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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.
I am working on this flier here. And I have put an object in the back, just a big frame and I have filled with blue. But it's kind of flat and boring. Why not spice it up a bit? Use a pattern instead. Indesign does not have a built in pattern fill feature. But if you head over to teacupsoftware.com you can search for a pattern maker and this is a free plugin that you lets you add patterns in Indesign. Now in fairness, the folks at teacup are hoping that you going to buy the commercial version and that gives a whole bunch more patterns but the free plugin is all you need to make a bazillion cool patterns.
Let me show you. I have downloaded and installed the plugin according to the instruction on their website. And then, I quit InDesign and restarted, and now, under the Window menu, I'll see a new feature called Pattern Maker. You add and edit your patterns inside the Pattern Maker panel, so while this object is selected in the background, I can simply select one of the three patterns that come with the free version. Crosses, lines, or scallops. I'm going to start with crosses, and then I'll click the Apply Pattern button. Let's go ahead and zoom in here to 200%, by pressing Cmd+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows, and you'll see that this object has been filled with these little crosses.
Now, all of those little X's might be interesting to you, or maybe not, but the cool thing is, you can edit this pattern. You can customize it to the way you want it to look. And you do that by changing each of these little variables. For example, let's go ahead and change the shape angle here to say fifteen degrees. When I hit enter, you'll see that each one of those little cross rotated. Now, let's go ahead and change the cross size. The size of one of those x's. Instead of having this little small value, I'm going to make it something really big. Like five pica three.
Now immediately, you say you have a very different kind of effect inside InDesign here. A totally different pattern. Now if I just make the element gap a little bit bigger, maybe 1 pica 7, all of a sudden this pattern snaps in to a completely different look. It's almost like a parquet floor. And of course you can change the stroke weight or the stroke color. Lets make this cyan. So that's looking kind of interesting but now lets change the values entirely and get a very different effect. How about we'll change the cross size to 10P and I'll hit tab to go down to element gap and I'll change this to 1 pica 6 and this change to this lets rotate this little bit to 50 degrees.
And maybe change the shape angle to seven degrees. Now when I hit or return, you see you have a completely different effect. So we went from little x's to this very intricate pattern. Let's try a different pattern. Let's change crosses to lines. Here we get a dash line or a set of dash lines. And you can change the line distance and the angle and so on. Let's go ahead and leave the line distance and angle the way they are. But we'll change the iterations to something like eight. Then when I hit tab you'll see you have eight different variations at 20 degree offsets.
I'll make the stroke weight larger, maybe four points, and I'll change the dash length to let's say three points, make it a little bit smaller and maybe make the gap length a little bit larger like a pica. Once again I'll change my stroke color to something different. Let's try that cyan color, I kind of like that. And all of a sudden, you've got confetti. Now, not only can you make these patterns in InDesign, but you can even copy these objects that frame out of InDesign. Paste it into Illustrator, and each one of these little objects Will be a separate path in illustrator that you could modify.
Now you gotta admit these patterns are cool. An infinite number of patterns at your fingertips. Now I think I am legally obligated to point out that I actually helped write some of these patterns so I do get a very small royalty if you do go ahead and buy the pattern pack. With the more pattern options, but you don't have to. Just go ahead and use the free version. Use it as long as you want, and have fun with it.
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