Monday, October 27, 2008

Quick label dimensions

Last week, my wife asked me to layout some return address labels for the non-profit she works for. My first thought was to use the "labels" feature of Microsoft Word, which works pretty slick. But she wanted a logo on the label and I dreaded making Word stand on its ear to size the logo accurately within the tight constraints of a tiny label. This sort of thing is a piece of cake for InDesign. But I didn't have a template for the address labels handy, nor did I even have a sheet of the labels in my possession to measure. All I knew was that I was to layout a sheet of Avery 5160 labels, and email her a PDF to print in quantity on her office printer.

I discovered that Word 2007 (Windows) and Word 2008 (Macintosh) has a nice feature where it will tell you the exact dimensions, margins, gutter, etc. for almost any type of label from about a dozen label manufacturers. Armed with this information, its easy to use InDesign's Edit > Step and Repeat command to create the label layout.

In Word 2008 for the Mac, choose Tools > Labels, click on the Options button, choose a vendor in the drop down list next to Label products as well as a Product number, and then click the Details button. In Word 2007 for Windows, choose Mailings > Labels, click on the Options button, choose a Label vendor and a Product number from the drop down list, and then click the Details button. See the screen shot below for an example of the information that is displayed in Word.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Free vector artwork

Today, for your perusal and enjoyment, I give you three very different sources for free vector artwork:

First up, via Mordy Golding's excellent blog, is Go Media's Arsenal. Arsenal is heavy on skulls, zombies, horror, techno, etc. If that isn't your thing, scroll down further through their "vector packs", and you will see city skylines (including Minneapolis!), birds, lightning, amazing trees and more, all at very low cost. Visit their freebies page for a free sample pack of 42 pieces of art. Mordy has arranged a deal with Go Media for additional free art here. Go Media's blog is interesting reading as well.

Briar Press is on the total opposite end of the design spectrum. This is a community of printers and artists who are passionate about letterpress printing. The Cuts & Caps section of the Briar Press web site contains over 500 beautiful ornaments, initials, dingbats, and other artwork scanned from old specimen books and converted into vector line art. Note that these are free for non-commercial use governed by a Creative Commons license.

And finally, if you just need a "clip art" image of some random object, try the Open Clip Art Library. This is an "archive of user contributed clip art that can be freely used." Note that you can download a single package containing over 6000 pieces of art in the downloads section, or browse and keyword search thousands of newer images here. The quality of the artwork varies. Some is really nice, and some..., well, not so much. All the artwork is in SVG format. SVG files can be previewed and browsed in Bridge, and opened and edited in Illustrator, but will need to be re-saved as an .AI or .EPS file before placing in InDesign or other software for print use.

Monday, October 20, 2008

InDesign and InCopy 5.0.4 updater

Adobe has released two new updates to the CS3 versions of InDesign and InCopy. The updates bring CS3 up to version 5.0.4. The updaters are available on the downloads section of Adobe's Web site.

InDesign CS3 5.0.4 updater (Macintosh)

InDesign CS3 5.0.4 updater (Windows)

InCopy CS3 5.0.4 updater (Macintosh)

InCopy CS3 5.0.4 updater (Windows)

According to Adobe,

"The 5.0.5 update is a CS4 compatibility update, containing fixes that address known issues with CS4 to CS3 Export to INX (Save Back) workflows. This update also provides key fixes in the areas of File Size, Hyphenation, Performance, Anchored Objects, Character Alignment, Step and Repeat, Indexing and Table of Contents, Text and Fonts, Dictionaries, Color, Scripting, Import/Export Graphics, InDesign Interchange files (INX), XML, Library files, Printing, and others."

Keep in mind that this is a "cumulative" update, which contains all the previous 5.0.x updates. So the release notes for the updater details all the items fixed not only by this updater, but all the previous updaters. Nevertheless, there are a number of bug fixes detailed in the 5.0.4 release notes that are not listed in the notes for the previous updates. So this is probably an update worth downloading and installing, even if you've previously installed the 5.0.3 update.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Adobe Creative Suite 4 now shipping

According to Adobe, Adobe Creative Suite 4 began shipping yesterday (October 15). You can read the official press release here. I expect that its the US English version that is shipping now. Often, versions localized to non-English languages ship later than the English version. But I don't see any information in the press release about this.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Three great typography videos

There are hundreds of typography-related videos on YouTube and elsewhere. Here are three that I really like:

This video about Typography from the Vancouver Film School is a nice explanation of the mechanics of typography in a brief under-two-minute format.

The Typolution video features an amazing use of typefaces as graphics.

ABC is in Spanish, but its still largely understandable for English speakers, and very clever. It animates the Bauer Bodoni typeface to make the alphabet memorable.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Shopping for a new computer?

If you use Adobe Creative Suite and are contemplating the purchase of a new computer, here's something you need to be aware of:

Today, even "low end" computers often have sufficient horsepower to adequately run Creative Suite programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. But before purchasing a new computer, be sure to read the system requirements for Photoshop CS4 closely. Among the various requirements listed, you will see the following language for both Mac and Windows computers:

Some GPU-accelerated features require graphics support for Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0.

These "GPU-accelerated features" in Photoshop CS4 are really cool, such as extremely fast and smooth zooming in and out, "toss physics" (a neat way to quickly pan across a large image), arbitrary view rotation, high quality pixel rendering at odd zoom percentages, and, in Photoshop CS4 Extended: fast, accurate rendering and display of 3D images.

As far as I know, Photoshop CS4, Photoshop CS4 Extended, After Effects CS4 and Premier Pro CS4 are the only programs in the Creative Suite that take advantage of OpenGL 2.0. But its possible that in the future other components of the Creative Suite may take advantage of this capability. So even if you don't use Photoshop, After Effects or Premier Pro, it would be best to have a video circuitry that supports OpenGL 2.0 and Shader Model 3.0. To determine if the video card in your computer supports this technology, you may need to visit your video card manufacturer's Web site and read the fine print.

Keep this in mind as you evaluate new hardware.

(You can learn more about OpenGL here and here. A table showing support for OpenGL on various Macintosh video cards is here.)