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Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners

Lesson 11 of 34

Arranging and Modifying Shapes


Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners

Lesson 11 of 34

Arranging and Modifying Shapes


Lesson Info

Arranging and Modifying Shapes

I'm gonna create a couple different items. So, I'm actually gonna duplicate this. Option, drag it just to get three different items. And as I'm doing that, I overlap them, I can kinda see how those items are stacked on top of each other, and that's what's known as the stacking order. So, when you put an item on the page, it automatically sits at the most base level of the page, and items sit on top. Now, that might not be what you want. You might want this one to be on top. We can change that stacking order. So, up under the object menu, under Arrange, we have a couple different options. Now, because it's in the middle, I have all the options available to me, but some may be grayed out, depending on the option you've chosen. I can either bring that to the front, or I can bring it forward. Bringing it forward will bring it forward one level. Bringing it to the front will put it on top of everything in that stacking order. And I can send backwards and send to back. So, I'm gonna go ahead...

and just bring that to the front, so it's automatically sitting on top of everything else. So, on that page, you have items that are stacked. As you get more advanced, and we cover that in the beyond the basics, we also have layers. So, always know that it's sort of like the real world, where if you were laying this out on a board, everything would be stacked, and how does that relate to the other items that are there. When we get into transparency with that as well, it's gonna become even more obvious how those items are stacked. So, you could stack 'em on an individual page in stacking order. Then we also have layers, which just adds even more complexity to how those items are stacked. And that really is going to define or dictate a lot of your effects and how they work, because whatever's on top sort of has precedent over everything underneath it. So that is the stacking order. And if you don't wanna do this visually, we've been drawing pretty much everything out visually, we can also do it numerically. So, when I have this item selected, I can come up here to the control panel, and I can see that, first of all, I have a reference point, and the reference point right now is taking into account the center of that object. Generally, I work with the upper left, because sometimes I wanna know where it's sitting in relation to the upper left side of my page. So, in this case, I'm actually gonna delete this one, just so we have one item to work with here. And as I move that, you can watch the numbers in the upper left here, and I've got my X and Y location, or the X and Y axis, and the X axis just tells me how far it is from the left of my page, and the Y tells me how far from the top of my page. So, you might know that you needed to be at one inch from the left and from the top, and you haven't drawn out a guide, and this is the only one you're going to put on this page, so why draw out a guide? You can do that numerically as well. So I can just type into this X axis. I'm gonna do one and then hit tab, and that will get me to the next frame, and I'll say one inch as well. And now I know that I want it to be three and a half inches wide, so now it asks me what is the width of my item? So we'll type in three and a half, and I'll hit tab, and then I also want it to be only, well, maybe let's make it five inches tall, so I'll hit tab. Or I could hit return at that point. So now, I've numerically indicated what size that was, and I didn't actually just do it using guides or do it visually, I actually put in the numerical value. So, it's going to be a constant back and forth. It just depends how specific it needs to be. Is it just you're eyeballing and can put together using those guides, or is it something that you need to have a specific size set up for that? And keep in mind your reference point. If I change the reference point, everything changes, because now it's taking the center of that item. If I know I want this item to be centered on the page, I can use a little math trick that I want. If I don't know what the center of the letter size sheet is, I do, but if I didn't, let's say it's eight and a half inches, but I want it to be in the center, I'm gonna come in here and I can type in eight and a half, and I can let InDesign do the math for me. So I'm gonna say half of that, so divided, or forward slash, two. So that's eight and a half divided by two, and when I hit tab, it's gonna automatically change that for me to the mathematical formula. I also know it's 11 inches tall. I want it to be in the center as well. And because I have the reference point sent to the center, it now centered that up. Let's actually zoom out and see that. Move these guys off to the side so we can't see them. So now I know that that's completely centered in the middle. It's four and a quarter, five and a half centered on that particular reference point that's there. And the last thing I wanna show you about shapes really quickly, and again, we're still working with just basic shapes, but that's going to become the basis of frames. So, this is basically a frame. We just happen to fill it with a color. We might fill it with text and a color background. We might put an image in it, which we're gonna do in a module in just a little while as well. But once I have a shape on the page, I can change the size, if I'm not doing it numerically, by grabbing one of these outside handles. Again, ignore the colored ones that are here, or if you have the little cloud, ignore that. But I can grab any of these handles and just manipulate that down in size. I can grab one in the center here. I can also, if I know that I like this shape, but I want to shrink it down, but I don't wanna shrink it and have to move it back to where it was centered, I'm gonna undo that back to what we had. I can grab one of the corners, and I'm holding the shift key, so I'm gonna constrain my proportions. But I'm also gonna hold the option or the alt key, so that it draws it in from the center outwards. So you might know that you have it centered right where you need it, but maybe the size needs to change. So again, shift constrains the proportion, and option or alt basically draws it from the center, like we did when we first created that shape, but it continues to redraw from that. We also have some other tools that we can either switch to other tools, or we can just let it be smart enough to know what to do. Notice my little icon is changing. This is the size tool, so I'm gonna just grab that and resize it. Or I can roll over the corner, and I get this little double headed bent arrow that's here, and that basically tells me it's ready to rotate this item. Or I could go over and choose the rotate tool, which is living here under the free transform tool. So is the scale tool. So, I could switch between them or let InDesign switch for me. So let me just zoom in a little so we can see. So, it thinks it's ready to grab the handle. That's what the little arrowheads mean, and then I wanna get close and get the rounded one, it says, "Oh, you must mean you wanna actually rotate," so I'm gonna click and hold for a second so I can actually see as things are being rotated. So again, I can do that here, or, I'm not gonna undo that, or I can go up to the control panel, and I can change the angle here numerically as well. Maybe I know it's exactly 45 degrees. You also wanna make sure that the reference point is set, because you want it to be rotating around the point you want it to be. In this case, I wanted it to rotate around the center, into that 45 degrees. And we also have, I'm gonna undo that, we also have the scale tool and the sheer tool. I don't use the sheer tool too often, but if I hold down the shift key, it constrains it fairly nicely, so I can't kind of go wild with the shape. I can basically just move it left and right. The sheer tool, not used a whole lot, but just know that it is there. And the free transform tool, let's click that here, again, it's hiding under that tool, is that, again, shifts it back and forth between scaling and rotating as well. So again, it let's us do kind of everything all at once, without switching back and forth. But now it's pretty smart and it knows if you're near the corner, you probably wanna rotate. So that's how we can change the size if we don't know numerically what we wanna do, or we can go ahead and visually change the size as well. And once we start putting other things in there, we work with the color, we work with the images, we're gonna see how we change the size of the shape, or I'm sorry, the size of the frame itself, or the content, which may be an image. So, we'll get into that in a future module.

Class Description

Learn Basic Design Skills.

Adobe® InDesign CC® is the industry's go-to tool making for layouts that combine images and text. Learn the most efficient way to work with this indispensable software in Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners with Erica Gamet.

In this beginner-friendly class you’ll learn how to:

  • Navigate the Adobe InDesign CC workspace
  • Work with text, images, and color
  • Export and Print

Erica will show you how to execute layouts that include text, graphic elements, and images. You’ll learn basic design skills you can use to create professional-looking magazine layouts, newsletters, flyers and more.

If you want to take charge of your graphic design, Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners with Erica Gamet will get you started.

Level: Beginner, No prior Adobe InDesign experience required.

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Adobe InDesign CC 2018



Fantastic course. I have used Illustrator and photoshop, but learned when under tight deadlines. We are going to begin using inDesign to publish a more extensive multipage newsletter, and I wanted to build a better knowledge foundation of this tool, rather than just diving in. The course was comprehensive and I feel that I'll be able to make a better product after taking the course.


Have loved Erica since I was a baby designer. She is a great educator, and even though I have been using ID for about 8 years, I just changed from CS6 to CC. This was a great refresher as well as a mental upgrade to new options and effects.

Gilbert Beltran

I enjoyed these classes. Learned the Indesign toolbox and picked up a few smart tricks. Erica is great at keeping up the pace and being very clear and easy to follow.