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By Mike Rankin | Thursday, August 23, 2012

InDesign FX: Creating an embossed leather effect

In this week’s InDesign FX video, I show how to create the look of an embossed leather book cover. It’s a great example of how you can customize generic pieces of art with InDesign effects, and it illustrates the usefulness of the Hard Light blending mode.

An embossed leather book cover effect using the Hard Light blending mode in Adobe InDesign

The Hard Light blending mode is ideally suited for this effect because it allows you to easily hide the fill of an object (or text), while keeping the shadows and highlights of the Bevel and Emboss effect visible. The key point to remember is that a 50% black fill becomes transparent when Hard Light is applied to it. Anything darker or lighter than 50% black will remain visible. This is what allows us to apply embossing over photographic backgrounds and textures.

Making text look like embossed leather using the Hard Light blending mode in Adobe InDesign

Using the Hard Light blending mode in Adobe InDesign to apply embossing over photographic backgrounds and textures

By setting the direction of the bevel to Up or Down, you can create a raised design, or one that appears to be pressed into a surface.

Setting the direction of the bevel to Up or Down on the Effects panel in Adobe InDesign

You can make effects like this look even more natural by imitating details in the underlying photograph. In this case, I was careful to copy the angle of the lighting, and I used an Inverse Rounded corner option with a double stroke to match the real embossing in the photograph of the book cover.

Example of using the Inverse Rounded corner option with a double stroke in Adobe InDesign

The combination of Bevel and Emboss with Hard Light is really versatile. It’s useful for a lot more than just leather embossing. For example, try it over a photograph of wood grain for a quick carving effect.

Example of a carved wood effect achieved using the Bevel and Emboss with Hard Light effect in Adobe InDesign

One more important thing to remember is that Hard Light is one of the InDesign blending modes that yields different results with RGB and CMYK colors. To get the results shown in the video, it is essential to use RGB Transparency blend space. Choose Edit > Transparency Blend Space to check or change the blend space used by a document. For more information on outputting documents with RGB blend space to print, see my blog post “Getting effects into print.”

I also have another member-exclusive video in the lynda.com library this week called Creating a magnifying glass effect. In this new video, I show how to combine two photos in InDesign (along with some more blending mode magic) to make it look as if you’re viewing something through a magnifying glass.

Creating a magnifying glass effect in Adobe InDesign

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

Interested in more? • The complete InDesign FX course • All InDesign courses on lynda.com • All courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com

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