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In this series, David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción, co-hosts of the web's top resource for InDesign tips and tricks, InDesignSecrets.com, share some hidden and sometimes surprising workflow tips that will make working in InDesign more efficient and more fun. The course covers built-in timesaving features such as Quick Apply and auto-expanding text, but also little-known tricks, such as using the eyedropper to copy and paste character and paragraph text attributes and making accurate selections by selecting through or even into objects.
New techniques will be added to the collection every other week, so check back early and often. Find more tips and tricks at indesignsecrets.com.
Isn't this a lovely poster. It was designed by Nigel French and actually it's from his course on designing posters here at lynda.com. But you know, this empty space right here, this is bugging me. What it needs is something that is a little flashy I think. So I've actually prepared something that I'm sure Nigel would approve of, a lovely burst sale. Sale on arts. One of the most useful tools in InDesign's arsenal is the polygon tool. I want to show you a couple of tricks that you can do with the polygon tool today.
First, there are two polygons tools. One is a frame polygon, right there. And one is a shape polygon tool, it's just called a polygon tool. I like this one because I hate seeing those big old Xs in my polygons. The Xs are for images, so you're supposed to put an image in there. So, I like this one. We're going to draw with the Polygon tool, and as I draw, it draws a hexagon for all those people who really need to create beehives. Let's Undo. And come back here and double click on the polygon and we're going to create the beginnings of one of these bursts, right.
So we want to set, not just the number of sides, and we could, by the way, make a triangle, that's how you make a triangle, but I'm going to show you some really cool effect that you can do, where you can change the number of points in a star burst or star as you draw. So, in case you like, well I want to draw something that kind of looks like that I'm not going to bother counting all these, let's just guess that they are nine. Alright, and we want to do an inset which is a percentage of the diameter, we're just going to say something like 20%, and see what that looks like. So then, I'm going to fill it with a color, so we can see what we're doing as we drag.
Let's try the blue. And now, as I drag, you can see that nine points with my inset is coming about. now, if I tap the up arrow key on my keyboard while the mouse button is down, we get what's called the gridify effect. We can create a grid of these bursts. If I tap the right arrow key, we get additional columns. Now, people who have been using InDesign for awhile might remember, when tapping the up and down arrow key or the up and the right arrow key, would change the number of points as you drag, not turn it into the gridify effect.
Well actually, I'm here to tell you that that's still possible to do. The key is to tap the space bar while you're dragging with the Polygon tool. So I'll tap it once, listen. For that, now as I start dragging, if I tapped the up arrow key, the number of points changes, if I tapped the bottom arrow key, then we get fewer points, more points with the up arrow key, and if I tapped with the right arrow key, the inset increases, and the left arrow key, the inset decreases. If I want to go back to the gridify effect, I tap the Spacebar again and then, as I drag and tap the Up arrow key, we get more.
And Left arrow key reduces the number of columns, Right arrow key increases the number of columns. All sorts of fun stuff that you can do. So, let's go ahead and reduce this to just one starburst. So, I'm tapping down arrow key, there we go. Tap the space bar again to make a lot of points. So I'm tapping the up arrow to make a whole bunch of points like that. Beautiful. I'm going to give you one last tip. Which is, let's say that you created a polygon like this, and you decide, you know what, I want my other bursts to match this.
Do you have to redraw and do you have to duplicate it? No, watch this. The polygon tool remembers the setting that you last had when you last drew a polygon. So if I double clicked here, you can see it's remembering that there are actually 20 sides to this, 20 points So now I can select any other shape. Not just ones created with the polygon tool, but any other shape. Even like a text frame. So let's try it with this burst right here. So I double-click to isolate just the burst. And then if you go to the Object menu, go down to Convert Shape and choose Polygon.
It's going to look at the current settings for a polygon and use those. As I said, you could even do it for a text frame. So I can select this, go to Object>Convert Shape>Polygon. Completely useless in this instance, but basically any shape that you select when you choose Convert Shape to Polygon from the Object menu, it looks at your current setting for the polygon. So there you have it, a whole bunch of cool tricks to use with our friend, the most useful tool in the InDesign toolbox, the Polygon tool.
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