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The New InDesign CS3 Special Effects

In this tutorial, we will take a look at the new special effects engine in InDesignR CS3. As you will see, the special effects that you can apply to objects in your InDesign project have been greatly improved. Let's take a walk through applying transparency, bevel and emboss and gradient effects to an InDesign project.


  1. Open any InDesign project file into the program. We will be applying a transparency effect to a frame that contains both text and an image.

  2. Use the Selection Tool to click on the frame to which you wish to apply the effect. If the Effects Panel is not open, click Window, Effects. As you can see, you can apply special effects to the entire Object or any of its individual parts such as Stroke, Fill and Text. By default, the Opacity is set to 100% and the Blend Mode is set to Normal.

  3. Click on Fill and the Fill line in the Effects Panel will darken indicating that we are about to apply an effect to the Fill. Now, use the drop-down lists at the top of the panel to change the Blend Mode to Screen and the Opacity to 90%. You will notice that the Fill line now says Fill Screen 90%.

  4. If you compare frames 1 and 2 in our example, you will see that the contents in the second frame is a little less opaque.

Bevel and Emboss

  1. We will use the same frame as before. Click on the Stroke for the object in the Effects Panel. We will apply a Bevel and Emboss effect.

  2. At the bottom of the panel, you will see the small (fx) Effects button which gives you a drop-down menu of the special effects that can be applied to our object. Choose Bevel and Emboss from the menu list and the Effects dialog box will open.

  3. When the Effects dialog box opens, click on the box next to Preview to activate the preview feature for our effect. You will find the Preview checkbox at the bottom left.

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