Category: Adobe Apps

“Blow Up” your images in style

Enlarging photos appears to be a simple and mundane task for the average user. But as a pro, you understand the ramifications of firing up Photoshop and just using the Image Size dialog box, or worse yet, just stretching an image in your page layout application. Blow Up 2, from Alien Skin Software, is a Photoshop plugin that produces high-quality image enlargements by using an algorithm which temporarily converts pixels in your photo to vectors. The results are a sharper, more detailed enlargement. Read my full review of Blow Up 2 at Macworld. Blow Up 2 isn’t for everyone, but if you do a lot of image enlargements from low resolution or small high resolution images, Alien Skin has a pretty good solution with Blow Up.

Creating cool 3D springs in Adobe Illustrator

In this excellent tutorial at VectorTuts, you’ll learn how to easily create 3D springs in Adobe Illustrator using little more than a simple shape and the 3D Revolve Effect. The finished results look complex and time consuming, but the actual technique really isn’t at all. You may not have cause to create a spring in the near future, but the technique is quite handy to learn – you never know when you can apply it to something else you’re working on.

Image-placing shortcuts in Adobe InDesign

InDesignOne of the things I love about Adobe InDesign is that there’s usually more than one way to accomplish virtually any task. Take placing images in your document. InDesign offers a plethora of options to improve productivity in this area, thanks to keyboard shortcuts. In my Image-placing shortcuts in Adobe InDesign article at Macworld’s Creative Notes blog, I show you some handy shortcuts for placing single and multiple images into your document using InDesign.

Free InDesign style sheet template

If you have a long text document to format and aren’t quite familiar with setting up Style Sheets in Adobe InDesign, this free pre-made Style Sheet template is just for you. The template is based on an OpenType mix of two fonts fonts (Meta Serif/Sans Pro), but can easily be changed to another pair of fonts. Besides directly using modifying the styles, exploring the file will give you some great ideas of how to achieve different looks through the use of paragraph and character styles. The download includes the following styles and more:

  • Semantically named paragraph and character styles
  • 3 subheading levels, with and without automatic numbering
  • Bullet and numbered lists in 2 levels
  • Paragraph with and without indents
  • Drop cap paragraph
  • Quote
  • Table style
  • Text box styles
  • Caption
  • Text formatting styles
  • Footnote layout

The article from explains how to load and use the styles in your InDesign document, as well as provides a PDF file showing off the styles in a sample document. The document was created in InDesign CS4, and is quite handy because it saves you the time of setting up a style sheet from scratch – allowing you to simply edit an existing one.

Creating rounded corner rectangles in Illustrator

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, as the old saying goes. There’s also more than one way to create rounded corner rectangles in Adobe Illustrator. The Rounded Rectangle Tool in Illustrator is handy, but it’s limited in that once you create the rectangle, you can’t go back and alter the amount of the rounded corners later on if you need to. Fortunately, Illustrator offers another, more flexible method to accomplish the task. To get around this limitation, create a normal squared-edge rectangle. With the rectangle selected, go to Effect>Stylize>Round Corners… in the menubar. The Round Corners dialog box allows you to set a custom Radius to your rectangle, and tick the Preview box so you can see what your rectangle will look like. But here’s where the handy part comes into play. When you create the round corners this way, you can go back and adjust the radius amount at any time later on in your design process because the round corners are a live effect, just like fill, stroke, opacity, etc. To do that, select the rectangle and simply visit the Appearance Panel. You’ll see the Round Corners effect listed in the panel along with any other attributes applied to the rectangle. Double-click the effect and you can edit the radius of your rounded corners.

Create new documents from Photoshop layers

When you have a multi-layered Photoshop document and for whatever reason you want to save each layer as a separate document, it’s quite easy to do – and requires no tedious cut & paste commands. Photoshop Layers Go to File>Scripts>Export Layers to Files. When the dialog box appears, you’ll have several options available including where you want to save the files, and a file name prefix. You can also choose from a number of file formats to save the document as, including JPG, PSD, PDF, TIF and more. Each format offers a few options as well.

Quickly duplicate InDesign pages

InDesignYou can quickly duplicate a page in Adobe InDesign by Option-dragging the page icon in your Pages panel. If you want to duplicated page one and have it appear after page four, simply option-drag the page one icon until the cursor appears after page four, then drop it. This is much easier than dragging the chosen page icon down to the Create New Page button at the bottom of the Pages panel – espcially if you have that panel stretched vertically to accommodate a long document.

Reverting to old-style window interface in Photoshop CS4

Photoshop document tabs

Photoshop document tabs

If you’re a long-time Mac user and don’t care for Adobe Photoshop CS4’s new Tabbed document interface, you can revert back to the old-style single image windows by going to Photoshop>Preferences>Interface and unchecking the Open Documents as Tabs button in the Panels & Document section.

Creating rounded corner boxes easily with InDesign scripts

I’m not talking about making all four corners of a box rounded. That’s easy to do with InDesign. I’m talking about making only a few of the corners rounded. You could draw them by hand with the Pen tool, but that’s kind of time consuming. Instead, use the built-in Script Adobe provides.

  1. Start by drawing a box. Make sure you leave it selected
  2. Next, visit the Scripts panel in InDesign by going to Window>Automation>Scripts
  3. In the panel that comes up, you’ll see a folder in the list called Applications. Open that folder. Now open the Samples folder, followed by the Applescript folder.
  4. You’ll now see a long list of Applescripts you can apply to objects in your InDesign document. Scroll down to CornerEffects.Applescript and double-click it
  5. In the dialog box that pops up, you’re presented with several options. Choose the Corner Type you wish to apply by clicking one of the radio buttons, as well as typing in the size of the effect (you may have to try the script a few times to get the size you want, as there is no live preview available).
  6. Now you simply have to decide which corners you wish to apply the corner effect to. You have several options, including odd, even, first and third, second and fourth, etc. Keep in mind that the corners of the box start at the top left-most point and run clockwise. So in the case of a simple rectangle, the first point is in the top left corner, and the fourth point is in the bottom left corner. Once you’ve made your adjustments, hit OK. That’s it. You now have an editable box with rounded corners as you see at the right.

I like that the effect is editable after the fact. It makes the box more flexible for multiple uses, and it’s much faster than drawing them by hand.