Category Archives: Adobe Apps

InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator

Improve text appearance with Photoshop’s anti-aliasing

One of the most important things you can do to improve the look of your text in Photoshop is adjust the anti-aliasing of the text based on the size the text will be displayed at.

Photoshop text anti-alias
Text anti-aliasing can be found in Photoshop’s Control Bar (usually located at the top of the screen) when you have the text tool selected. You’ll find it just to the right of the point size entry box, as seen in the screenshot above. You can adjust the anti-aliasing by selecting the options in the drop-down menu.

There are four anti-aliasing options, Smooth, Strong, Crisp and Sharp. Which one you use depends on the size of your text.

Photoshop anti-aliased text sample
As you can see in the image above, larger text sizes look better with Smooth or Strong. Smaller text sizes tend to look better with Crisp and Sharp – with tiny text on a website almost always looking best using the Sharp setting. The image doesn’t really show the difference in smaller text as well as I would like, but if you adjust the settings in your own document, you’ll surely see the difference.

Free InDesign templates

StockInDesign
I recently came across StockInDesign, a site devoted to providing designers free InDesign templates for flyers, brochures, magazines, resumes and more. The InDesign files are provided in .indd and .IDML format, so you can open them in Adobe InDesign CS4 or later. While they are free of monetary payment, you are required to pay with a Twitter Tweet or Facebook Share.

Turn your photos into cool vector-pattern art with Vectoraster

Vectoraster 6
Vectoraster 6 is a fantastic little app for Mac OS X that creates vector-based artwork and patterns based on raster images. Simply put, it turns your photos into patterned vector art that you can then edit further in Adobe Illustrator.

The cool thing about this app is the “discoverability” of the app. Import an image and start playing with sliders and buttons, and you’ll soon find yourself spending a considerable amount of time coming up with ways you can use the app in your design work. That’s because Vectoraster shows you the results of your adjustments in real-time, in a single-window interface that’s quite easy to figure out.

Vectoraster 6 - sample

Vectoraster not only allows you to turn your images into vector halftone and line patterns, but it allows you to adjust the colors, hue, saturation, and density of the patterns as well. A host of other tools are also available that allow you to customize the results in almost any way you could need.

Once you’re done, you can export to vector format as an EPS or PDF, or a JPG, PNG or TIFF file if you prefer. And if you have a group of images you wish to apply the same effects to, there’s batch processing available.

The use case for this app is endless. For instance, I had a rather small 5×7 image of my son that I wanted to enlarge to hang on the wall – but I didn’t want a simple photo enlargement. So I ran it through Vectoraster and used the Character/Text point shape option to have the letters of his name create the entire photo. Not only was it a cool piece of art, but because it was vector, I could size it to whatever I wished.

Here are some more screenshots to give you an idea of how the app can help you:

Vectoraster6_color_gradient

Vectoraster 6 text raster

Vectoraster6 wavy line raster

Vectoraster is a bit difficult to explain, but the video below should give you some idea of what you can do with Vectoraster.

Vectoraster is one of those apps that you won’t use daily, but one that you’re glad you have when you want to spice-up an image in a design piece.

Vectoraster 6 requires an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.7.5 or later, and supports Full Screen mode. The full version costs $32, and upgrades are available for $12. A free demo is available so you can check it out for yourself.

The one Adobe Photoshop plugin you should absolutely be using

FlatIcon for Photoshop
I’ve tried a LOT of Photoshop plugins. They all have their specific uses, and many of them are worthy of your purchase. But few are as useful on a daily basis as this one.

FlatIcon is a plugin for Photoshop CS5 and later that places a new panel in Photoshop that allows you to search for, and place in your document, vector icons from a collection of over 41,000. Best of all, they’re free. And because they’re vector shapes, you can resize and edit them without losing quality.

To use FlatIcon, visit Window > Extensions > Flaticon to bring up the panel. Then you simply search for the icon you wish to use, click and drag it to your document, and start editing it as you would any other vector shape in Photoshop. It couldn’t be easier.

FlatIcon is a plugin many designers, particularly web designers, will use daily. For me, having a collection of arrows and typical web elements is worth the install alone.

FlatIcon is free, works with Adobe Photoshop CS5, CS6 and CC. You can download FlatIcon here.

By the way, if Photoshop plugins aren’t your thing, you can also download the icons individually from FlatIcon as a PNG, SVG (vector) or Webfont from the main site.

Quickly change InDesign’s Presentation Mode background color

You probably don’t think of Adobe InDesign as a presentation application like Keynote or PowerPoint. But the fact is, you can apply page transitions, embed movies, and more to your InDesign document and present it without the viewer having to look at object handles, panels or the rest of the InDesign interface.

InDesign presentation mode

Simply hit Shift+W to enter into Presentation Mode. By default, InDesign uses a solid black background. But you can change to a neutral gray background by hitting the letter G, or white by hitting W. If you want to switch back to solid black, hit B.

Of course, to exit Presentation Mode, simply hit the ESC key or Shift+W again.

Photoshop documentor plugin for web designers & developers

Ink plugin

Ink is a plugin that helps web designers and developers provide extra information about their mockups by documenting layers, typography, effects and shape sizes, etc.

Though I’m not a web designer or developer by trade, I can totally see how the free Ink plugin would be extremely useful. Truth be told, I use Photoshop’s built-in Notes feature to document complex PSD files that I share with clients and other designers/vendors. It’s also a great way to leave notes to yourself on how you created a particular effect (the settings you used in Gaussian Blur filter, for example).

The Ink plugin is currently in beta and is available for Photoshop CS6 and CC only.