Monday, August 29, 2016

InDesign Publish Online: An excellent PDF alternative

Publish Online,a new feature first introduced in InDesign CC 2015, is by far the easiest and cheapest way to publish a pixel-perfect interactive document to the Web.

From any InDesign layout, just click the Publish Online button at the top right corner of the screen, answer a few questions, and the layout is uploaded to a Web site hosted by Adobe, and the URL is given to you. You can then include this URL on your Web site, in an email, or whatever you want to do with it to drive people to your content.

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Publish Online is ideal for richly formatted documents that include some interactivity and are free to the public. They are an excellent alternative to PDF for many uses. Here are a couple of really nice examples designed and created by my friend Brian Donahue, a talented Twin Cities-based designer.

Minneapolis Parks Foundation Annual Report

The Center for Irish Music Annual Report

Publish Online works really well. But the main drawback for many people is that the content must be hosted on Adobe’s servers. You cannot download the code and put it on your own Web server. Nor can you customize the URL. It will begin with the domain There is no way to monetize the content, or protect it with a password.

Publish Online not the right fit for your requirements? I’ve written a comprehensive Digital Publishing Technology Guide to help you sort out your options for digital publishing from InDesign.

Need help creating interactive content for your Publish Online projects? These 4 courses from can show you how! 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Never stop learning

If you think you know everything you need to be a creative, efficient, effective graphic designer, art director, or production artist, think again. Even if you are totally on top of your game, there is certainly more you can learn about the tools you use everyday, such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop.

I want to be sure that you know about 2 exciting educational opportunities that are coming in 2 weeks to the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota area.

First, July 10-13 is a rare opportunity to learn Illustrator and Photoshop techniques from pros such as Deke McClelland, Bert Monroy, Von Glitschka, and Sharon Steuer. The Creative Pro Conference is specifically for Creative Professionals who use Illustrator and Photoshop. You can choose to attend the entire conference, just the preconference, just the Illustrator sessions, or just the PhotoShop sessions. This is going to be a great conference!

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Second, at 7pm on July 13, Anne-Marie Concepcion is going to be the featured speaker at the popular Twin Cities InDesign User Group meeting at Concordia University of St. Paul. Anne-Marie is co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, owner of Seneca Design & Training in Chicago, popular author, and co-host with David Blatner of the popular InDesignSecrets podcast and Web site. Don't miss this opportunity to hear one of the best InDesign presenters around!

I hope to see you at one of these events!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The easiest way to create a portfolio web site

Adobe Portfolio is a new benefit for Creative Cloud members. It is an extremely simple way for a designer to create a “portfolio” or “showcase” Web site of recent work.

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There are many other ways to do this, of course. You could build a Web site from scratch, use a WordPress template, create a site with Adobe Muse, or use one of the many competing systems for building portfolio sites. But Adobe Portfolio is free for Creative Cloud members, is simple, and is easy to update with fresh content at any time. And the sites created by Portfolio are responsive, meaning they will adapt to different screen sizes and look great on all mobile devices and desktop browsers.

A Portfolio Web site is free with every Creative Cloud subscription. Initially, each Portfolio site will be assigned the URL But if you have a custom domain of your own, you can easily publish the site with your domain, resulting in a URL like

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To get started with Portfolio, visit, and sign in with your Adobe ID. Next, you will be prompted to choose one of a half-dozen “layouts". Now, don’t panic at this point. As a designer I’m sure you’re thinking “real designers don’t use pre-designed layouts or templates”. But these layouts are highly customizable, with each one offering a different navigation style and functionality. See the following examples to get a sense of the wide variety of looks that can be achieved using these templates as a starting point.

Benjamin Bartling

Cristian Girotto

Joshua Fathers

Matthieu Dennequin

Gabriel Martins

Rachel Mayes

Mikko Umi 

After choosing a template, you’ll want to upload a few projects. A project can be as simple as a simple JPEG export of an InDesign layout, photography of final print or product output, a mockup showing how the project looks on a mobile device, video clips, or a combination of all of these along with explanatory text and captions. 

Once you’ve created your projects, you can take as much time and care as you want to modify the interface, navigation, and look and feel of the Portfolio web site using the simple Portfolio interface. You can preview the results in the browser using the “Preview” button at the bottom of the screen. Once the web site functions and appears as desired, it is time to publish the site. Clicking the “Publish Site” button publishes the site to Adobe’s servers. The Web site hosting is free with your Creative Cloud membership.

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An added bonus of Adobe Portfolio is that you can choose to sync your projects with Behance. Behance is “the world’s largest platform to showcase and discover creative work”. Think of Behance as a way to show your work and gain visibility within the creative community, and your Portfolio Web site as a place to showcase your work to potential clients and be discovered via search engines. When you create a project in Adobe Portfolio, you are asked if you want to also publish the project to Behance. If you don’t yet have a Behance account, you will be led through the process of linking your Adobe ID to Behance.

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Likewise, if you upload projects from, you have the opportunity to also publish those projects to your Adobe Portfolio Web site.

Adobe Portfolio is so easy to use. There is no longer any excuse for any designer to go without a modern, responsive, mobile-friendly Web site. You can put together a custom portfolio web site with a few projects in the course of an evening, and then continue to build it out with new projects as you complete them.

Follow @AdobePortfolio on Twitter to discover new Web sites that have been created with Adobe Portfolio. If you create a portfolio web with with Adobe Portfolio, let me know. I’d like to see it!

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Use to sharpen your skills is the best on-line resource for video-based training. The breadth and depth of the library in the “Design” category is particularly strong. Now, I’m probably biased as I’m a author, but they really do have great courses from some of the best authors in the business.

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I watch courses to learn new skills that are outside my core area of expertise. But it’s a constant challenge to find the time. But now there are more options for accessing courses than ever before.

Can I watch courses on my iPad? My TV?

There are mobile apps for iPad and iPhone as well as Android and Windows 8+. There are also desktop apps for Mac OS X and Windows 7+. These apps allow you to download entire courses so that they can be watched offline on your phone, tablet, or laptop. Suddenly, long flights become a great place to learn new things!

And speaking of flights, if you are fortunate enough to be flying on Virgin Atlantic, you can access courses free on many Virgin Atlantic flights. 

If you have an AppleTV or Roku device, you can access courses and watch them on your large TV in the comfort of your living room.

What does it cost? training is extremely low-cost. $24.99 gets you a month of unlimited training. You can save money by purchasing a year-long subscription, or just pay for individual months as you need the service.

Some library systems provide free access to For example, here in St. Paul, MN, the Ramsey County Libraries provide free access.

Some corporations provide access to company wide, as do some educational institutions. 

Here’s a link for a 10-day free trial of so you can try it out!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Camera RAW for Designers

Photoshop’s “Camera Raw” dialog box was created specifically for the needs of photographers. The controls in this box are presented in terminology that avid photographers are familiar with, so it can be intimidating to graphic designers and others who aren’t photographers.

But there are many things that that this dialog box does much easier than anywhere else in Photoshop. And with the ability to use the Camera Raw dialog box on any photo in Photoshop via Filter > Camera Raw Filter, these features are accessible to anyone. Here are 5 of my favorites:


1. Open a photo that exhibits “fall away”, which happens when you shoot a photo of a tall building from street level

2. Choose File > Camera Raw Filter

3. Click the Lens Corrections tab

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4. Click the “A” icon. This will attempt to fix the photo, applying a “balanced” amount of perspective correction. Compare the image below to the image above.

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Post crop vignette

Adding a bit of vignette to photos, especially portraits, can help focus the viewer’s eye on the subject. Camera Raw makes this simple.

1. Click the Effects tab

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2. Find the “Post crop vignette” slider, and drag it to the right to add white, or to the left to add black. I’ve purposely overdone the amount of vignette in the example below to make the effect obvious.

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White balance

Sometimes photos taken under incandescent lighting are too warm and yellow, and photos taken under fluorescent lighting are too cold and blue. This is easily fixed with Camera Raw’s “White Balance” settings.

1. Click the Basic tab

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2. In the “White Balance” drop-down, choose Auto, and then further tweak the Temperature and Tint sliders as desired.

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The Clarity feature applies a local contrast algorithm to the image, which often makes the image look sharper and more vibrant.

1. Click the Basic tab 

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2. Locate the Clarity slider and drag it to the right until the image looks good.

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Dehaze is amazing. It excels at removing haze from outdoor scenes.

1. Click the Effects tab

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2. Locate the Dehaze control, and drag the Amount slider to the right.

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Want to learn more Photoshop? Join me at the CreativePro Conference in Minneapolis in July!