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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.
InDesign offers a wide variety of drawing tools, including a fully featured Bezier Pen tool. But none of that really matters to me, because I can't really draw. However, I can make simple shapes, like frames, and then edit them to get the look I want. Let me show you how it's done. I'm going to start by drawing an ellipse and then I'm going to switch to the Direct Selection tool, the white arrow tool. To choose one point on that, I first have to deselect and then place my cursor over the path. Now I can see the points on that path and I can click-and-drag.
You see how it shows me the points and the Bezier handles. I can edit these handles by dragging the path anyway I want. I can also use the Bezier Pen tool to add points to a path that's already there. If I move my cursor near the path, if I click, it adds a point on that path or I can click-and-drag to add handles. Here's a helpful modifier key that you should keep in mind when working with the Pen tool. Hold down the Option or the Alt key and the Pen tool turns into the Convert Point tool.
That means I can convert a curve point like here into a corner point. See how that's a sharp point now? Or I can hold down the Option or Alt key and click-and-drag and it turns into a curve point again. Now the cool thing about the Pen tool is it works not just on these kinds of ellipses, but on any kind of frame. For example, I'll use my Selection tools to select this text frame over here. Then I'll press P to jump back to the Pen tool. I can place my cursor over the edge of this frame and I see the little plus sign.
So I click and I drag and now you can see that I've turned what was a rectangular frame into sort of a bulgy text frame. If I decide that's not the look I want, I place the cursor over that point and you can see that there is a little minus sign next to the cursor. That means if I click, I'll remove that point from the text frame path. I can even use that trick to remove further points. For example, I'll click in the upper left corner of this text frame and you'll see that it actually turns it into a giant triangle.
Now there is other ways to change the shape of objects. For example, I'm going to change the shape of this text fame here to an oval. Let's zoom into 200% by pressing Command+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows. In this case, I wouldn't want to add a whole bunch of Bezier points. That would be a hassle. I just want to convert it into an ellipse or an oval. So I'll go to the Object menu, scroll down to Convert Shape, and you can see that there's all kind of shapes you can choose from. I'm going to choose Ellipse.
Suddenly, I've got an oval and I can resize it to any shape I want. Now what if I wanted this to be a crescent shape instead of an oval? It would be very hard for me to draw that with the Bezier Pen tool. So what I'm going to do is use the Ellipse tool and draw another ellipse on top of that one. There we go. Now I've got two ellipses next to each other. I'll use the Selection tool to add my background ellipse to my selection. I Shift+Clicked on the background here, so now I've got both of these objects selected at the same time. I'll go to the Object menu and go to the Pathfinder submenu.
If you're an Illustrator user, you're probably familiar already with the Pathfinder options. You can also find these under the Window menu. Choose Object & Layout and then Pathfinder. The Pathfinder panel gives you all the same options that you can find in the Object menu. Here, I can add those paths together or subtract them, intersect them, and so on. But in this case, I want to subtract. That's the second button in the Pathfinder area. Subtract means use the top object like a cookie cutter to punch a hole through the back object. Let's try it.
There we go. There is my crescent. Now as I mentioned in an earlier movie, if I really need heavy-duty illustration tools, I can always copy the object, paste it into Illustrator, edit it, and then copy and paste it back. But in most cases, InDesign gives me everything I need.
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