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Gradients in CS5 InDesign ("How the...")

Sep 13, 2011 4:16 PM

I sure hope I can get some answers to this one - I posted another question regarding leading in Paragraph Styles two days ago and by now it has 28 views and 0 answers! Such support.


Just designing a two-color gradient in CS5 InDesign is headache on Swatches control panel, see that there is no "New Gradient Swatch" button at the bottom (despite what the books and online help say), click the microscopic menu at the upper right of the panel, select "New Gradient Swatch", only to find that there are only two choices - Linear or Radial - and fiddle with every feature in the window to finally get the color range you want.


Frankly, five very expensive versions of Creative Suite later, I am both amazed and disgusted at the fact that:


- There is no horizontal gradient, only "Linear" (and that is vertical; that is, each color within the range goes top-to-bottom; the range itself is left-to-right)

- There is no seeming way to get a horizontal gradient, or a vertical gradient with the colors reversed. InDesign decides the orientation and polarity (in this instance, dark (left) to light (right) ) of your gradient


And before anyone launches into a lecture about the Window > Color > Gradient option, I already tried that. I don't know what your copy of CS5 InDesign displays on your system, but on mine, that window has no OK button. In other words, you can play around all day long with the Window > Color > Gradient window but you cannot apply what you've settled on to your current project because there is no way to tell the program that "OK, I'm done, please apply the options I've selected to my project or selected swatch."


So, tell me truly, how can a newly-bald user design a simple two-color gradient that has vertical range, where lightest color is at the top and darkest color at the bottom?

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 13, 2011 4:46 PM   in reply to TechShell

    The easiest way to do it is to create the swatch with the gradient you want, then use the Gradient tool (now apparently renamed the Gradient Swatch tool to differentiate it from the Gradient Feather tool which is right next to it in the toolbox) to drag the gradient in any direction you like, and to set the start and stop points. If you start or stop inside the object, everything before or after the start or stop, respectively, will be the end color.


    If you just want to fill the object, select it and choose the gradient swatch as the fill, then open the Gradient panel and you can set any angle you like, or press the reverse button to switch directions.


    None of this, by the way is new.


    I did look at your other thread the yesterday, but I'm not quite sure I understand the question, and my only conclusion was there is some sort of user error in how you are defining the styles, but without a lot more information I can't tell you what.


    And this is NOT tech support, it's a user forum staffed by ordinary users like you who volunteer their time and expertise. If they have nothing to say, most don't bother to answer.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 13, 2011 5:02 PM   in reply to TechShell

    It's not really that hard. To make a new gradient Select New Gradient Swatch from the Swatches flyout. You should get a dialog that looks like this


    Screen shot 2011-09-13 at 4.43.18 PM.png


    When you click on one of the gradient stop at thebottom of the ramp you will activate the ability to choose a color for that stop in the color mode you want


    Screen shot 2011-09-13 at 4.43.44 PM.png


    If you choose CMYK you can mix the color or you can choose Swatches and choose from existing swatches in the file.  This is how it looks with both selected


    Screen shot 2011-09-13 at 4.44.19 PM.png


    When youOK the dialog a new swatch is added to the Swatch panel. You can apply it by drawing or selecting an object in your file and making the fill box active . It should look like this


    Screen shot 2011-09-13 at 4.45.03 PM.png


    In the Gradient window shown to the right of the object you can change the angle by using either the Reverse button or the angle window like this


    Screen shot 2011-09-13 at 4.45.17 PM.png


    Or you can use the Gradient tool from the tool box to drag across the gradient to change it as you want


    Screen shot 2011-09-13 at 4.49.13 PM.png


    If you want here's the difference in a radial gradient changed with the gradient tool from the tool box


    Screen shot 2011-09-13 at 4.49.48 PM.png

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 14, 2011 8:47 AM   in reply to TechShell

    You can't make those changes to the swatch itself. You make them to a selected object.


    So, if you select an object and apply the gradient, then open the gradient panel, any changes you make will be reflected in the selected object. You can also set the gradient angle as part of an Object Style definition.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 27, 2012 11:22 AM   in reply to TechShell

    I understand the effects option when trying to achieve a vertical gradient for an object.

    But what if you are trying to use a vertical graident effect for alternate rows in a table.

    Something that looks like this, but in a table.

    vertical gradients in cells.jpg

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 27, 2012 12:07 PM   in reply to freecondomap

    Have you tried defining it as part of a cell style?

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 27, 2012 4:37 PM   in reply to TechShell

    Define your gradient in the small Gradient window. Then click on the square in that window and drag it into your swatches palette.


    You can then apply that swatch to fill any object. Use the gradient tool to drag across your object in the direction you want the gradient to run.

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  • lilia@
    196 posts
    Jan 31, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 1, 2012 12:37 AM   in reply to TechShell

    Hi, I'm going to mention two things...


    1. The colours panel and gradient panel make colour on the fly and are not saved swatches. Once used, the only way to duplicate another object with that colour is to use the Eyedropper tool from the original object to the new. However, in order to reuse them (which is mighty handy) you need to save the swatch. You can do this via the options menu on each panel.
    2. In regards to keeping angles, etc on gradients. The solution to reusing that same angle etc on other objects is to create an Object Style. The best way to do this is to have your object selected > create the gradient exactly as you please > save the gradient as a swatch > save an Object Style. You can then apply it to any object you like. If you want to use it on another document, you can load swatches from other files.



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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 7, 2012 7:01 AM   in reply to TechShell

    Thanks guys! More than one way to slice a pie.


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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 21, 2013 10:36 AM   in reply to TechShell

    Hi, TechShell.


    Simplified (despite all my extraneous verbiage), here are the steps.


    1. Select the object to which you want to apply the gradient. (Alternatively, create a free-standing rectangle or circle, etc., just to have a temporary place to apply the gradient and observe its appearance while you develop it.)
    2. With your object selected, double-click the Gradient Swatch Tool (not the Gradient Feather Tool).
    3. Drag colors from your swatch collection onto those stops to change their colors or to any empty space in between to create a new stop. You can also click anywhere along the color stop line to create more color stops (but you will see no difference when you do until you apply a different color, as the new-click stops will just pick up a nearby current color).
    4. Slide these stops around, past and over each other, or drag in more or different colors, until you have what you like (your efforts will be reflected in your selected object, so keep an eye on that -- and btw, make sure you are editing the fill and not the outline of the object -- I do this accidentally all the time). (And don't forget, you can play with angles while you're at it, but you really won't notice that result unless you do have an object selected where you are watching the development of your swatch, so be sure to make your working object big enough to tell what you're doing.)
    5. Once you have developed a swatch, and like what you see in your selected/working object, right-click on the thumbnail in the Gradient Swatch Tool palette (it should have been changing all along as you created your gradient) and choose "Add to Swatches" (that's the only option when you right-click anyway). In this palette, this is equivalent to "OK."
    6. Now your new swatch is in your gradient swatch color palette.
    7. To quickly create the mirror image of it, draw a freestanding object (rectangle, etc.) and apply your new gradient. (You may still have your working object selected, in which case, you can use that.)
    8. With your object selected, again open your Gradient Swatch Tool (if it is not still open), which should reflect the gradient in your selected object (in this case, the one you just created and saved).
    9. Click the "Reverse" option in the palette, again right-click on the thumbnail and again select Add to Swatches. I usually call my reversed gradient by the same name as the previous one and just add "Rev" onto the end of it.


    Now you have two new gradients, customized to your liking. These can also be the basis for other gradients, if you drag them over the "New Swatch" button at the bottom of the Swatches panel. You can edit them the same way as before, opening the Gradient Swatch Tool and applying to an object while you play with them, then saving with a new name.


    Oh, and don't miss the cool effects you can get by also applying Directional Feathering (under the Objects>Effects> menu) to your gradient. You can create it and then, using directional feathering to fade it from various directions, can use it as a partial fill instead of a complete one. Of course, you can just put white on one end of your gradient and create that same effect. But for on the fly and if you don't want to alter your gradient or create a new one, Directional Feathering is very handy.


    I hope this helps.

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