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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.
I'd like to put a starburst on this cover, kind of spice things up a little bit. But there's no Starburst tool in InDesign. There is, however, the Polygon tools. Now the Polygon tools are a little bit weird because typically when you start dragging them out, all you get is a hexagon and who needs a hexagon? I don't know why they put that in there. I want a starburst and I can turn my hexagon into one if I know a few tricks. I'll press Delete key to make that go away and I am going to double-click on the Polygon tool.
That opens the Polygon Settings and here is where the magic happens. I can choose the Number of Sides, for example, maybe a 20-sided polygon and click OK, and start dragging and all of a sudden you see I have got something with it. It looks almost like a circle but there is 20 sides around that thing. Let me delete that and do it again, double-click opens it up. It remembers that I wanted 20 sides, but this time I'm going to change the Star Inset. If this is set to anything other than zero, for example 20%, click OK, then InDesign doubles the number of points.
So I actually have 40 points on this object and every other point is inset slightly. In this case 20% in from the outside to the center point. So I start to get my starburst, looks pretty good. Now once I make a starburst I might want to change it. Maybe I want to change the Inset slightly. The trick to doing that is to have it selected on my page and then double-click on the Polygon tool. Up comes the Polygon Settings, but this not only changes all the polygons I am going to be creating from here on out, but it also changes any polygons that I have selected on my page right now.
So let's change this to maybe 18 sides, but a larger Inset. There we go. Okay, here's one more trick that you should know about when making polygons. Now I am going to create another starburst, but this time I want to show you what happens when you hold down different Modifier keys. For example, if I hold down the Shift key it constrains it to a square. That is the height and width are the same. So it could fit into a square or fit into a circle, however, you want to say that. Instead of the Shift key I am going to show you what happens if I press the Arrow keys.
If press the Up arrow key, it starts to turn into a grid of starburst. I'll press that a couple of times and then I'll press the right arrow a couple of times and you can see that now I am making nine starbursts at the same time. I'll hold down the Shift key and so they are now all made in a perfect grid, perfectly square size as it were. So that's kind of interesting, although, I'm not sure why you'd want do it but it's kind of interesting that you can. But let me show you another modifier trick, which is going to be a little bit more useful. Press the Delete key and I'm going to start dragging out again and this time instead of pressing the arrow keys first, I am going to press the Spacebar.
Now this is a strange, very obscure trick but its good one to know. I'll press the Spacebar once and when I do that the arrow keys now mean add points. Up arrow key means add points, the Down arrow key means reduce the number of points and the Left and Right arrow keys mean change the amount of the inset. So I am pressing the Right arrow to increase the Inset the left arrow to decrease the inset, but those arrow keys will only work after I press the Spacebar once.
That's pretty strange. But that's how it works. Dragging things out, press the Spacebar and then if I want to change the number of points or inset on the fly, use the Arrow keys. Let go and now it's created. Granted a fancy starburst might be out of place if you're laying out a scholarly scientific journal, but a cool 20 sided icosagon or one of these amazing starbursts like this might be perfect if you want to make a big splash.
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