Join Claudia McCue for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating image grids, part of InDesign for the In-House Designer.
- [Lecturer] If you need to create a grid of image frames, there are several different ways you could do it. Here's one way, you could create one of your frames by clicking and dragging, and then you could switch to the black arrow and you could use the alt or option drag in order to duplicate, and then you could do that again using smart guides to help you arrange the same width channels. You could you use step and repeat, but let me show you a way that I think is really fun and it's very efficient and fast, so if you were playing along with me just now and you created some frames, delete them.
Now, what we're going to do is we're going to create one frame to begin with, but we're going to use our arrow keys up and down, left and right, in order to subdivide that frame into rows and columns. The secret to happiness here is you have to keep your mouse button down until I tell you to let go. So let's get started. Go get your rectangle frame tool, and on the left hand page, click and drag inside that margined area, but when you get to the corner don't let go. Hit your up arrow once and you now have two frames, don't let go, hit your up arrow again, now you have three frames.
Now, click your right arrow, and now you have six frames, and you can wiggle your mouse around and rearrange the perimeter of this grid of frames. What happens is that your up and down arrows control the number of rows. And your left and right arrows control the number of columns. So if you're playing with that, get it back to this arrangement so that you have two columns, three rows, and that way you have six frames. And now at long last, once you have them positioned, and you have your nice six frames, let go of your mouse button.
Now, if you let go of your mouse button too soon, there's really no fix for it but to start over. So, you know what, I'm going to repeat this. Just going to delete. Get your rectangle frame tool. Click and drag, and don't let go. Up arrow twice, right arrow once, let go of your mouse button. How cool is that? Now you know when you bring in graphics you almost always have to scale them. You have to use the fitting options in order to get the images of reasonable size, a pleasing arrangement and crop within a frame.
You can actually set up with a behavior ahead of time while they're still empty, so that they'll scale the graphics for you. And this is a real time saver. Now, by the way, right now you have all these frames selected, they're not grouped in any way. It's just that you happen to have them all selected, which is really convenient for what we're going to do next. Get your black arrow and hover inside any one of the frames, and it doesn't matter which one, right click, and choose Fitting, Frame Fitting Options. right click, and choose Fitting, Frame Fitting Options. Now, funny story, you know how we've been having to turn on the preview option in dialogs as we come into them for the first time? This one pre-checks itself.
This is a dialog in which you almost never actually have anything to preview, so, I think this is kind of odd. But, that aside, here's what we're going to do. Starting from the top, we're not going to turn on auto-fit, but choose fitting, and choose the option you almost always use for images. Fill frame proportionally. That's going to pivot from the center. Now, this crop amount from the bottom, that's actually the amount of image you would like to have outside the frame. In other words, you don't want the image shrunk down to just the very edges of the frame.
You want some left outside, so you have some elbow room in case you want to reposition it. And I'll tell you that this is not an absolute number, just putting something in there is enough to give you some leftovers. Because of what we're going to do to these frames after we get the images in, I'm going to have you create a pretty generous crop amount. So, hold down your shift key. Put your cursor in any one of these fields. Hit your up arrow, and it gives you a quarter of an inch. Hit it again, that gives you half an inch. Hit it one more time and that gives you three quarters of an inch.
Just remember that shift is the accelerator key when you're using your arrow keys to increase or decrease the value in a field. Okay, nothing to preview, but click OK. Now, click an empty space. We're going to go select six images, all at once, and place them in these frames and watch happens. Go to File, Place, and in the Exercise folder, go inside into the Links folder and just select the first six images. You can just click on alder branch, and then shift click on Hawthorn, and that's going to get everybody in between.
We don't want everybody, we don't want all nine images, we just want the first six, we're going to do something else with the last three. So once you have all those selected, click open, come in and position your cursor inside the frame, remember not in the corner, and just click, click, click. Now, if this happens to you, what's that little bitty frame? It means you didn't click, you clicked and dragged, and trust me, it's really easy to do, if that happens, just stop right there. Undo with command or control z and go back and just click.
Now, here's kind of an interesting thing. In effect you're carrying around six images in your hand, on your mouse, on your cursor. If the next image that comes up, and they come up alphabetically, alpha-numerically, if the next one that comes up isn't the one you want to place, of course you could just change the frame. But watch this, you can use your arrow keys to cycle between them. So, you know what, I'm going to undo a few rounds. There we go. So now this will be a little more impressive. You can use your up and down, or left and right arrows, essentially you get the same thing, backwards and forwards.
So you can cycle through. And we're not going for particular design here, so, you just pick the images you like, and put them in the order you want or you can kind of play image bingo if you want but that arrow trick is really kind of handy sometimes. Okay, click an empty space. Now that's a nice even grid, but what if we wanted something that was a little bit more interesting. And this is why I had you make really generous crop amounts. I'm going to double click on this picture of the lacewing, and you can see that there's quite a bit of image left outside. So that gives us some leeway for something kind of fun that we're going to do.
Click and empty space. Make sure you have nothing selected. Go over to your tools panel and choose the gap tool. And that's the one that looks like two lines with a two headed arrow in between. When you choose that tool, and you move in on top of an image, it's like well, I don't know what you do, and apparently you don't want to do anything. And what doesn't work directly inside a frame, it works on the edges of frames, the gaps between frames, or between frames and the edge of the page. Put your cursor in the vertical gap between the two columns of frames, and now it comes alive.
Now, you can click and drag back and forth. See, this is why I had you leave a lot of image outside the frame. And you can change the position of that channel. And you can move up and down. You can grab one edge and do that. So what does it use as a guide for this? It's just looking at coordinates and when you look at this column of frames, the x-coordinate of their right edge is all the same, and it says, okay, we can move all of those at once. But you can do more than that. Put your cursor between the top two pictures in the vertical channel.
Hold down the shift key, and as you drag, you'll see it moves only that channel. Do the same thing in the bottom row. Now that looks a little bit more interesting than just the vertical and horizontal. And there are a couple of other tricks that you can do with the gap tool. Go for the middle channel, the one we really haven't repositioned. On the Mac, hold down command, on Windows, hold down control, and drag back and forth and you'll see that you can change the width of the channel. Now, since that channel is no longer aligned with the channel above and below, only that one moves, but if we had left them aligned, it would have changed the width all the way up and down.
So what's nice about this is you can start with that nice, very even grid, but then you can do something a little more interesting with it that maybe makes the reader find what you're doing a little more appealing. Click on your black arrow, deselect, and we're going to bring in three more images but we're not going to make frames for them ahead of time. So go to File, Place, again. Back to that same folder and select the last three images, the Japanese maple, Kerria, and xeriscape. And open those and position your cursor on the right hand page of that margin guide.
And this is another one of those don't let go of your mouse till I tell you. Click and drag all the way across to the right. And watch your cross hair, not the bottom of the frame it proposes to make, and you want your crosshair to be about this altitude here. If you see about 266 percent or you're going to see that regardless, but we want to have fairly short frames, but why? Now, you haven't let go of your mouse button I hope. Hit your right arrow once, hit it again, and now you've made three frames, all in a row, all at once, and now you can let go of your mouse button.
When you do it this way, in design, feels I guess that it should show you the entirety of the images so it makes the frames the size that naturally results, but then you have to fit the images to the frame. So right click, choose Fitting, and choose Fill Frame Proportionally. Now, in this instance, we're not going to fiddle with the channels in between. So we're not going to worry about having leftover image outside. We're going to do something pretty interesting though. Click an empty space. Do you ever have to type captions for images? Now, I'll pause right here and say the end design can do a lot of heavy lifting for you.
However, someone before you, or perhaps it's you, has to put that information into the image. And you can do it in PhotoShop. You can do it in bridge. You have to put some meta-data into the image that accomplishes the caption. You can put in the author's name. You can put in all sorts of stuff. I'll tell you what, click on one of these images and go to File, and down near the bottom choose File Info, and here's what I mean by meta-data. Meta-data is data about this file.
Now, here there's no author title, no description or anything. Maybe we're not going to have a whole lot happen here, but click OK, but you can see the variety of information that could be entered, and it's just all stored in the image. In order to have InDesign create captions for you on the fly, there has to be that data for it to harvest, and you have to give it a little recipe for what to do once it harvests it. So it's sort of a two step process. Go up to Object and about three quarters of the way down, choose Captions, and Caption Setup.
This is establishing the recipe. You could put text before and text after, but what we're doing here is we're telling InDesign which field in the meta-data we want it to harvest. And we want it to choose, and this list, in my opinion, in no discernible order whatsoever, it's just sort of like a scrabble game, but scroll on down until you see description. So you could something before and after, but really just the description is self-contained. We don't really need to add anything to it. So this top part of the dialog is about what meta-data you want it to capture.
Notice that the right end of that row, there's a plus and a minus, you could have it look more multiple fields and string the harvested information together. But this'll serve for us and then once it's harvested it, what do you want it to do with the text that it generates? Well let's put it below the image. Let's push it a little farther away from the image. So click the little up arrow until you see eighth of an inch, .125. And I've already created a paragraph style to use for captions, so here on the right where it says Paragraph Style, click that pull down and choose one cleverly called Captions.
And then you have some other options, do you want to put the caption in the same layer of the image? This is just a one layer document, so we can't miss, or do you want to group the caption with the image, so that you move them around but the caption stays with the image. And we don't really need either of these options right now, but it's nice to know that they're available. Click OK, aww nothing happened. Remember I said it's a two step process. That was step one, make the recipe. Now click and drag across all three of these frames. And this is step two, generating.
Go to Object, back down to Captions. Now, you have two species of caption, Live Captions and Static Captions. So, let's see what the difference is. Choose Generate Live Caption, and I'm going to get my zoom tool and zoom way in so you can see what's going on. Here's the sort of odd feature of live captions. There's good news and bad news. Get your black arrow, click an empty space. Click on this middle caption, which at least we can see in it's entirety, and then just drag it off, and it says, "(gasp) "I don't have a graphic to talk to.
"I don't have anything to say to you." Move it back into position, and when that frame touches the graphic frame, they can communicate and then it can harvest that data. So what's happened to this caption? Well the thing about a live caption is that it's generated text and it won't break. So we can't wrap this to another line. It's just going to squish up. So gee, what good is that? Well you see the advantage of the live caption, and I'm going to move this one out of the way, and then move this one over here, and when it touches this frame, you see now it picks up that information.
So that's what's going on with a live caption. It has that communication ability. And it can update depending on what graphic it's touching or if I went back into this image, open it up in PhotoShop, change the information, and then update it in InDesign that caption would change. So that's some pros in favor of the live caption, but you can see that that's not very readable. So, let's go back, delete these little captions, select these frames again. Go back to Object, back down to Captions, and this time choose Generate Static Caption.
Those do wrap, and they're editable. And the live captions, by the way, are not editable. They're generated text, it's like InDesign said I made this for you, don't touch it. So as you can see there are advantages to both. The advantage of the live is that if you have to change the information in the image, it's going to update in the caption. With the static caption, it's not going to update. It's really just text as if you had typed it. It just saved you some time and timing. And again, this works best in something like a publication environment, or an environment in which you're using a lot of the same images over and over again and you're forever having to type captions.
You can have somebody, it might be you, it might be an intern, or you might have a photographer who's happy and willing to do this for you. Have that meta-data inserted into that image and then you can always take advantage of that in the future. Now, if you're forever using different images, you're never going to use them over again, probably it's saner to just think about typing them. Let's take a third approach to these. Delete those little captions again. Select the frames. Go back to Object, Captions, and once again generate a live caption, but then select all those little frames, the little caption frames, not the graphic frames, go back to Object and Captions, and choose this option, Convert to Static Caption.
Now, the frames that wouldn't wrap, that had too much stuff, they automatically expand themselves, but you can pull down on them until you don't have overset text. And at this point, yeah, it's static caption and that means that you can edit it or whatever, but remember that it's lost that nice communication link because it's no longer a live caption, but it still saves you a lot of time. So that last approach is what a lot of people do. They'll generate the live captions, wait for all the data to settle down and then go back and clean up and turn them all into static captions, and then manipulate the frames as they have to.
So I think this is a fun little exercise that shows you two things, how you can start with a simple grid, which you made with one click and drag, and a couple of arrow clicks. Which in itself I think is really fun. How you use fitting options to flavor your frames with a fitting behavior before you ever put the graphics in them. And then if you ever have to do captions, and you're lucky enough to have meta-data in your images, you can save yourself a lot of work by generating captions, or letting InDesign do that work for you.
- Creating a workspace
- Setting up your document
- Using master pages
- Importing and formatting text
- Creating paragraph and character styles
- Scaling, rotating, and transforming graphics
- Adding color with swatches
- Adding content to tables
- Storing assets in InDesign Libraries and CC Libraries
- Saving and using a template
- Creating an automatic TOC
- Exporting to PDF
- Preparing for printing