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How to Create a Bold 90s Text Effect in Adobe InDesign

This post is part of a series called Text Effects in Adobe InDesign.
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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Have ten minutes to spare? This eye-catching effect gives any text an instant dose of nostalgic color and style.

We’ll create the effect directly in Adobe InDesign, and you can easily paste the type across into another InDesign document or other Adobe software. 

If you want to make your design unique, you can easily switch up the font to create a very different look. Head over to GraphicRiver or Envato Elements to source fab fonts for your next project. 

What You’ll Need to Create Your Effect

All you need is access to Adobe InDesign, an outlined typeface like this Outline font, and ten minutes of your time.

1. How to Create Swatches for Your Text Effect

Step 1

Open InDesign and create a new document (File > New > Document) of any size. Here, I’m using a landscape A3 page. 

Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and double-click on the Layer 1 name. Rename this layer Background and click OK

Choose New Layer from the panel’s drop-down menu (at top-right). Name this second layer White Fill. Create two more new layers, first Outline and finally Shapes.

layer options

Lock all layers except Background

background layer

Step 2

Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches) and choose New Color Swatch from the panel’s drop-down menu.

new color swatch

Name the swatch Sun Yellow, and set the CMYK levels to C=5 M=22 Y=87 K=0. Click Add and OK.

sun yellow swatch

Create six more CMYK swatches with the following names and values:

  • Off-White: C=9 M=7 Y=7 K=0
  • Red: C=10 M=100 Y=90 K=2
  • Blue: C=80 M=36 Y=8 K=0
  • Pink: C=14 M=53 Y=9 K=0
  • Pale Pink: C=10 M=26 Y=7 K=0
  • Purple Blue: C=98 M=97 Y=21 K=9
purple blue swatch

Step 3

Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a shape across the whole page, setting the Fill to your new Sun Yellow swatch.

Then lock the Background layer and unlock the Outline layer.

background color

2. How to Create Your Bold Text Effect

Step 1

Working on the Outline layer, create a text frame centrally on the page using the Type Tool (T). 

From the Controls panel at the top of the workspace, set the Font to Outline, and increase the Font Size generously.

From the Swatches panel, set the Font Color to Purple Blue.

type outline text

Step 2

Lock the Outline layer and unlock the White Fill layer below. 

Use the Pen Tool (P) to trace the silhouette of the first letter of the text, allowing the outline to be positioned slightly off-center. Set the Fill of the shape to Off-White.

white fill

Repeat for the other letters, working your way across the text.

white fill

For any curved letters, like ‘P’ here, hold and drag the Pen Tool to create a curved line. 

white pen tool
white shapes

Step 3

Lock the White Fill layer and unlock the top layer, Shapes

Use the Pen Tool (P) again to trace the outlines of some of the letters, positioning the shape off-center. Vary the Fill Color across the letters. 

pen tool red

For some of the letters, use geometric shapes instead—for example, to draw attention to the sharp ‘v’ top of a ‘Y’.

triangle shape
pen tool color

Step 4

When you’ve finished adding colored silhouettes or shapes to each letter, select all the shapes with your mouse and head up to Object in the main menu. Choose Effects > Transparency.

Switch the Mode to Multiply and click OK


Conclusion: Your Finished Text Effect

And there we have it! A quick, bold text effect that has a strong 90s vibe. Great job!

You can copy and paste the effect directly into other InDesign documents by unlocking all the layers, or integrate it into Illustrator or Photoshop layouts.

Note that you can also vary the colors across the Shapes and Background layers to create alternate versions of the text effect.

To give your effect even more of a unique twist, you can track down alternate outline fonts over on GraphicRiver.

final text effect
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