Category: Adobe Apps

Alien Skin releases Exposure 4

Exposure 4Alien Skin Software yesterday announced the immediate availability of Exposure 4, the new version of its photography effects plug-in for Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and Photoshop Lightroom. Exposure provides accurate film simulation and a wide range of creative effects in a simple interface.

Exposure 4 is a great tool for photographers and high-end designers, and carries a rather hefty price of $249 ($99 upgrade). I’m a huge fan of Alien Skin’s plugins for Photoshop. I have not used Exposure 4 yet, but I’ll be testing it out and posting a brief review very soon.

Access InDesign’s Text Wrap panel with this shortcut

InDesign Text Wrap shortcutEven with a 30″ LCD screen, I prefer to not have any of InDesign’s panels open than is necessary. One panel I use often, but don’t keep open is the Text Wrap panel, which offers a few icons in the main Tools panel across the top of the Adobe InDesign application frame.

Rather than keep the Text Wrap panel open or (worse yet) keep opening and closing it as needed via the menubar, you can simply Option + Click the icon in the Tools panel. This will pop the panel open so you can access more of the Wrap features.

Adobe Photoshop CS6: Sneak Peek

Adobe has released two preview videos to date, showing off a few features of their upcoming version of Photoshop (CS6) due out in the spring. The videos cover the Liquify and Background Save features (I love that they’ve added this to Photoshop), the new Camera Raw capabilities, and a little more of the new dark interface option.

Get a sneak peek of your InDesign documents with document previews

Adobe InDesign has the capability to create a preview of documents viewable in the Open and Place dialog boxes. You can also view previews of your file in Bridge much the same as you would a PDF or image file.

Unfortunately, this capability isn’t automatic, and Bridge won’t build a preview of the document on its own. You have to set InDesign’s preferences to do so.

InDesign document previews

Document previews allows you a quick peek of your file in Open & Place dialogs

Visit the InDesign Preferences (Command + K) and choose File Handling from the list on the left. Under the section titled Saving InDesign Files. Make sure you tick the Always Save Preview Images with Documents checkbox. You can then choose to save a Small, Medium, Large or Extra Large preview image. If you’re using InDesign CS5, you can also choose to save previews of one, two, five, ten or all the pages in your document.

I have InDesign set to save a large preview of the first two pages; it’s usually enough to tell me if I have the right file. It’s important to know that saving preview images of your InDesign document will add to the file size. It’s not much, but depending on the number of pages in the document, it can add up quickly.

Easily remove a white background from your Photoshop images

I’ve linked to a lot of free textures here at The Graphic Mac over the years, and there are tons more to be found with a simple Google search. Quite a few of them are paint splatters or textures that you wish you could drop a white background out of. This can be quite tedious to do manually. Thankfully there’s an easier way that works pretty darn well.

White background removal

MediaMelitia has a fantastic Photoshop Action set called Background Removal that’s free to download and use. The set includes three different actions to achieve different results. One version maintains the color of the foreground image, the other two remove the white background using the color parts as a black mask, as seen above. They offer clear instructions on the download page, along with when you might want to use the different action files.

Download Background Removal Photoshop Actions.

Auto-distribute InDesign objects with a keyboard shortcut

The Align & Distribute panel in Adobe InDesign is a handy tool for lining-up objects and distributing them equally in a specified space. But in order to distribute objects, you have to set the left-most and right-most objects exactly where you want them before using the Distribute icons in the panel.

Auto distribute objects

A simple keyboard shortcut allows you to "eyeball" the distribution of objects

If you would rather “eyeball it,” you can do so simply by selecting your objects, grabbing one of the selection handles on one of the objects and hold the space bar down as you drag the handle. Rather than resizing your objects, the space between the objects will increase or decrease accordingly.

It’s important to note that the objects don’t distribute EVENLY automatically using this shortcut. In other words, if you have a quarter inch between the first and second object, and a half inch between the second and third, it won’t re-distribute the objects giving them equal space between them, it will only adjust the spacing already there proportionately.

Viewing overset text in your InDesign document

When you’re entering or placing text in a text frame in your document, InDesign lets you know when you have more text than it is able to display in the frame by adding a tiny red + icon in the lower right corner of the frame indicating overset text. For obvious reasons, you might want to know how much text is overset, but expanding the frame to see how much text is overset is, well, overkill.

Overset Text

InDesign can display exactly what text is overset in a text frame

Instead, you can view exactly what text is overset by simply hitting Command + Y with the text frame selected. This brings up a small window called the Story Editor.

At the bottom, you’ll see a red bar along the side, as well as a gray divider line showing exactly how much text is overset. To save time, you can edit your text right in the Story Editor until it all fits in the frame, if that’s what you choose to do.

Turn your Photoshop images into comics

Comics action

Simple to use Photoshop action to turn your images into comics

Photoshop actions can save you lots of time by automating tasks. Aside from productivity, they can also be used to create some really cool effects. This action turns your images into colorful vintage comics, complete with oversized halftone dots.

Download Comics Photoshop Action.

Easily create guides at any angle in Adobe Illustrator

Rotate Guides in IllustratorMost people are aware that you can pull a horizontal or vertical guide out of the document ruler in Adobe Illustrator. But I suspect many users are unaware that you can then rotate that guide to any angle you wish.

Drag a guide out from the ruler. Now make sure your guides aren’t locked by unticking Lock Guides in the View>Guides menu. Select the guide (you can click and drag over the guide to easily select it) so it is active. Now select the Rotate tool (or simply hit the R key) and rotate the guide to your desired angle. Once you’re finished, you can re-lock the guide to keep from accidentally moving it.