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InDesign on Demand: Fun with Polygons

by Katherine Robinette, CPSM, OBEC Consulting Engineers

You probably are very familiar with the Polygon Tool on the Tools panel:

 It's where you go to start your squares for your wonderful organization charts, right?

Here are some cool things available with this simple tool that you might not know.

Squares and Rectangles

1)  Left-click the tiny black arrow in the lower right corner of the Polygon Tool, and you'll see the first dialog box. Select the Rectangle Tool.
2)  Hold the "Shift" key, left-click the mouse, and drag the mouse across the screen, to get a square.
3)  If you just left-click the mouse and drag, you'll get a rectangle.


Circles and Ellipses

1)  Left-click the tiny black arrow in the lower right corner of the Polygon Tool, and you'll see the first dialog box. Select the Ellipse Tool.
2)  Hold the "Shift" key, left-click the mouse, and drag the mouse across the screen, to get a circle.
3)  If you just left-click the mouse and drag, you'll get an ellipse.

Polygons (Multi-Sided Shapes

For triangles, pentagons, octagons, stars, and other multi-sided shapes:

1)  Left-click the tiny black arrow in the lower right corner of the Polygon Tool, and you'll see the first dialog box. Select the Polygon Tool.

2)  Double-click the Polygon shape. 

3)  In the Polygon Settings dialog box, select how many sides you want the shape to have, and what "star inset" you want. In this case, I just was a triangle.

4) As before, hold the "Shift" key for an equal-sided (Equilateral) triangle.

5) Don't hold the "Shift" key for an uneven triangle.

Star Insets

If you play with the numbers in the Polygon Settings dialog box, you can get different effects.

I just kept the triangles selected and tried these settings to see what would happen.

Option A:

Yielded this:

 

Option B:

Yielded this:

12 sides, 50% star inset:

12 sides, 33% star inset:

 

And remember, these shapes are fully editable. You can change the color of the outline, add a fill, change transparency, stretch and shrink them, and even turn them into text frames (although this is pretty tricky with the star insets, of course).

Who says you can't play at work?!

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