Category: General

OpenType fonts are the cat’s meow

Back in the 90s I spent some time working pre-press for a service bureau. It was a rough time to work pre-press because RIPs were horrifically slow, just starting to get full postscript level 2 compatibility, and more often than not, simply choked on a document with more than 4 or 5 fonts. Back then, I had to deal with TrueType, three different types of Postscript fonts, Apple’s GX fonts, and Multiple Master fonts. Each brought its own unique brand of hurt. By far, the most reliable was Postscript Type 1. Thankfully, type 2 and 3 never really caught on, nor did Multiple Master fonts. TrueType had a rocky start – most RIPs couldn’t handle the single font file format – but eventually the format received wide acceptance and compatibility. Salvation came in 1996… (more…)

Keys to great typography

When you’re dealing with text-heavy documents such as annual reports, booklets or magazines, properly formatted typography can make the difference between something people want to read now, and something they eventually toss in the trash having only skimmed the headlines. Here are a few tips for making your typography a little more readable. (more…)

Alien Skin Bokeh plugin review

Macworld recently published my review of Alien Skin Software’s Bokeh plugin for Adobe Photoshop, Fireworks and Elements.

AlienSkin Bokeh

AlienSkin Bokeh plugin offers easy tilt-shift effects

Part 1 of the review can be found here, and covers the bokeh effect to emphasize your subject by adding blur to the background and adjusting the highlights of your image. Part 2 of the article can be found here, and covers the ability to use the Bokeh plugin to simulate tilt-shift photography, which effectively allows you to turn your image into a miniature model as seen in the image above. If you don’t have the budget for expensive tilt-shift and bokeh lenses, this plugin might be just what the digital doctor ordered to enhance your images.

Adobe releases CS4 printing guide

Adobe CS4 Printing Guide Many users of Adobe’s Creative Suite software are unaware that Adobe provides an excellent printing guide in PDF format to help in learning the ins-and-outs of successful commercial printing using the CS apps.The guide is an excellent resource for new users, serving as a training manual, as well as a brush-up for experienced users. The guide covers a wide-range of printing-related topics in Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat. The free Creative Suite 4 Printing Guide is available in PDF format in both low-res (4.6MB) and high-res (17.7MB). If you’re still using Creative Suite 3, a link is available for that as well.

Get your graffiti on with the generator

Graffiti-creator If the idea for your next project includes graffiti lettering, then venture on over to Graffiti Creator to start vandalizing your desktop! The site, run by Mike Wigén, claims to be the first “graffiti generator” on the Web. I won’t argue the point, but I will say that it’s one of the best ones I’ve used. It allows just enough customization to make it interesting, yet simple enough to save the image and easily trace in Adobe Illustrator if need be (hint-hint).

Creative inspiration

If you’re looking get your creative juices flowing, two sites that are sure to inspire you are Ads of the World, and the AdGoodness blog. design inspiration Both sites feature ads from designers and agencies around the world, complete with clickable preview images that show you the big picture, reader comments, and more information about the advertisement. Both sites have been around for quite a while and are favorites of mine.

Around the Web

4 Free graphics editors

Seashore – open source image editor using Cocoa framework. Inkscape – open source vector graphics editor similar to Illustrator & CorelDraw CinePaint – open source image editor that supports 8, 16 & 32-bit images Gimp – the most popular open source image editor with a huge following of users

Dealing with disk fragmentation in OSX

OS X does a great job at minimizing file fragmentation by rewriting files in contiguous space when a file is opened, is under 20MB and contains more than eight fragments. This works quite well to prevent heavy file fragmentation, but what it doesn’t prevent is free space fragmentation. TheAppleBlog covers disk framentation in this informative article. The article includes a brief tutorial on how to tell if your free space is fragmented without the use of a commercial program.

Adobe Creative Suite tips

InDesignSecrets offers a tutorial on how to customize your Links Panel and have the settings stick across workspace resets and app restarts. VectorDiary has a quick tutorial showing you how to converge points together using the Average function. The Average function is pretty powerful, and wildly under-used.


Snap2Objects discusses all aspects of typography, including anatomy, categories, adjustments and more in Fonts101. The article is fairly informative, and includes plenty of links to find fonts, font managers, and more type-related articles.

Twitter notes

If you’re not on Twitter, you’re missing out on a great resource. You can follow me on Twitter to receive tips and links I don’t normally post here, as well as general discussion. If you’re already using Twitter and looking for a more advanced desktop client, you might want to check out atebits on Monday – as they’re scheduled to release a desktop version of their popular iPhone Twitter client, Tweetie. There’s a brief intro video posted their now, and it looks fantastic. If you use the popular Evernote service, you’ll be interested in knowing that they now have Twitter integration.


There are plenty of sites that offer the opportunity to view other designer’s work on the Web. The latest I’ve come across is DesignFridge. The site offers a clean interface for viewing inspirational Web design from users around the world. The gallery is categorized by style, so it’s easy to find samples of just what you’re looking for.

The importance of color management

I recently had a conversation with Andy Hatkoff, Vice President of OEM and technology licensing at Pantone, where we discussed the importance of color management in designer’s and photographer’s workflow, and how color management has changed and what tools we can use to get the best results. You can read the importance of color management at Macword’s Creative Notes Blog. There’s a link at the end of the article that I’ve found quite useful in explaining some of the ins-and-outs of color management for Photoshop users.