New Zealand Transparency Tip

I was just in Auckland, New Zealand, for the InDesign Conference put on there by Mogo Media. David Blatner, Sandee Cohen, Mike McHugh, Michael Stoddart and myself had the privilege of participating in the three days worth of sessions on using InDesign and Creative Suite. Big kudos to Mogo and Martinho da Gloria for putting the event together. It was moko-riffic, and I learned what “jafa” means while I was there. Thank you Fraser.

Adobe Australia’s Mike McHugh leads a break-out session on setting type in InDesign.

I had several requests to do a blog post on a transparency tip that I showed at the conference.

See-Thru Type

Creating something like this:

is easy. Set your type to the same color as the background, and apply a drop shadow.

Something like this, however, is a little more complex:

Here the text sits on a background image, and the text has not been converted to outlines with a cloned version of the image placed inside. This is live, editable text.

Here’s an even more complicated example:

In this case, there’s another image behind the crumpled paper background image, and it somehow shows thru both the paper image and the live type. How is this done?

Here are the steps for this specific scenario:

  1. Set your type, give it whatever fill color you want (it doesn’t matter), and apply a drop shadow.
  2. Clone the type. Remove the drop shadow from the clone.
  3. Group the two text frames together.
  4. Direct select the top text frame…the clone with no drop shadow. In the Effects panel, select Text from the list of object properties, and then set the opacity of the text to “0″. This will make the text in the cloned frame completely transparent.
  5. Switch your selection from the top text frame in the group back to the entire group. If you don’t do this, the tip won’t work. Switching from a group element to the group is easy using the Select Container button on the Control panel.
    These buttons make it easy to navigate within grouped and nested objects in InDesign.

  6. With the group selected, click on the Knock Out Group checkbox on the Effects panel.This will cause the clone text to knock out whatever is underneath it, even if it’s transparent. 

    Note that the drop shadow for the text in the bottom frame remains, and now the crumpled paper background shows through the text.

  7. OK, nice, but how do we get the image behind the crumpled paper to show thru? By just repeating our last step with a new group. Select the text frame group and the crumpled paper image and group them together.
  8. With that new, nested group selected, click on the Knock Out Group checkbox in the Effects panel again. This will cause the cloned text to knock out both the text and the image below it in the new nested group, so that the other image behind the crumpled paper now shows thru the text.

There are lots of ways to use the ideas in this tip. The point of this post is to help you understand what the Knock Out Group feature can do for you when you’re wanting to create interesting visual effects in your layout.