From creating interactive EPUBs and drawing logos to applying effects to text and graphics, here are five cool things you may not have known you could do in InDesign.
You may think that Photoshop is the graphic designer’s go-to tool for creating advanced work, but InDesign actually has just as much to offer for creatives.
Before you dive into these InDesign secrets, be sure to download the Shutterstock Plugin. It lets you search, license, and download any image from Shutterstock directly within InDesign, meaning you never have to leave the application when you’re busy getting creative.
Cool Thing #1: Create Vector Logos
To create scaleable, high-resolution logo designs, most designers opt for the vector capabilities of Illustrator or Inkscape. However, InDesign is perfect software for creating vector logos too.
You’ll find many of the same drawing tools in InDesign as you will in Illustrator. Add to this advanced typographic editing, intuitive color panels and pro-standard effects in the Effects window (Object > Effects) and you’ve got a complete arsenal of tools for creating logos, as well as other vector illustrations.
To get started creating logos in InDesign, look to the drawing and shape tools in the Tools panel (docked to the left side of the workspace).
The Pen Tool (P) is great for drawing lines and silhouettes*. Use the Pencil Tool (N) and Smooth Tool in combination for more organic shapes. The Rectangle (M), Ellipse (L), and Polygon Tools make a great basis for badges, borders, and stamps.
Tip: Hold down the Pen Tool cursor and drag to create a curved, rather than straight, line. You can do this using either your mouse or a graphics tablet.
Cool Thing #2: Create EPUBs
EPUBs (short for “electronic publications”) are revolutionizing the publishing world. While InDesign has always been the print designer’s tool of choice for creating print books and magazines, the newer CC incarnation of InDesign is also ideally suited for creating eBooks and eMagazines.
You can create both fixed-layout and reflowable EPUBs in InDesign (read up on the difference between these here), without the need to write code.
It’s also simple to add interactive elements, such as slideshows, buttons that trigger animation, video content, and hyperlinks using the EPUB Interactivity Preview panel (Window > Interactive > EPUB Interactivity Preview).
Once you’ve created your eBook, you can export it to EPUB format for separate uploading to a Kindle store of your choice, or import straight to iBooks Author.
Image by Tierney MJ
Cool Thing #3: Create Text Effects to Rival Photoshop
It can take hours to carefully craft advanced text effects in Photoshop. As an alternative quick-fix, designers often resort to PS actions or splashing out on expensive color fonts.
Whether you want to give your text a vintage vibe, a 3D makeover, or a photorealistic effect, InDesign is a speedy and easy-to-use alternative.
You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the Effects window (Object > Effects), and it can take a bit of experimenting to make your text effect look more Photoshop- than Word Art-worthy.
Apply a Gradient Feather to soften your type, add a Glow to increase noise texture and light, or play around with the Bevel and Emboss and Drop Shadow settings to make your text jump off the page.
Cool Thing #4: Create Jaw-Dropping Drop Caps
Drop caps are one of the quickest and simplest things you can create in InDesign, but they make a huge impact on editorial layouts. These enlarged letters at the start of paragraphs add a distinctive flourish to otherwise text-heavy pages.
To create a simple drop cap, simply drop your Type Tool (T) cursor into the paragraph in which you’d like to add the drop cap. From either the top Controls panel or the Paragraph panel (Window > Type & Tables > Paragraph) increase the Drop Cap Number of Lines until you are happy with the size of the letter. You can also increase the Drop Cap One or More Characters to pull more letters or words into the drop cap.
Advanced drop caps require a bit more effort, but it will be well worth your while when you see the final result. Filling a drop cap with a patterned image or photo can add texture and interest to your layouts and look fantastic on magazine and book layouts.
To do this, you’ll need to set a single large letter in its own text frame, separate to the body text paragraph. Then select the single letter’s text frame and head up to Type on the main menu, and choose Create Outlines.
With the letter vectorised you can now File > Place an image directly into the letter. Here, I’ve placed a marbled texture image into an outlined “T”, before applying a Text Wrap (Window > Text Wrap) to the letter to push the paragraph text away from the letter.
Marble image used in drop cap above by Imaginasty
Cool Thing #5: Add Texture and Other Special Effects to Objects
The Effects window is the unsung hero of InDesign. This handy window allows you to add effects to any object on your layout, whether it’s a text frame, a vector shape or an image. By selecting the object and going to Object > Effects you can apply a huge range of advanced effects to give your object some extra edge.
For this illustration of an ice lolly, which I’ve created directly in InDesign using the Pen Tool (P), I apply an Inner Glow effect to add grainy Noise texture across the shape. This creates a soft-focus, vintage-inspired look to the drawing.
I’ve also applied a Drop Shadow to the base of the lolly and applied a Screen transparency and Gradient Feather to a white rectangle over the left side of the illustration, to give the lolly a highlight.
Working from the Effects window, you can manipulate different settings to create almost any kind of effect you can imagine. It’s also easy to preview (check Preview in the bottom-left corner), and add or remove effects (by clicking in the checkbox to the left of each effect in the window’s main menu) instantly, making this a completely risk-free way of trying out different styles.
Looking for more InDesign tips? Check out these tutorials and pick up some awesome new design skills along the way.