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Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths

From: InDesign CS5 Essential Training

Video: Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths

What if you need an array of an image to be transparent? For example, in this image with this sign in it, I want the whole image to be transparent except for this little arrow sign. I want to make this outside part go away. Now InDesign gives you two different options for doing this, Clipping Paths or Transparency. Let's take a look at clipping paths first. I'm going to select this image on my page, go to the Links panel and click on Edit Original. That opens this image inside Photoshop. If we look inside Photoshop's Paths panel, we see that there is a path called arrow path.

Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths

What if you need an array of an image to be transparent? For example, in this image with this sign in it, I want the whole image to be transparent except for this little arrow sign. I want to make this outside part go away. Now InDesign gives you two different options for doing this, Clipping Paths or Transparency. Let's take a look at clipping paths first. I'm going to select this image on my page, go to the Links panel and click on Edit Original. That opens this image inside Photoshop. If we look inside Photoshop's Paths panel, we see that there is a path called arrow path.

I'll select that and then zoom in on part of this image. It's a little bit hard to see. I'll select it with a White Arrow tool. But you can see that there is a Bezier path drawn around this image. But how do I get that path into InDesign? Well, let's switch back to InDesign and then we go to the Object menu, choose Clipping Path and then choose Options. That clipping path is hiding inside this Photoshop file. It'll work with a TIFF file, a Photoshop file or a JPEG file.

I can get it by choosing Photoshop Path from the Type pop-up menu, then choosing the name of my path from the Path pop-up menu. In this case, there's only one path, so it selected it for me automatically. Now, I'll click OK and you can see that path came in here. Let's zoom in here, so we can see this well. Because I have the Direct Selection tool selected in InDesign, the White Arrow tool, I can actually see the path and even edit the path here in InDesign. But I don't really want to do that. I'm just going to go back to the Selection tool, the Black Arrow tool.

I can see that the path turned into transparency. The background completely disappeared. That said, there is two problems with clipping paths. The first is they are really a hassle to make, especially really complex clipping paths, it takes forever, I hate it. The second problem is it if I zoom really in close here, you see how the edge is very, very sharp, there is no way to make a clipping path a soft-edged. It's always very sharp. That might not show up so badly in this particular image, but in many images, that edge looks very artificial.

So, those are the problems with clipping paths. So instead I usually like to use native transparency. Let me show you what I mean. I'm going to zoom back to fit the whole page in window with Command+0 or Ctrl+0 on Windows. I'm going to place a new image in here, deselect everything so it doesn't accidentally replace that. Deselect everything by clicking out here in the pasteboard and then File > Place. I'm going to choose my snowboarder.psd file. I'll click Open and it loads the Place cursor and I'll simple click-and-drag to place that in at this size.

Now, this image has true transparency in it. Let's zoom in, so we can see. It's a little bit rough, so I want to make sure that View > Display Performance is set to High Quality Display. That way, I get the best quality image. I can really see the pixels in the image here. I can see that even little threads off this side here are showing up. Now, how did I make this transparency? I'm going to select that image, go to my Links panel and then click Edit Original. I'll open this one in Photoshop and you can see the transparency in this file is there because of the checkerboard.

Checkerboard in Photoshop means transparent. If I look inside my Layers panel, I'll see that this layer is actual image. There is actually a blue background there, but there is a layer mask on top of it. I can turn my layer mask off by Shift+Clicking on the layer mask. You can see that this is actually a solid image, has a blue background, but when I add the layer mask by Shift+Clicking again, it turns into checkerboard transparency. So, InDesign can read that transparency and it makes it transparent in InDesign as well.

I find it much easier to make transparency like with a layer mask in Photoshop than I do making a clipping path. It's much easier, much faster, typically, and it's much higher quality when it gets into InDesign, because it's true transparency, so it anti-aliases perfectly into the background. Now, in general, it's a good practice to put any kind of text frames on a higher layer than your image frame. So, it actually prints on top of the image. Now, I'll be talking about layers in a later chapter, but I do want to point out right here that in general it's a good practice to put any text frames on a higher layer than your image.

So, the text will print on top of your transparency and not the other way around. In most cases, it will still work. It will still print out just fine, if the image is on top of the text. But on occasion, it can look as if the text near the transparency is kind of heaving up, getting bolder around the image. So, just to be safe, be sure to put the text on top if you can. Now, InDesign can read native transparency like this, from Photoshop PSD files, PDF files and even Adobe Illustrator files.

Transparency effects like this are great. Just use them.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for InDesign CS5 Essential Training
InDesign CS5 Essential Training

135 video lessons · 89536 viewers

David Blatner
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 5m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 33s
    2. What is InDesign CS5?
      2m 26s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 51s
  2. 54m 49s
    1. Understanding the Application window
      6m 0s
    2. Navigating pages
      6m 39s
    3. Zooming and magnifying
      6m 57s
    4. Managing more than one document window
      3m 36s
    5. Setting rulers and measurements
      2m 9s
    6. Positioning panels correctly
      6m 28s
    7. Saving time by making workspaces
      3m 24s
    8. Setting the view quality of artwork
      4m 9s
    9. Adjusting View and Preview settings
      4m 56s
    10. Rotating pages and spreads
      3m 2s
    11. Displaying a new view with the New Window feature
      3m 29s
    12. Setting application and document preferences
      4m 0s
  3. 21m 31s
    1. Using the Tool panel
      8m 1s
    2. Learning and editing keyboard shortcuts
      6m 24s
    3. Working with spring-loaded tool shortcuts
      1m 17s
    4. Using contextual menus
      2m 51s
    5. Choosing menu items with Quick Apply
      2m 58s
  4. 45m 25s
    1. Creating new documents
      7m 28s
    2. Saving and reverting documents
      3m 41s
    3. Using multiple Undo and Revert
      4m 28s
    4. Setting margin and column guides
      5m 16s
    5. Using ruler guides
      8m 10s
    6. Bleeding colors or images off the side of the page
      4m 29s
    7. Saving objects in libraries
      4m 49s
    8. Exporting and importing page snippets
      4m 29s
    9. Saving for CS4 with IDML
      2m 35s
  5. 31m 18s
    1. Inserting, deleting, and moving pages
      7m 23s
    2. Changing page size
      6m 14s
    3. Adding page numbering
      3m 43s
    4. Changing page numbering with sections
      5m 58s
    5. Creating and applying master pages
      5m 20s
    6. Overriding master page items
      2m 40s
  6. 1h 21m
    1. Understanding text frames
      4m 6s
    2. Typing and editing text
      4m 36s
    3. Filling with placeholder text
      2m 38s
    4. Inserting special characters
      4m 43s
    5. Importing text
      7m 49s
    6. Threading text frames
      4m 1s
    7. Setting text frame columns and insets
      6m 32s
    8. Setting vertical justification and first baseline position
      6m 9s
    9. Putting text on a path
      6m 51s
    10. Using the Story Editor
      8m 43s
    11. Checking spelling
      7m 42s
    12. Using Find/Change
      9m 25s
    13. Tracking text changes
      8m 1s
  7. 49m 50s
    1. Importing graphics
      8m 11s
    2. Importing from Mini Bridge
      5m 27s
    3. Using the Links panel
      6m 34s
    4. Embedding links
      2m 37s
    5. Editing graphics in their original app
      3m 14s
    6. Fitting graphics to a frame
      6m 12s
    7. Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths
      4m 53s
    8. Adding live captions
      5m 56s
    9. Colorizing images
      2m 1s
    10. Turning image layers on and off
      4m 45s
  8. 46m 15s
    1. Selecting objects
      5m 32s
    2. Applying basic strokes and fills
      8m 18s
    3. Using advanced strokes
      3m 28s
    4. Adjusting transparency
      4m 38s
    5. Adding drop shadows
      6m 41s
    6. Applying feathering
      4m 25s
    7. Copying formatting with the Eyedropper tool
      4m 35s
    8. Finding and changing object formatting
      4m 50s
    9. Making polygons and starbursts
      3m 48s
  9. 22m 56s
    1. Making interactive documents
      2m 6s
    2. Adding hyperlinks
      5m 52s
    3. Building bookmarks
      3m 38s
    4. Creating buttons
      8m 57s
    5. Animating an object
      2m 23s
  10. 23m 29s
    1. Creating color swatches
      5m 52s
    2. The danger and power of unnamed colors
      4m 47s
    3. Building tint swatches
      2m 18s
    4. Creating gradient swatches
      3m 56s
    5. Applying gradients
      6m 36s
  11. 50m 0s
    1. Positioning objects with the Page Gap tool
      2m 53s
    2. Stacking objects
      2m 13s
    3. Creating and controlling layers
      3m 53s
    4. Managing objects in the Layers panel
      3m 37s
    5. Nesting objects
      2m 46s
    6. Editing frame and path shapes
      4m 6s
    7. Adding rounded corners and other corner options
      3m 57s
    8. Grouping objects
      3m 14s
    9. Locking objects
      2m 39s
    10. Aligning and distributing
      5m 43s
    11. Understanding text wrap
      8m 13s
    12. Using anchored objects
      6m 46s
  12. 18m 49s
    1. Duplicating objects
      5m 39s
    2. Rotating objects
      3m 3s
    3. Scaling objects
      3m 57s
    4. Mirroring objects
      3m 46s
    5. Using the Transform Again feature
      2m 24s
  13. 25m 52s
    1. Applying basic character styling
      7m 8s
    2. Applying advanced character formatting
      4m 54s
    3. Changing case
      2m 51s
    4. Understanding OpenType features
      3m 19s
    5. Using Find/Change for text formatting
      3m 18s
    6. Using Find Font
      4m 22s
  14. 45m 27s
    1. Applying formatting to a paragraph
      4m 14s
    2. Spanning a paragraph across multiple columns
      3m 5s
    3. Splitting a paragraph into multiple columns
      2m 1s
    4. Using drop caps
      3m 16s
    5. Adjusting text hyphenation
      3m 21s
    6. Fine-tuning justified text
      4m 19s
    7. Setting tabs
      5m 54s
    8. Aligning to a baseline grid
      4m 24s
    9. Controlling orphans and widows with Keep Options
      2m 39s
    10. Adding rules (lines) above or below a paragraph
      3m 14s
    11. Adding automatic bullets
      4m 39s
    12. Working with numbered lists
      4m 21s
  15. 31m 3s
    1. Creating and applying paragraph styles
      6m 34s
    2. Using character styles
      5m 43s
    3. Applying styles automatically with Nested Styles
      7m 19s
    4. Using object styles
      3m 27s
    5. Using Quick Apply with styles
      2m 49s
    6. Cleaning up a local formatting mess
      5m 11s
  16. 37m 0s
    1. Creating a table
      5m 54s
    2. Adjusting rows and columns
      6m 35s
    3. Formatting a table
      8m 5s
    4. Adding headers and footers
      1m 58s
    5. Applying table styles
      5m 32s
    6. Adding Microsoft Word and Excel tables
      8m 56s
  17. 10m 26s
    1. Checking your document with the Preflight panel
      2m 54s
    2. Creating a custom preflight profile
      4m 45s
    3. Checking color with the Separations Preview
      2m 47s
  18. 31m 7s
    1. Packaging for output
      4m 13s
    2. Using the Print dialog box
      10m 22s
    3. Exporting a PDF
      8m 47s
    4. Exporting an interactive PDF
      3m 59s
    5. Exporting text
      1m 36s
    6. Exporting SWF files
      2m 10s
  19. 1m 32s
    1. Finding more information and help
      1m 12s
    2. Goodbye
      20s

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