Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Translating print into digital

I’ve worked with the great folks at Experience Life over the last couple of years. Experience Life magazine is available in both a print version as well as for iPhone, iPad, and Android. I was really impressed with how the Experience Life team translated this print layout:

... into this digital layout:

This is a great example of how much better a digital version can convey complex information when it is well-designed and produced correctly. In this case, the short clips of the exercises are best saved as either an image sequence or an animated GIF, depending on the final format of the document (Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, Adobe Experience Manager Mobile, Twixl, Fixed Layout EPUB, Publish Online, etc.)

See also:

How to convert an image sequence to an animated GIF

Place an animated GIF (From the Lynda.com course InDesign: Fixed-Layout EPUB Interactive Techniques & Publish Online)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Upcoming seminar series in Minneapolis: Digital Publishing with InDesign

In cooperation with the Twin Cities Creatives Group, I’m presenting a special January seminar series in Minneapolis about Digital Publishing with Adobe InDesign.

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This is a low-cost 3-session seminar series for graphic designers, production artists, art directors, and other creatives and communicators who want to learn how to create multi-screen, digital output from InDesign CC. You can attend one, two, or all three sessions held on three consecutive Wednesday mornings in downtown Minneapolis.

The fee is $50 per session, or register for all 3 sessions for $130.

If you have any interest in learning how to create digital output for Web sites, Web apps, Mobile apps, or EPUB, be sure to check out the seminar descriptions. I’d love to see you in January!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Scan documents with your phone directly to Dropbox

Dropbox recently added the ability to scan documents directly to Dropbox using the Dropbox app on your iPhone. I’m finding that I use this feature several times a week. Even though I have a Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 document scanner on my desktop (which is awesome, by the way), the Dropbox app is great for scanning receipts while on the road, or quickly sharing a print document via email or text.

Available only for iPhone at this point (not iPads or Android devices), the app works like this:

1. Download and install the Dropbox app for iPhone

2. Run the app

3. Tap the “plus” button at the bottom of the screen

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4. Tap “Scan Document"

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5. Place your document on a contrasting background, aim the camera at the document, and Dropbox will find the edges of the document. Tap the camera button at the bottom of the screen.

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6. Once the document is captured, you can add pages, perform some basic editing, or rotate pages using the buttons at the bottom of the screen. When done, tap the Next button in the upper-right corner of the screen.

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7. Choose a location by tapping on “Save to”, and then tap “Save"

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8. The result? A PDF, filed right where you want it in your Dropbox storage.

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I was previously using a separate scan-to-pdf app on my iPhone, but I find the Dropbox scanning feature more quicker, easier, and more accurate.

For more info about this feature, see this Dropbox help article.

Are you taking advantage of all that Dropbox has to offer? Take a “deep dive” into Dropbox with my Up and Running with Dropbox course on Lynda.com or LinkedIn Learning.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Free classes this week!

Now through October 30, ALL training content on LinkedIn Learning is absolutely free –– including my popular Up and Running with Dropbox course, my InDesign Scripting Made Easy course, and more! No catch, no sign-up, no credit-card necessary. Set aside some time this week to #AlwaysBeLearning!

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Monday, August 29, 2016

InDesign Publish Online: An excellent PDF alternative

Publish Online,a new feature first introduced in InDesign CC 2015, is by far the easiest and cheapest way to publish a pixel-perfect interactive document to the Web.

From any InDesign layout, just click the Publish Online button at the top right corner of the screen, answer a few questions, and the layout is uploaded to a Web site hosted by Adobe, and the URL is given to you. You can then include this URL on your Web site, in an email, or whatever you want to do with it to drive people to your content.

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Publish Online is ideal for richly formatted documents that include some interactivity and are free to the public. They are an excellent alternative to PDF for many uses. Here are a couple of really nice examples designed and created by my friend Brian Donahue, a talented Twin Cities-based designer.

Minneapolis Parks Foundation Annual Report

The Center for Irish Music Annual Report

Publish Online works really well. But the main drawback for many people is that the content must be hosted on Adobe’s servers. You cannot download the code and put it on your own Web server. Nor can you customize the URL. It will begin with the domain indd.adobe.com. There is no way to monetize the content, or protect it with a password.

Publish Online not the right fit for your requirements? I’ve written a comprehensive Digital Publishing Technology Guide to help you sort out your options for digital publishing from InDesign.

Need help creating interactive content for your Publish Online projects? These 4 courses from Lynda.com can show you how! 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Never stop learning

If you think you know everything you need to be a creative, efficient, effective graphic designer, art director, or production artist, think again. Even if you are totally on top of your game, there is certainly more you can learn about the tools you use everyday, such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop.

I want to be sure that you know about 2 exciting educational opportunities that are coming in 2 weeks to the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota area.

First, July 10-13 is a rare opportunity to learn Illustrator and Photoshop techniques from pros such as Deke McClelland, Bert Monroy, Von Glitschka, and Sharon Steuer. The Creative Pro Conference is specifically for Creative Professionals who use Illustrator and Photoshop. You can choose to attend the entire conference, just the preconference, just the Illustrator sessions, or just the PhotoShop sessions. This is going to be a great conference!

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Second, at 7pm on July 13, Anne-Marie Concepcion is going to be the featured speaker at the popular Twin Cities InDesign User Group meeting at Concordia University of St. Paul. Anne-Marie is co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, owner of Seneca Design & Training in Chicago, popular Lynda.com author, and co-host with David Blatner of the popular InDesignSecrets podcast and Web site. Don't miss this opportunity to hear one of the best InDesign presenters around!

I hope to see you at one of these events!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The easiest way to create a portfolio web site

Adobe Portfolio is a new benefit for Creative Cloud members. It is an extremely simple way for a designer to create a “portfolio” or “showcase” Web site of recent work.

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There are many other ways to do this, of course. You could build a Web site from scratch, use a WordPress template, create a site with Adobe Muse, or use one of the many competing systems for building portfolio sites. But Adobe Portfolio is free for Creative Cloud members, is simple, and is easy to update with fresh content at any time. And the sites created by Portfolio are responsive, meaning they will adapt to different screen sizes and look great on all mobile devices and desktop browsers.

A Portfolio Web site is free with every Creative Cloud subscription. Initially, each Portfolio site will be assigned the URL yourcompanyname.myportfolio.com. But if you have a custom domain of your own, you can easily publish the site with your domain, resulting in a URL like yourcompanyname.com.

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To get started with Portfolio, visit myportfolio.com, and sign in with your Adobe ID. Next, you will be prompted to choose one of a half-dozen “layouts". Now, don’t panic at this point. As a designer I’m sure you’re thinking “real designers don’t use pre-designed layouts or templates”. But these layouts are highly customizable, with each one offering a different navigation style and functionality. See the following examples to get a sense of the wide variety of looks that can be achieved using these templates as a starting point.

Benjamin Bartling

Cristian Girotto

Joshua Fathers

Matthieu Dennequin

Gabriel Martins

Rachel Mayes

Mikko Umi 

After choosing a template, you’ll want to upload a few projects. A project can be as simple as a simple JPEG export of an InDesign layout, photography of final print or product output, a mockup showing how the project looks on a mobile device, video clips, or a combination of all of these along with explanatory text and captions. 

Once you’ve created your projects, you can take as much time and care as you want to modify the interface, navigation, and look and feel of the Portfolio web site using the simple Portfolio interface. You can preview the results in the browser using the “Preview” button at the bottom of the screen. Once the web site functions and appears as desired, it is time to publish the site. Clicking the “Publish Site” button publishes the site to Adobe’s servers. The Web site hosting is free with your Creative Cloud membership.

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An added bonus of Adobe Portfolio is that you can choose to sync your projects with Behance. Behance is “the world’s largest platform to showcase and discover creative work”. Think of Behance as a way to show your work and gain visibility within the creative community, and your Portfolio Web site as a place to showcase your work to potential clients and be discovered via search engines. When you create a project in Adobe Portfolio, you are asked if you want to also publish the project to Behance. If you don’t yet have a Behance account, you will be led through the process of linking your Adobe ID to Behance.

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Likewise, if you upload projects from Behance.net, you have the opportunity to also publish those projects to your Adobe Portfolio Web site.

Adobe Portfolio is so easy to use. There is no longer any excuse for any designer to go without a modern, responsive, mobile-friendly Web site. You can put together a custom portfolio web site with a few projects in the course of an evening, and then continue to build it out with new projects as you complete them.

Follow @AdobePortfolio on Twitter to discover new Web sites that have been created with Adobe Portfolio. If you create a portfolio web with with Adobe Portfolio, let me know. I’d like to see it!

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Use Lynda.com to sharpen your skills

Lynda.com is the best on-line resource for video-based training. The breadth and depth of the Lynda.com library in the “Design” category is particularly strong. Now, I’m probably biased as I’m a Lynda.com author, but they really do have great courses from some of the best authors in the business.

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I watch Lynda.com courses to learn new skills that are outside my core area of expertise. But it’s a constant challenge to find the time. But now there are more options for accessing Lynda.com courses than ever before.

Can I watch courses on my iPad? My TV?

There are Lynda.com mobile apps for iPad and iPhone as well as Android and Windows 8+. There are also desktop apps for Mac OS X and Windows 7+. These apps allow you to download entire courses so that they can be watched offline on your phone, tablet, or laptop. Suddenly, long flights become a great place to learn new things!

And speaking of flights, if you are fortunate enough to be flying on Virgin Atlantic, you can access Lynda.com courses free on many Virgin Atlantic flights. 

If you have an AppleTV or Roku device, you can access Lynda.com courses and watch them on your large TV in the comfort of your living room.

What does it cost?

Lynda.com training is extremely low-cost. $24.99 gets you a month of unlimited training. You can save money by purchasing a year-long subscription, or just pay for individual months as you need the service.

Some library systems provide free access to Lynda.com. For example, here in St. Paul, MN, the Ramsey County Libraries provide free access.

Some corporations provide access to Lynda.com company wide, as do some educational institutions. 

Here’s a link for a 10-day free trial of Lynda.com so you can try it out!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Camera RAW for Designers

Photoshop’s “Camera Raw” dialog box was created specifically for the needs of photographers. The controls in this box are presented in terminology that avid photographers are familiar with, so it can be intimidating to graphic designers and others who aren’t photographers.

But there are many things that that this dialog box does much easier than anywhere else in Photoshop. And with the ability to use the Camera Raw dialog box on any photo in Photoshop via Filter > Camera Raw Filter, these features are accessible to anyone. Here are 5 of my favorites:


1. Open a photo that exhibits “fall away”, which happens when you shoot a photo of a tall building from street level

2. Choose File > Camera Raw Filter

3. Click the Lens Corrections tab

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4. Click the “A” icon. This will attempt to fix the photo, applying a “balanced” amount of perspective correction. Compare the image below to the image above.

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Post crop vignette

Adding a bit of vignette to photos, especially portraits, can help focus the viewer’s eye on the subject. Camera Raw makes this simple.

1. Click the Effects tab

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2. Find the “Post crop vignette” slider, and drag it to the right to add white, or to the left to add black. I’ve purposely overdone the amount of vignette in the example below to make the effect obvious.

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White balance

Sometimes photos taken under incandescent lighting are too warm and yellow, and photos taken under fluorescent lighting are too cold and blue. This is easily fixed with Camera Raw’s “White Balance” settings.

1. Click the Basic tab

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2. In the “White Balance” drop-down, choose Auto, and then further tweak the Temperature and Tint sliders as desired.

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The Clarity feature applies a local contrast algorithm to the image, which often makes the image look sharper and more vibrant.

1. Click the Basic tab 

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2. Locate the Clarity slider and drag it to the right until the image looks good.

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Dehaze is amazing. It excels at removing haze from outdoor scenes.

1. Click the Effects tab

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2. Locate the Dehaze control, and drag the Amount slider to the right.

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Want to learn more Photoshop? Join me at the CreativePro Conference in Minneapolis in July!

Friday, April 08, 2016

List of apps created with AEM Mobile

I’m frequently asked by clients to provide a list of public apps that have been created with Adobe’s AEM Mobile platform. I thought I’d publish the list here, and try to keep it current as I become aware of new apps. If you are aware of an AEM Mobile app that should be added to this list, please post a comment below.

I’m limiting this list to apps available in the US Stores. There are many privately-distributed corporate apps that have been created with AEM Mobile, but since those aren’t available to the general public, I’ve not listed them here.

Academy of Art University Schools [iOS]

Adobe Create [iOS] [Android] [Windows]

Adobe Youth Voices [iOS] [Android]

AECOM See Further [iOS] [Android]

Camping & Caravanning Magazine [iOS]

Canberra Visitor Guide [iOS] [Android]

CDW Digital [iOS] [Android] [Windows]

Citygram Austin [iOS] [Android] [Windows]

Colmar Mag [iOS] [Android]

Experience Life Magazine [iOS] [Android]

Gather Journal [iOS] [Android] [Windows]

Go Places with Toyota [iOS] [Android]

Gourmet Traveller Wine [iOS] [Android]

Happy Wedding Magazine [iOS] [Android]

Health Agenda by HCF [iOS] [Android]

Holland America Line Cruises [iOS] [Android] [Windows]

IN catalogue [iOS

Inc. [iOS

Inside Energy [iOS] [Android]

Live Happy Magazine [iOS]

National Theatre Backstage [iOS]

Oracle Magazine Mobile [iOS] [Android] [Web]

Qantas Magazine [iOS] [Android]

Rochester Institute of Technology Media Sciences [iOS] [Android]

SapientNitro Insights [iOS] [Android]

SiNTLUCAS [iOS] [Android

South Bay Pulse [iOS] [Android]

Swiss Universe [iOS]

Test Aankoop Digitaal [iOS] [Android]

The Times of London Weekly [iOS]

The Window from Barneys New York [iOS]

Thunder Plus [iOS] [Android]

Thomson Reuters Our Story [iOS] [Android]

Top Gear Magazine [iOS]

UNC Leadership [iOS] [Android

Virgin Australia Voyeur Magazine [iOS]

Voice of Wealth [iOS] [Android

Wavetronix [iOS] [Android] [Windows]

(Updated 2016-09-22)


Tuesday, April 05, 2016

A fix for ExtendScript Toolkit running slow

This post will only be of interest to people who create or edit scripts for Creative Cloud applications such as InDesign.

Since the end of 2014, the ExtendScript Toolkit, which is Adobe’s script editing tool, has had a problem with running very slowly on Macintosh computers running OS X 10.10 or later. See this forum thread for more details.

Scripter extraordinaire Chuck Weger discovered that disabling the “App Nap” feature of OS X restores the performance of the ExtendScript Toolkit.

1. Press Command-Shift-U to open the Utilities folder on your Mac

2. Double-click on the Terminal app

3. At the prompt, type:

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAppSleepDisabled -bool YES

For more information, see this article.

Want to learn more about scripting InDesign? See my InDesign Scripting Made Easy course on Lynda.com

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Upcoming events

I’m going to be speaking at a number of events in the upcoming months. If you are a reader of this blog, and attend one of these events, please introduce yourself!

April 1, Brookings, SD: "Adobe Day" InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Creative Cloud tips and tricks.

April 11, Grand Rapids, MI: West Michigan Design Week Designing and Prototyping your Next App with Adobe XD and You Can Do Creative Work on Mobile Devices

April 13, St. Paul, MN: Twin Cities InDesign User Group 8 troubleshooting steps every InDesign user needs to know.

April 20, Portland, OR: AIGA Portland TypeFest How to Use Typography & Design to Stand Out in a Crowd

June 6-8, San Diego, CA: PePcon Getting Started with Tablet Apps

July 11-13, Minneapolis, MN: CreativePro conference Color, Resolution, and Other Image Essentials

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Upcoming seminar in the Twin Cities!

There are still a few seats available in a seminar that I’m presenting on March 3, 2016 at Bolger. The title is “Creative Cloud Libraries, Behance and Adobe Portfolio”. I’ve really found Creative Cloud libraries to be very useful in my workflow, and I’ll be showing all the ins and outs of how to use them. Then, we’ll talk about Behance, and what it can do for you, and finish by looking at the new Adobe Portfolio, a platform for creating a portfolio web site.

A full description and registration details can be found here.

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Thursday, January 07, 2016

Save Web pages to PDF using Dropbox

3 recently-added features of the Dropbox mobile app for iOS make it easy to convert a Web page to PDF for easy offline viewing. Why would you want to do this? Perhaps you’ve come across a long blog post that you want to save so you can read it later on an airplane or train. Or you’ve encountered an interesting current news article that you want to save because you are afraid it will archived or disappear behind a paywall in the future. Or perhaps you want to share an article with someone and you want to add a few comments to the article first.

Dropbox makes this easy. Here’s how (the screen shots are from an iPhone 6 running iOS 9.2):

1. Make sure you have the latest version of the Dropbox app installed on your iPhone or iPad

2. Navigate to the web page you want with Safari on your iPhone or iPad, then tap the share button at the bottom of the screen


3. Tap the Save to Dropbox icon


4. If desired, rename the file and choose a specific Dropbox folder, then tap Save


5. Launch the Dropbox app on your iPhone or iPad


6. Tapping the Recents icon at the bottom of the screen should put the recently-created PDF file near the top of the Dropbox file list. Tap the PDF file.


7. The PDF will open in the Dropbox app’s built-in PDF viewer. If you’d rather open the file in the Adobe Acrobat app (assuming you have the app installed), tap the Open With icon at the bottom of the screen.


8. Tap Adobe Acrobat Reader


9. The PDF will open in Adobe Acrobat.

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In this tutorial you’ve learned about 3 recent additions to Dropbox: Save to Dropbox, Recents, and Open With Adobe Acrobat Reader. I hope you find this useful!

For many more Dropbox tips, see my Up and Running with Dropbox course at Lynda.com.