For longtime users of Adobe Illustrator, you may not have even noticed that back in Illustrator CS2, Adobe finally added a simple way of underlining text – rather than drawing a vector line with the pen tool and grouping it with your text. CS2 and CS3 users can use text underline and strikethrough by opening your Character Panel, click on the Options flyout menu and choose Show Options. Two new buttons should appear near the bottom of the Character Panel. Much easier for us old-timers!
Category: Adobe Apps
One of my favorite effects for an image is the tilt-shift effect. It makes an ordinary image appear as though it is a miniature model, as the photo of Times Square in NY above shows. Tilt-Shift Photography has a great tutorial to show you how to turn your image into a tilt-shift masterpiece, using just the tools built-in to Photoshop. Keep in mind that you want to give the impression of a miniature model. Miniature models are usually viewed from above so try and choose a photo with an elevated viewpoint.
First let me start out by saying that Global process colors in Adobe Illustrator are mostly useful only if you’re doing a complex illustration or layout that uses a lot of the same color or tints of the same color. Global process colors are easily identified in Illustrator’s swatches palette by their empty white triangle in the lower right corner of the swatch. Spot colors use the same triangle, but put a small dot inside it, and process colors have no triangle at all. Global process colors allow you to create a single color swatch that you can update and have it apply, of course, globally. For instance, if you apply the same global color to many objects in your Illustrator document, then you decide you want to change the color, it only takes a click or two to update all the objects. You simply alter the global color to your liking, and everything on the page updates. You can create a Global process color by clicking the Global check box in the New Swatch dialog or the Swatch Options dialog box. Global colors are disabled by default.
When you’re working with spot colors like Pantones in Adobe Illustrator, overprint settings can dramatically affect the output results. For this reason, it’s best to periodically go to your Illustrator menubar and select View>Output Preview>Overprint Preview and view your document for undesired overprint settings. This will give you a more accurate idea of what your file will look like when printed.
There are more than a few ways to sharpen your digital images. With the release of Adobe Photoshop CS3 we were given Smart Sharpen, a new filter that makes sharpening easy. But I’m kind of old school, and I still like to use Unsharp Mask to sharpen my images. Sharpening an image is essentially taking the part of an image where two colors meet and making the dark areas darker and the light areas lighter. The results are the appearance of a sharper image, and an image with more contrast. As you can see in the image above, the highlights in the eyes, the details in the shirt collar, and the finer details of the hair are all brought out with just a little Unsharp Mask. However, as you can see by the areas around the ears, it’s easy to go a little too far and end up with a halo effect. When we open the Unsharp Mask filter dialog box, we have the opportunity to adjust how much darker those dark areas get, or how much lighter the light areas get, using the Amount setting. Adjust the Radius to enlarge or reduce the area around that color edge that the filter applies to. Be careful with this one, as you can really get some funkiness if you go too far. Threshold simply determines how much difference in the light and dark areas are necessary before sharpening is applied. PhotographyJam offers some settings as basic starting points for Unsharp Mask. Take a quick look at them and print them out, they can save you a lot of mucking around later. Remember that when you’re sharpening images for newsprint, it’s best to over-sharpen the image just a bit. This will produce crisp, high-contrast results when printing with low-quality newspapers. And don’t forget that you can use the Sharpen Tool to sharpen specific areas of your image simply by painting on the areas of the image you want sharpened. For more info on sharpening images, check out these informative pages:
Chris over at Blog.SpoonGraphics has posted a great little tutorial on how to create a rotatable globe in Illustrator using the 3D tools Adobe built-in to Illustrator. The tutorial yields great results. But let’s face it, how often do you need to create a globe? OK, you’re right, not often. But take what you learn and apply it to other objects that fit within your design ideas.
Nothing ticks me off like receiving an InDesign document where the fonts have been outlined. What a waste. There’s really no reason to do it. Not only does it kill the quality of the text, often times making it appear bolder than the original font actually is, but you loose many features such as underlines, strikethroughs and more. Just embed the fonts in your PDF file. If your printer tells you that they need them outlined, tell them to bugger-off and start your search for a new printer – because the one you have sucks! If you simply must “outline” your fonts, you can “flatten” them instead and get much better results. David Blatner over at InDesignSecrets shows you how to convert text to outlines the right way.
Creating fancy logos, title graphics and stylized type generally requires a lot of work. And depending on whether you use Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, you’re probably going to end up with layer upon layer of gradients, strokes and bevels. Thankfully, Path Styler Pro 1.5 solves all those problems no matter which program you use, producing high-quality graphics with a noticeable ease of use. Read my full review of Path Styler Pro at Macworld.com’s Creative Notes blog.
Tired of setting your text wrap with each new object you create in Adobe InDesign? Much like setting colors or character styles globally, you can also set InDesign to always use your preferred text wrap method with new documents. To do so, close all your InDesign documents and open the text wrap panel. Set your preferred text wrap method by clicking on one of the wrap icons. Now, whenever you create a new document, the default text wrap you chose will be used for all objects. To restate the obvious, the new settings will only take effect in NEW InDesign documents.
Where most plugins have the goal of creating artwork for you, Phantasm CS is more of a production tool in that it’s main set of tools involves the ability to adjust colors by Brightness/Contrast, Hue/Saturation, Curves, Levels and more. But Phantasm CS doesn’t completely leave you out in the cold when it comes to cool “design” features. The Halftone tools is uber-cool if you ask me, but I’ll get into that later. (more…)