Is there a way to simulate Photoshop's 'fill' functionality in InDesign?

All we need is an easy explanation of the problem, so here it is.

Photoshop has two distinct opacity values for any layer: ‘Opacity’ and ‘Fill’; the former affects the entire layer and all its effects, the latter only affects the layer content and not the effects.

I find myself wanting to reproduce this effect in InDesign. I have a vector file placed with a transparent background and added a drop shadow effect to it. Is it possible to hide the actual file’s contents but keep the drop shadow visible?

How to solve :

I know you bored from this bug, So we are here to help you! Take a deep breath and look at the explanation of your problem. We have many solutions to this problem, But we recommend you to use the first method because it is tested & true method that will 100% work for you.

Method 1

This is InDesign CS6. So, it’s feasible there’s a difference in newer CC versions…

inDesign effects applied to placed graphics

If the effect, such as drop shadow, is applied in InDesign to a placed graphic, it is possible to adjust the graphic opacity separate from the effect opacity.

Merely use the Direct Selection Tool (White arrow) to select the contents within a frame and adjust its opacity. You’ll note on the Effect Panel the item description changes to "Graphic" rather than "object". (You can tell the difference in selection within the animation below by the highlight colors — green = Frame selected, Violet = Contents selected.)

Here the red shadow is an InDesign Effect. I select the contents of the frame and then adjust the "graphic" opacity as opposed to the "object" opacity.

Is there a way to simulate Photoshop's 'fill' functionality in InDesign?

For some effects, such as a drop shadow, you will probably need to boost the Spread setting a little. Without an increase in the Spread the shadow can disappear when the graphic’s opacity falls below a certain level.

Internal effects within placed graphics

If one plans ahead, it’s feasible to use InDesign’s Object Layer Options (Object menu with placed graphic selected).

You can construct a file with things such as a drop shadow applied to its own layer. Then simply turn off visibility of other layers and adjust the blending mode in InDesign.

  • 3 layer AI file placed into InDesign CS6
  • Object > Object Layer Options... chosen from the menu….
  • The blue is a simple cyan-filled frame in InDesign.

Is there a way to simulate Photoshop's 'fill' functionality in InDesign?

With this in mind, you can structure an InDesign file with a duplicate of the graphic to allow separate opacity adjustments…

  • Place the graphic
  • Edit > Copy
  • Edit > Deselect All
  • Edit > Paste in Place

This provides 2 copies of the same placed object which are positioned in the exact same location.

I’ve used InDesign layers here for clarity (You can Paste in Place to a new Layer if desired). You don’t have to use layers in InDesign. Simple stacking of duplicate graphics works the same.

Each copy or iteration of the placed graphic merely has different Object Layer Options set — One to show only the shadow, and one to hide only the shadow.

Is there a way to simulate Photoshop's 'fill' functionality in InDesign?

It does take some layer structure planning in the EPS/AI file and it’s nowhere near as simple as Photoshop’s Fill Opacity. But this might help in some circumstances. I think this is as close as you’ll get with InDesign.

Method 2

As you probably expected, no such feature in Indesign.
However, you can simulate the effect by:

  • applying a huge [paper] inner glow. Normal mode, 100%. This will turn your artwork into white
  • applying your drop shadow. Make sure the option ‘Object Knocks Out Shadow’ is unticked.
  • setting object transparency to multiply. Now let the magic happen:

enter image description here

NB: Don’t forget you can create an Object style in order to reapply the effect in a fast and easy way.

Note: Use and implement method 1 because this method fully tested our system.
Thank you 🙂

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

Leave a Reply