This week’s creative tip is inspired by a question on how to create an interactive PDF for showing off before/after examples of Photoshop retouching projects.

The technique itself may apply to a limited number of people, but it is a fun way to introduce some of InDesign’s lesser known interactive features.

This tip includes a quick tutorial on how to build interactive rollovers into your next PDF. The tutorial includes a sample file you can download to try out yourself.

Step 1: Create your page in InDesign.

Start by designing your document in InDesign. Don’t worry which graphics will become your rollovers, we’ll convert those in the next step. Download our example documents below to follow along with this tutorial. It includes a basic InDesign layout and two graphics for our rollover.

InDesign Interactive

Step 2: Convert an image to a button.

Select the graphics frame containing your image, and choose Object > Interactive > Convert to Button.

If it worked properly, you should see a small “Button 1” icon appear in the top left of your graphic frame.

Step 3: Show the States palette (or panel in CS3).

Choose Window > Interactive > States.

The State palette/panel allows you to control what images are displayed in a button object. If your image is still selected from the previous step, your should see a preview of that graphic in the default “Up” state.

Tip: Palette vs. Panels. This rollover technique is virually identical in InDesign CS2 and CS3. However the nomenclature changes slightly. In CS2, Adobe calls these floating windows “Palettes.” In CS3, they are called “Panels.”

Step 4: Add a new “Rollover” state.

Click the “New State” icon at the bottom right of this pallete/panel. InDesign creates a new “Rollover” state by default.

Step 5: Place your rollover graphic into the button object.

With your button object still selected, place a new image (File > Place). You’ll now see the new rollover graphic in your layout. Your States palette/pane should update to show the change.

Step 6: Export as a PDF with “Interactive Elements.”

We’re done. All that is left is to export your InDesign file as a PDF.

Choose File > Export. Set the format to “Adobe PDF” and make sure to turn on the “Interactive Elements” option in the Export Adobe PDF dialog box.

Note: If you have one of the PDF/X standards selected, the interactive elements option is grayed out. You’ll have to set the PDF standard setting to “None” to enable the interactive features.

Step 7: Open the PDF in Adobe Reader. Enjoy.

Once you’ve exported the PDF, open it up in Acrobat, or the free version of Adobe Reader. When you move your cursor over a rollover image, it should automatically swap out to show your alternative graphic. Here is a finished version of the PDF in our example layout:

InDesign Interactive Demo.pdf

Note: You must use Adobe’s Reader to properly see this rollover effect. It will not show properly in other PDF viewers such as Apple’s Preview utility.

Source:This tip inspired by a question from long-time Creativetechs client, Ken Vensel, who wanted an interesting way to demonstrate Photoshop retouching examples in his resume (Ken spent the last 9 years as a graphic designer and retoucher in a high-volume catalog production department). An example of this rollover technique in action can be seen here:   Ken Vensel Retouch Samples.pdf