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By Mike Rankin | Thursday, October 04, 2012

InDesign FX: Creating custom InDesign buttons

Nowadays, Adobe InDesign is often used to produce interactive documents with features like slideshows, audio, video, animations, and hyperlinks. To make all these elements truly interactive, you have to provide readers with controls, usually in the form of buttons. InDesign has a sample library of buttons you can use as is or customize, but if you want your buttons to fit seamlessly with the rest of your page design, you might consider creating your look from scratch. In this week’s InDesign FX video, I show how you can quickly make great looking buttons by starting with simple circular shapes, and adding effects like Gradient Feather, Inner Shadow, Outer Glow, and Bevel and Emboss.

The four main elements required to make a round button that has dimension and a shiny finish are the button text, shine effect, background color, and outer boundary ring.

The four elements of a dimensional button graphic and their composite

You can, of course, tweak any of the elements to suit your taste. Try experimenting with different fonts or colors for the text and background. Adjust the opacity of the shiny highlight to make your button polished or dull, or omit the highlight altogether to make a flat button instead of a convex one. Adjust the outer glow on the text. Use different bevel settings for the outer ring, or remove the bevel if you don’t like it. The options are endless and so easy to tweak that experimentation and creativity are encouraged. Here’s a tip: When you have a version you like, just select it with the Direct Selection tool, and Option/Alt drag to make a copy. That way you can compare versions of your button side by side and never have to recreate your work.

Side by side comparison of two sets of buttons

I also have another member-exclusive movie in the lynda.com library this week called Creating wraparound headings, which shows you how to create wraparound headings that can be edited and moved intact.

Wraparound heading example in Adobe InDesign

A text box with two wraparound headings

Wraparound headings are a very trendy look in magazines and websites right now, and with good reason. They give a very clean, crisp sense of depth, and offer a fresh alternative to effects like bevels and drop shadows.

See you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect!

Interested in more?• The complete InDesign FX bi-weekly series • All InDesign courses on lynda.com • All courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com

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