FUDWatch: ID CS3 Transparency Effects

I’ve recently become aware of some interesting comments and assertions circulated by dark, competetive forces about InDesign CS3.

For example, in regard to the new transparency effects in InDesign CS3 (the bevels, glows, etc.), the dark forces say that all they’re really good for is making “quick and dirty comps,” and that “professionals” won’t actually use them for the actual production of the final product because the results look “canned.” Designers will continue to “hand craft” these effects in Photoshop, they claim.

The message: real designers do all their effects in Photoshop. Ignore the cool new creative features in InDesign CS3. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

There are a number of problems with these assertions:

  1. The majority of magazine titles produced world-wide are now using InDesign and its transparency effects every day for their finished product, including covers—covers that, in some cases, required high-end proprietary systems to produce prior to InDesign 2.0. Apparently no one told them that they should only be making “quick and dirty” comps with all their copies of InDesign. No, quite the contrary, they found they could save a lot of time and money and produce covers and editorial pages with high quality transparency effects created in InDesign. Whether it’s titles like Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Vogue, GQ, Oprah and too many others to mention, these publishers appear to believe that InDesign’s effects are just as good as Photoshop’s…with good reason, because they are Photoshop’s…which leads me to problem #2.
  2. InDesign and Photoshop use the same code to produce these effects, therefore the quality of the output is the same. The UI is a little different, and Photoshop has more effects options in some cases (InDesign has more in others; for example InDesign enables you to
    use spot colors for shadow/bevel/highlight colors). InDesign’s effects features are implemented to address the types of effects that users use most in their day-to-day design work, and will do that job with an output quality identical to that of Photoshop.
  3. All the non-destructive image controls in other products (and much, much more) can be found in Photoshop, so–using their own logic–why use those “canned” features in any other product when you can “hand craft” them in Photoshop? I think the answer is obvious: if the layout application can give you identical results (as in InDesign), then the time saved and the creative freedom allowed by applying them in the layout application make that the most desireable place to apply them.

Another interesting assertion concerns drop shadows and productivity. The claim here is that that fact that InDesign doesn’t automatically apply text wrap around an object’s drop shadow is a “major” omission when used in documents like product catalogs. The reality is that InDesign has all that you need to handle that kind of long document.

If you’re creating a catalog, the drop shadows you apply will be standardized on all the “like” product photos. In InDesign you would manually edit the text wrap path to accommodate your drop shadow settings in the most desireable way (in reality there isn’t a one-size fits all sort of solution for determining the runaround for an object with a shadow). After you edit your wrap offset settings, you would then create an object style based on that original element, and apply the style to both the original element and any other similar image elements in your catalog. Your text wrap settings are stored in the object style as an object property, and are applied automatically to any page object to which the style is applied. InDesign’s object styles feature can automate the formatting of not only image frames, but also text frames and their styled content. Object styles combined with InDesign’s nested styles, anchored frames, text variables and other features make it a superior environment in which to layout a long catalog document.



Text Wrap can be customized in InDesign, and then applied and updated automatically across a long document via an object style.