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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 effect of making something look like a peeling sticker is very popular in both print and on the web nowadays. It can add a bit of fun and some depth to a design. The key to the effect is simulating the curled part of the sticker lifting up off a surface, and for that Drop Shadows and gradients are the tools of choice. So here I have just a little bit of text, I love FX in this round sticker shape, and we can see that the bottom right corner is peeled up off the surface and we've actually created another little area here that simulate some glue that got left behind when the sticker peeled up.
So let's see how we did that. I am going to switch to another page, where I just have the text frame here. I am going to click on the L key on my keyboard to get the Ellipse tool and I am going to click over here on my document and I am going to accept these values. I am going to make a perfect circle of 220 pixels high and wide. I will click OK. I will go to my Swatches panel and I'm going to set a stroke of None and a fill of Paper. Now, right now this is a really flat looking object. It almost just looks like a hole in the wood grain background, and what I want is to give it just a little bit of dimension.
Now, a sticker is made of paper, really thin material, so I really want a very subtle effect. I want a teeny tiny Drop Shadow exactly behind the sticker. So I am going to click on my Effects panel and double-click at the Object level to bring up the Effects dialog box. I am going to click on Drop Shadow, and to make it go exactly behind the circle I am going to change this Distance value to 0. I am going to leave the Size at 5 pixels, but I am going to increase the Spread value here, and that will make the Shadow a little bit darker right at the edge of the ellipse.
So I will click-and-drag to move that up to maybe 20%, maybe even 30%, and see how that looks. I will click OK. I will deselect. Now I can see there is a very subtle shadow around the edge of the circle, giving it a little bit of dimension. The next thing I want to do is to actually cut the segment off that is going to form the curled part, and for that I am going to use the Scissors tool. I will go over to the ellipse and hover where I want to make the cut. I will click once, and twice, and then I will press the V key on my keyboard to switch back to my Selection tool. In the Control panel I will make sure that I have the center reference point selected, and then I am going to use my Flip tools to flip this both horizontally and vertically so it curls up off the surface.
So I'll click once on Flip Horizontal and once on Flip Vertical, and I will deselect. Now, that's okay, but that looks more like a fold then a curl to me. What we need to do is to change the Drop Shadow that's been applied to this curl and make it a little bit larger and a little bit softer to make it feel like it's up off the surface. I will click on the new piece. I will double-click in the Effects panel to bring up that Drop Shadow dialog box again, and I am going to increase the Size. I will select it and I'll tap the up arrow key on my keyboard a couple of times to make it a little bit larger, and then to make it a little bit lighter I am going to click on the Spread and take that all the way down to 0.
That looks pretty good! I might also take the Opacity down a little bit. That seems a little dark still, so instead of 75%, I will make it 50% and click OK. And I deselect. That's looking a little bit better. It looks like it has lifted up off the surface. But it still doesn't really seem like a curl yet. I want to change this from a plain white background to a gradient that makes it seem like it has a rounded shape. So I have the new segment selected, I'll go to my Swatches panel, and instead of being filled with Paper, I am going to fill it with a gradient. I have a gradient called sticker back that I am going to apply.
I'll click once to apply it, and actually I will double-click to bring open the Gradient Options dialog box so we can see what sticker back is. On one side of the gradient ramp it's plain white, but most of it is filled with a light tint of black, 30%. Click OK. I am going to zoom in on the segment. Now, right now the gradient is being applied from left to right, so it really doesn't add anything to my curled feel. Where I need to apply it is down across the curl, and for that I am going to use the Gradient tool. So I will tap the G key on my keyboard and I am going to click-and-drag across the segment to apply the sticker back gradient, like so.
And that's making it feel like light is shining up at the top here and then this part is going into shadow. If you don't like how it came out the first time, you can just click-and-drag again with the Gradient tool until you get a nice peeled feel. I like that. So I am going to zoom back out and deselect. So there is my basic sticker shape. Now I am going to switch to my Selection tool by pressing the V key and I am going to select my text frame, I love FX. I am going to cut that, select my sticker shape, and choose Edit > Paste Into. If I want to transform this, I can click on the content grabber and go up to my Control panel and change the Angle.
If I want to angle that text let's say 10 degrees and make it a little bit more fun, I can do that. I will deselect. And then the one last thing I would like to add is that little lightened area underneath to show a little bit of glue that got left behind. So I will press the L key on my keyboard again, click in the document to create another ellipse, and I want to fill this with Paper, give it a stroke of None. And then go to my Effects panel and bring the Opacity way down. I will bring it down to maybe say 15% or so, just something really subtle, just to lighten this background.
I will press the V key to switch to my Selection tool, position it right over my sticker, and send it to the back. And I will tap the up arrow key to make sure it's exactly behind, and deselect, and let's zoom in and see our Sticker effect. There it is. So we can create a peeled sticker by starting with a simple shape, using the Scissors tool to cut and then flip it with the Flip Control tools in the Control panel, and then we use gradients and drop shadows to simulate it being raised up off the surface that the rest of the sticker is stuck to.
By thinking about how things work in the real world, we can add that little something extra to our effects and make them seem a little less flat and digital and a little more real, like this little bit of glue left behind when the sticker peeled up.
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