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How to Add Texture to an Illustration in Adobe InDesign

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Read Time: 5 mins

Adobe InDesign can be used to create illustrations as well as performing routine tasks such as layouts and document creation. During this tut, we will take a look at the layers and effects panel and a variety of tools to achieve a stylized torn piece of newspaper. This tutorial is inspired by our recent Tuts+ Workshop: Alphabet Design Challenge. Let's see what InDesign can offer.

Step 1

Create a New Document, File > New > Document. For the purposes of this tutorial I am using A4 with landscape Orientation.

Start by selecting the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool panel. Draw a jagged line by clicking at random points to create a torn effect frame. If you are new to InDesign it may help to trace a photograph of torn paper.

When you get near to the first point that was made in the path, make sure that your last click closes the path. The Pen Tool (P) cursor will display a circle when you hoover over it indicating you are about to close the path.

Step 2

Now that you have the frame and base of the design, lets start adding some texture. You can download the texture for free and save it to your project folder.

Select the path you just made and go to File > Place (Cmd + D), locate the texture you downloaded, select it and press the Open button.

Select the Direct Selection Tool (A) and click directly on top of the texture and position the texture to suit your design.

To resize and rotate make sure the texture is still selected with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and now select the Free Transform Tool (E). Again edit to suit by pulling and rotating the corners.

Step 3

Click anywhere on the white space around the document to deselect the texture and select the Selection Tool (V). Click once on the texture and right click your mouse, scroll down and select Effects > Drop Shadow.

A new dialogue panel will appear, here you can specify how you want the drop shadow to appear. Below are the settings I have used. Once you are happy click OK.

Step 4

You are now going to add another texture over the one you just completed. Open the Layer panel, Window > Layers.

Expand the current layers by clicking on the triangle illustrated here:

Select the texture layer (it will use the image name) and drag it down to Create new layer button, wait till the button activates and release.

There will now be a direct copy of the original layer sitting on top of the layer stack, we now want to place different texture in this frame.

Step 5

Select the Direct Selection Tool (A) and click inside the frame of the new layer and press delete to erase the old texture. The frame will now be displaying a red cross and the layer name should have changed to Compound Path.

Step 6

In this frame we are going to add a newspaper texture and I found some great resources free to download.

Once you have downloaded the textures go back to InDesign and select the new image frame and follow the instructions in Step 2.

Step 7

I want this layer to ghost over the top of the original layer, to achieve this go to Window > Effects and from the drop down menu select Multiply, the original texture should now be visible.

I also want to add a slight dark shadow around the edges. Select the the newspaper texture and right click, scroll down to Effects and activate Inner Shadow. Here are my selections:

Step 8

Now we can add a letter on top of the textures we just created. Select your Type Tool (T) and draw a frame roughly where you want your letter to sit. Release and type the letter N.

If you want to change typeface and its size select the letter with Type Tool (T) and go to the Character panel, Window > Type & Tables > Character. I am using a typeface named "Old Typography", which can be downloaded for free from here.

Step 9

Finally we are going to apply effects and add some type within the letter so it blends with the textures beneath it. Note: You might want to copy and paste your letter and move it onto your art board before the next step as the letter wont be editable. Select the Text Frame using the Selection Tool (V) and go to Type > Create Outlines.

Now select the Type Tool (T) and draw a text frame across the top third of the letter, select a typeface and use a small point size (I am using 8pt), color the type white, turn hyphenation off and go to Type > Fill with Place holder text.

Step 10

Choose the Selection tool and select the text frame and position it to where you want it to sit within the letter. Now go to Edit > Cut.

Select the large letter you converted to outlines with the Direct Selection Tool (A), right click and choose Place Into. The text frame should of flowed inside the letter and in the exact same position as it was when it was on top.

Step 11

Now let's apply transparency to the letter to reveal some detail of the texture below. Using the Selection Tool (V) click on the letter and go to the Effects Layer, choose Multiply from the drop down menu and 81% for the transparency. The letter will now reveal the textures beneath it.


Now that you have one letter why not trying creating some titles or words, here is a layout I put together using the techniques above. Thanks for reading.

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