, or whatever I want. So the fill opacity is completely separate from the opacity of the text.
Let's try something a little more complex. Now, this is a really cool effect where I am using the text to mask this picture of the jack-o-lantern and create this really cool Legend of Sleepy Hollow graphic. So I did this using that same idea of the Knockout Group text. Let's start from scratch. So here I just have the placed text and I am going to change the fill of the text from black to Paper. I'll go to my Swatches panel, select the text, and change the fill to Paper. Then I will select Formatting Affects Container and go to the Effects panel.
I'll target the text and I'll start applying some effects. First I will do Bevel and Emboss. I'll choose an Inner Bevel with a Smooth and Up settings. I will decrease the Size a little bit to 5 pixels, and I will leave the other settings the same. Now I'll apply an Outer Glow. I will keep the Screen blending mode but change from the Paper swatch to RGB Red. And I want to really intense Outer Glow. So I will leave the 75% Opacity, but I will really increase the Size, from 7 pixels to 20 pixels.
I will give some Noise and I will increase the Spread to 20% to thicken that Outer Glow, and click OK. Now I want a black background, so I'll grab my Rectangle Frame tool and click-and-drag over the whole layout. And in the Swatches panel, I will change the fill color to black and I'll send this to the back by choosing Object > Arrange > Sent to Back. I will lock it by pressing Command+L or Ctrl+L so it doesn't get in my way. Now I'll place the pumpkin graphic by pressing Command+D or Ctrl+D and clicking in my layout.
I will move him over a little bit and I will bring the text to the front. I will select the pumpkin, I'll copy it, and choose Edit > Paste in Place or Command+Shift+Option+V, Ctrl+Shift+Alt +V to make a second copy, and this is going to be the one that I fill with text. So I am going to right-click on it, and scroll down in the menu and choose Convert Clipping Path to Frame. This picture was saved with a clipping path in Photoshop and I can convert that to an InDesign frame that's going to hold the text.
Now, I will double-click on the pumpkin. I have a spare pumping graphic that I want to get rid of now, so I will press Delete. Now I have an empty frame and I need to change it so it's a text frame. So I will choose Object > Content > Text. Now I can place the text in it. I will choose my Sleepy Hollow text, and I will select the paragraph style sleepy hollow. I will remove any local override so I get the exact font and color that I want. So now I have text that's filled with paper overlaying my pumpkin graphic.
I will set the fill of the frame to black to completely hide the pumpkin and then I will go to the Effects panel, select my text, and change it from the Normal blending mode to Multiply. This makes it temporarily disappear, but then I will target the Object level and choose Knockout Group. And there you have it, the knockout text revealing the jack-o-lantern underneath. I will bring my title back to the front and then I will select my pumpkin and I will apply that Outer Glow effect to complete the graphic.
So I will select Effects, double-click at the Object level, and click on Outer Glow. I will select my red color. I will choose a really big Outer Glow, 100 pixels. I will add some eerie haze with some Noise and I will thicken the Outer Glow by giving it 20% Spread, and click OK. I will deselect and there is the finished product, a really cool Halloween graphic, courtesy of Knockout Text. Creating the effect of text knocking out the frame that contains it is a cool way to take advantage of the magic of blending modes.
You can do it in two steps. The first is to make the text invisible by filling it with the Paper swatch and then setting the text to multiply, then target the frame in the Effects panel and select Knockout Group. That's it! You can control the opacity of the text frame separately, and if you want, only reveal underlying objects through the text.
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