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The Beauty of Stacked Strokes


Have you ever yearned to apply multiple strokes to on object in InDesign? Have you wanted more flexibility with your strokes than just a stroke and a gap color? For years now, I have wanted InDesign to be able to have the equivalent of the Illustrator’s Appearance panel, where I can apply multiple strokes and fills to a single object.

We can achieve a similar effect by stacking multiple strokes on top of one another. To do this, I’ll be using some custom stroke styles. To get the the Stroke Styles dialog box, open the flyout menu on the Stroke panel, and then choose Stroke Styles.


Setting Up the Stroke Styles

Here’s how I set up the five stroke styles I’ll be using. Each stroke will occupy 20% of the stroke width. To make it easier to see how each stroke style will correspond to the final design, I’ve color coded them.






Set up your Stack of Objects

Next, I’ve created a simple object that I’ll be applying these strokes to. This is a 1 point black stroke with no fill.

BasicStrokeBasic Stroke

Next, I thicken and colorize the stroke. I increased the weight to 50 points, applied stroke style #1, and chose the Ice color.


Then I copy it, choose Edit > Paste in Place, and apply the Second stroke style and then Aqua color.


Repeat with stroke styles 3, 4, and 5.Stroke3 Stroke4 Stroke5

Because the stokes all have the same geometry, if you resize them together, the effect will stay intact.

Stretch the path!


Convert the Shape!

You can use other types of strokes styles for interesting effects.


Use 3 different stroke styles, with a blending mode and some corner effects


Use hash stroke styles for an argyle effect

Cool effects can be made with just two strokes and a blending mode

Cool effects can be made with just two strokes and a blending mode

In part two of this series, I’ll show you a new plugin that will supercharge your ability to edit stacked objects.

Kelly Vaughn (a.k.a. "Document Geek") has over a decade of print and design experience. She holds Adobe Expert Certifications In InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Acrobat, and specializes in writing and designing technical manuals for the marine industry.
  • csm_phil says:

    Hi Secrets,

    Every morning I see your website, and I learn new things in InDesign Day to Day. You always Rock…….Superb….



  • Agapyla says:

    So how can I save 2 different stroke styles as Object style?
    Indeed a playing even with 2 basic strokes brings amazing results, but as far as I cannot use it further as object style…

  • William says:

    Hey do you know the CMYK values for the colors you chose? They’re pretty! I work at a social and xmas printing company and I love Eggplant and Mulberry

  • How can I make two or more strokes, all with a white gap color, that cross each other, white out the intersecting stroke?

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