Working with dropped backgrounds
There are two basic types of images with white, or “dropped,” backgrounds, both of which are widely used. The difference is whether the edge between the foreground and background is a crisp, sharp edge or a soft, blending edge. The type of edge used depends on what is appropriate for the image content.
Images with sharp edges between the foreground and background can use a vector path to separate the foreground from the background. This is called a clipping path. When Photoshop files with vector paths are placed in InDesign, you can turn on the path in InDesign, and you can choose different paths saved within the same image. InDesign can automatically detect the edge between the subject and the background and create a clipping path if an image has a relatively light or white background (or a relatively dark background if the subject is light). However, this technique works best for simple shapes or for creating a path to use for Text Wrap, as we did in Lesson 4.
Images with a soft, blending edge between the foreground and background use transparency and soft brushes to delete the background in Photoshop.
Working with clipping paths from Photoshop in InDesign
Navigate to page 4 of the document by double-clicking page 4 in the Pages panel, and choose View > Fit Page In Window.
In the Layers panel, make sure that the Photos layer is selected so that the imported image is placed on that layer. You can lock the Background photos layer to be sure you don’t accidentally click into the blue square’s or background photo’s frame. Choose File > Place, and double-click the file Pears.psd in the Lesson11 folder.
Position the loaded raster graphics icon () outside the blue square in the center of page 4—to the left and slightly below the top edge (make sure you are not placing the pointer in the square itself)—and click to place an image of two pears. If you need to reposition the graphics frame to match the following image, do so now.
Choose Object > Clipping Path > Options. Move the Clipping Path dialog box, if necessary, so that you can see the pear image.
Choose Photoshop Path from the Type menu. If Preview is not selected, select it now. Choose Two Pears from the Path menu. The background is now hidden, or clipped out, by the path. Click OK.
Choose Object > Fitting > Fit Frame To Content.
Switch to the Selection tool () and double-click the pears image. Then click the lower-right corner handle. Press Shift+Ctrl (Windows) or Shift+Command (macOS) and drag up and to the left to scale both the frame and its contents. Make the pears image about the size shown, and then drag it toward the bottom of the blue square, also as shown.
Press Alt (Windows) or Option (macOS) and drag up and to the right. This creates a copy of the image. Choose Object > Clipping Path > Options, and then choose Right Pear from the Path menu and click OK. Then, choose Object > Fitting > Fit Frame To Content. Switch back to the Selection tool (), click to select the frame, and use the same technique to scale this pear to about 80% of the original size (the Control and Properties panels show the scale amount as you scale the object). You can also type 80 in the X scale box in the Control or Properties panel and press Enter or Return to apply the same scale number to the Y dimension when Same Settings () is on. If Different Settings () is on, add Ctrl (Windows) or Command (macOS). Finally, move the pointer outside the bounding box until it changes to the rotate pointer (). Rotate the photo to the right about –28 degrees and move the image slightly inside and below the top of the blue box as shown.
Press Alt (Windows) or Option (macOS) and drag down and to the left to create another copy of the single pear. Choose Object > Clipping Path > Options, choose Photoshop Path, and this time choose the Left Pear path and click OK. Then choose Object > Fitting > Fit Frame To Content. Switch back to the Selection tool, click to select the frame, and move the pointer outside the bounding box until it changes to the rotate pointer (). Rotate the photo to the left to about 22 degrees, and then move it down and position it between the two pears at the bottom as shown.
Notice how a clipping path allows an image to overlap multiple other objects. You can also move images in front of or behind other objects. Take a few moments to experiment.
Choose File > Save to save the file.
Working with transparent backgrounds from Photoshop in InDesign
Navigate to the leftmost page of this spread (page 2) by sliding page 4 to the right. Do this by holding down the spacebar. The hand icon () appears. Keep the spacebar pressed and drag until page 2 is centered in your window.
Select the Rectangle Frame tool () in the Tools panel and draw a frame in the lower area as shown, crossing over the border between page 2 and page 3 and extending into the pasteboard below the document pages.
You can choose fitting options for a frame before you place a graphic. Choose Object > Fitting > Frame Fitting Options. From the Frame Fitting Options dialog box, choose Fit Content Proportionally from the Fitting menu and then click the top-center reference point in the Align From area. Click OK.
With the frame still selected, choose File > Place and double-click the Tulips.psd file in the Lesson11 folder. InDesign fits the image proportionally to the frame as specified. Choose Edit > Deselect All.
Now we want to scale the picture without scaling the frame. Switch to the Selection tool and click the photo over the circle of the content grabber () to select the contents of the frame, in this case the photo of the tulips. The handles of the bounding box of the photo (not the frame) will be active. You’ll see that this bounding box is a contrasting color to the frame bounding box. In the Control or Properties panel, set the reference point to the top center () position, type 70 in the Scale box, and press Enter or Return.
The photo scales downward from the top center, resulting in the image being larger but also farther down. Drag or use the arrow keys to nudge the position of the photo further down so that most of the image is cropped out, with just the tops of the flowers and leaves showing on the page. Refer to the figure below for reference. Press Esc to select the graphic’s frame again, and use the Selection tool to make the frame wider if necessary.
Notice how different the edges of the tulip image are compared to the edges of the pears image. The edges of the tulips and leaves blend softly into the background. This is the purpose of using transparency in Photoshop to remove a background rather than a vector path: to create a soft edge between the image and any background onto which it is placed.