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In this series, David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción, co-hosts of the web's top resource for InDesign tips and tricks, InDesignSecrets.com, share some hidden and sometimes surprising workflow tips that will make working in InDesign more efficient and more fun. The course covers built-in timesaving features such as Quick Apply and auto-expanding text, but also little-known tricks, such as using the eyedropper to copy and paste character and paragraph text attributes and making accurate selections by selecting through or even into objects.
New techniques will be added to the collection every other week, so check back early and often. Find more tips and tricks at indesignsecrets.com.
InDesign has awesome tools for creating frames and paths and stuff. But when it comes to drawing amazing vector shapes it pales in comparison to its older sister Adobe Illustrator. But the good news is that you can move vector shapes back and forth between these two programs, using each for what it's best at. For example I have this big orange rectangle here. It's kind of a plain rectangle, nothing exciting about it, I'd like to spice it up a little bit. So I'm going to take that into Illustrator and give it an effect. To do that, I simply select it, copy it to the clipboard with Command+C or Ctrl+C on Windows, switch to Illustrator and Paste.
Now it looks pretty much the same as it did in InDesign and that's good, but what I'm really getting here is more than I bargained for. I can see that by going to the View menu and choosing Outline. See how there is an extra line around the path? That's a clipping mask and that's a clue that something has come along for the ride. It sometimes happens, not always, but it sometimes happens when you move stuff from InDesign into Illustrator. I want to get rid of that because clipping masks can make your life difficult down the road, if you keep them in there.
So I am going to go back to the View menu, choose Preview and open my Layers panel. And inside the Layers panel we can see that there is a Clip Group, I'll open that up and we can see that there is another Clip Group and another one. It's done this partly because I have transparency on the effect in InDesign and transparency adds multiple levels of complexity. But if I keep opening that, I will see that down at the very bottom I have a path and that path is what I'm really trying to work on. Usually it's not quite this complex, but in this case I had to go pretty deep to get that path, and now I'm going to do drag that path in the Layers panel all the way to the top of the layer.
So I now have the path and then a whole bunch of garbage that I don't need. So I'll just click on this Clip Group and click the Delete Selection button and I'm left with just the shape that I need to add my effect to. To apply my effect I'll go to the Effects menu and choose Distort & Transform > Roughen. You can choose any of these effects that you want, but I am going to use Roughen for this example, I'll turn on the Preview check box and whoa! That's a little bit more than I bargained for. I don't really want it to look like that.
Let's bring this down to maybe 1%, maybe a little bit more detail, just get that just the way I want, I am going to use Smooth Corners instead. You set effect at the way you want, click OK and now we need to get it out of Illustrator and into InDesign. To do that, same thing Command+C or Ctrl+C on Windows to copy it, come back to InDesign and paste it with Command+V or Ctrl+V. And you can see that I now have a shape in InDesign that looks just the way it did in Illustrator. Now this actually is a path.
If I switch to my Direct Select tool by pressing the A key, you can see all of the points on this bezier path. I could edit it further if I wanted to here in InDesign, but I'm not going to. I am going to switch back to my Selection tool by pressing the V key, I am going to delete my original rectangle, just select it and hit the Delete key, drag this one into position. It looks pretty good, a little higher, there we go. Now I am going to go back to the Effects panel and change the Opacity just like it was on that original object, I believe it was 50%.
There we go! Looks great. That's just the effect I was looking for. And that copy and paste is pretty seamless, except for that weird clipping mask thing that sometimes happens. But there are situations where you get artwork which is too complex. For example, let me go back to Illustrator and I am going to grab this other artwork here, and as I drag over here you'll see there is lots and lots of points on here, lots of objects, lots of transparency. This thing is really complex.
And if I grab all of that and copy it, come back to InDesign and try and paste it, InDesign goes, whoa! What's going on here? This command would create too many objects, so instead I'm going to place it as an EPS. Not only is that an EPS, but it's embedding it into the document. So if I click OK I can see it, but I can't edit it and it doesn't even show up in the Links panel. It's not good. You don't want to do that typically. So I'll click Delete to get rid of that. You have to make sure that your objects are not too complex in Illustrator.
So in this case, I would've had to gone back to Illustrator and simplify it before I bring it into InDesign. Or a better solution for that artwork would have been to simply save it as an AI or PDF file and then use InDesign's Place feature to place the artwork into my InDesign document. You don't want to copy and paste vector art between Illustrator and InDesign, unless you really need to come in here and edit it or change the Opacity, do some tweaking to it. If there's some good reason or if it's not too complex of an object, it's okay to copy and paste.
But when you get that really complex artwork, it's better to place it. You know Illustrator is such an important part of my InDesign workflow, I consider it a plug-in. Now if you want to learn more about Illustrator and all the cool things it does, check out the many other movies on it here at the lynda.com online training library.
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