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By Mike Rankin | Thursday, December 08, 2011

InDesign FX: Simulating multiple strokes in InDesign

If you’ve ever wished you could apply more than one stroke to an object in InDesign, then this week’s free InDesign FX video is for you. While there is no way to trick InDesign into applying more than one stroke at a time to an object, it is easy to create custom-stripe stroke styles (try saying that three times fast!) that give the appearance of more than one stroke. In the video, I show how to create a custom inset stroke-style by starting with the Triple stroke and simply removing the outer stripes you don’t want. In the example below, I made a custom stroke based on Triple, and then simply deleted the two outer strokes in the New Stroke dialog box. The result is an inset stroke, held in place because it started out as the innermost of three strokes.

InDesign Triple stroke simulating a double stroke

I also show how to use InDesign’s Gap Color and Gap Tint settings to make multi-colored strokes using solid color swatches or gradients. The Gap Color controls are key for simulating multiple strokes and they are easily overlooked because they’re not in the Swatches panel. You’ll only find them in the Stroke panel. I’m especially fond of using gradients to create a metallic look in striped strokes, as I’ve done here by setting the Gap Color to black and the Stroke color to a metallic swatch:

InDesign metallic-look striped strokes

A double-stripe stroke is great for simulating a photo frame and matte combination, like the one below. In this instance, I also applied an Inner Bevel to the stroke to make the frame look like it was made of four separate pieces:

InDesign double-stripe stroke effect

For lynda.com members, I have another new video this week exclusively in the Online Training Library® that demonstrates even more ways of simulating multiple strokes. It’s called (wait for it…) Simulating Multiple Strokes, Part 2. Here’s a preview of one of the effects:

Multiple strokes InDesign simulation: Postage-Stamp Look

So, if you don’t want to settle for InDesign’s single stroke per object limitations (or wait for an Illustrator-like Appearance panel in some future version of InDesign), you can trick InDesign into simulating multiple strokes by tweaking the existing stroke styles today.

I’ll see you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect.

Interested in more?

InDesign FX complete course • courses on InDesign in the Online Training Library® • courses by Mike Rankin in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next: • InDesign CS5 Essential TrainingInDesign SecretsInDesign Styles in Depth

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