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David Blatner brings his knowledge of and passion for InDesign to the latest release of this state-of-the-art publishing program, showing how to harness its power and functionality. InDesign CS4 Beyond the Basics covers the process of publishing with an eye on the program's latest nuances: optimizing page layouts, automating InDesign with Data Merge and XML, exploring interactive documents (including making movies), and exporting publications to a variety of formats. Exercise files accompany the course.
Hiding here, underneath the Rectangle Frame tool, is another tool called the Polygon Frame tool. In fact, we have another one here underneath the Rectangle tool as well; the Polygon tool and both of these make regular boring six sided hexagons. If you want each of the sides of a hexagon to be the same length, hold the Shift key, there you go, drag it out and you get a nice perfect hexagon, but how many people need hexagons in InDesign, it's kind of ridiculous. Fortunately, you can change the number of sides and even turn the polygons into starbursts of various shapes. The trick is to double click on the tool. Here, let me delete this so we can have a nice clean space to work with and I am going to double click on this Polygon tool and that opens the Polygon Settings dialog box. If I set this to a larger number, maybe 20 sides, I will get a 20-sided polygon and if I change the inset from 0% to any other higher percentage, I will get a starburst.
For example, let's change this to 30% and click OK. Now when I start dragging out my polygon, I get a starburst effect. I will hold down the Shift key to make it a perfect circle. I asked for 20 points, but in fact I am getting 20 points on the outside and another 20 points on the inside and I asked for a 30% inset and that determines the amount of space from the outside point to the inside point. It's 30% of the distance from the outside point to the center of the circle. If I decide I don't like the look of this starburst and I want to change the number of points or its inset, it's easy. Select it, double click on the Polygon tool again and just change the number. Let's say we will make it 25 points with a 50% inset, click OK and it changes.
Now here is one other cool trick having to do with starburst that you should know about. When you are dragging out a new starburst, you can press the arrow keys on your keyboard to change the insets and the number of points on it. For example, the up and down arrows on the keyboard will add or remove points on that polygon. That's pretty cool. The left and right arrows will change the insets so I am pressing the right arrow to make really huge insets or the left arrow to make really shallow insets, it's up to you, very flexible, very easy to go. When I let go off the mouse button you can see that it takes effect.
Those arrow keys now do something differently. Now that I had let go off the mouse button, the arrow keys of course just move the object on the page. Granted, a fancy starburst might be out of place if you are laying out a scholarly scientific journal, on the other hand a cool 20-sided icosahedron might be just what you need to wow your audience.
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