Category: Adobe Apps

InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator

Top 10 Photoshop tips the experts don’t want you to know!

A comedic look at some great Photoshop tips and advice.

The majority of Photoshop training available on the internet is part of a huge conspiracy to keep people from learning the REAL techniques of how to use this program. Why? So you don’t ever actually figure it out and have to keep coming back to them for more!

Whatever you do… don’t ever, ever EVER name your layers!

How to make Photoshop’s 100% View actually be 100%

Ever notice that when you view a Photoshop file at 100%, it’s not actually 100%. It’s almost always larger, depending on your Mac. That’s because when Adobe coded 100% view, it was based on all screens being 72 dpi. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case in many years. Try it out. Create an 8.5 x 11 inch document in Photoshop, set the view to 100% and hold up a Letter size piece of paper and you’ll notice the difference.

The problem is that modern computers/screens are much higher resolution than 72 dpi. The key to seeing things actual size in Photoshop is to make Photoshop and your screen the same resolution. It’s a simple process.

Determining your actual screen DPI:

  1. First, go to your System Preference and click the Displays icon. Make note of your monitor’s resolution (you may have to click the Scaled radio button on modern Macs). My iMac is set to the maximum resolution of 2560×1440.
  2. PXCALC

  3. Next, visit PXCALC and enter that screen size resolution from the step above if it doesn’t automatically populate this info for you, and in the Diagonal Size box enter the physical dimensions of your screen and hit enter. In my case it’s 27 inches. (see image above)
  4. On the little screen info area to the right, you’ll see stats about your screen, the first of which is the actual dpi of your screen. In the case of my iMac it’s 108.79. (see image above)

Setting Photoshop’s screen DPI

  1. Open Photoshop’s Preferences (Command + K) and click the Rulers & Units item from the list on the left. In the dialog window, you’ll see New Document Preset Resolutions in the top right corner.
  2. Photoshop screen resolution settings

  3. In the Screen Resolution box (just below the Print Resolution box) enter the DPI you got from step 3 above. Leave the Print Resolution setting at 300, as that is the typical resolution for commercial printing. (see image above)
  4. Hit OK in the dialog box and you should be good to go.

Now when you view your Photoshop document at 100%, it should actually be an accurate 100%. Try the Letter sized paper test I mentioned at the start to see if it worked for you.

There’s one caveat though. This is for SCREEN RESOLUTION ONLY. If you want to view your 300 dpi print resolution images at actual size, you don’t set your view settings at 100%. Instead, under the View menu choose Print Size instead of 100%.

Quickly hide objects in Adobe InDesign

InDesign CC 2017I’ve seen all manner of ways for people to “hide” things when working on their InDesign files so they can grab what’s underneath, or just edit something with no distraction. Some people Copy/Paste the object (not realizing that you lose the layering you may have done), some people Lock/Unlock (not very effective if you ask me), still others will place things on a separate layer and turn that layer off (that’s a lot of work), and some people simply move objects off to the side (requiring them to be moved back into their precise previous position).

The easier solution is to have your object(s) selected and just hit Command+3 to hide them. Command+Option+3 will bring the hidden object(s) back into view.

Free distressed halftone pattern vectors

Distressed halftone vector patterns

This free set of distressed halftone patterns for Adobe Illustrator contains 10 seamless vector swatches that can be applied as fills to add retro comic book style print effects to your illustrations. There’s a range of dot pattern densities so you can effectively shade your designs by using the different pattern fills across your artwork. Unlike your typical halftone pattern with clean, perfectly formed circles, these patterns have a distressed style to give your designs that grungy rock poster vibe.

Thanks to SpoonGraphics for providing these awesome distressed halftone vector patterns.

Quickly change blend modes in Photoshop

Photoshop blend modes
One of the most frequent things you’ll find yourself doing with layers in your Photoshop document is changing blend modes to something like Multiply (great for shadows) or Overlay. Moving your mouse over to the Layers panel and clicking the blend mode drop-down menu, then scrolling down to your desired blend mode can be tedious… especially when you’re experimenting and don’t know which one you want.

You can quickly change the blend mode of the active layer by changing to a tool that doesn’t already use blend modes. I just hit the V key to switch to the Move tool, or the M key for the Marquee tool. Then simply hold the Shift key down and tap the + or – keys to cycle between the different blend modes.

Advice: When to use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign

I belong to a lot of design forums and Facebook Groups and the question I see more often than I care to think about is “which app should I use to do X?” Should I design a logo in Photoshop, build an ad in Illustrator or InDesign, etc.

If you’re new in the graphic design field, or just never used Adobe’s Creative Cloud applications, take a look at this 30-minute video from Adobe Evangelist Terry White.

There are always exceptions to every rule, but in general:

  • Photoshop is for photo editing.
  • Illustrator is for logo design & custom illustration.
  • All the pieces should be brought into InDesign for layout and export to Acrobat PDF files.

The ONLY design rule that (in my opinion) has absolutely no exception: Design your logo in Illustrator. You’ll thank me later.

InDesign CC 2017 update + tips

InDesign CC 2017Adobe released an update to InDesign on Friday, and though it’s not a major update, it contain some changes worth noting.

The long-and-short of it for me is: mehhh. The first thing I did was turn on the Use Legacy “New Dialog” in the General tab of the preferences so I can avoid the highly annoying New Document dialog box that cuts off the Margins & Bleed entry areas to make room for giant useless icons for standard documents that used to live in a tidy little drop-down menu.

The new “Spectrum UI” is a huge leap backwards. You used to be able to adjust the brightness of the entire interface with a slider in the prefs; tweaking it just to your liking. Now you have four options: Dark (too dark for me, and too much contrast), Medium Dark (can’t decide if it wants to be dark or light and fails at both), Medium Light (which has no contrast at all and makes the entire interface look like a giant gray box), and Light (which is bright but useable).

I like the “flatter” interface, but it’s nothing to write home about.

Since David Blatner did a whole lot of work writing it up, I’ll point you to his review at InDesignSecrets.

Since you’re heading over to InDesignSecrets, take a look at these tips while you’re there:
Adding Alt Text to Images With Object Export Options
Naming Items in the Layers Panel

It’s nice to see Adobe updating InDesign regularly, but I’m starting to feel a bit neglected with the lack of new features, bug fixes and overall speed increases.