How to Create Invisible Text Wraps in InDesign

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

In this quick and easy-to-follow tutorial we’ll expand on the basics of using the Text Wrap function in Adobe InDesign. Wrapping text around ‘invisible’ shapes in InDesign allows you to give your layouts some serious style. 

Great for magazine and poster design, this effect works best when you have dense text on a page. If you need to, brush up on the basics of creating a text wrap in InDesign here.


What You’ll Need to Create Your Text Wrap Effect


You’ll need access to a trio of Adobe programs—Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and, of course, Adobe InDesign.

You’ll also need a photo or vector graphic with a strong silhouette and preferably no background or a white background, so it can be easily removed. 

Here, I’ve already created a layout for a magazine, complete with columns of text. You can easily apply this effect to any similar layout you have created.

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

1. How to Prepare Your Image


You can use either a photo or vector image to create your text wrap effect, but if you’re using a photo you will need to follow a few extra steps using Photoshop and Illustrator. To allow text to wrap around a silhouette, you will need to create a vector shape. 

If you have a ready-to-use vector shape, skip ahead to Step 4.

Step 1

You might have a part of the image you’d like to maintain in the final effect, such as the umbrella handle. In this case, you will need to isolate the handle in Photoshop. To begin, open the original photo in Photoshop

To remove a white or plain colour background, go to Select > Color Range. Click once on the background to pick up th colour, before adjusting the Edge Detection slider in the Properties panel that opens. 

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

When you’re happy with the tightness of the selection around the edge of the shape, click OK. Then hit Delete on your keyboard to remove the background. 

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

Step 2

Use the Lasso Tool (L) to loop off any part of the image that is not the handle (the part you’d like to keep as a photographic image in the final result). 

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

Then hit Delete to remove the selection. 

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

File > Save As the image as a Photoshop file, which will preserve the transparent background. 

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

Step 3

Open Illustrator and File > Place, choosing the original photo, as before, and opening it. 

Go to Window > Image Trace

In the Image Trace window, set the Mode to Black and White. Check the Ignore White box at the bottom of the window.

Check the Preview button, and then experiment with the Threshold, Paths and Corners sliders, until you’re happy with the traced result. 

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

When you’re done click Trace to exit the window. 

Go to Object > Image Trace > Expand

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

Select the Eraser Tool (Shift+E) and use this to separate any parts of the image that you won’t want to use in the text wrap effect. In this case, this is the handle of the umbrella, which will be substituted with a photo version. Delete any parts of the graphic you won’t use. 

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

Step 4

Your vector shape is ready to use—you can either save this as a vector file (e.g. Illustrator, EPS), or Edit > Copy the vector directly in Illustrator, ready to Paste into your InDesign document. 

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

2. Create the Text Wrap Effect in InDesign


Step 1

In InDesign, expand the Layers panel, and lock the layer which contains all the text in your document. 

Go to New Layer from the panel’s main menu, and create a new layer for the text wrap image to sit on. 

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

Step 2

If you have a photo element to your image, use the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) to create an image frame on the layout. 

File > Place the edited image you created earlier [in 1.1, above]. 

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

Step 3

File > Place or Edit > Paste (if you’ve copied the vector in Illustrator) the vector shape, and position it on the page. Use Shift and your mouse to scale it proportionally.

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches), and set the Fill Color of the vector shape to [None].

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

Step 4

Go to Window > Text Wrap to open the Text Wrap panel.

Select the shape and choose the third option along, Wrap around object shape, from the set of icons at the top of the panel. You can experiment with the Offset value to make the text wrap tighter or looser. 

For these ‘invisible’ wrap effects, it’s usually better to have a tighter text wrap, and therefore a low offset value, such as 0 mm

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

Pro Tip

You may also want to create a subtle text wrap around some photographic elements on your layout. 

To do this, you can create a quick vector shape directly in InDesign using the Pen Tool (P). Trace your way around the element you want to wrap text around, lopping it round to create a complete shape. 

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

Then apply the Wrap around object shape option in the Text Wrap panel, and ensure the Fill Color of the shape is set to [None]

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape
invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

Great Job!

Your ‘invisible’ text wrap effect is finished. 

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

Why not try using this technique for a variety of different shapes to create interesting and stylish concepts in your magazine and poster designs?

invisible text wrap indesign wrap text around vector shape

Ready to get creative? Discover more great InDesign tutorials here, or brush up on your type skills with these typography tutorials.