The Seven Lively Sins: Try These InDesign Type Effects
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In the April | May 2011 issue of InDesign Magazine, I wrote about type effects that relied on InDesign’s Pathfinder tools. I’d like to expand upon that by talking about type treatments that use InDesign’s transparency effects.
Working with Gradients
Though simple enough, gradients can be tricky. Assuming you want to affect all the text in a text frame, select the frame with the Selection tool, then click the Formatting affects text button (either at the bottom of the Tool panel or the top of the Swatches panel). That way your text won’t appear as an inverse selection, and you’ll be able to better evaluate the result.
When creating a gradient, it helps to pull the Gradient panel out of the dock, so that you can have Gradient and Swatches open simultaneously.
Start out by applying the standard black and white gradient to your selection: Click the gradient swatch in the upper left corner of the Gradient panel, or press the period (dot) on your keyboard to apply the default, or last-used gradient. To change the colors, click a color stop at the bottom of the gradient bar, then Option/Alt-click the color you want in the Swatches panel. You can add more colors to the gradient by clicking on the bottom of the Gradient bar. To remove colors, drag them off the gradient bar.
To determine how gradually or swiftly one color transitions to another, drag the diamond slider on the top of the gradient bar (Figure 1). Their position indicates the point at which there is 50% of each color.
Figure 1: Once the gradient is applied, drag over the text with the Gradient tool to determine its direction. In this example, to give the words more dimension, I’ve also added Inner Shadow, an Outer Glow, and Satin Effects. Choosing Formatting affects text makes it easier to see what you’re doing when creating gradients; tearing off the Gradient panel allows you to more easily choose colors from the Swatches panel.
When you first apply the gradient, it ranges from the left side of the frame to the right; that is, if your text only fills the left half of the frame, you’ll only see the left half of the gradient in the letters. To have the gradient play out across the whole word or phrase, choose the Gradient tool in the Tool panel (or press G) and drag across your selection in the direction you want the gradient to go. If you drag beyond the bounds of the your selection, the gradient continues outside the letter shapes, and you’ll see it only within the letters.
Once you’ve made a gradient you like, drag its swatch from the Gradient panel to the Swatches panel to save it. Make sure you reapply the gradient to the text by clicking the swatch you just made. Though this won’t affect anything visually, it does ensure that the gradient on the text is tagged with the color swatch itself. That way, you can update the gradient through the Swatches panel (double click on the gradient swatch) and have it update wherever it’s applied in the document (including the text).
Bevel and Emboss
Bevel and Emboss gives your text a raised, or even metallic look (Figure 2). It can look corny, but sometimes the added dimension really lifts a title treatment. What’s interesting and different about this example — and what I hope will give you food for thought — is that I’m using an Outer Bevel to make the type look like it’s being pushed out of the background (Figure 3). Also, the fill color of the text is white and its blend mode Multiply, effectively making the text fill disappear — all we’re actually seeing are the effects themselves. For some texture, I’ve added an inner shadow with 10% noise.
Figure 2: Note that the effect is applied to the Text, not the Object. The color of the text is set to Paper and its Blend Mode to Multiply, which neutralizes white, so that all we see are the effects.
Figure 3: Settings like the ones below will give you the look you see in the Figure 2 “WRATH” example.
Type on a Path Options
This effect is a variation of the text on a circle theme. Rather than your everyday circular text, I’ve used the often-overlooked Type on a Path options, which you reach by double-clicking the Type on a Path tool. As well as Skew (which I’ve chosen in Figure 4), there are also Rainbow (that’s the one you normally see), 3-D Ribbon, Stair Step, and Gravity options. Why doesn’t Illustrator have these? While the results can be a bit unpredictable, they’re worth checking out.
Figure 4: InDesign’s Type on a Path effects are the type options that time forgot.
In this specific example, the key is to use two separate circles. Putting text around a circle is always tricky, so if you’re doing anything that requires overlapping circles, use the Layers panel to lock one part of the composition while you work on the other. That way, you can select what you need to work on and avoid disturbing those parts you’re happy with.
Knock Out, Embossed Stroke, and Overlapping Frames
If you’ve ever wanted blurry text, maybe you thought you needed to do the following in Photoshop: First rasterize the text, then apply a filter like Gaussian Blur. However, it’s possible to create this effect in InDesign and retain the text as completely editable (Figure 5).
Figure 5: Uncheck Object Knocks Out Shadow, and you’ll see only the shadow — so long as the type is filled with white and its blend mode is Multiply.
Like the effect on “wrath”, this one relies on seeing just the effect, without the fill color of the type. First, give the text a drop shadow. Then, if you’re working with a white background, set the text fill to Paper and its blend mode to Multiply — that will make it invisible. (To preview accurately, make sure to choose View > Overprint Preview.) Finally, disable the Object Knocks out Drop Shadow option in the Effects dialog box. All you see is the shadow, which you can adjust to your liking with its Color, Size, and Offset options.
What’s notable about the “Pride” example (Figure 6) is its embossed stroke. The Effects panel lets you apply transparency effects to the Object as a whole, or independently to the Stroke, the Fill, or the Text. Unfortunately, if you’ve ever tried to apply a Bevel and Emboss effect to the Stroke of selected text, you’ll know this can’t be done... that is, unless you convert the text to outlines first (Type > Create Outlines, or press Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+O). Although this renders the text uneditable, converting to outlines opens up a whole new range of options.
Figure 6: Converting the type to outlines gives us the option of applying effects to the fill and the stroke independently. In this example, I have embossed the stroke.
For the seventh lively sin, I’ve used a bloated Bevel and Emboss, combined with the transparency effect of floating one piece of text on top of another and setting the blend mode of the top text to Multiply (Figure 7). To do this, you’ll need to break the text into two distinct objects. Blend modes have no effect on overlapping text in the same text frame. And in the case of the Multiply blend mode, the result where the overlaps occur will be darker, so start out with a light shade of color.
Figure 7: By breaking the text into two text frames, I can overlap one with the other and set the blend mode of the top frame to Multiply to create interesting interaction between the letter shapes.
Bonus: Text Wrap Effects
Figure 8 shows three approaches to text wraps. When creating non-rectangular text wraps, it’s often easier to begin by choosing the first button in the Text Wrap panel (Wrap around bounding box). This way, you can adjust the four sides’ offsets independently, and then switch to the third button (Wrap around object shape), which inherits your offsets. Then you can use the Direct Selection tool (it still has uses, even in CS5!) to adjust the exact shape of the wrap. Pay particular attention to the space above and below the object and make sure the leading of your text block remains consistent.
Figure 8: The examples below on the left and in the middle use hidden layers. To make the text go inside the wrap object, as you see in the example below on the right, check the Invert button in the Text Wrap panel.
The second and third examples use a hidden layer (Figure 9). Make sure that the Suppress Text Wrap When Layer Is Hidden option isn’t selected in the Layer Options dialog box (or else there’s no way you’ll get objects on that layer to cause text wrap). In InDesign CS5, you can also accomplish this by hiding the object itself (Object > Hide) instead of putting it on a hidden layer.
Figure 9: In the Layer Options dialog, make sure to uncheck Suppress Text Wrap When Layer Is Hidden.
To create the third example, I enabled the Invert checkbox in the Text Wrap panel, causing the words to flow inside, rather than around, the text wrap object. For this to work well, you’ll need a shape big enough and simple enough that it doesn’t render the text completely unreadable (unless that’s what you’re after). You’ll probably also want to adjust the offsets. I specified a negative amount to allow the text to spread slightly beyond the strict bounds of the 7.
Go Ahead and Sin a Little
There’s a place for sober, straightforward type. But for those times when your layouts call for something livelier, sin a little with one of these InDesign transparency effects.
Nigel French is a graphic designer, photographer, author, and teacher living in Brighton, UK. He is the author of InDesign Type and Photoshop Unmasked, both from Adobe Press, as well as several titles for the Lynda.com online training library.