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By Lauren Harmon | Thursday, April 18, 2013

InDesign Secrets: Using Illustrator to create InDesign gradient swatches

Why are there no default gradient swatches in Adobe InDesign? The Swatches panel tricks us into thinking there are, but you really have to build them by hand. Here’s a tip for leaving your days of manual labor behind: steal your gradients from Illustrator. In this week’s InDesign Secrets video, Anne-Marie Concepción shows you how to commit “gradient larceny” in the Creative Suite.

First you need to open Illustrator. The nice part about this technique is that any version will do, from CS2 to CS6. 1. Click the Swatch Libraries menu at the bottom of the Swatches panel and choose Gradients to open a flyout of over a dozen gradient libraries.

These color libraries ship free with Illustrator. Just within the Gradients group you have options like Earthtones, Metals, Sky, Water, and many more.

2. Choose any library and it will open as a new floating panel group in Illustrator. You can apply the gradient swatches like you would any fill. Simply select an object and choose a swatch from this panel.

Now, to transfer a gradient library to InDesign, you do not choose Save Swatch Library as ASE. If you attempt to do so, you’ll encounter an error message that claims swatches containing gradients are not exchangeable. What to do?

INSERT ID_85324_0109_003 3. Instead, add the swatches you desire to any of the shapes on your artboard, copy the shapes, and switch to InDesign. Paste the shapes into a new document and watch as the gradient swatches are imported straight into the InDesign Swatches panel.

4. To edit the gradients, simply double-click an individual swatch to open the Gradient Options dialog box. You can rename the swatch, change its direction, or edit the color stops in the Gradient Ramp.

5. Now to add the gradients to the application’s list of default swatches, start by saving the document as a native InDesign document (an INDD). Then close all documents (the Welcome screen should appear), click the Swatches panel flyout menu, choose Load Swatches, and point to the gradients file. Quit the program, and reopen it to commit the changes.

INSERT ID_85324_0109_005 Now those gradients will be available every time you open InDesign. It’s a sneaky way to steal them from Illustrator and avoid the annoying error message that occurs when you try to exchange swatches the usual way.

lynda.com members can join David Blatner in the next InDesign Secrets video called Building a simple grep style to change character size. And in two weeks David and Anne-Marie will be back with another free video. Stay tuned!

Interested in more?

• Start a free trial membership at lynda.com • The entire InDesign Secrets biweekly series • Courses by David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción on lynda.com • All lynda.com InDesign courses

Adobe and InDesign are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated.

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