By Mike Rankin | Wednesday, December 12, 2012
In this week’s InDesign FX video, I show how to create the effect of an image printed on a set of ceramic tiles.
The key element of this effect is a set of frames that are identically sized and equally spaced.
There are a few different ways you could go about creating these frames. You could use the Step and Repeat feature. You could hold Option/Alt and drag an existing frame. You could even use a script that comes with Adobe InDesign called Make Grid. But by far the quickest and easiest way to make this set of frames is to use the Gridify feature. You simply start drawing a rectangle by clicking and dragging with the Rectangle tool, and before you release your mouse button, tap your keyboard arrow keys to split the rectangle into multiple copies. Tapping the up/down arrow keys adds or removes rows of frames.
Tapping the right/left arrow keys adds or removes columns of frames.
You can adjust the spacing between the frames by holding the Command/Ctrl key while tapping your arrow keys. You can also hold Shift while you release your mouse button to create a set of perfect squares. If that all sounds like a lot of complicated keyboarding, I suggest you just try it out. It’s actually quite intuitive.
Of course, the frames are just the start of this effect. After you have created them, you then need to make them act as a single object before you can place a photo into them. This is a perfect use for the Compound Path feature. Then you’re ready to place a photo into the compound path so a small portion of the image appears in each tile.
Finally, a few finishing touches are needed to create the look of ceramic tile. First, I like to round the corners a bit, using the Corner Options in the Control panel. Then I add some transparency effects like Bevel and Emboss and Drop Shadow to finish the look of the tile.
If you want to take the effect even further, you can create a texture that looks like grout holding the tiles in place. For that, I use a frame filled with gray, enhanced with a large Inner Glow. The key for creating the texture is to add a lot of noise to the Inner Glow.
I also have a member-exclusive movie in the lynda.com library this week called Simulating chalk. In it, I show how to make live text or any object you create in InDesign look like it was written on a chalkboard.
See you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect!
Interested in more?
• The entire InDesign FX biweekly series
• Courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com
• All lynda.com InDesign courses
Suggested courses to watch next:
• InDesign Secrets weekly series
• InDesign CS6 Essential Training
• InDesign CS6 New Features
• Deke’s Techniques
By Mike Rankin | Thursday, November 29, 2012
In this week’s InDesign FX video, I show how to use the Bevel and Emboss feature in combination with the Hard Light blending mode to simulate translucent objects like soap bubbles.
As its name suggests, the Hard Light blending mode is meant to create an effect of a strong light being shined on an object. When Hard Light is applied to colors lighter than 50% gray, the effect will lighten an underlying object. When Hard Light is applied to colors darker than 50% gray, the effect will darken an underlying object. And when Hard Light is applied to exactly 50% gray, it becomes transparent. You can observe this by filling an object with a white to black gradient, then applying Hard Light, and placing the object over something else in your document.
So, if we want to create something like a translucent bubble, we can start with a circle filled with 50% gray and use the Bevel and Emboss effect to create a highlight and shadow.
Then apply Hard Light to make the 50% gray fill disappear, while retaining the shadow and highlight created by Bevel and Emboss.
It’s also worth noting that this use of Hard Light works best with documents that use RGB Transparency Blend Space. This does not mean that you can’t create translucent objects in documents destined for print output. But in order to retain the look of those translucent objects, you must not flatten transparency or convert to CMYK when you export a PDF from InDesign. You can perform flattening and color conversion tasks in the PDF in Acrobat, or you can rely on your print service provider to do these jobs. For more information on how to get InDesign FX to print correctly, read my blog post Getting Effects into Print.
I also have a member-exclusive movie in the lynda.com library this week called Mocking Up a Film Strip. In it, I show how to add details around a series of photos to make them look like a strip of film.
Interested in more?• The complete InDesign FX bi-weekly series
• All InDesign courses on lynda.com
• All courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com
Suggested courses to watch next:
• InDesign Secrets• InDesign CS6 Essential Training • InDesign CS6 New Features
By Mike Rankin | Thursday, November 15, 2012
In this week’s InDesign FXtutorial, I show how to create a variety of 3D effects with the Bevel and Emboss effect in Adobe InDesign. In this video, I use several instances of Bevel and Emboss along with Drop Shadows and Inner Glow to create a realistic replica of a California license plate.
To start this technique, I show how to use an Outer Bevel to make raised letters that look like they were stamped in metal.
An Inner Glow with noise helps to add some realism by roughening up the edges of the letters.
Without the noise, the edges of the letters were too razor sharp to look real. I often find that adding deliberate defects, even subtle ones, can make an illustration like this look more realistic.
A close-up look at the top-left corner of the license plate reveals three different uses of beveled transparency effects:
The addition of a small Inner Bevel creates a highlight at the bottom of the registration month sticker, which adds a little thickness. An Outer Bevel applied in combination with an Inner Shadow creates the look of the screw hole. And by applying a larger Inner Bevel to the fill of the license plate, I can make it appear raised, while keeping a flat border.
At this point, you might be wondering how I knew to use all these specific effects. The answer is that I started by finding a real California license plate to use as a reference. I happened to have one handy, so I just set it next to my computer while I worked, but I could have just as easily worked from a photograph. When you’re trying to create a realistic effect such as this, I think it’s essential to work from a reference, so you can study the details of the object and identify which effects to apply. Then it’s just a matter of tinkering with the settings until what you see on your screen approaches the real object (or photograph).
I also have a member-exclusive video in the lynda.com library this week called Making a 3D object, in which I show how to use some vector drawing techniques along with Bevel and Emboss to create a bar of soap.
Interested in more?• The complete InDesign FX biweekly series
• All InDesign courses on lynda.com
• All courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com
Suggested courses to watch next:
• InDesign Secrets• InDesign CS6 Essential Training • InDesign CS6 New Features•Deke’s Techniques
By Mike Rankin | Thursday, November 1, 2012
This week’s InDesign FX video shows how to create the look of a photo glued into a scrapbook. The effect is achieved by adding a stroke to the photo, plus four triangular objects that resemble adhesive photo corners.
This technique is a nifty way of presenting a photo, and it illustrates effective use of small drop shadows, rounded corners, and the use of a light gray tint instead of pure white for added realism—all effects that have useful application in many other InDesign effects.
But maybe the most valuable aspect of this lesson is how it demonstrates a way to fix inconsistent shadows and highlights that undermine the realism of an effect, a common problem you can encounter when you flip or rotate objects after you’ve applied transparency effects to them.
To illustrate where the problem occurs, let’s consider each step in this effect.
First, the placed image is given a stroke and a drop shadow, so it looks like a printed photograph:
Then, the first photo corner is created by applying Bevel and Emboss effects to a small triangular object:
And the other three photo corners are created by duplicating, flipping, and rotating that triangle:
Can you spot the shadow and highlight problem with the photo corners in the image above? When they were flipped and rotated, so were the highlights and shadows of the Bevel and Emboss resulting in inconsistent and unrealistic lighting with visible highlights on all four sides.
As I show in the video, the way to fix this problem is to make the four triangle corners behave as one by converting them to a compound path. Then the Bevel and Emboss is applied to all four triangles at once, with highlights and shadows all aligned to a consistent angle.
An added benefit of making the corners into a compound path is that you can easily make changes to the triangle’s bevel attributes or the fill color.
I have another member-exclusive movie in the lynda.com library this week called Making new shadow effects, which shows how you can replace a typical Drop Shadow effect with shadow shapes and patterns of your own design.
By Mike Rankin | Thursday, October 18, 2012
This week’s InDesign FX video highlights the ability to apply multiple effects to a single object, and how to apply those effects to the object as a whole, or to targeted areas like the fill or stroke. I consider this to be one of the most important features for working with graphic effects in Adobe InDesign because it would be impossible, or impractical to create many kinds of interesting effects in InDesign without this kind of flexibility.
Take, for example, the picture frames in this week’s video:
These frames are made from a combination of four transparency effects: Bevel and Emboss, Inner Glow, Inner Shadow, and Drop Shadow. Three of these effects are applied at the Object level in the Effects panel, so they apply to the entire object, including the stroke. But one of the effects (Inner Shadow) is applied to the fill only.
It’s the application of the Inner Shadow effect to the fill that allows us to have the small shadow that sits inside the stroke, and thus inside the picture frame. Little details like this go a long way when creating high-quality visual effects.
Here’s another image, without the Inner Shadow applied to the fill:
And with the Inner Shadow applied to the fill:
See the difference? By targeting that little shadow in just the right spot, we get an extra bit of realism.
Because it’s always important to be efficient with effects, I also show how to save the picture frame effect as an Object Style, so you can apply it to photos with a single click.
I also have another member-exclusive movie in the lynda.com library this week called Customizing stroke styles, which shows the useful and sometimes surprising effects you can get from custom stroke styles.
In the video, I show how to create stroke styles that adhere just to the corners of a frame:
Stroke styles that bracket a paragraph:
And even stroke styles that look like Valentine hearts:
By Mike Rankin | Thursday, October 4, 2012
Nowadays, Adobe InDesign is often used to produce interactive documents with features like slideshows, audio, video, animations, and hyperlinks. To make all these elements truly interactive, you have to provide readers with controls, usually in the form of buttons. InDesign has a sample library of buttons you can use as is or customize, but if you want your buttons to fit seamlessly with the rest of your page design, you might consider creating your look from scratch. In this week’s InDesign FX video, I show how you can quickly make great looking buttons by starting with simple circular shapes, and adding effects like Gradient Feather, Inner Shadow, Outer Glow, and Bevel and Emboss.
The four main elements required to make a round button that has dimension and a shiny finish are the button text, shine effect, background color, and outer boundary ring.
You can, of course, tweak any of the elements to suit your taste. Try experimenting with different fonts or colors for the text and background. Adjust the opacity of the shiny highlight to make your button polished or dull, or omit the highlight altogether to make a flat button instead of a convex one. Adjust the outer glow on the text. Use different bevel settings for the outer ring, or remove the bevel if you don’t like it. The options are endless and so easy to tweak that experimentation and creativity are encouraged. Here’s a tip: When you have a version you like, just select it with the Direct Selection tool, and Option/Alt drag to make a copy. That way you can compare versions of your button side by side and never have to recreate your work.
I also have another member-exclusive movie in the lynda.com library this week called Creating wraparound headings, which shows you how to create wraparound headings that can be edited and moved intact.
Wraparound headings are a very trendy look in magazines and websites right now, and with good reason. They give a very clean, crisp sense of depth, and offer a fresh alternative to effects like bevels and drop shadows.
By Mike Rankin | Thursday, September 20, 2012
In this week’s InDesign FX movie, I show how to make a composition that looks like rough paper cutouts that have been taped to a surface.
This technique is a fun approach to take when you want to convey a brainstorming or scrapbooking theme. In the video I used a photo of wood for a background, but the effect would work just as well (or maybe even better) with a background photo of corkboard.
One of the things that makes this effect a lot of fun to create is the spontaneity it allows. In contrast to the careful precision shown in the last InDesign FX video, Simulating Notebook Paper, you can work fast and sloppy with the rough, chopped-edge effect, since that’s exactly the kind of look you’re trying to simulate.
The basic technique involves starting with a silhouetted photo placed in InDesign.
Then you click with the Pen tool to create the rough, cutout shape.
Next, apply a light gray fill and a subtle drop shadow to give the appearance of paper.
Finally, create the illusion of tape and dog-eared folds to attach your cutout images to your background.
If you like the rough-hewn effect, you might also enjoy the peeling stickers and sticker and tape effects I’ve written about in the past.
I also have another member-exclusive movie in the lynda.com library this week called Creating Speech Bubbles where I show you how to create cartoon speech bubbles to place over photos in InDesign layouts. They’re fun, easy to create, and infinitely adjustable thanks to the way they’re constructed.
By Mike Rankin | Thursday, September 6, 2012
You may be wondering, why would you want to go to the trouble of making something like notebook paper, when you can find it in a piece of stock art, or simply put a sheet of it on a scanner? There are two main reasons, I think. The first is flexibility. When you create artwork from scratch, you get to make every choice about how it looks. That’s not the case when you use a piece of stock art and sometimes you have to settle for whatever you can find in a timely manner. That time you spend searching in vain could be spent drawing exactly what you want—and later on, if you’re asked to change the art, you know exactly what can be done and how to do it, because you built it in InDesign. That brings me to the second advantage: efficiency. Every high-resolution photo you place into InDesign adds complexity and size to the file, and another piece to track in your workflow. You also have to maintain image files on disks and sometimes move them between machines. While storage is cheap and plentiful nowadays, that’s not always the case with bandwidth. If I’m stuck somewhere with a slow Internet connection, I’d much rather have to retrieve a 75k InDesign snippet than a 25 MB Photoshop file.
But of course these advantages don’t really matter if you can’t get a look that’s really convincing. In the movie, I accomplish this by using dialog boxes and panels to create, size, and move objects in a precise and consistent manner, rather than dragging them around the page and approximating. For example, the lines on the paper are easily achieved with paragraph rules.
This makes it very easy to quickly add as many equally spaced lines as I want just by pressing the return key on my keyboard. I can move them all at once by selecting the text frame (no grouping necessary). And if I want to adjust them at all, I can simply select the text and change the width, color, or offset in the Paragraph Rules dialog box.
Holes can be punched in the page using blending modes with the Knockout Group feature.
Another nice thing about drawing the pages from scratch is that you can copy and paste one of them to easily add as many more pages as you like. And you can add even more realism by reducing the opacity of the pages, so you can see through them just a little, as is the case with real notebook paper.
I also have another member-exclusive movie in the lynda.com library this week called Using multiple effects to create plastic type.
In this new movie, I show how to create a plastic-molded type look by layering copies of text with various effects applied to each one. If you’ve never tried the Pillow Emboss option, this effect shows you one of its uses.
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