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Using Photo-Objects in Adobe InDesign
a clipping path and transparency tutorial
  More Photo-Objects Tutorials
• QuarkXPress
• Adobe PageMaker & Microsoft Publisher
  Related Resources
• Hemera Photo-Objects Review
• Clipping Paths
• More on InDesign

Adobe InDesign supports TIFF with transparency making it fairly simple to insert Photo-Objects into your InDesign documents. However, you'll have to “turn on” the transparency with the clipping path tool.

TIFF with white background



On a white background everything looks fine. But place the TIFF on another color and the white rectangle becomes obvious.

1. Select Object > Clipping Path page

2. From the drop down list, choose Alpha Channel.

Clipping Path window in Adobe InDesign 1.5

If necessary, you can further tweak the clipping path in the Clipping window — giving it a tighter or looser fit.

TIFF with transparent background
Now the white box is gone and our bunny looks right at home on any background.

By default, the clipping path is applied only to the outside edges of the Photo-Object. Sometimes this isn't the effect you want. You'll need a third step.

TIFF with transparent background
The white box is gone but look at the holes in the 8. The purple background isn't showing through.

3. Check the box that says “Include Inside Edges.”

Clipping Path window in Adobe InDesign 1.5.2

TIFF with transparent background
Now you have a truly transparent background.

Unfortunately, Photo-Objects with subtle drop shadows don't work quite so neatly. Instead of a soft, transparent shadow, the drop shadow turns solid black. Using Object > Clipping Path removes the drop shadow entirely but with rough edges remaining.

The fix is less than satisfactory. The softer drop shadow can be reclaimed using Adobe Photoshop or Corel Photo-Paint. Unfortunately, the way this is handled gives less than beautiful results when we bring the new TIFF or an EPS graphic back into InDesign. An uneven clipping path and a halo of white pixels that can't be adjusted away with the Clipping settings render some images unusable.

To learn more about using Photo-Objects, including their limitations, read my full review of the product.


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