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Easter Egg Stroke Styles

It’s Friday, and my brain is pretty shot from doing conference sessions all week. So I think it’s time to revisit an old easter egg which has gotten (very slightly) improved in CS4. This undocumented easter egg has been around for years:

  1. Choose Stroke Styles from the Stroke panel menu.
  2. Click New.
  3. Choose Stripe from the Type pop-up menu.
  4. Give the stripe this name: Rainbow
  5. Click Add (to add it and keep making more strokes) or OK (if you’re done making strokes).

There are a number of other stroke styles you can make. For example, use a Dash (instead of a Stripe type) and name it Woof, Happy, Feet, or Lights. Here are the results of each of these special stroke styles applied to lines:

Now, in CS4, there is one more: You can make a stripe called Rasta. It’s sort of like Rainbow… but different.

No, you can’t make your own. No, you cannot customize these. Yes, they really do print.

The fact that InDesign can put relatively arbitrary shapes along a path like this leads me to wonder if we will someday be able to create our own. But I’d be pretty happy if we could even just import the custom Brushes made in Illustrator. That would be truly awesome. Well, a guy can dream, no?

David Blatner

David Blatner

David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at
David Blatner

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17 Comments on “Easter Egg Stroke Styles

  1. Slightly cool, thanks. But what I wonder about Easter Eggs is this: how the heck to people find out about them?! Do the programmers just let this secret stuff “slip out” when they’re having a beer with buddies? Surely no one sits at their PC and tries out zillions of weird words for line styles — like “Woof, Happy, Feet, or Lights” — just to see if something odd happens? So out with it, David: did you slip an Adobe programmer a mickey-finn — or what?

  2. I did some experimenting. It seems that once you create an Easter Egg stroke style, it is not persistent. However, if you create the style and then use the save button, close the panel and use the load button to reload the style, it is persistent.

    Further, the save button creates a file ending in ‘.inst’ (on windows). It should be possible to create custom strokes if one knows the specs for these stroke style files.

  3. Bear in mind that you can use text on a path to create what look like custom strokes. For example, if you want to indicate a route through a township map, attach an arrow symbol from Zapf Dingbats or draw a fancy arrow and attach it as an inline. Repeat it as many times as you like and set the justification to Full Justification.


  4. ?Lights? is great!

    If I?d known about that in my last job, I?d have been using it all the time for things like cheap Christmas cards and Christmas brochures, etc.

    Thanks for this.

  5. David E. wrote back in 2008(!)

    … the save button creates a file ending in ?.inst? (on windows). It should be possible to create custom strokes if one knows the specs for these stroke style files.

    .. and as it happens, I have some tools to inspect these files.
    Alas. It seems to be a regular InDesign file, though not of type “Document” as usual but of “InDnLnSt” — an abbreviation of which you can guess what it means.

    All it contains is the dash/stripe style you can see in the “Stroke Styles” dialog when you press the “New” button, prior to actually creating your Silly Stroke. So this is not some hidden file format; it’s the names that are special, and how to draw those is hardcoded in the Stroke Style Plugin.
    So there is zero chance of defining your own.

    … Are there any new Silly Strokes in CS6, by the way?

  6. I can only get the rainbow and woof strokes to work in InDesign CS5, the others won’t work. I can’t get any of them to work in InDesign CC, however I am able to load the ones that worked in CS5.

    Any idea why, or suggestions to try?

    • Hi Mia-

      Be sure you’re selecting the right stroke type for each style. Rainbow and Rasta are stripes, the others are dashes. They all work in versions of InDesign through CC 2017.

      • I tried the dashes for the others, it still did not work – they just looked like regular dashed borders.

      • You have to use the exact names, including the initial capital letter. That’s the only other reason I can think of why they wouldn’t be working for you.

  7. Perhaps Lights is gone; I cannot get to to work, either. (Woof works, did not try the others.) InDesign crashed when I tried to save my “Untitled-1” document with another name—would that be because of the custom style? No great loss, a simple label that i had wanted to use Lights for; Japanese Dots worked. (Woof was cute, but unless I added the story of the Christmas Dog, which I would have had to write, not relevant. Glad to know about all of these, though!)

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