Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Draw and edit path and frame shapes, part of InDesign CC 2018 Essential Training.
- [Josh] InDesign has a wide variety of drawing tools, including a fully-featured Bézier pen tool, just like Illustrator. Now, I wouldn't use InDesign to do a detailed, technical illustration, but it's perfect for basic drawing, such as most logos, and relatively simple shapes. Let me show you how it's done. I have my magazine spread document open from the exercise files folder. And I'm just going to zoom in here to the upper right corner of the page, just so that I have some space to work. Now, here in the tool panel, there are several tools that let me draw shapes.
For example, the line tool. The line tool just draws simple lines, and I can draw any angle I want. Notice that if I hold down the shift key, it constrains the angle to either horizontal, vertical, or a perfect 45 degrees. Next down in the tool panel, there's a tool that's a little bit more interesting. That's the pen tool. Here, I can click and drag to draw Bézier curves. Just click and drag. Click and drag, and you get a curve. Now, you might use a line like this for text on a path.
To edit this path, I need to use the direct selection tool, also called the white arrow tool. It's the one over here, the second tool in the tool panel. When I choose the direct selection tool, and place my cursor over the path, it highlights. Now, I can click on a point and drag it, or I can click on a segment between two points, and drag it. Here's another way to change the path: I'm going to switch back to the pen tool, and now, whenever I place my cursor on top of one of these points, you'll see the cursor changes just a little bit.
I now have a little minus symbol in the cursor icon. That means, if I click, it's going to remove that point. If I place my cursor where there's no point, it changes to a little plus icon. Now, if I click and drag, it actually adds a point to that place. Now, whenever you're editing a path with the pen tool, you can always hold down the command key on the Mac, or the control key on Windows, and that switches you back to the direct selection tool. This way, I can actually drag this point around, without switching to the other tool.
Now, when I let go of the command or the control key, it switches back to the pen tool. Okay. Let's draw some more paths. I'm simply going to click out here, and I'll just click a few times, and you can see that when you simply click, instead of dragging, you get sharp corner points. When you're done, you can either switch to a different tool, or command or control click anywhere in an area that there's no path. That deselects it. Now, I'll just quickly draw another path. There we go, I have two paths.
So I'm going to switch back to my selection tool, and select both of them by selecting on the first, then shift clicking on the second. Now, check this out. With both paths selected, I'm going to go to the object menu, go all the way down here to the paths submenu, and inside this menu, I'm going to choose "Join." This tells InDesign to look for where these two paths are the closest and then draw a line between them. Now, all of these features inside the paths submenu, also live inside a panel.
And if you're going to do a lot of things with paths, you should probably use the panel instead. So, I'm going to go up to the "Window" menu, come down here to the "Object & Layout" submenu, and then choose "Pathfinder." Let's move this off to the side so we can see it better. Now, the first button in the upper left is the "Join" feature. That's the one we just used. But there are lots of other commands in here that you should know about. For example, you can open a closed path, or you could close an open path. For example, what I have selected on the page right now, is an open path, but if I click on this, it closes it.
You see, it drew a line between those points. There are all sorts of other goodies in this panel, but I just want to point out the convert shape buttons down here. I find these really useful. For example, it's very hard to draw a perfect triangle in InDesign, but it's really easy to click this triangle button here. As soon as I click that, that object turns into a perfect triangle. If I want an oval or ellipse instead, I simply click this button. Now, as you can tell, I'm not the greatest artist, but I do find these pen tools, these shape tools, useful inside of InDesign, especially when I already have a frame that I want to tweak a little bit.
For example, let's move down to the bottom of the page. I'll go ahead and close this panel, and now I'll hit the "Page Down" button on my keyboard. Let's move down just a little bit more with our grabber hand tool. There we go. Now, this is just a regular rectangular text frame. It's all very well and good, but it might be nice to give it a little bit of flair. So I'm going to come over here to the tool panel and choose my pen tool. Now, this object is currently selected, I clicked on it with the selection tool, so I'm going to place my cursor over the left edge of this frame.
Now, remember whenever you place the pen tool over the edge of a frame or path, it changes to the add point tool. So now I'm simply going to click and drag out a point. And you'll notice, that as I click and drag, it changes the shape of the frame. Now it's still a frame, but the text reflows inside that shape. So, it's much more interesting now. Now of course, if I really needed heavy duty illustration tools, I would switch to Adobe Illustrator. But in most cases, when I'm just trying to make my design look interesting, InDesign gives me everything I need.
- 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