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By Mike Rankin | Thursday, November 15, 2012

InDesign FX: Making 3D Type

In this week’s InDesign FXtutorial, I show how to create a variety of 3D effects with the Bevel and Emboss effect in Adobe InDesign. In this video, I use several instances of Bevel and Emboss along with Drop Shadows and Inner Glow to create a realistic replica of a California license plate.

The final California license plate made using Adobe InDesign

To start this technique, I show how to use an Outer Bevel to make raised letters that look like they were stamped in metal.

Raised type made using the Outer Bevel effect

An Inner Glow with noise helps to add some realism by roughening up the edges of the letters.

The type with an added Inner Glow with noise

Without the noise, the edges of the letters were too razor sharp to look real. I often find that adding deliberate defects, even subtle ones, can make an illustration like this look more realistic.

A close-up look at the top-left corner of the license plate reveals three different uses of beveled transparency effects:

The registration month sticker in the corner of the license plate

The addition of a small Inner Bevel creates a highlight at the bottom of the registration month sticker, which adds a little thickness. An Outer Bevel applied in combination with an Inner Shadow creates the look of the screw hole. And by applying a larger Inner Bevel to the fill of the license plate, I can make it appear raised, while keeping a flat border.

At this point, you might be wondering how I knew to use all these specific effects. The answer is that I started by finding a real California license plate to use as a reference. I happened to have one handy, so I just set it next to my computer while I worked, but I could have just as easily worked from a photograph. When you’re trying to create a realistic effect such as this, I think it’s essential to work from a reference, so you can study the details of the object and identify which effects to apply. Then it’s just a matter of tinkering with the settings until what you see on your screen approaches the real object (or photograph).

I also have a member-exclusive video in the lynda.com library this week called Making a 3D object, in which I show how to use some vector drawing techniques along with Bevel and Emboss to create a bar of soap.

a bar of soap made in Adobe InDesign

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

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

Suggested courses to watch next: • InDesign Secrets• InDesign CS6 Essential Training • InDesign CS6 New FeaturesDeke’s Techniques

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