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David Blatner brings his knowledge of and passion for InDesign to the latest release of this state-of-the-art publishing program, showing how to harness its power and functionality. InDesign CS4 Beyond the Basics covers the process of publishing with an eye on the program's latest nuances: optimizing page layouts, automating InDesign with Data Merge and XML, exploring interactive documents (including making movies), and exporting publications to a variety of formats. Exercise files accompany the course.
In the last movie I put a clipping path around this image using Detect Edges. It was pretty sharp and rough, not very pleasant to look at. Now let's use real alpha transparency, where the pixels blend into the background softly. I happened to know that this image is flattened; there is no transparent pixels at all. In fact, if I Option+Double click on this or Alt+Double click in Windows, it opens it right up in Photoshop and I can look in the Layers panel and see it's a background layer. There is no transparency here. However, I also happen to know that if I look in the Channels panel, there are a couple of additional Channels in here. We call this Alpha Channels. Anything that's an additional channel is an Alpha Channel and we can use these to get our transparency back in InDesign.
I will switch back to InDesign and I am going to reimport this image, but this time with the transparency. So I will open the Links panel. I will make sure the image is selected in the Links panel and I will click on Relink. I will select the image from links folder and I will make sure that Show Import Options is turned on in the Relink dialog box. When I click Open, I can click on the Image tab and it asks me for an Alpha Channel. This is very mysterious to many InDesign users, so they just don't pay attention to it at all, but Alpha Channel means transparency. In other words, which channel inside your Photoshop document, do you want to be transparent and I can choose Alpha Channel or Just Candy. Those are the ones that were created in that Photoshop file. So I will choose Alpha Channel and I will click OK and it reimports it and you can see that the background white pixels disappeared because that channel made them disappear. It is now our transparency mask.
Let's zoom in here; we can really see the high quality Anti-aliased edge that we will see this even better if we turn on High Quality Display of course. There we go. A nice Anti-aliased edge right into the background. If we later decide that we don't want that transparency mask, but the other one, well that's no problem. We can just Relink again, make sure Show Import Options is on, click OK, go to Image. Now Alpha Channel is going to be set to Just Candy instead of the Alpha Channel, click OK and now that background box disappears and we now still have a nice beautiful soft edge from the foreground image, into the background image. Now InDesign is not an image editing program.
Photoshop will always be better at fine-tuning your image at a pixel level, making masks and Alpha Channels and so on, but the fact that I can choose those masks of channels in InDesign means that I have a lot of flexibility while I am working and that is a good thing.
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