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Lesson 25 from: Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners

Erica Gamet

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Lesson Info

25. Transparency

Next Lesson: The Gap Tool

Lesson Info


And the drop shadow is a transparency effect. We're gonna look at some other transparency here as well. Let's actually go right to, let's start with this page here. Transparency, what transparency does is it allows other items that are behind an item to kinda interact with the items in front of it, so if something on top is transparent, whatever's below will show through, whether partially or fully, but we're gonna use transparency for that. Then the drop shadow has transparency in it, that blending mode of Multiply has transparencies, so that we can see the object behind shine through. Same thing here, in fact, I'm gonna kinda pull this apart so you can see how we created this. I've got an item here, but I can't really tell what it is. In fact, when I select it, it looks like it's a wood grain, but I look over here and realize that the fill is this tan color. Well, that's because if I move this image or this item off to the side, I can see that it's exactly that. It's a big tan square...

, and it was sitting on top of this item. As I roll over this item, I get the little grabber. That means there's something placed inside that frame. If I go to the Links panel, I can look and see that, yep, sure enough, it's this jpeg of this wood grain inside that frame. Then we took this color on top of it and just placed it on top and now that wood grain shows through. That's because there's transparency applied to this particular shape that's here. Let's grab this shape, and let's see how we've added that transparency. Under the Effects panel, I can come in here to Transparency, and I can see that the, let's see, the blending mode will, let's actually play with that, hold on. There should be some transparency applied to this. I might have just a tint applied to this. The transparency is actually in the image itself. Let's come in here, nope, it's 100% of that tint. I've got, well, actually let's come back here to Transparency, and I can look and see if there's transparency for the object as a whole or individually as just the stroke or the fill. I can come in here and see how that transparency is applied, and it should actually be showing up unless it's behind. Let's bring this to the front. I might try another object if this one doesn't work. That's very strange, I should not be able to see that behind with that transparency. Hmm, that's very strange, I'm gonna jump out to something separate here, we'll come to this. We'll do the same thing, I'm gonna place the wood grain, sometimes trying to remember how I made something a while ago is not fun. Let's come in here, and I'm gonna go ahead and choose that wood grain that's here, which is in our Links panel, and we've got the wood here. I'm gonna place that, and that's what the wood grain paneling looks like just as a solid image. In fact, we're gonna turn on our high res, high quality display here, so it looks as good as can be. I'm gonna go ahead and create that image on top that is filled with that tan color. Then what I want to do is I wanna apply transparency to this image because it's sitting on top or to the tan square. I'm gonna go under Transparency, and again, I can set the settings for the entire object, or you can set different transparencies settings for the stroke and fill separately. In this case, I want the whole thing to be transparent. I'm gonna go ahead and tell it that I'm gonna change the blending, and I want the opacity to be a little bit lighter. Make sure my Preview is on, and I have a couple different options. In this case, I just use the blending mode of Normal, and what that does is makes this 55% opaque, and it's sorta like a frosted glass that's sitting on top of the wood grain that's there. It basically just dulls down everything that's back behind it, mutes a little bit. I can play with my blending mode and actually get it to interact a little differently. In this case, if I chose Multiply, like we did with the drop shadow, I'm gonna get a different look. Now, while it doesn't look super different, I can see that that tan color has worked its way into the wood grain that's here. In fact, if I change this, let's make this a little bit darker. I can definitely see the difference between the two, but it's blending in that case. It's multiplying the wood grain color with the color of the shape on top, and it's mathematically multiplying those together, so that may or may not be the look you're going for. Let's go ahead and put this back to normal, and that just sorta gives us, like I said, that frosted glass kinda look. We'll drop this down a little bit. Hmm, that's weird, oh, it's thinking, maybe. I might've hit Cancel by mistake, sorry about that. Let's come back here, we'll make this 55, we'll leave that at Normal. I hit the wrong button, so we'll do that. Now, I have these two items on top of each other, but the one on top is transparent, and that's how we got a lot of the effects in that annual report. Move this guy out of the way, and we're gonna create another frame, gonna option or Alt+Click+drag on that, and I can see that where those two overlap, now I get a darker version that's there. I can come in here, and we can change the color of that. Let's change it to the cinnamon, but the opacity or transparency, two sides of the same coin, I can see that it kinda creates a third color. You might see this if you've got like, ya know, got a yellow, maybe if this were yellow, again, we're gonna do Color in just a little while, actually it's next. We come in here and make this yellow and select this one and make it blue with the transparency, we can end up sometimes with a greenish, in this case, it's just sorta a blueish yellow, but we would have this green color that we create by having those two different transparent items. We can get a lot of really cool effects that way. Just one thing to keep in mind is that if you're going to print, and we're not going to work digitally, this is the one place, any time there's transparency, whether it's a drop shadow or it's something like this, that's the one place where we might have issues where things don't work out as well as we had planned. The reason for that is when we go to print, and we'll see a little bit of this when we export in the last section, is that when we're working on our laptop or on a projector or any kind of display, looking at our phones, we're working in RGB color, again, we're gonna talk color in just a second, but we're working in this light, so it's all being created by light, so the idea of transparency makes perfect sense. We see these two items, and this is how the light and color interact with each other in the middle. The problem when we go to print is that we can't print with transparent ink or anything like that. We don't have that transparency, we have to some how translate it to a flattened version, and it has to decide how to create it with solid colors, but also give you the appearance of this sort of third color in the middle here. So, just keep in mind that if you create something great on screen, and it's transparent and it's overlapped and it looks beautiful, it might not look how you want when you go to export it, so that something to keep in mind. Again, if you're printing commercially, talk to your printer a head of time, and they should have some good input on how to make sure that that works along the way. Just know that playing with fire, that kind of thing. Know that if you are creating something, it might not look exactly as you want when you go to print unless you've kinda planned for that ahead of time. If you're printing digitally, it shouldn't be a problem at all, you're going to export this to pdf, and it's gonna be read on screen, we really shouldn't have a problem at all with that. All right, so, transparency, the drop shadow is a transparent effect, so when we created that drop shadow here, on page three, there we go, that's a transparent effect as well. So while that looks great here, even when we zoom in, it looks pretty decent, but when I go to print that on my laser printer, I might get just solid bars, ya know, get a banding where it's sort of a stepping of that feathered look but not nearly as nice as that one. There's a lot of other effects in there. Again, I don't play with a lot of them just because they're sorta simplistic, and that makes sense because, again, this isn't a drawing tool. If you want a lot of the really cool, more realistic-looking, I guess, effects like realistic-looking bevels and things like that, we would use a tool like Photoshop. The great thing is, we make it in Photoshop, we place the Photoshop file in InDesign, it maintains all of the information that was in that Photoshop file, so if there's transparency or anything like that, it comes right through to the InDesign file, so we don't need InDesign to necessarily create everything that's there, but it will honor everything that comes in.

Ratings and Reviews


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.

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