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Using gradient paragraph rules

Using Adobe InDesign Gradients and Swatches

As you know, one of the unique features of InDesign is its ability to make gradient strokes. I remember when I first saw this in 1999. My first reaction was, So what? Since that time, gradient rules have become such an assumed part of my graphic style that I can no longer do graphics in Illustrator. But that's another story.

Today, I want to talk about and demonstrate how to use this gradient stroke feature to make distinctive paragraph styles that help readability and give you a distinctive style.

Adding gradients to Swatches

Though this might seem a little tedious, here is the reasoning. If you want a consistent, controlled color style for your project, you need to start that project by setting up a custom limited color palette in Swatches. Not only will this make your documents look better, it will also make all these colors available in the various choices made in paragraph, character, and object styles. If the color is not in Swatches, you cannot use it in any of the color choices for your style.

Open a new vertical half-letter document in InDesign with .375" margins. Then...

  1. Open the New Color Swatch... dialog using the palette menu of the Swatches palette.
  2. Add the following swatches: Naples Yellow, 0c 6m 55y 0k; Brick, 21c 100m 100y 15k; Slate, 100c 45m 0y 25k
  3. Select the Naples Yellow swatch.
  4. Open the New Tint Swatch... dialog using the palette menu of the Swatches palette.
  5. Add the following tint swatches: 7%, 21%
  6. Select the Brick swatch. Open the New Tint Swatch... dialog using the palette menu of the Swatches palette. Add the following tint swatches: 11%, 34%, 59%
  7. Select the Slate swatch. Open the New Tint Swatch... dialog using the palette menu of the Swatches palette. Add the following tint swatches: 16%, 41%, 77%
  8. Open the New Gradient Swatch... dialog using the palette menu of the Swatches palette.
  9. Add the following gradients to your swatches: linear, Brick 34% to Slate 77%; linear, Slate 77% to Paper; linear, Brick 11% to Naples 7% to Slate 16%

gradient_swatches

Does it matter what colors you use? Of course not! But you have to use something and this will show you the procedure. Remember, you can load swatches from any existing InDesign document. You can also (in InD CS2) Save Swatches For Exchange... which gives you a color palette you can easily send to anyone you want to use it (including yourself in a different location).

Gradient dialog tip: You will do well to always use swatches as your choice for color stops in your gradients. It's a good habit to develop. It gives you much more control over your color style. All of this in turn, gives you much more control over the look you are trying to design. (See Fig. 1 above)

Adding gradients to Paragraph rules

Obviously, this will be a subjective demo from my point of view. What I want to do is present some possibilities to you so you can add the capability to your skill set. As you can see in Fig. 2, (below) these gradient rules can be quite dramatic. In the following examples, I am going to use Jenson Pro and Myriad Pro because you should have a copy that was installed when you installed InDesign.

rule

Open the New Paragraph Style... dialog from the palette menu of the Paragraph Styles palette
Set the type at Myriad Black 18/auto, flush left, no indent
Click on the Paragraph rule page in the dialog box (Fig. 3)
Make the settings you see in Figure 3.

gradient rule results

Second style

Make another paragraph style by selecting 3-Wavy (or whatever you called it) and choosing New Paragraph Style...

Only change the rule type, color, length, offset, and indents to what you see in Fig. 5.

gradient rule

Third style

This one is simple and elegant.

Make another paragraph style by selecting 3-Wavy (or whatever you called it) and choosing New Paragraph Style...

Only change the rule type, color, length, offset, and indents to what you see in Fig. 7.

nice gradient

None of this is earth-shaking, but these techniques can solve some problems and add some easy style to a dry, type only layout.

This is a tool that can give a distinctive look to your publication -- and it will be easy to implement because it's all set up in your swatches, which in turn go into your style sheets!

David Bergsland
      bergsland.org

Also by David:

BEST Art from Dingbats
BEST Run-in Headlines
BEST New Typography: What difference does it make?
BEST Complex Tables in Adobe InDesign
BEST Using Numbers in the proper Case

David Bergsland

David has been a graphic designer, art director, teacher, and author on digital printing and publishing for nearly forty years. He has written several books, See his books and tutorial materials) designed well over a hundred fonts, and taught on the digital publishing industry needs for the past fifteen years. Presently he is working for a large printing company developing training materials for InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Acrobat. Most of his recent works are published by Radiqx Press and available on his Website: bergsland.org

Copyright ©2006 David Bergsland This is reprinted here with permission and kudos to David for contributing some of is extensive knowledge for DTG readers!

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