Free font: Fusty Saddle

BitBox has just released another free TrueType font called Fusty Saddle (fusty means “Old fashioned in attitude or style). It’s a rustic, western-style font similar in style to the old Adobe favorite, Mesquite. Fusty Saddle makes for a great display font, to be used in headlines only. The only problem I have with the font is that there are no punctuation characters such as period, comma, quote or exclamation point. These characters are still important in headlines. That being said, it’s still a beautiful font. You can download Fusty Saddle here.

How to easily remove an OS X system preference pane

TUAW reports on an easy way to remove system preference panes. Simply right-clicking on a system preference pane in the Others section (which are the custom preferences installed by user applications) will present you with the option of removing them, which moves them to the OSX trash. While this is a simple OSX tip, it’s great for those who don’t want to go digging through their various Library folders looking for the actual preference pane manually.

Photoshop Action Pack for Automator

Automator If you’re a Photoshop user running Mac OSX 10.4 or 10.5, you should be taking advantage of Apple’s Automator. Automator allows you to string a series of “actions” together to create a workflow. Think of them as shortcuts. The Photoshop Action Pack 3.7 provides 90 Actions which allow you to control a huge amount of Photoshop functions, and execute complex batch operations you just can’t do with Photoshop’s built-in Actions.

The following actions are provided in the new Action Pack:

Add Empty Adjustment Layer Flip Canvas
Add Graphic Watermark Gaussian Blur
Add Layer Glass
Add Watermark HDR Merge
Arbitrary Rotate Hue/Saturation
Assign Color Profile Invert
Assign Custom Profile Load Selection
Assign Epson 2200 Profile Maximum/Minimum
Assign Epson 2400 Profile Mono Gaussian Noise
Auto Color Motion Blur
Auto Contrast NTSC Colors
Auto Levels Ocean Ripple
Bleach Bypass Open as Raw Data
Change Bit Depth Open
Change Mode Paint Daubs
Change Pixel Aspect Ratio Photo Filter
Change Resolution Pinch
Channel Mixer Polar Coordinates
Clouds Posterize
Color Balance Purge
Convert to Profile Radial Blur
Copy Data to IPTC Reduce Noise
Copy IPTC to Spotlight Comments Render
Crop Resize Canvas
Deinterlace Resize Image
Desaturate Resize to File Size
Deselect Resize to X by 10%
Despeckle Restore Original File List
Diffusion Ripple
Do Action Scale Image
Duplicate Current layer Set Blending Mode of Current Layer
Dust and Scratches Shadow/Highlight
Edit IPTC Info Sharpen Edges
Exposure (CS2 only) Sharpen More
Filter by Aspect Ratio Smart Blur
Filter by Bit Depth Smart Sharpen (CS2/CS3 only)
Filter by Color Mode Sphereize
Filter by EXIF Strip Extra Channels
Filter by File Type Swap Colors
Filter by IPTC Threshold
Filter by Orientation Trap
Filter by Size Trim
Fit Image Twirl
Flatten Document Unsharp Mask
  Use Currently Open Documents

Version 3.7 is fully compatible with PowerPC and Intel-based Macs. In addition to the action bundle, an assortment of sample workflows is provided. The included 73-page manual gives you a reference for all of the included actions, as well as an introduction to using Automator, and strategies for building Photoshop workflows. The Photoshop Action Pack is free, but donations are accepted via PayPal.

Easily adjust transparency of layers and brushes in Photoshop

Adobe PhotoshopWhile most people know you can adjust the transparency of layers and brushes in Adobe Photoshop manually by using the sliders in the appropriate tool panels, many don’t know you can do it easily with just the keyboard. To adjust the transparency of a layer using the keyboard, simply click the layer you wish to adjust and type the percentage of transparency you wish to use. If you want the layer to be 54% transparent, just type 54. The same tip works for adjusting the flow (transparency) of brushes. Just select the brush tool (hit the “b” key) and type a number. If you want the brush to have a flow of 35%, just type 35. I love this tip for making small adjustments, rather than using the picky sliders which always seem to be a pain to make accurate adjustments easily.

Another Photoshop brush paradise

I’ve listed a ton of places to get Photoshop Brushes in the past. Today I have yet another to add to your bookmarks. PSBrushes has categorized thousands of Photoshop brushes along with convenient preview images for your download enjoyment. Categories like Grunge, Space, Plants, Oriental, and Fractals make it extremely easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. Some of the sets are quite large, containing over 80 brushes each. Others are smaller and very specific, with only 8 to 10 per set. All are quality sets.

9 rules to creating a logo you can live with and still get paid

Logo design is one of the most difficult aspects of design. It’s one of those things you have a hard time separating personal taste from good communication and branding. Here are a few rules I have come up with for myself over the years when I work on a new logo.

Do NOT show a client any logo design that you don’t really love.

This is the most important rule. Many years ago I had this stupid idea that I would “show the cool logo” along with “two crappy logos to make the one I like look even better.” The problem is, the client almost always chooses one of the crappy logos and then I’m stuck using it. Never ever, ever, EVER show a client a logo you don’t love!

Show the logos in black & white ONLY.

I explain that we will work on colors only AFTER the final design is approved. The reason is simple, you don’t want to give them yet one more thing to focus on. The client WILL spend a ridiculous amount of time just thinking about the color scheme instead of what they should be thinking about, which is how well the logo conveys their brand/image. Also, with little exception, 60-80% of the clients work will probably be in black & white or one color, so it needs to look good in black & white. And when I say black & white, I mean BLACK and WHITE, no gradients or tints.

I ALWAYS design my logos in Adobe Illustrator.

Any logo, even one for a Web site, needs to be scaled for different use. Designing a logo in Photoshop leaves you with a ceiling you may not be able to live with later on. Designing your logo in Illustrator also allows you to “break it apart” and use the pieces in other aspects of the client’s work. It gives you flexibility in how it’s used (outdoor, ads, multi-media, etc.) and keeps it easy to edit later.

Go straight to the top.

Never accept a logo design job where a committee of 10 people must approve the design. You’ll end up taking a great logo and turning it into a giant puddle of monkey piss in a matter of hours trying to please 10 people. Find out who the decision maker is and work ONLY with them. If there is no single decision maker, then don’t accept the job! You’ll thank yourself for it later!

Make sure the logo works at ridiculously small sizes.

This goes along with the black & white rule. Clients will use that logo on all sorts of things, including imprinting it on a pen. The logo must work at a small size! You might also consider how it will work in a tall skinny ad, a square ad and a wide ad layout. Is it easy to fit into the “flow?”

Avoid using filters, effects and other gimmicks.

A logo is a big investment for a company. Creating a trendy/gimmicky logo will result in it looking outdated and cheap next year.

Create simple artwork.

Don’t get too complex with the design or the way you build it. Don’t use more than two fonts and one single graphic image. A logo that is too complex serves to do nothing but dilute the brand and look horrible at small sizes.

Create offspring.

OK, not THAT way! Once you have a design you like, check to see if there’s a way to use only part of the logo. The Coca-Cola logo is a perfect example. You can use the scripted type, but you can also just use the ribbon design and people still know it’s Coca-Cola, even though it doesn’t say it. Apple Computer is another great example. Apple stopped putting the word “Apple” with the logo years ago, yet you still know it’s Apple. You might also want to create a horizontal and vertical version of the logo to give you and your client a little more flexibility.

My final bit of advice is to think ahead.

Don’t design a logo that looks cool on a blank piece of paper. Your client most likely will want to use it in ads, in TV commercials, on banners, billboards and even on a truck. Design a logo that “works” with a lot of different end-uses. Make sure the logo is balanced. Does it work well at the bottom of an ad, regardless of whether it’s in the lower left, centered or lower right? Does it look good with a Web address centered below it? Does it work on a dark background? Will it look good on a coffee mug? Of course rules are made to be broken. You’re the designer, you make the rules. But you have to assume the worst, look at all possibilities and put yourself in the mindset of the client. While you may not end up with an award-winning logo every time, you will have a happy client and, hopefully, a very nice logo.

Getting the most from InDesign transparency

Adobe InDesignLong, long ago, Adobe gave us transparency in InDesign version 2. In each subsequent version of InDesign, Adobe has added ways to enhance documents with transparency, making it even more enticing. There’s one thing that hasn’t changed, however, and that’s the need to flatten transparency for output to a PostScript device. In the article InDesign Transparency: No Longer the Forbidden Fruit over at CreativePro, you’ll learn everything you need to know to produce a successful printed layout when you download the PDF excerpt from InDesign Magazine.

The 100 most influential advertising taglines since 1948

TaglineGuru put together a list in 2005 of the 100 most influential advertising taglines since 1948. Our favorite computer maker topped out at #6 with its “Think Different” campaign from 1998. It’s great to look at the list and think back to all the great advertising over the years, but in looking closer at the list, I’m wondering who responded to the survey that resulted in it. For instance, how does 7-Up Cola come in higher with “The Uncola” than Charmin’s famous “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin?” Also listed are the Top 50 U.S. City Slogans, where we find What Happens Here, Stays Here (Las Vegas) at number 1.

Dealing with screen artifacts on transparent PSDs when exported as PDFs

If you place a PSD file with a transparent background into Adobe InDesign and export it as a high-res PDF, you may notice that the edges of your placed image look horrible. There’s usually a black & white halo around the edges of the transparent PSD (see the image above for example). You won’t see them on a placed TIF file, and they generally don’t print anyway, but they’re annoying nonetheless. Fortunately, Bob Levine at InDesignSecrets has finally spilled the beans on what the problem is, and how to fix it. In most all cases, it’s as simple as turning off the Smooth Images feature in Acrobat. Read Screen Artifacts on Transparent PSDs in Exported PDFs Can Be Deceiving…Most of the Time for more information.