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Author David Blatner provides in-depth training on InDesign CS5, the print and interactive page layout application from Adobe, in InDesign CS5 Essential Training. The course shows how to create new documents with strong and flexible master pages, precisely position text and graphics, prepare documents for print, and export designs as interactive PDF or Flash SWF files. Exercise files are included with the course.
Need to set the color of an object? Well, do you want to color its background fill or its stroke, what some people call the border? InDesign, just like illustrator, lets you apply a fill or a stroke color to any object on your page, even text. The trick is managing the fill and stroke icons. To change the color of this frame, I'm first going to select it, and then I'm going to come up to the Control panel and look at the fill and stroke widgets up here in the Control panel. The one on top is fill. You can see is it's showing the current fill color for this frame.
If I click on this little pop-up menu, you can see a list of all the color swatches in this document. And I'm going to be covering how to create new color swatches in a later chapter. But for right now, we're just going to stick with the color swatches that are listed here. To change this to a different color, I simply click on it. Now it's green, now it's dark blue, now it's back to the light blue again. I can also adjust the tint of the color. For example, if I do want that dark blue, but it's a little bit too dark, I can come up here and change my Tint field.
I can either use the Tint slider, by clicking on that little pop-up menu there or type in the exact value I want. Like perhaps, I'll just say it's a 40% of that color. Click out here somewhere and it takes effect, or click out on the page somewhere and that little pop-up menu disappears entirely. To change the stroke or the border, I once again select the object, and this time I'm going to use the stroke pop-up menu, which is just below it in the Control panel. Right now, there is a red line through the icon, which means that there is no stroke at all, a None stroke.
But we can change that by picking any other color. For example, maybe I'll pick this dark green. And it's hard to see that, but there is now a dark green border around here. The widgets in the Control panel are among the easiest ways to set the fill or stroke color of any object. But there are many other ways to set the fill and stroke color as well. For example, the Swatches panel. I'll come out here and click on Swatches in my dock, and you can see that I get exactly the same list of color swatches. When I want to apply a color using the Swatches panel, I must pay attention to this little tiny icon up here.
It's actually two different icons, a fill icon and a stroke icon, and whichever one is on top will win. In other words, whichever one is on top is what I'm going to be changing the color of. Right now, the stroke icon is on top. If you squint, you can see that. So if I change the color, it will change the color of the stroke icon. I'll change it to Black. There we go. Now, I've got a black stroke around it. To change this to the fill icon being on top, I click on it, and that brings it to the top. So I can change the color to whatever I want.
Now, it's bothering me that I can't see that stroke there. Suppose if I click off of here, you can see that it has a black think stroke around it. But I'd like that to be a really thicker, bolder stroke. So to do that, I'm going to, once again, select the object, because I need to select whatever object I want to change. And then I'm going to go back up to the Control panel and look at this object next to the fill and stroke widget. This widget here lets me control the width of the stroke and also the style of the stroke. So the Width currently is 1 point and I can choose a different value out of this pop-up menu here.
If I want let's say 3 points, now, you can see it's getting a little thicker, or I could even type in my own value here. Maybe I want it to be exactly 3 mm instead. Hit Enter or Return. It does the math for me, the conversion to 8.5 points. There it goes. Now, I have a very strong thick 3 mm border around that frame. If I wanted it not to be solid, but to some other kind of style, I would choose something else from the pop-up menu down here. So you can see that I can get thick- thick or thick on the outside thin on the inside, or dotted lines.
This is called Japanese dots. No idea why they call Japanese dots. I've never found anybody at Adobe who understands why they are called Japanese dots either. But there we go. There are all kinds of styles in here that you can play with. Let's go ahead and try this Thick-Thin, and you get the idea that it is a thick line on the outside, thin line on the inside, but the total width of the stroke is going to be just 8.5 points or the 3 mm that we typed in earlier. Okay, let's talk about a few other ways that you can apply colors to frames. I'm going to go back to my Swatches panel here and I just want to point out that I can drag and drop colors as well.
This is kind of an interesting effect. Scroll down here until I get this dark green. I can drag this color out and drop it anyplace. If I drop it on top of the selected object, it changes that fill. If I drag it on top of something that's not selected, it changes that fill. So drag and drop is very handy, because you do not have to select the object first. It simply colors either the fill or the stroke. To change the stroke of something, I drag it out, and then drop it on top of the edge of the object. It's a little bit hard to tell there, but there is an edge versus the fill. I'll change that.
Maybe you can see that it changed to blue instead of black. I can even drag and drop colors on top of table items. Like this table in the background. If I drag it on top of this table cell, it changes that one colored cell to a different color. So that's kind of handy too. You will notice that this is tinted, while this was not. That's because inside this table, it was specified as a tint. I'll cover tables in a later chapter. Now, if you are paying attention, you may have noticed that just above the Swatches panel, there is another panel called Color. Let me pick that one instead.
The Color panel lets you choose localized color, what's called unnamed colors in your document. It's helpful when you want to just tweak a color a little bit. Although, you have to be a little bit careful when you are using the Color panel. I'll be explaining why that is and why unnamed colors can sometimes be dangerous later on in the chapter on Color. But for now, I just want to point out that there is a Color panel, and when you have an object that is colored selected on the page here, it gives you a tint stripe. So I can very quickly come in here and change the tint of this just by clicking in this Tint bar down here, or I'll hit the X key to flip the fill and stroke icons.
I could've just clicked on it I suppose, and now you can see that I can change the tint of this as well. If I want to completely change the color to something different, I would have to change this Tint bar to a Color bar. And I can do that in the Color pop-up menu over here. I can choose Lab, CMYK or RGB. I'll pick CMYK, and you can see that I can pick any CMYK color I want now. I could make it Yellow. I could make it Red and so on. I could even dial in the values using the sliders or typing numbers in here.
Now, if you have really messed up the colors for an object, you can always get back to the default color scheme, which is a 1 point black stroke with no fill by going down to the very bottom of the tool panel and clicking on this little tiny icon, and it takes you back to the default color of 1 point black stroke, no fill and now you're back in business. You can start colorizing it or leave like that. I've mentioned earlier that you can apply fills and strokes to text as well. It's just the same process as applying it to objects.
But you need to select the text. So I'll use my Type tool, select this text here. I'll zoom into 200%, Command+2 or Ctrl+ 2 on Windows, and while it's selected, I can change its color, or in this case, I'll use the Swatches panel, I'll change this to something else, perhaps that Paper color. Paper is what InDesign calls white. So it's really a white color but it calls it Paper here. When I choose that and then deselect the text, you'll see that the text is now colored white or paper. Now, I'm going to select that one more time and you can see that I can stroke the text as well without having to convert it to outlines or anything crazy like that.
I simply select the stroke icon and then pick a color. And it creates a 1-point stroke in that color. If that was too thick, I'll select it and then I go to the stroke panel, yet another panel that you need to pay attention to and I can change that to something smaller perhaps a 0. 5 point stroke. There we go. Now I've got a 0.5 point blue stroke around white text inside of a green frame. How about that? But that's not all. There is so much more you can do with fills and strokes including really fine-tuning your strokes in all kinds of ways and adjusting the transparency of these objects too.
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