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Author David Blatner provides in-depth training on InDesign CS5, Adobe's print and interactive page layout application, 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.
One of the side effects of creating layouts on a computer is that everything is clean and the edges are sharp. Now, if that's the look you are going for, then great. But if you are trying to create a soft gentle look, then you might consider using the feathering transparency effects, which blur the edges of objects. InDesign has several different ways to Feather objects on a page. In this case, I want to feather the edge of this flower image. So I am going to zoom in a little bit with Command+Plus or Ctrl+Plus on Windows, and I am going to turn on the High Quality Display Mode from the View menu, because all the Transparency Effects look much better when High Quality Display Mode is on.
I can find all my different transparency effects inside the Effects panel, so that's what I am going to do. I will go to the Effects panel and choose one of my Feathering Effects. You can see that I have three different options. Basic, Directional and Gradient Feather. I am going to start with Basic Feather. That opens up the Effects panel, which lets me change the Feathering for the entire object. In this case, I am going to set it much larger so you can really see the effect. I will change it to like 50 points here. And you can see that on all four sides of my image that was selected, have been Feathered.
They sort of fade off to nothing on the sides. No matter which Feather Effect you use, it's a good idea to add a little bit of Noise, so it doesn't look so artificial. Maybe just 3 or 4% Noise. Actually, if you make this really big percentage, like way up in the 90% range, everything gets kind of grungy and pixelated. And some people like that effect. That's kind of a cool special effect, but for most people, they want just a little bit of Noise to break it up and make it look a little bit more natural. So that's what we are going to do here. So Basic Feather always Feathers all sides of an object.
Let's look at a different kind Feather, Directional Feather. I will turn off the Basic Feather checkbox and turn on Directional Feather by clicking on it. Directional Feather lets me change the Feather, the fading out nature of this object on each of the four sides. For example, here I only want it to Feather off the top, so I will just change the Top field to, in this case, 50 points. Can you see how that works? It's fading off just on the top, but not on the left, right, or bottom of the image.
But sometimes I need more control about how it fades off, exactly where it breaks, and so on. So in those instances I don't use Directional Feather, I use Gradient Feather. Gradient Feather is like the manual transmission of Feathering, because you can have lots of control over exactly where everything fades. You can see that to start with my Gradient Feather is going from fully opaque to fully Transparent left to right. That's because the Angle is set to 0. If I change this to 90 degrees instead, it's going to be Opaque at the bottom and Transparent at the top. Okay.
That's great. Now let's change the Gradient Stops. We can see that the Black means fully Opaque and white means fully Transparent. And I can drag these sliders around to control exactly how much of the image is going to be Opaque before it starts fading out. I can also control how much of the image should be Transparent. So I can move this around a little bit to get just the effect I am looking for, and then I can also control the center point slider. The center point slider lets me change where the 50% mark is, where is it halfway Opaque, halfway Transparent.
And so you can see you can really dial in just the effect you are looking for. I can even add additional Gradient Stops on here by just clicking in the bottom part of that Gradient Stop. And when I do that, I can change the opacity of each of these. Maybe I want it really Transparent here, and then to become really opaque again over here. So you get the idea, you can make bands of Transparency in anything on your page. Now I am going to click OK here, and I want to point out one more Feathering feature and that is the Gradient Feather tool in the tool panel.
This lets me fine-tune my gradients even more, by clicking and dragging on my object. You can see that wherever I click, it becomes fully opaque and wherever I let it go, it becomes fully transparent. I will click on the upper right and drag down and you see that the whole thing flips around. Click in the bottom and move to the top and you can see that it flips around as well. So you can see, you can really make some amazing effects here, and remember, this works for anything on your InDesign page. We did this to an image frame, but you could do this to a text frame, a line, vector images, really anything.
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