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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.
- This is a pretty dynamic layout already, I'd say, but what if we wanted to make it dynamic-er. What if we wanted to use a shape other than the rectangles that are used to hold these images, like say for this guy. It's easy to do in InDesign if you know what you're doing with the pen tool, but you know, there are lots of other vector paths hiding in Illustrator and Photoshop that we can use for the same purpose. First let me show you how to do it in InDesign. I'm gonna switch to normal editing mode and drag out a simple shape like a star, which I've already set up with the polygon tool.
Let's move over here to the pasteboard. I just want to go over the basics. So you have some sort of a vector path and then you want to bring a picture into here. Now, I can place it from the File menu but if I want to actually experiment with an image I've already placed, I'll need to select it with the direct selection tool, copy it, then select the target shape and choose Paste into. Paste itself won't work, you have to choose Paste into. And the picture appears inside there and that's all well and good and it's cropped according to that frame, and it's kind of funky looking.
I could do a drop shadow and all sorts of cool stuff, it would look very exciting. All right, but that's the limit of the stars. If you're not really good with the pen tool then let's go grab some frames from our friends Illustrator and Photoshop. Here in Illustrator they're hiding in the Symbols panel. All these shapes have a vector path and you can use most of these as paths in InDesign to hold images and to hold text. I would recommend that you start out with simple paths like the ones from the Arrows library, for example.
If I open up the arrows library I can see these are kind of simple. For example this guy here, I just drag him right out and then hold down the shift key and scale it larger. Then I can copy and paste right over into InDesign. So I'll choose Paste. And there is my vector shape. Now it comes in groups. If I double click and drag you can see there's actually two shapes that are grouped together, we don't need them both. I'm gonna select this first one and delete and you'll find that you often need to fiddle with the shapes that you're bringing in from Illustrator.
You can fiddle with them in Illustrator first or do that when you come to InDesign. Let's go through the same sequence of steps for our snowboarder. I'll select him, choose Copy, select the target frame, choose Paste into. There he is. You can do more complicated shapes as well. Again you'll just need to play with them a bit, like you could do this ink spot. In Photoshop you'll find the same kind of vector paths hiding in the Custom Shape tool.
That's down here in the Vector Tools, choose the blob, that's the custom shape tool, and then up here you can choose from any one of these libraries of custom shapes. I've already been playing with it. You select the shape here and then you drag out the shape on the canvas. So I'm going to select the shape with the vector selection tool and copy it. Jump over to Illustrator, get rid of the blob and choose Edit, Paste. We want to make sure we that we choose Compound shape fully editable.
It comes in with no fill and no stroke so be sure to give it a stroke, you can see what you're doing. You can always remove it later. And now we select it again in Illustrator. You have to do that step, and copy it from Illustrator. And now we can go back to InDesign and do the same thing we did before where we paste it right in, move it over here and then we can get our friendly snowboarder into there. Select the target and choose Paste into. And there he goes. It's a compound shape, which is on purpose. Kind of cool, cool effect.
It's really neat to know that we have this treasure trove of interesting vector frames that we can use from Illustrator and Photoshop right in InDesign
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