InDesign Basics: Gradients in InDesign

gradient feather indesign

In this Bitesize tutorial, you will learn how to apply Gradients in your InDesign document.

  • Understand how Gradients work in InDesign

  • Become familiar with the Effects Window

  • Apply Gradient and Feather Effects


level time


Step 1: Create a Frame or Shape


In order to apply a Gradient in InDesign, you must create a frame or shape to apply the effect to.

To create an image frame:

Select the Rectangle (F), Ellipse or Polygon Frame Tool from the Tools Panel (Window > Tools) and drag to create a frame on the page. Go to File > Place > Open to insert an image.

To create a shape:

Select the Rectangle (M), Ellipse (L) or Polygon Tool from the Tools Panel (Window > Tools) and drag to create a shape on the page. Fill the shape with color to be able to see a gradient effect once applied.

gradient shape indesign


Step 2: Open the Effects Window and Apply a Gradient Feather


Select your shape or frame with the Selection Tool (V, Escape) and then go to the top menu. Object > Effects > Gradient Feather… opens the Effects window.

Gradient Feather applies an easy to adjust Linear or Radial gradient to your shape or frame. Adjust the gradient to Radial from the Type drop-down menu. You can adjust the extent of the gradient using the Gradient Stops slider, and choose to flip the direction of the gradient by selecting the Reverse Gradient icon to the right of the slider.

You can also adjust the Opacity and Angle of the gradient.

gradient feather indesign lineargradient shape indesigngradient feather indesign

Once you’re happy with the result, click OK.

gradient feather indesign radial


Step 3: Apply a Basic Feather


On the left-hand side of the Effects window you will notice a list of possible effects you can apply to your shape or frame. Two places above the Gradient Feather effect is Basic Feather. Click on Basic Feather to open the options for this effect.

Basic Feather applies a uniform, more subtle gradient around the edges of your shape or frame, with a defined boundary. You can adjust the Feather Width, Choke (which effects how diffused the edges appear), the appearance of the Corners and the amount of Noise (grainy appearance) from the Effects window.

basic feather indesign

When you’re pleased with the look, click OK.

basic feather indesign


Step 4: Apply a Directional Feather


There is a third gradient effect you can apply to your shape or frame from the Effects window. This is the Directional Feather effect, which sits between the Basic Feather and Gradient Feather options. Click on Directional Feather to adjust the options for this effect.

Directional Feather gives a uniform gradient effect with a sharper appearance. As with the Basic Feather, you can adjust the Feather Width, Choke and Noise, but you can also give the effect more direction, by adjusting the Shape, giving the fill of the frame or shape a jaunty appearance.

directional feather indesign

When you’re happy with the effect, click OK.

directional feather indesign

You can remove a gradient or feather effect by navigating back to the Effects window (Object > Effects > click on one of the Feather or Gradient options) and unchecking the check box next to the name of the effect.

Can’t wait to learn more? Check out all our InDesign tutorials.