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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 only allows you to apply a single solid stroke to live text. Unfortunately, this prevents you from unleashing the full power of creative effects on text, but when you convert text to outlines they become just like any other object and you open up a ton of new possibilities. Here I have some text that I wanted to look like a neon sign with a glowing effect, and by converting it to outlines I was able to apply special stroke style, this double stroke of Thin - Thin, to make it look like a neon sign. Let's see how it's done. Here is my live text.
I will choose Type > Create Outlines and now I can go to the Control panel and choose from the stroke menu any of the stroke styles and apply this to my outline text. In this case, I want to choose Thin - Thin. I'll change the fill to None and the stroke color to that orange color I was using. Now this is really thin so I want to increase the stroke width to something like 7 pixels. That looks good. Now I want to apply some effects. Click on the Effects panel. I can target the stroke and I'll apply an Outer Glow.
I'll change the color from Paper to orange. I'll decrease the opacity from 75% down to 60% and I'll increase the Size of the glow from 7 pixels to 20, and I'll give it some Spread. 30% Spread will make it visible. There, that's a nice glow. Now I want to apply some Bevel and Emboss to give some shape to the neon. I will click on Bevel and Emboss. I'll choose Inner Bevel, Smooth Technique, and a Direction of Up.
But it's too large right now. So I'll decrease the Size from 7 pixels down to 2. I'll increase the Altitude to increase the shininess, about from 30 degree to 40 degrees. I'll increase the Opacity of the Highlight all the way to 100%, because I'm looking for a really bright shiny sign, and I'll decrease the Opacity of the Shadow down to 0, because this is a light after all. There should be no shadows on it. There I have my neon sign by converting text to outlines and applying an Outer Glow and Bevel and Emboss. Let's try another.
Here is one I call blacklight. It's basically text that's been converted to outlines and the stroke is colored with a rainbow gradient and then I've applied a dotted stroke to it. Here is the original text. If I select it and choose Type > Create Outlines, I can go to the stroke styles in the Control panel and I can choose either Dotted or Japanese Dots. I'll choose Japanese Dots in this case, because I want the dots close together. Those are really small right now.
So I will increase the Width of the stroke to 2 pixels, and click off. A really simple effect, but a fun one too. Let's try another. Here is the scribble effect. It's accomplished by converting text to outlines and applying a number of wavy strokes one on top of the other to multiple copies of the outline text. Here's the original text. I'll choose Type > Create Outlines and change from a solid stroke to a wavy stroke. I'll zoom in, and because right now the stroke width is just 1 pixel the waves are very small. If I increase the stroke width, I'll increase the height of the waves.
So I'll increase it to say 3 pixels. I'll copy this and choose Edit > Paste in Place. So now I have two copies of the outlined text, one right on top of the other. For my copy on top of I am going to increase the stroke width again to say 5 pixels. Now I am getting a really nice mixed scribbly effect. Let's do it one more time. Copy, Edit > Paste in Place, and increase the stroke width again to get even bigger waves. I'll choose 7.
Zoom back out and there I have a neat scribbly effect. Here I have used two different custom stroke styles to make text look like it's been stitched into fabric. One stroke style is for the thread and the other stroke style is for the holes that the thread goes into. Let's see how it's done. Here's my live text. In the Swatches panel I'll give it a stroke of black and a fill of None. Then in the Stroke panel I can choose my custom stroke styles. I'll choose Stitching holes, and I will increase the Width to 2 pixels.
From the Stroke panel menu let's take a look at what this stroke style is. Stitching holes, I'll double-click on it and I can see it's a dotted stroke with a Pattern Length of six points and the Corner option is set to None. So I've turned off all adjustment of gaps, and this is an important setting in this case because I'm overlaying two custom stroke styles, one dotted and one dashed. If InDesign were to adjust the dashes and gaps around the corners of the text, my holes and my thread would become misaligned. So I don't want any of that kind of dynamic changing of the pattern width.
I want it to be locked down and stay exactly as I set it. So again Corner options are set to None. I'll click OK and get out of the dialog box. Now I'll zoom in because I want to apply effects to my holes. I want to apply a shadow to give a sense that I'm pushing down into the material and give it a little bit of depth. So I'll double-click, turn on Drop Shadow, I will change the Distance to 0, I'll change the Size to 2 pixels, and give it a Spread of 30%, and click OK. I'll zoom out.
Now I want to apply a second stroke style to a copy of this to make my thread. So I will copy it, choose Edit > Paste in Place, and I'll change from my custom hole stroke style to my custom thread stroke style. In the Swatches panel I will change the stroke color from black to Paper. I will zoom in and in my Effects panel I want to apply a Bevel and Emboss to make this have a little bit of dimension to it. So I will turn off the Drop Shadow and turn on Bevel and Emboss and for the thread I want an Inner Bevel, Smooth, with an Up Direction.
I'll reduce the Size from 7 pixels to 3 pixels and click OK. I will zoom out and deselect and there I have my stitched text, courtesy of two custom stroke styles and a couple of effects, Bevel and Emboss and Drop Shadow. By converting text to outlines you make it possible to apply any stroke style to it, including custom stroke styles that you create, and in doing so you unlock all kinds of possibilities for text stroke effects.
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