Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The InDesign Gradient Feather tool

If you are using InDesign CS3, you have probably noticed that the Transparency palette is gone, and is replaced by the new Effects panel.

Among the new effects in this panel is the Gradient Feather effect, which is great for fading a photograph into a white page or a colored frame beneath the photo.

What you may not have noticed is that there is also a Gradient Feather tool, buried underneath the Gradient Swatch tool in the tool panel (or press Shift-G. This tool allows you to control the direction and length of the Gradient Feather effect interactively. More information about the Gradient Feather tool can be found here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

InDesign Place shortcut

Here's a cool new feature of InDesign CS3: You've just chosen File > Place, and you have the "loaded" graphics cursor indicating that you have a graphic to place somewhere on your page. You know that if you click on an empty frame, the graphic will go into that frame. If you click outside of a frame, a new frame will be created to contain the graphic. But if you hold down the Option or Alt key and click on a frame that already contains a graphic, the existing graphic will be replaced with the new graphic. Sweet!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Free Illustrator symbols

The Integration and Application Network at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science has developed a set of free Illustrator symbol and swatch libraries of environmental and life sciences topics. There are over 1500 symbols of agriculture, plants, fish, reptiles, birds, animals, insects, boats, buildings, mapping, weather and more, as well as 100 custom swatches. These high-quality color vector symbols and swatches can be used in Macintosh or Windows Illustrator 10 or newer.

If you work in a life sciences-related field, you definitely need these. If not, you still will probably find a few things you can use here. More information about working with symbols in Illustrator can be found here.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Find "famous" fonts

Have you ever wanted to identify a corporation's typeface or been intrigued by the font used for a movie title? Check out these resources:

TypoWiki lists the corporate typefaces used by hundreds of companies from Accenture to Xerox.

Famous Fonts lists fonts used in TV shows, movies, publications, and other media and products. If a freeware or shareware likeness of the font is available, Famous Fonts has it available for download. See also Sharkshock fonts for more freeware famous font knock-offs.

Play the Retail Alphabet Game to test your eye for corporate/retail typefaces.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Deleting Preference files

A common troubleshooting step in many programs is to delete the "preference" file for an application that is acting up. This file (or files), which stores your user preferences, such as your preferred measurement system, color of your guides, etc., can be come corrupt and make the application unstable or behave strangely. When the file is deleted the application creates a new, fresh copy of the file.

To easily delete the preference file in InDesign, InCopy, Photoshop or Bridge, hold down command-option-shift-control (Macintosh) or control-alt-shift (Windows) immediately after you click the icon to launch the application. Keep holding the keys down until you see a dialog box asking you if you want to delete the preference file.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Contact sheets, revisited

Want to create contact sheets, photo albums, or coffee table books of your photos? Want to make a catalog of all of your vector artwork? Download a reprint of my most recent article for InDesign Magazine: Quick and Easy Photo Contact Sheets (4.3mb PDF file) to learn how. I've also created scripts and templates to accompany the article (906k zip file). I blogged about this previously, but just received permission from the good folks at InDesign Magazine to post a reprint of the entire article.