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Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths

From: InDesign CS6 Essential Training

Video: Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths

What if you need an area of an image to be transparent? For example, I'm going to bring in my photographer image here, by placing it, go down to the bottom of my Links folder, grab my photographer.psd file and then place it inside this frame. But I don't want this background image. I just want the photographer itself. I want this background to be transparent. In the past this effect was typically created using a clipping path. But InDesign can also see and manage native transparency in images too, which often leads to much better results.

Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths

What if you need an area of an image to be transparent? For example, I'm going to bring in my photographer image here, by placing it, go down to the bottom of my Links folder, grab my photographer.psd file and then place it inside this frame. But I don't want this background image. I just want the photographer itself. I want this background to be transparent. In the past this effect was typically created using a clipping path. But InDesign can also see and manage native transparency in images too, which often leads to much better results.

First, let's see how to do it the old way with Clipping Paths. I'm going to Option+Double-click or Alt+Double-click on this image to invoke the edit original and open this in Photoshop, and if I go to the Paths panel and click on MyOutline, I can see that there is in fact an the outline drawn around here. This is actually a Bezier line which has been drawn around the outline that I'm trying to clip out. InDesign can see that path inside the image. So I'll switch back to InDesign, choose the Object menu, and go down for Clipping Path submenu.

I'll choose Options and then choose from the Type pop up menu Photoshop Path. This is where I can tell InDesign which path I should use within the Photoshop file. You can actually have multiple paths and then choose which one you want to use as a clipping path. But in this case there's just one, and when I click OK you can see that the background is completely knocked out. You also see the clipping path itself that Bezier line because we've been switched to the Direct Select tool in the tool panel. I'm going to switch back to the Selection tool and then zoom, way in here so we can see this.

Clipping Paths can be great if you already have one. But I have to tell you I hate making Clipping Paths. It's such a hassle to draw around them and worse they're always very sharp lines. For example, down here if I zoom way in, and you can see that it's a very sharp line. It doesn't blend in naturally from the face or the jacket into the background. So Clipping Paths tend to look somewhat artificial. Because of that, I'm going to use a different technique. I'm going to use actual native transparency. Let's zoom back to 200% with Command+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows, and I'm going to Option+Double-click one more time, to open this in Photoshop.

In this case, I'm going to not use my path. I'm going to use the channel instead. I have a channel pre-built in this image called Alpha 1 and I'm going to load that my Command+Clicking or Ctrl+Clicking on it. That simply loads that channel up. Now I'll go to Layers panel, and I'll turn that selection into a mask, a nice soft edge mask, and I'll do that by going to layer menu, choosing layer Mask and then choosing Reveal Selection. Now, if you've done any work in Photoshop, you're familiar with that checkerboard.

The checkerboard means it's transparent. There's nothing there. You can see right through it to whatever's behind, and that's what I want. I want it to be transparent. So I'm going to save this document and then go back to InDesign and see what I get. I'll save it, close it, come back to InDesign, and then I need to turn off my Clipping Path. So I'll select this, go back to Object > Clipping Paths and turn off the Path, otherwise you would have transparency plus a clipping path. That's not what I want. Now it looks pretty similar at this level, but when I zoom in again and you'll see something change.

I now have a very soft blend between the face and the jacket into the background. It's truly antialiased using real transparency. It's a much more natural look, that's why I like using native transparency, much more than Clipping Paths. One thing I should point out however. In general, it's a good idea to put text above transparency effects, rather than below it. For example, I'll go back to 200% with Command+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows, and I'll select with the Selection tool this text frame and I'm going to move it above, using Object > Arrange > Bring to Front. There we go.

The reason I want to have the text on top of the transparency, besides the fact that want it to be able to read it is that sometimes the text around transparency can kind of get thicker, more bold. So to be safe, we want to put the text on top of the transparent images. That way, it won't get bold, kind of around the edges of this guy's shoulder. The good news is that InDesign can read native transparency in Photoshop PSD files, also PDF files and even Adobe Illustrator files. Transparency has become a huge part of why people use InDesign.

It just makes it so easy to lay out a beautiful looking page quickly.

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This video is part of

Image for InDesign CS6 Essential Training
InDesign CS6 Essential Training

113 video lessons · 81427 viewers

David Blatner
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 23s
    1. What is InDesign?
      1m 23s
  2. 2m 38s
    1. Welcome
      1m 0s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 38s
  3. 21m 19s
    1. Getting started
      3m 33s
    2. Adding or editing text
      3m 23s
    3. Adding or replacing graphics
      4m 31s
    4. Moving objects around
      4m 55s
    5. Printing and creating a PDF
      4m 57s
  4. 26m 6s
    1. Exploring the application window
      6m 25s
    2. Navigating and magnifying pages and objects
      6m 24s
    3. Setting rulers and measurements
      2m 35s
    4. Working with panels
      3m 58s
    5. Setting the view quality of artwork
      2m 31s
    6. Adjusting view and preview settings
      4m 13s
  5. 27m 52s
    1. Creating new documents
      7m 39s
    2. Saving and reverting documents
      4m 2s
    3. Saving for CS4 and CS5 with IDML
      2m 24s
    4. Setting the margin and column guides
      4m 29s
    5. Putting ruler guides on the page
      5m 7s
    6. Bleeding colors or images off the side of the page
      4m 11s
  6. 23m 37s
    1. Inserting, deleting, and moving pages
      4m 32s
    2. Changing page size
      4m 38s
    3. Creating and applying master pages
      5m 18s
    4. Overriding master page items
      2m 43s
    5. Adding page numbering
      2m 22s
    6. Changing page numbering with sections
      4m 4s
  7. 52m 47s
    1. Understanding text frames
      3m 38s
    2. Typing and editing text
      4m 48s
    3. Inserting special characters
      4m 1s
    4. Importing text
      3m 47s
    5. Threading text frames
      3m 12s
    6. Setting text frame columns
      4m 31s
    7. Setting text inset and vertical justification options
      3m 48s
    8. Allowing text frames to grow and shrink
      4m 5s
    9. Putting text on a path
      5m 50s
    10. Using the Story Editor
      5m 10s
    11. Checking spelling
      5m 12s
    12. Using Find/Change
      4m 45s
  8. 28m 19s
    1. Importing graphics
      8m 20s
    2. Using the Links panel
      7m 17s
    3. Editing graphics in their original app
      3m 10s
    4. Fitting graphics to the frame
      5m 1s
    5. Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths
      4m 31s
  9. 35m 49s
    1. Selecting objects
      5m 2s
    2. Applying basic strokes and fills
      5m 6s
    3. Colorizing images
      1m 59s
    4. Adjusting transparency
      4m 4s
    5. Adding drop shadows
      3m 33s
    6. Using other transparency effects
      5m 15s
    7. Copying and formatting with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 59s
    8. Finding and changing object formatting
      4m 51s
  10. 18m 34s
    1. Creating color swatches
      4m 33s
    2. Understanding the danger and power of unnamed colors
      5m 46s
    3. Creating gradient swatches
      3m 53s
    4. Applying gradients
      4m 22s
  11. 15m 27s
    1. Editing frame and path shapes
      5m 8s
    2. Adding rounded corners and other corner options
      4m 8s
    3. Making polygons and starbursts
      1m 59s
    4. Creating text outlines
      4m 12s
  12. 37m 56s
    1. Positioning objects with the Gap tool
      3m 54s
    2. Stacking objects
      2m 5s
    3. Creating and controlling layers
      5m 27s
    4. Managing objects in the Layers panel
      3m 33s
    5. Grouping and locking objects
      3m 10s
    6. Nesting objects
      3m 23s
    7. Aligning and distributing objects
      4m 20s
    8. Understanding text wrap
      5m 51s
    9. Using anchored objects
      6m 13s
  13. 26m 16s
    1. Duplicating objects
      5m 37s
    2. Collecting, conveying, and placing content
      8m 58s
    3. Rotating objects
      2m 22s
    4. Scaling objects
      4m 21s
    5. Skewing objects
      1m 8s
    6. Mirroring objects
      3m 50s
  14. 24m 19s
    1. Applying basic character styling
      7m 31s
    2. Applying advanced character formatting
      4m 28s
    3. Changing case
      3m 23s
    4. Using Find/Change for text formatting
      5m 3s
    5. Using Find Font
      3m 54s
  15. 32m 51s
    1. Applying formatting to a paragraph
      4m 4s
    2. Spanning a paragraph across multiple columns
      2m 10s
    3. Splitting a paragraph into multiple columns
      1m 52s
    4. Using drop caps
      3m 26s
    5. Setting tabs
      7m 36s
    6. Adding rules (lines) above or below a paragraph
      3m 23s
    7. Adding automatic bullets
      4m 10s
    8. Numbering paragraphs
      6m 10s
  16. 19m 47s
    1. Creating and applying paragraph styles
      6m 10s
    2. Using character styles
      4m 45s
    3. Editing and redefining styles
      2m 20s
    4. Using object styles
      2m 47s
    5. Applying styles with Quick Apply
      3m 45s
  17. 39m 59s
    1. Creating a table
      4m 29s
    2. Adjusting rows and columns
      4m 36s
    3. Adding and deleting rows and columns
      3m 0s
    4. Formatting a table
      4m 32s
    5. Formatting cells
      6m 2s
    6. Applying table styles
      5m 33s
    7. Placing graphics in cells
      3m 1s
    8. Importing Microsoft Word and Excel tables
      8m 46s
  18. 16m 45s
    1. Building a multi-document book
      7m 27s
    2. Creating "continued on..." jump lines
      3m 51s
    3. Constructing a table of contents (TOC)
      5m 27s
  19. 23m 8s
    1. Exporting EPUBs
      6m 12s
    2. Creating an interactive PDF
      12m 49s
    3. Building a Flash SWF
      4m 7s
  20. 28m 1s
    1. Checking a document with the Preflight panel
      5m 26s
    2. Packaging for output
      3m 34s
    3. Using the Print dialog box
      4m 52s
    4. Printing a small booklet
      2m 46s
    5. Exporting a PDF
      7m 56s
    6. Exporting text
      3m 27s
  21. 1m 25s
    1. Next steps
      1m 25s

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