8 06 2007

Yuck. Sloppy punctuation, but easily fixed in Indesign. Go to Type > Story.

Now why Adobe chose to have this one little menu just to do optical spacing and not put it in the Paragraph Palette is beyond me. Doing the optical spacing for punctuation is its only purpose. Warning this will fuck up any drop caps and bullet points you have in the same text box. Check Optical Margin Alignment.

Best Key Command Ever

7 06 2007

This looks pretty typical, a paragraph with a bullet point. We’d like to align the paragraph to the first letter of the first line. Now you can either do a trial and error with Paragraph Indents, use tabs on all those lines below (and redo it if there is a text reflow) or if you are exceptional sloppy, use spaces which never work perfectly.

There of course is a better way, Indesign’s most awesome key command. Put your cursor where you want the paragraph to snap to, then CMD+\.



6 06 2007

Trying to remember the key command for TM (OPT+2) or accented vowels, ah but OS X doesn’t have Key Caps available by default, and Character Map in Windows is 4 sub-menus down. Well there is an easier way of course, Glyphs.

What is Glyphs? Well it’s Adobe’s poorly-named character palette, while Glyphs is a nice 5-dollar word and fits within in the width of the menu, Fucked Up Characters Palette is far more descriptive and serves the user better. It’s in Illustrator and InDesign (not Photoshop, for some reason the Adobe Gods don’t think we need umlauts to edit images) under the type menu.




I only wish it showed the key combination to reach the characters, like Key Caps and Char Map do, so you don’t have to keep going back to the menu.

The Easy Path

5 06 2007

I’m sure most designers hate pulling an object out of it’s background, it’s tedious and never feels perfect. Some of you lazy bastards even use Magic Wand instead of Paths, for shame. Now Magic Wand is no-brainer automated tools, but it sucks for fine edges and is liable to leave a chunk of background sticking to your object or worse eat into the image you are trying to extract. Paths are the best choice, but it can be time consuming because most designers treat it like a neutered Illustrator Pen Tool, actually I find the Photoshop Pen tool easier to use than Illustrator’s. Lets see how to make a path super quick and more accurate. Most of you trying to shape the curve as you go along the edge of the object, jumping from pen tool to corner tool and that’s far too time-consuming.

Just do a sloppy trace of the object, put points in corners or areas where a curvature starts, just keep going around the whole object don’t worry about accuracy, we’ll clean it up on the second round.


Now still using the Pen Tool, go to two point holding CMD (CTRL on WIN) to jump to the Direct Select Tool and get them right where they should be.

Now release the CMD key and move the cursor to the midpoint between the two points and the cursor will change automatically to the Add Anchor Point Tool, click to add a point. That point will automatically be a Curve Point (bends) not a Corner Point (straight), holding the CMD key again to jump to the Direct Select Tool, drag the point to fit the curve.


Now go around the object snapping the path to the edges, you can even delete some of the old points to make the curves even smaller as your first round is always corner points. You can adjust the curve by holding down the OPT (ALT on WIN) to jump to the Convert Point Tool.

Got to Keep Them Separated.

4 06 2007

Not many of us designers take Acrobat seriously, the file format has become ubiquitous to the trade but the application is little more than a file viewer. Now most of this is because of Adobe did a crap job with the interface of Acrobat, it seemed obvious the development team was trying to shove more and more features into each version to justify its relevance beyond an annoying popup every time your pointed your web browser at a PDF. Well in Acrobat Professional 8 a new interface has been added so after all these years it finally feels like an Adobe application.

So what does that mean for designers? Most publications are only taking PDFs for ads nowadays to cut down on sloppy collects or smoothing out the drop-in process. Most of the time these files are being sent via email or FTP, so proofs are irrelevant, the ads already in the hands of the printer. So how do you check your color before hitting SEND and hoping everything works out right? Use Acrobat to check it.

First obviously export your file as a Press Quality PDF. Some publications are lazy and don’t update their submission guidelines and list X1-A PDF as the preferred format, which is fucking stupid. X1-A PDF are Acrobat 4.0 compatible, and 4.0 doesn’t support transparency so your images end up with weird little white lines around the crop boxes. Just send them a Press Quality set for Version 6, they will never know the difference. So after that, open up Acrobat > Advanced > Preflight.


There are an array of different media profiles to check against ranging from offset to newspaper printing.

After that, you can check your separations. Advanced > Output Preview.


From here you get a listing of the ink plates, scroll over any object and you get a breakdown of the ink values under the cursor.


Or just turn off plates to see if the spots are properly set. You can even check overprint settings from the same menu.


Pushing Buttons

8 05 2007


Deziner Folio has created an excellent collection of ‘2.0-esque’ web styles for Photoshop, great for making small elements such as buttons and headers. It’s an excellent compliment to the previously released Ultimate Web 2.0 Gradients 3.0.

Thing is, most people have never played with Layer Styles, because at first glance the palette is too weird. It’s kinda odd looking in Photoshop and there is something Illustrator-ish about it, or like a Style Sheet for images. Also I have the feeling a lot of heavy Photoshop users scoff features that seem to ‘hand hold’ the user, like Auto Color, we want control over the image not some gimmick that works half the time. What Layer Styles is for is to help a Web Production art pump out a lot of similar elements for using in website. Let’s take a look at how simple and useful this feature is.


First what is a Layer Style? It’s a one or more layer effects saved together as a preset. And the easiest way to use Layer Styles is with shape layers. Now just chose one of the Layer Styles to alter this shape layer



Fixing Your Lousy Photos with Fine Art

8 05 2007


Unfocusedbrain has a lovely tutorial on using colorful fine art as a proxy in Photoshop’s Match Color for enhancing your shitty photos. Using fine art isn’t necessary, you could actually be better served by using a well-taken picture of similar subject, but it’s nice to think Rembrandt saved your art.