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The Mystery of the Vanishing Text Contest Answer and Winner

It’s time to reveal the solution—and the winner—for this month’s InDesignSecrets contest! 

Here’s the scenario: 

You’re hired for a job to update a nature guide that was published as an interactive PDF. A typical entry looks like this:

To update the design, you’ve been asked to remove the colored diamond shapes and move the name of the animal down so it overlaps the photo.

But when you move the text frame down, the parts of the letters that overlap the photo vanish.

It looks like the text frame is beneath the photo, but you check the Layers panel and that’s not the case.

Solution: The text disappears because the Screen blend mode has been applied to the text frame. The Screen mode is used to lighten overlapping objects using the luminosity of the top object. Since the text is filled with black, and the frame is filled with None, there is nothing that will lighten the photo underneath, so the text completely disappears.

There was a clue in the first screenshot, as the four colored diamond shapes also had the Screen mode applied, and thus lightened the photo where they overlapped.

The fact that this was an ebook project and not a print project also is important, since the document was set to use RGB transparency blend space. In a CMYK project, the math underlying the Screen blending mode doesn’t produce the same results, and the text would still be partly visible.

And as several folks pointed out in their entries, a few other blend modes would also make black text totally disappear: Color Dodge, Lighten, Difference, and Exclusion.

And the winner of this contest is…

David Nuck

David wins full access for 3 months to the video archives for PePCon 2016 or the CreativePro Conference (up to $495 value!).

Thanks to everyone who entered, and be on the lookout for another contest with a new great prize next month!

Mike Rankin

Mike Rankin

Editor in Chief of, InDesign Magazine, and Author of courses on InDesign and Illustrator. Husband. Dad. Dog walker.
Mike Rankin

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