Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Photoshop CS4 Adjustments Panel shortcut

The new Adjustments panel in Photoshop CS4 (Window > Adjustments) contains seven categories of adjustment presets. These adjustment presets can help you learn you to use the various adjustment options, or to quickly achieve a particular effect with a single click.

To use an adjustment preset, just click on one of the right-pointing "flippy triangles" next to one of the categories, then click on a preset.

Here's a handy shortcut, that lets you quickly browse through all the categories at once: option-click (Mac) or alt-click (Windows) on a flippy triangle, and all the categories will flip open at once.

This definitely falls into the "now how was I supposed to know that" category, but is a useful shortcut!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Amazing, inexpensive drive adapter

Real life story: A consulting client of mine called in a panic: her Macintosh wouldn't start up. This is every designer's nightmare! It was an older Mac, she was planning on upgrading soon anyway, so this accelerated her purchase of a new Mac. But she had lots of valuable data on her old Mac.

Based on her description of the non-responsive Mac, I suspected the hard drive was OK. When her new Mac arrived, I pulled the hard drive out of the old Mac, and used the $29.99 USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter from Other World Computing to temporarily connect the old drive to the new Mac. It worked flawlessly. I was thrilled by how quick and simple it was, and she was thrilled to have her data back.

Yes, there are other ways to do this, but the Universal Drive Adapter is inexpensive, quick and easy. It allows almost any 2.5", 3.5" or 5.25" hard drive or optical drive to be temporarily connected via USB to a Mac or Windows computer. Highly recommended if you need this sort of thing.

Monday, June 22, 2009

How to Create a Flag Graphic with Type in InDesign

I've just had another article published over on the Vectortuts+ plus blog titled How to Create a Flag Graphic with Type in InDesign. I had fun creating this one. The beginner-to-intermediate-level tutorial explains how to use several InDesign techniques such as type on a path, step and repeat and gradients to create the image below. I'd encourage you to follow the tutorial and see if you learn something!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A spreadsheet app from Adobe?

Yes, it's true. Adobe has created a spreadsheet program, of all things. It's an on-line application called Acrobat.com Tables, currently in early pre-release beta on Adobe Labs. It joins Adobe Buzzword and Acrobat.com Presentations, which I've written about previously. All three applications are intended to be collaboration tools, allowing multiple users to work simultaneously on the same spreadsheet, word processing file, or presentation. See this press release for more information about Adobe's direction with all of this. More background about the development of Tables can be found here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How to use multi-layered Illustrator artwork in InDesign

I just finished an article for the Vectortuts+ blog titled How to Use Multi-Layered Illustrator Artwork in InDesign. It's a quick tutorial about how to correctly save layered Illustrator artwork, and then how to change the visibility of the Illustrator layers from within InDesign. Check it out!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The best way to separate paragraphs

In word processing programs, people often type two returns to separate each paragraph. In page layout programs like InDesign and QuarkXPress, it's better to create space between paragraphs using the Space Before and Space After attributes in the Control panel or Paragraph panel.

Here are three reasons why Space Before/After works better than extra returns.

1. An extra return between each paragraph is by default a "whole line". In other words, if you are using 12 points of leading in your paragraph, you will have an extra 12 points of leading between your paragraphs. But what if you want 11 points, or 13 points? This is easy to adjust if you are using Space Before/After, and a pain to adjust if you are using returns.

2. Extra returns between paragraphs, in long text, will sometimes end up at the top of a column or a page, moving the text that follows down from the top of the frame, creating uneven tops of columns or pages. With Space Before/After, space is never added at the top of a frame.

3. Using extra returns between paragraphs prevents you from being able to use the Keep Options properly. These handy controls allow you to ensure that subheads always "stick" with the following paragraphs, and never get separated at the bottoms of columns or pages.

To easily get rid of all the extra returns in your text in InDesign CS3 or CS4, choose Edit > Find/Change. Then choose Multiple Return to Single Return from the Query drop down, and click the Change All button.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Help influence the next version of Photoshop

John Nack, Principal Product Manager for Photoshop at Adobe Systems, has created a survey asking for feedback on 30 small improvements that the Photoshop team is considering for a future version of Photoshop.

Read John's blog post about the Photoshop development process, and then take the survey. (I'm stumping for the "Layers: Make it possible to drag & drop a file onto an open PSD to create a layer" feature. I hope this one makes the cut!

You can see the results of the survey so far here. As always, you can always file feature requests online anytime for any Adobe product. The Adobe product teams do read, compile and consider these requests.

John's blog is required reading for anyone who uses Adobe products for a living, in my opinion.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Cool Illustrator Scripts

I've been messing around with this set of free Illustrator scripts by Hiroyuki Sato. The scripts work in Illustrator CS3 and CS4, Mac or Windows.

Thesen 23 scripts do some interesting things with Bezier curve math, help evenly space out dashed lines, round corners, create arrowheads, and draw these interesting random tree-like shapes.

If this sort of thing turns your crank, see Hiroyuki's blog Lines About to Be Generated.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Other great resources for learning InDesign

Sean Hodge over at Vectortuts+ recently posted a list of 15 Great Resources for Learning Adobe InDesign. This is a great list of the top blogs, web sites, tutorials and magazines that every InDesign user should know about. While you're there, check out some of the site's clear, step-by-step Illustrator tutorials, Photoshop tutorials and Flash tutorials.