Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How to tell if an image has been scaled in InDesign

When you work with images in your layout, you need to be aware of the effective resolution of those images. The effective resolution is the resolution of the image after it has been scaled. You also need to know if you've unintentionally stretched the image non-proportionally. InDesign has five ways to tell you if an image has been scaled, by how much, and if the scaling was proportional. Choose the method that is most convenient for you.

1. The Control panel or Transform panel (CS3/CS4)
The Scale fields in the Control and Transform panels will display how much a selected image has been scaled, but only if the image is selected with the Direct Selection (white arrow) tool. In the screen shot below, the selected image has been scaled non-proportionally: 76% horizontally and 80% vertically.

2. The Info panel (CS3/CS4)
The Info panel (Window > Info) will display both the original resolution and the effective resolution for a selected image. In the example below, the selected image has been shrunk non-proportionally, so the effective resolution is different in the X and Y directions.

3. The Links panel (CS4)
The Links panel displays not only the original and effective resolution of the image, but also the scale percentage. If these values aren't displayed in your Links panel, you need to choose Panel Options from the Links panel menu, and place a check mark next to these items in the Show in Link Info column.

4. The Preflight panel (CS4)
The Preflight panel (Window > Output > Preflight) can alert you when images have been scaled non-proportionally, or when images don't meet minimum effective resolution standards. To use this, you will need to choose Define Profiles from the Preflight panel menu, and select options for Image Resolution and Non-Proportional Scaling of Placed Object in the IMAGES and OBJECTS category.

5. Preflight & Package (CS3/CS4)
When you choose File > Preflight in InDesign CS3, or File > Package in InDesign CS4 and click on the Links and Images category on the left side of the dialog box, each image in the file will be displayed on the right. When you click on an image in the list, the resolution and the effective resolution for that image will be displayed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Two oldies but goodies

I'd like to bring to your attention today two fantastic keyboard shortcuts in InDesign. These aren't new, but they're valuable time- and grief-savers.

Shortcut #1: command-6 (Mac), ctrl-6 (Windows)

This shortcut will highlight the first field of the Control Panel at the top of the screen. So if you have text selected, the typeface field will be highlighted. You can then choose a typeface by typing the first few letters for the typeface name, or you can hit the tab key to move to the next field. If you have an object selected, the x: field will be highlighted. Whichever is the first field of the Control Panel at the moment is the field that will be highlighted. You might want to consider changing this shortcut to something you can easily reach with one hand, as I have. Here's how:

1. Choose Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts
2. Choose Views, Navigation for the "Product Area"
3. Choose Toggle Keyboard Focus In Control Panel in the list of commands
4. Click in the "New Shortcut" field, and press the keyboard shortcut you want to use (I use command-3 (Mac) and ctrl-3 (Windows))
5. Click the Assign button. You may be asked if you want to create a new set. If so, answer Yes.
6. Click the OK button.

Shortcut #2: command-option-~ (Mac), ctrl-alt-~ (Windows)

This shortcut will highlight whichever numeric field you last edited in a panel. So if you have a stroke selected and type .5 in the Stroke Weight field in the Control Panel or the Stoke panel, and then change your mind and decide you want it to be 2 point, just hit this shortcut and your cursor will highlight the Stroke Weight field again ready for you to type a new value. Sweet!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Photoshop Masking plug-ins

In my Photoshop Masking seminar last week I showed how to mask difficult subjects such as hair, fur and feathers. Doing this successfully requires you to evaluate your image and choose the best tool/approach for that particular image. One useful tool for certain masking situations is the Filter > Extract command, which is in Photoshop CS2 and CS3, but was removed from CS4.

However, you can still use this command. Just download the "Photoshop CS4 Optional Plug-ins" (Mac link) (Windows link). Install the "ExtractPlus" plug-in, and the Extract command will appear in the Filter menu in Photoshop CS4.

Greg wrote to me after the seminar and pointed out the "Photoshop legacy optional plug-Ins" (Mac link). Download this, and install the Macintosh only "Overscroll always" plug-in. This plug-in lets you scroll over to reveal the gray backdrop around your image, even if your image is larger than your active window. Normally, you can't scroll past the edge of the image, but sometimes you need to in order to make a quick selection with the polygon lasso or Pen tool, for example. Thanks Greg!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Resource for scientific stock photos

There are myriad vendors of stock photography. But if you need images about scientific topics such as Medicine, Genetics, Pollution, Physics or Microscopy, browse the large image collection at the Science Photo Library. They sell both Royalty Free and Rights Managed images, and have a team of in-house researchers to help you locate the right image for your needs. They bill themselves as "the world's leading provider of science photos covering all aspects of science, health & medicine, space exploration & astronomy, technology & industry, earth science, satellite imagery, and nature & wildlife."

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A few seminar spots remain!

The response to the "Back to School Fall Seminar Series" has exceeded my expectations. There are over 50 people registered in each of the four half-day sessions! I have room for 60, so a few spots remain. Register today!

The seminar series will be held in the Twin Cities next week. They are open to everyone who wants to do more with less, to be more productive, more efficient and more effective in Adobe Creative Suite. The seminars are:

Session 1: Power through your work with InDesign Styles
Wednesday, September 9, 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 noon

Session 2: InDesign typography
Wednesday, September 9, 1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Session 3: Photoshop masking techniques
Friday, September 11, 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 noon

Session 4: Introduction to Flash for print designers
Friday, September 11, 1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

The seminars are very inexpensive, thanks to the generous support of my friends at Adobe, Central Coast Solutions and Data Print Distribution (DPD).

Please consider coming to one or more of the seminars. I'd love to see you there!