Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Transparency, drop shadows, and effects, part of InDesign CC 2018 Essential Training.
- [Instructor] What's the number one coolest, most amazing feature in InDesign? Well, XML of course, no, I'm just kidding. It's transparency, and we've already seen how InDesign can import images with transparency. Now let's take a step further, and look at how you can apply transparency effects to any object in InDesign. Now I have my magazine document open, from my Exercise Files folder, and I'd like to apply an interesting transparency effect to this graphic over here. So I'll select it, and zoom in to 200%, by pressing Command 2 or Control 2 on Windows.
Now I'm going to open the central control for all transparency effects, and that is the Effects panel, which you can find up here in the Window menu. Let's move this over a little bit so I can see what I'm doing. Now you can apply a transparency effect to any object on your page, whether it's a graphic frame, a text frame, a line or whatever. The first thing we're going to do here is change the Opacity, over here in the upper right corner of the panel. Right now it's set to 100%, so that's zero transparency.
You can't see through it at all. But if I typed 50% inside this field, and then hit return or enter, now you can see through it. It's 50% opaque, or 50% transparent. I can also use this little slider to the right of the field, to make it more or less opaque. Now the second transparency Effect you have in the panel is the Blending Mode pop up menu over here. Right now blending is set to Normal, but you can see that we have a lot of different options here. Almost all of the options from Photoshop and Illustrator show up here.
So, for example, we could change this to Multiply. Multiply kind of burns the effect into the background. Or, we could choose Screen. Screen is the opposite of Multiply. It's kind of like shining lights on a screen. So Multiply always make an Effect darker, and Screen always makes it look lighter. In this case, that doesn't look very good, so I'm going to set this back to Normal. Now I'm going to zoom back to fit the spread in the window by pressing Command Option 0 or Command Alt 0. And I'm going to move two spreads forward in the document by pressing Option Page Down twice.
I want to adjust this white text frame over here. I'd like to see through that white a little bit. Now I could select this and then go to my Effects panel and change the Opacity to say, 70%. But there's a problem. And the problem is that this makes the entire object transparent, that is, I can see through the white and also the text. I don't want to do that. So let's go ahead and set this back to 100%. What I'd like to do is change the Opacity of the background Fill, but not the text, and fortunately the Effects panel lets me do that.
It all has to do with what is selected in this list in the middle of the panel. Right now this is set to Object, so any transparency Effect I apply will apply to the entire Object. Now in this case, I'm going to click on Fill, so now when I change the Opacity to 70% and hit return, you can see it affects the Fill but not the text or the Stroke. Now, by the way, I want to point out that you don't have to have the Effects panel open to do all these things. Even if the Effects panel were closed, you can still get to many of these Effects up here in the Control Panel.
For example, this pop up menu here is the same as clicking on one of those items inside the panel. The item just below it is the Opacity field, same thing as the panel. Now InDesign has a bunch of other transparency features too, like drop shadows, everyone loves drop shadows, because they give a sense of depth to a page. They make things pop, so let's see how you can make a drop shadow in InDesign. I'm going to select this image here, and I'll zoom in to 200% by pressing Command 2, or Control 2 on Windows.
Now I'm going to put a drop shadow behind that object by coming up here to the Control Panel and clicking on this kind of fuzzy looking button. That's the Drop Shadow button. The problem is, is that when you select that, the drop shadow's almost always too big, too clunky. I don't like to do it that way. I want to have more control over my drop shadows, more options. So instead, I'm going to hold down the Option or the Alt key when I click on that button. That makes the Effects panel appear, and this gives me a lot of control over exactly where this drop shadow will sit and how it looks.
So here, I could change its Color if I wanted too, the Opacity, maybe I'll make this a little bit lighter. I can change the position of it, let's make this a little bit closer to the object, let's say, only 4 pts., and also its size, let's make the size just a little bit larger, maybe 8 pts., that looks good. Now I can see the changes being applied in the background, because I have the Preview check box turned on inside this dialogue box. The last thing I'm going to do is change the Noise field. I always like adding a little bit of Noise, just 3 or 4%, you don't need very much, but it makes the drop shadow much more natural looking.
Now I'll go ahead and click Okay, and I know there's a transparency Effect applied to this image, not just because I can see it on screen, but also because I'm looking at the Effects panel, and I see a little Effects icon in the right edge of that panel. If I ever want to change the Effect applied to this, I simply have to double click this Effects icon, and up comes the dialogue box again. Now you can see, there are a lot of other Effects inside this dialogue box. For example, I'll go ahead and click Cancel and then I'll pan over to the right here so I can see this text.
I'll select the text frame, come over to the Effects panel, and click Text, and then choose from the Effects pop up menu. This is another way to get to that same dialogue box. In this case, I'm going to choose Inner Shadow. And then I'll just go ahead and click Okay, because I'm okay with those default values, that looks pretty cool. You should just go crazy inside that dialogue box and try things out, it's fun. Oh, one thing to remember: you can apply a transparency Effect to any object, whether it's a text frame, graphics, lines, whatever, but you can not apply transparency to individual bits of text, like one word inside of a text frame, just the whole object, the whole frame, and all the text inside of it.
Actually, if you do need to apply an Effect to just one word, I'll show you a workaround for how to do that, in a later chapter. Ooh, and also, this is an important one: How do you get rid of the transparency Effect after you've made it? Well, one easy way to do that is to go back to the Effects icon inside the panel and simply drag it down into the trash can. Now obviously, the options for cool effects in InDesign are endless. In fact, if you want to see amazing effects that anyone can learn how to do in InDesign, check out Mike Rankin's title, called InDesignFX, here in the Online Training Library.
- 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