Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Create and apply gradient swatches, part of InDesign CC 2018 Essential Training.
- [Instructor] Gradients, or blends, or vignettes, or whatever you want to call them, everyone loves using color gradients, but to be honest, InDesign is kind of clunky when it comes to making and applying them. Now, I want to apply a gradient on the next spread, so I'll press Option + Page Down, or Alt + Page Down on Windows, and I want to fill this frame over on the right side with a gradient. Now, currently, I have my color panel open, and I don't really need that, so I could drag that little tab over into the dock to put it away, but I want to show you one other way you can do it.
I'm going to come up here to what's called the application bar, and I'm going to choose the workspace pop-up menu. Right now, it's set to Essentials, and I'm going to choose Reset Essentials inside this menu. That tells InDesign to put away all the panels and to clean things up to the way they were before I started messing things up. It also opened my CC Libraries panel, which I also don't need, so I'm going to click its name in the dock to close it. Okay, now let's start messing things up again by opening the gradient panel.
To do that, I'll go to the Window menu, then choose Color, and then choose Gradient. Let's move that out of the way a little bit so we can see what we're doing. Now, the fastest way to apply a gradient to a selected frame is simply to click on this little gradient icon inside the panel. When I do that, you'll see that InDesign applies its default white to black gradient, and that's fine, but it's kind of boring. Let's spice it up a little bit. Inside the type pop-up menu, I can choose whether I want this to be a linear gradient or a radial gradient.
It's a little hard to see, but this is kind of like an elliptical gradient inside that frame. I'm going to change this back to linear because it's easier to work with. Now, you need to pay attention to this gradient ramp down at the bottom of the panel. These little doodads under it are called gradient stops, and these control the colors. For example, I'll click the black gradient stop on the right and I can change its color in several ways. If I have the color panel open, I could just pick a color from there, or, if I know that I want a color that's already in my swatches panel, I can open my panel and then hold down the Option key on the Mac, or Alt on Windows, and then click on the color.
For example, Option or Alt click on this color applies that color to the gradient stop. Now, I can also additional gradient stops in here simply by clicking anywhere along the gradient ramp. As soon as I click, it adds a new stop. So, for example, I'll add this dark gray color in here. Now I have white going to dark gray going to this mauve or purple color. I can also move these little gradient stops around to change the effect. I'll move that one to the right, and you can see that it immediately updates on my page, and I can also drag these little diamonds on top of the ramp.
When you drag a diamond, you're changing what the halfway point is between the two colors. It's almost like pulling the middle of a rubber band back and forth. So if I drag this one to the left, I get more gray, and if I pull it to the right, I get more white. Now, in this case, I don't actually want that gray, so I'm going to select that color gradient stop, and I'm going to drag it right out of the panel, which deletes it. So, this looks pretty good, but I'd rather the blend go from the bottom to the top. So, fortunately, you can control that by changing the angle inside this panel.
I'll change it to, say, 90 degrees, and when I hit Return or Enter, you'll see that it now goes from the top down to the bottom, or bottom to the top, depending which way you look at it. If you want to flip it around, you simply click the reverse button. Okay, so that's the basics of making a gradient. Couple things you should know. First, there's no way to set the gradient's opacity. InDesign does not let you choose transparency inside of a gradient, so it simply cannot go from white to transparent, for example. If you need that kind of effect, you're going to have to use one of the transparency effects, such as feathering.
Second, once you make one of these, you're probably going to want to use it again somewhere else, so, the good news is, you can save gradients as swatches. To do that, make sure the object that has the gradient is selected. Then go to the Swatches panel menu and choose New Gradient Swatch. You can see that gradient is reflected here inside the dialog box. Now all you need to do is give this a name. I'll call this white to mauve, or mauve to white, whatever you want to call it, but you will notice that one thing is missing from this dialog box, the angle.
There's no way to save an angle inside a gradient swatch. I don't know why. It's really frustrating. It always goes from left to right. So anyway, I'm simply going to click OK, and it adds it to my Swatches panel. Now, InDesign has one other gradient feature that you need to know about. It's the gradient swatch tool, and it's over here inside the tool panel. The gradient swatch tool really lets you fine-tune the way you want a gradient to look. Here's how it works. First, I click where I want the gradient to start, and then I'll drag to where I want it to end, so that's kind of cool.
Let me try it again. I'll click where I want it to start, and I'll drag to where I want it to end. So that gives you a lot of control over your gradients, but it turns out that this tool is even more useful when you want to apply a gradient to text. For example, I'd like to apply a gradient to this headline up here. I'll choose the type tool and select that text, and now I'm going to zoom in by pressing Command + 4, or Control + 4 on Windows. Let's move this gradient panel out of the way. Now, because I've made my gradient swatch inside my swatches panel, all I need to do to apply it is make sure the fill icon is on top here and then click on my swatch.
That's a little bit hard to see, so I'm going to click out here so you can see the gradient applied to the text. Now, the way gradients work in text is they normally extend from the left to the right across the whole text frame, but we can override that by using the gradient swatch tool. Let's put away the swatches panel, and now I'm going to reselect that text, grab my gradient swatch tool, and then I'll drag across the text. Notice that the text is still selected on my page. I'll click down here and then drag up to the top of the text, and when I let go, it applies the gradient in a different way.
Once again, I'll click out here with a type tool so you can see what we've done. The gradient swatch tool let me apply the gradient in just the way I wanted to to that text. Blends or gradients are certainly the trickiest color feature in InDesign to get right, but if you practice fine-tuning them and using that gradient swatch tool and the gradient panel, you'll soon become a gradient master.
- Creating a new layout
- Inserting pages
- Adding text
- Inserting graphics
- Applying color and transparency
- Drawing and editing frames and paths
- Formatting objects
- Formatting text
- Creating styles for uniform formatting
- Building tables
- Adding links and interactivity
- Printing and exporting InDesign documents