Getting To Grips With InDesign Part 6: Importing Images




This article/tutorial is the sixth in the series. In this chapter of the Getting To Grips series we will be covering the following topics:

  • Differences between Vector and Bitmap images
  • Importing Photoshop files
  • Importing Illustrator files
  • Managing your placed files
  • Using and creating libraries
  • Importing and Revealing Files in Adobe Bridge

Telling the difference between Vector and Bitmap images

If you’re reading this the chances are you already know what the difference is between vector and bitmap images, but for those of you who are reading these InDesign tutorials to learn the piece of software we will discuss a little about the differences between the two.

Vector graphics are objects usually created in applications that are designed for vector images, such as Adobe Illustrator, and are able to keep there smooth lines and clean cut edges however small you scale them down or big you scale them up. Vector graphics are commonly used for things such as a logos which are often needed in different sizes, illustrations and typography.

Bitmap images on the other hand are based on pixels and are created with a huge amount of software packages, the biggest and most well known being Photoshop. These types of images tend to become pixelated with “jagged” edges when enlarged bigger than their actual size, such as when you enlarge a photograph (as photographs are bitmap based).

Importing Layered Photoshop Files

Before starting this, we need to create a new InDesign document, and also have a Photoshop .PSD file at the ready so we have something to import. In my case, I just have a Photoshop file with one of my photos in it, and some text on a separate layer.

There are two ways we can place our PSD file into our document – you can either drag it into your InDesign document, or you can go to File > Place. We’re going to use the second option. Go to Edit > Place and select your PSD file. Click anywhere on your document to place the file into your document.

InDesign Tutorial

Open up your links window by going to Window > Links. From here you will be able to see all your placed graphics, and information about it.

InDesign Tutorial

Links allow you to easily find a certain element in your document which is especially useful when you have a lot of them in a larger project such as a magazine or newspaper. There are a few buttons at the bottom of the links window that allow you to replace or relink your link (point it to a new or updated file, or just relink it to it’s original which could have been lost), go to your link (which allows you to find the link within your document) and open your original file (which will open up the file in it’s original editor, in this case our image will open in Photoshop). Any files that we open up in their original application and then update and save will be automatically replaced in the InDesign document that saves a lot of time and effort if you just want to make a quick change.

InDesign Tutorial

Click on the Edit Original button to open the file up in Photoshop, and then make a minor change. I’m going to add a tint to my image, and then save it.

InDesign Tutorial

Without doing anything extra after saving my document, the file will automatically update in my InDesign document, as seen above. You can now use techniques we have learnt in previous InDesign tutorials to resize our image and position it somewhere on our page.

InDesign Tutorial

You’ve probably noticed that the image looks a little squashed and poor quality. This is because by default InDesign uses a “Typical Display” performance which is a mixture between quality and speed. If you have a fast system, or alternatively not a huge document, you should be able to run your graphics at their best quality instead. Click on your image and then go to View > Display Performance > High Quality Display. This should improve the quality of your imported graphics.

InDesign Tutorial

If you have used clipping masks or alpha channels in your original Photoshop document, you can detect them in InDesign by going to Object > Clipping Path > Options.

InDesign Tutorial

My PSD file doesn’t have any clipping paths or alpha channels so this doesn’t apply to me so much, but if you have used clipping paths you can play around with them here.

InDesign Tutorial

You can also play around with your layers in InDesign without having to actually edit your original document. Click on your image and go to Object > Object Layer Options to reveal the following window.

InDesign Tutorial

From here you can un-tick certain layers of your PSD file to only show the ones you want to show. For example, I can hide my layers Color Balance that I added earlier by hiding it. Click OK to save the settings.

InDesign Tutorial

Importing Layered Illustrator Files

To complete this task you’ll need a layered Illustrator file. I’m just going to create a quick and simple AI file using a few different colored shapes, each of which placed on different layers. As with Photoshop files, you can either drag and drop your AI file in, or go to File > Place to place it in. In this case, we’re going to drag and drop the file in. Click and hold onto your AI file icon, and drag it directly on to your canvas space in InDesign.

InDesign Tutorial

As you can see, this is super easy to do. Play around with your file for a bit and you’ll realise that the majority of vector files regardless of where they were produced tend to be saved with transparent backgrounds. You can resize and reposition your vector graphics in the same way which you would normally resize and reposition your bitmap images, whether standard image files or PSD files.

InDesign Tutorial

Just like with the Photoshop import, if you go to Object > Object Layer Options you can again remove certain layers by hiding their visibility, and vice versa.

InDesign Tutorial

You can also detect edges from the Clipping Path window by going to Object > Clipping Path.

InDesign Tutorial

In general, importing both Photoshop and Illustrator files into your InDesign documents work in a very similar way, most of the options we have discussed for our imported graphics do apply to both. The only huge difference is the fact that vector graphics can be scaled up and down without any loss of quality whereas bitmap images cannot be scaled above their normal size without losing quality. You can see the differences between the quality of vector and bitmap images in the screenshot below.

InDesign Tutorial

Creating libraries

If there are certain elements in a design that you use on a regular basis such as a logo or image, you can create a library for a document which will allow you to easily insert them again without scavenging through all your files on your system to find the right one! That’s not all though, libraries allow you to store and organize all kinds of elements, such as graphics, text and pages, as well as design tools such as ruler, guide and grid set-ups and grouped images.

In this part of the tutorial we’re going to learn how to create a library, manage it and use it. To start, go to File > New > Library. You’ll be prompted to save your library before you move on which is a requirement. Save your library and click save. As soon as you do this your new library window/panel will show up on your InDesign screen, as seen below.

InDesign Tutorial

For this tutorial, we’re going to place our two imported elements into our element. This is of course very unlikely in the real world as you’ll likely only use an image like this minimal amount of times in a layout. Select the Direct Selection Tool and select one of your elements, hold your mouse button down and drag it into your library window.

InDesign Tutorial

This will create a thumbnail of your element, which you can now drag and drop into your documents as many times as you want. By double-clicking on your elements thumbnail you will open up the Item Information window, which allows you to select the object type (although this should already be selected) and change the items name and description.

InDesign Tutorial

If you have a large client or project, you may find you could end up building a huge library in their job folder from all the different elements you use on a regular basis. This could end up taking just as long to find the required file as it would just finding the original source on your harddrive. To solve this problem, you could either create different libraries for that one particular client/project, or you could use the Show Subset feature.

InDesign Tutorial

This feature allows you to search your library and narrow it down. It has some quite advanced options such as searching by item name, the date of creation, the object type and even the description. This is especially handy if you are looking for files that may have been used in one of your first projects for a particular client for example. You can also use all of these searches in conjunction with each other.

InDesign Tutorial

Importing images from Adobe Bridge

If you have Adobe InDesign, the chances are you will have Adobe Bridge, as it comes with most other Adobe applications. Bridge is basically another way to browse the content on your harddrive but with a much more user friendly interface for designers and photographers as it shares file information with you without having to take any further steps.

If you’re a user of Adobe Bridge, or at least have it but have never seen much of a reason behind using it, this tip will allow you to be able to insert elements into your InDesign document straight from Adobe Bridge. Open up Adobe Bridge by going to File > Browse In Bridge, and access a folder with a file in it that you’d like to insert into your document.

InDesign Tutorial

You can now drop and drag documents directly from your Bridge window into your InDesign document, just like we did previously. Any of the imported files in your document can then be located in Bridge using just a few clicks. Right-click on an element in your document, and go to Graphics > Reveal In Bridge. Bridge will open back up and will automatically select your elements source file. This is a great way to quickly find out more information about the file such as it’s original sizes, dots per inch and so on. It’s also a superb way to quickly rename your source files name.

InDesign Tutorial

Conclusion

Adobe Bridge is designed to cope well with importing files for various different sources such as Photoshop and Illustrator – after all that is what its purpose is; to combine different elements to produce a final result. After following this lesson you should have learnt how to place Photoshop PSD and Illustrator AI files into your document in different ways, as well as how to use InDesigns library feature and how to use Adobe Bridge to your advantage.

In the next tutorial we will be covering working with book files, pagination and contents. If you have any questions about this tutorial, please fire away with your questions in the comments section below!

Of course you might want to go through our previous InDesign tutorials ↓


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