Going 3D in InDesign

In this tutorial, you will create a little fake 3D in InDesign using a photoshop image that has been separated out into layers. There are a number of ways to do this – some a little less cumbersome – but I prefer this method as it gives you full control over how the image blends with the graphics in InDesign.
1. Download this image and open it in photoshop.
2. In Photoshop, go to the SELECT menu > SUBJECT. What this command does is analyze the image and makes a selection around the figure in the foreground. It does this by using Adobe’s artificial intelligence engine called Project Sensei. It’s not absolutely perfect but it provides a great start in defining the subject. For our purposes it does an excellent job, but if you use it and it doesn’t capture everything, you can certainly adjust it using the Quick Mask or in Select and Mask.

3. With the selection active, go to the SELECT menu > SELECT AND MASK. We will use this tool to give the selection a slightly feathered edge so that when we blend it with graphics in InDesign it will look as if it’s actually existing in 3D space. Change feathering to .5 pixels and click OK.

4. Save the selection. Go to the SELECT menu > SAVE SELECTION and name it male model selection full.

5. With the selection still active, drag the Background Layer onto the New Layer Icon to make a copy of the layer (Background Copy.) Then click on the Add Layer Mask Icon to make a layer mask using the active selection. Save your file as Male Model.PSD.

6. Open InDesign and create a new document – Letter size 51p0 x 66p0 (8.5″ x 11″), with 1 page and margins set to 6p0 (1″) on all sides, click CREATE.

7. Go to the FILE menu > PLACE and select the Male Model.PSD. Click on the upper left corner of the document to place it on the page. (The image is sized to 8.5″ x 11″ so it will fill up the entirety of the page with one click.)

7. Lock Layer 1 and make a new layer, name it graphics. With the rectangle tool, draw a rectangle overtop the image that is the size of the margins.

8. Change the Stroke color to Paper and the width to 10pts, set the stroke so that it aligns to theĀ outside of the frame.

9. In the Layers Panel, drag Layer 1 to the New Layer Icon to copy the layer and its contents. Then, drag Layer 1 Copy above graphics and unlock it, lock the graphics Layer.

10. With this new configuration, the graphic is hidden behind the image. In the next step we will replace the graphic with a version of the original image but with the background turned off. Select the image and go to the FILE menu > PLACE and select Male Model.PSD again, but this time click on Show Import Options, then click OK.

This will take you into the Image Import Options window where you can select which layers to turn on and off. Turn off visibility for Background and click OK.

11. In the resulting image, the figure is set completely on top of the graphic frame essentially making a sandwich using layers. In the following step, we will make it look as if only his head is in front of the frame, while his body is behind it.

12. Open Male Model.PSD in Photoshop. Click on the Layer Mask of the Background Copy Layer. With the Polygonal Lasso Tool create a selection as illustrated below – you want to avoid the brim of his hat.

Then, go to the EDIT menu > FILL and choose Black for Contents and click OK.

This will fill in the Layer Mask with Black in the selected location. When we update the link in InDesign it will only reveal the Background Copy Layer where there is White in the Layer Mask. Save Male Model.PSD and go back to InDesign.

13. Open the Links Panel (WINDOW menu > LINKS) and InDesign will present the list of links in the document – for this tutorial there is only one but it is present on two layers. They will have an exclamation point next to them indicating that something has changed with the original file – in our case we changed the layer mask and saved it. With the top Male Model.psd link selected, click on the Update All Instance Icon.

Layer 1 Copy will be updated showing the frame behind the hat but above the body.

Save the file and export as a PDF (Print.)

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