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For designers who want to get more out of InDesign CS4, plug-ins offer a great option for adding to the finished project. With InDesign CS4: 10 Free Must-Have Plug-ins, instructor and InDesign guru David Blatner shows designers how to tap into some of the best free plug-ins to boost productivity and streamline page layout and workflow. From the practical Keyboard Shortcuts to the engaging Tetris plug-in, David introduces a batch of quick solutions for getting more out of InDesign.
My stepmother was a graphic designer. When I was a kid, she would give me her old Letraset and format books. Did you ever see those? They are like pages and pages of really cool patterns, but the problem is, you couldn't tweak them. You couldn't go in there and change the patterns, because, of course, they were on paper or on plastic. So that wasn't so good. But years later when I started computer programming, I started writing my own patterns. That was fun because my patterns were infinitely customizable. So flash-forward about 20 years and I'm talking with this plug-in developer, a guy from TeacupSoftware.com, and TeacupSoftware guy, Lawrence, makes my patterns into an InDesign plug-in. So now you can get all these infinitely customizable patterns in InDesign. Let me show you how it works.
After you download and install the PatternMaker plug-in, you can restart InDesign and then go to the Window menu and choose PatternMaker. The PatternMaker panel is a floating panel just like any other panel in InDesign, so you could dock it off to the side if you want to. I'm going to leave it out here on my screen. Now here is the deal. When you download the PatternMaker plug-in, it says it's a demo. But it's not really a demo. It's a fully functional plug-in with three basic patterns. It will keep working with those three patterns as long as you want. You can also download two other things called a PatternPack and a BarcodeMaker. Those add more functionality to the PatternMaker as you are going to see in a minute. But those are actual commercial add-ons. Teacup Software hopes you will like them and gets you hooked on them so you will actually go buy them. But you could use those for up to 20 days if you want to. But I'm going to focus on the three free patterns that come with the basic PatternMaker plug-in.
To add a background pattern on this page, I'm going to select this Background Frame, then choose a pattern from the list of patterns here. You can see that I have got a lot of patterns listed. These are the commercial ones that are installed here. Again the free ones that come with it are Crosses, Lines and Scallops. Those three are the free ones that come with the basic one that they call a demo but it's not a demo. So I'm going to start with Crosses right now. To fill this frame with those patterns, I'm going to Click Apply Pattern. There they are. I get lots of axes throughout the entire frame. I also get a bunch of ways to change these crosses. If I don't like the look of them, I can change them.
For example, I could change the angle of each one of these patterns. Right now it's set to 0, but if I change it to, let's say, 15 degrees and then Click any place else or I'll just hit Tab, you will see that each one of those exes changed very slightly. So you have total control over how those patterns appear on the page. I can also come up here to the Cross Size field and make these bigger. How about 4 picas? And I'll hit Tab. You can see with one change I have radically changed the tone of this pattern. Let's make the gap between each of those exes larger. How about 2 picas 1? There you go and now I have got kind of a parquet floor feel, of course, I could always go in here and change the color to any of my color swatches and change the Stroke Weight I if wanted to.
So you can see that Crosses starts off looking like crosses but very quickly can look like all kinds of cool patterns. Let's change to one of the other free patterns. How about Scallops? Scallops is sort of a Japanese flavored fish motif. I don't know what that is, but kind of a fishy kind of thing. Let's change this to a different color maybe Cyan and we can make this larger. How about 2 picas? Change the angle to something like 30 degrees. You can see that very quickly you get a really different feel. You can also say, do you want 1, 2 or 3 scallops inside this pattern. I'll also change the Stroke Weight percentage so that the inside strokes are actually larger than the outside stroke.
The third pattern that comes free with PatternMaker is Lines. Lines gives you lines. You can do all kinds of cool things with lines, either dashed or solid lines. I'm going to leave this set to dashed, but I'll change the color to something little more interesting, like this dark red. Now we could change the distance between the lines if we want to, we can change the number of iteration, so rotating them around. For example, I could, say, change it to 3 iterations. Then I could even change the dash length.
I'll make this longer. So those are the three free patterns that come with the PatternMaker plug-in. Like I said, there are a lot of other cool shapes that you can do, dots and concentric circles and spirals and all kinds of interesting things. I'll leave that for you to check out. Again, you can download that and use it for 20 days for free. So don't stress it. In the meantime, you can keep using those three free ones forever. I do want to mention those barcodes though, because the barcodes are really amazing. The ability to come in here and add a barcode quickly without having to paste them in later or have the printer do it, is a big help. All you do is draw out a frame, choose a barcode that you want, let's say, UPC-E, and then click Apply Pattern and you get a barcode. Change to a different barcode style and you will get a different kind of barcode. Change the code number and that changes on the page. It's all very interactive.
Even if you just stick with those three free patterns, if you like patterns as much as I do, I think you are going to really enjoy sprucing up your designs and unleashing your creativity with that PatternMaker plug-in.
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