Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Disk icons in the Paragraph Styles panel

Have you ever noticed the little disk icons that sometimes appear to the right of your Paragraph or Character Styles in InDesign/InCopy? Have you wondered what these mean?

These icons, when displayed next to a Character or Paragraph style, indicate that the style wasn't created in InDesign, but came into the Styles panel with placed text, most likely from Microsoft Word.

The disk icon also indicates that the Character or Paragraph style hasn't been modified in InDesign. If you double-click on the style name and edit the style, the disk icon disappears.

I imagine that the disk symbol isn't recognizable to many people anymore. When was the last time you touched a 3.5-inch floppy disk? Adobe is going to need to find a new symbol for this pretty soon!

Off-topic, but I just have to share this photo of another cutting-edge use of floppy disks, in this case the totally old-school 5.25-inch variety:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Upcoming seminar

Ikon Office Solutions is hosting a special event called "Graphic Arts Digital Discovery" on December 11 at the Ramada in Brooklyn Park, MN. I'm speaking at the event, and would love to see you there. I'll be presenting a two-hour seminar on Adobe Photoshop Tips & Tricks from 10:00 a.m. - noon, and a two-hour seminar on InDesign & Illustrator Production Techniques from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.

The event is free, but space is limited and registration is required.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

InDesign's "Import Options" dialog

Sandra writes:

"I can place a completed InDesign .indd file into my InDesign layout, but I see only the first page. What if I want only page 4 or page 6?"

The answer to this, and more, lies in the amazing, often-overlooked Import Options dialog box. Choose File > Place, and then either:

Select the Show Import Options option in the bottom-left corner of the Place dialog, select a file to place, and click the Open button,

- or -

Select a file to place, and then hold down the shift key while you click the Open button.

The dialog box that will appear next depends on the type of file you're placing. This is what the dialog box looks like when you place an InDesign file into another InDesign file. Note that you can browse page thumbnails and specify which page(s) to place, among other useful options.

This is what the dialog box looks like when you place a Word file:

This is what the dialog box looks like when you place an Adobe Illustrator AI file:

You get the idea. Keep in mind that these Import Options are "sticky", meaning that once you set them, they stay selected when you place other files of the same type in the future.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Automatically place multiple images in a grid

One of the nicest new features of InDesign CS4 is the ability to automatically place multiple images at once, arranged neatly in a grid of frames automatically created to your specifications. Here's how:

1. With nothing selected on your page, choose File > Place, and select multiple images by clicking on one image, and then command-clicking (Mac) or ctrl-clicking (Windows) on subsequent images.

2. Click the Open button. InDesign will import all the images you selected, and then display the "place cursor" with a number showing how many images you've imported.

3. Hold down command-shift (Mac) or ctrl-shift (Windows), and drag out a rectangle. You will see a grid of frames appear. Don't release the mouse button, but you can now release the command/ctrl-shift keys.

4. Now, while continuing to hold the mouse button down, you can adjust the number of rows and columns using the cursor (arrow) keys on the keyboard. The up/down arrows increase/decrease the number of rows in the grid, and the right/left arrows increase/decrease the number of columns in the grid.

Again, while continuing to hold the mouse button you can adjust the space between the rows and columns using shift+the cursor keys on the keyboard. Shift + the up/down arrows increases/decreases the vertical space between rows, and shift + the right/left arrows increases/decreases the horizontal space between columns.

5. Release the mouse button, and a precise grid of frames will be created, with an image placed in each frame.

Only as many frames as you have images selected will be created. In other words, no empty frames will be created. So if you've dragged out a 10 x 10 grid, but only have 15 images selected, only 15 frames will be created, not 100.

Conversely, if you have more images selected than the number of frames you specified in your grid, after the first grid is created, you will see another "place cursor", and then you can repeat steps 3-5 to create a second grid.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Free Stock Photography

Free is good. Here are a few thoughts on where to obtain free high-quality, high-resolution stock images and artwork.

Freerange Stock is an advertising-supported site that encourages photographers to upload their content, and ad revenue is shared with the photographers.

Flickr is the granddaddy of all photo-sharing sites. The site contains millions of images, ranging from really bad to really good. If you need an image for a commercial project, limit your search to images with a Creative Commons license. Instead of using Flickr's slow, cumbersome search engine, try Compfight, a blazingly fast search engine for Flickr images.

Shutterstock* claims to be the "largest subscription-based stock photo agency in the world." They offer a new "Free Photo of the Week" and "Free Vector of the Week" every week on their front page.

Crestock* has a large collection of both photography and vector images that cost from $5-$15 each. They also offer a new photo or vector image free to download every day.

morgueFile is another popular collection of user-submitted photography with a clear license and a good variety of images.

* Full disclosure: I'm an affiliate of Shutterstock and Crestock. This means that if you visit either site from here, and eventually buy something, I might make a few bucks.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Transform Sequence Again Individually

InDesign's Transform Again commands are very powerful. When you choose Object > Transform Again you'll see four options: Transform Again, Transform Again Individually, Transform Sequence Again, and Transform Sequence Again Individually. How these commands work is far from obvious, so I'll explain them here:

First, you need to understand what, exactly, a transformation is. In the world of InDesign, a transformation is a move, rotate, scale, flip, shear or fitting command. These transformations can be applied to a selected object through the Control panel, the Transform panel, interactively with the Selection, Direct Selection, Free Transform, Scale, Rotate and Shear tools, or via the commands in Object > Transform.

Transform Again

This one's simple. It just repeats the last single transformation you applied to an object. In the example below, I've option/alt-dragged the left-hand photo straight up to create a duplicate.

Now, leaving the duplicated photo selected, I choose Object > Transform Again > Transform Again and the object is duplicated and moved the same amount as the first copy.

You can also use the Transform Again command to apply a transformation to a different object other than the one that was originally transformed. In the example below, I selected the third, fourth and fifth photos, and then chose Object > Transform Again > Transform Again twice.

Transform Sequence Again

This command behaves exactly like Transform Again, except that it can apply a "sequence" of transformations. In the example below, I've rotated, scaled and moved the left-hand photo.

Next, I select the second photo, and choose Object > Transform Again > Transform Sequence Again, and the same sequence of transformations (rotation, scaling and moving) is applied to the second photo.

Transform Again Individually

This will allow you to apply a single transformation to multiple objects, but with the transformations applied individually to each object. In the example below, I've rotated the left-hand photo.

If I select the other five photos and choose Object > Transform > Transform Again, the five photos are rotated as a group, as if they were one object.

If I undo this, and then select the other five photos and choose Object > Transform > Transform Again Individually, each rectangle is rotated separately.

Transform Sequence Again Individually

This command is just like Transform Again Individually, except that you can apply a Sequence of transformations individually to each object. In the example below, I've rotated, scaled and moved the left-hand photo.

Next, I select the other five photos, and choose Object > Transform > Transform Sequence Again Individually, and each object is rotated, scaled and moved individually.

These commands, particularly Transform Sequence Again Individually, have saved me lots of time and grief on various production projects over the years. Store this information in a corner of your brain somewhere, ready to use when you encounter the need to transform multiple objects.