Category: Adobe Apps

Phantasm CS rocks Adobe Illustrator

When we talk about plugins, you generally assume we’re talking about Photoshop add-ons. Most people don’t even realize that you can add features to Adobe Illustrator using plugins, let alone name a good one. Phantasm CS Studio 1.0 by Astute Graphics is not only one of those good ones, but it’s a whole suite of good ones.

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…)

Creating chrome text in Photoshop

One of the more popular text effects to use in Adobe Photoshop is chrome text. You can search for hours to find the perfect Layer Style to make your job easy, but you may never find it. Instead, try this Metal Text Tutorial over at The tutorial is easy to follow and can produce fantastic results with a little experimentation. From personal experience, I’ve found that your results will vary widely depending on the font you choose to use. Some areas to play with are the bevel settings and variations. While the tutorial does give you exact settings to use, you will most likely find that they don’t produce the desired effect on all fonts. Play around with them to get it to look the way you want.

Converting images from color to black and white in Photoshop

There are many ways to convert an image from color to black & white in Adobe Photoshop. I’ve posted tips before about this, but with Photoshop CS3, there’s a dead-simple way to do it that produces great results, and offers you the ability to fine-tune your conversion. Instead of simply selecting Image>Grayscale to convert your image to B&W, select Image>Adjustments>Black&White (Command + Option + Shift + B for you keyboard shortcut junkies). In the resulting Black and White conversion dialog box, you’ll be presented with the opportunity to adjust various colors in the conversion process. If you’re familiar with how this works, you can adjust how each color in your image converts to gray. If that’s a little more work than you wish to do, you can simply click on the image and move your cursor around to have Photoshop automatically adjust your image based on the sampled color. As you can see in the image above, the normal Convert to Grayscale method produces a flat and quite dull image. Though this may work for some images, using the Black and White Adjustment allows you to to fine-tune your conversion to give you more contrast and retain more details in the image.

Quick Photoshop cropping tip

When you’re trying to crop an image close to the edge of the document in Photoshop, you may notice that the crop tool always wants to “snap” to the edge of the document, or close to a layer object edge. This is a result of Photoshop’s Snap To feature, which normally is quite handy! Hold down the Control key to turn off the Snap To feature, temporarily allowing you to freely size your crop area.

Aligning text baselines to InDesign document grids

Adobe InDesignTim Cole’s InDesign BackChannel has a great explanation of Adobe InDesign’s overlooked and underused Align First Line Only to Grid feature. While aligning text to document grids sounds techy, overrated and downright boring, trust me when I tell you that this feature can save you a lot of time when you’re designing books, training manuals and magazines. I love tips like this, but they do take a while to burn them into your memory for frequent use in your day-to-day work.

How to edit multiple type layers at a time in Photoshop

Adobe PhotoshopIf you want to change the font, color, kerning, or any other character or paragraph attributes, simply Command + Click or Shift + Click the type layers you want to edit, then adjust the settings to your liking in the Control Bar, Character or Paragraph panels. This tips works in Adobe Photoshop CS1, CS2 and CS3.

Getting accurate colors when printing proofs from InDesign

In response to a reader question, David Blatner over at InDesign Secrets has offered some helpful tips and explanations regarding InDesign and getting accurate color proofs. On of my favorite tips from the article is to completely turn off Color Management in the print driver for your particular printer. Once you’ve done all the color management in Photoshop and InDesign, a printer driver can mess it all up. Turn that sucker off and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and headache.

Getting large layer icons in Adobe Illustrator

When you’re working in Adobe Illustrator, keeping your artwork on different layers can be a huge time-saver and makes it much easier to edit with complex illustrations — much like Photoshop. But sometimes you can’t be bothered to name your layers properly and you rely on the little icons in the Layers Panel to tell you which layer you want to work on. The problem is that those tiny layer icons can be difficult to identify the more you put on each layer (See the image above). Thankfully, Illustrator gives you way to make the icons in the Layer Panel larger. First, open the Layers Panel flyout menu and scroll all the way to the bottom and select Panel Options. Next, select the Other: radio button and enter a pixel amount in the size box (I chose 50 pixels). Obviously, this is the size you want your Layers Panel icons to appear. I recommend staying 75 pixels or under — anything larger and you’ll be scrolling quite a bit to see the layers in the Panel. Now just click OK and you’re all set. As you can see by the image below, the icons in the Layers Panel are now much easier to decipher. Though my sample illustration isn’t difficult to begin with, you can easily see the advantage of making the icons larger when you compare it to the first image.

Free LayoutZone tool for InDesign increases productivity

Adobe InDesignYou’re working on a layout… you have some text and graphics, but you want someone else to work on them to save time. Now with LayoutZone, you can select those objects, choose Edit > Layout Zone > Objects to InDesign Document to convert them into an INDD file which replaces the original objects. At this point, you can give the new InDesign (.indd) file to another designer to work on while you continue to work in the original file. When they’re done, you can just click Update in the Links panel (to update the InDesign document). Or you can choose Edit > Layout Zone > Linked InDesign Page to Objects, to convert that person’s design back into editable pieces in InDesign. This is so much easier than InDesign’s built-in capability to “place” another InDesign file, because you can actually turn the placed file back into editable objects again. Read through the linked article, the download link is near the bottom.

Zevrix Solutions Releases ArtOptimizer 2 for Adobe Illustrator

Adobe IllustratorZevrix Solutions announced the release of ArtOptimizer 2.0, its comprehensive solution for reducing the size of images linked to Adobe Illustrator document automatically. Similar to LinkOptimizer, the Zevrix flagship product for InDesign, ArtOptimizer saves hours of production time, gigabytes of disk space and reduces production costs by eliminating excessive image data. How does ArtOptimizer work? ArtOptimizer will automatically reduce the image resolution and resize the images in Photoshop according to their dimensions in the Illustrator document and the target resolution specified, and reimport them to Illustrator at 100%. ArtOptimizer lets you backup original images linked to Illustrator document before the processing as well. In addition, ArtOptimizer can convert image colors to CMYK, RGB or Grayscale, apply sharpening filters during processing and flatten images. The new version is compatible with Mac OS X Leopard and Adobe CS3, allows users to run Photoshop Actions and adjust layer merging options.