Use Overprint Preview in Adobe Illustrator when using spot colors

Adobe IllustratorWhen 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.

Free Photoshop grunge brushes by Aramisdream

If you’ve read this site for any amount of time, you know I love Photoshop brushes, especially grunge-style brushes. Today I came across two sets of grunge brushes by Aramisdream, and they’re spectacular. Download set one here. Download set two here. Uncompress the downloaded files and move the .abr files to your Photoshop/Presets/Brushes folder. Then load them into your brushes panel in Photoshop to use. They’re all large, high-quality brushes and make perfect background textures for various projects.

Acrobat finds a new home on the Web

Remember when hardly a week went by in the early months of 2008 without some sort of Apple product announcement? The past few weeks, Adobe has been doing its best Apple imitation, with a slew of product news aimed at creative professionals. Macworld has an article covering the latest offerings from Adobe, Acrobat 9 and the companion Web site,

1000+ Free Photoshop brushes

Abduzeedo has put together a list of 1000+ Free Photoshop Brushes complete with download links in a variety of styles, including grunge, abstract, modern and vector. You can take a look at the preview images and download them here.

Yahoo offers free graphic stencils

The Yahoo Developer’s Network has made available a free package of graphics stencils (templates) in Vector, PDF, PNG and OmniGaffle formats. Included in the package are templates for:

  • Calendars
  • Charts & Tables
  • Control Elements
  • Form Elements
  • Menus & Buttons
  • Mobile Phone Graphics
  • OS Window Elements
  • And more

You can download the package here.

Using unsharp mask in Photoshop

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:

What’s in your Firefox?

With Firefox 3 in the final stages of beta, I’ve been looking at what extensions I use and whether or not I wish to continue using them. Since most extensions don’t work in the beta version of Firefox without the use of Nightly Tester Tools, I’ve been living without most of them for a while. Below is a list of extensions I consider must-have. All the extensions I’ve listed either work already with Firefox 3rc1, or work with Nightly Tester Tools forcing them to work. (more…)

Bright: Free vector icons

There are plenty of free icons out there, but most don’t include the original vector (Adobe Illustrator) source files. Min’s Blog is offer Bright, a collection of 148 hand-crafted icons in vector format, available for download. Even better, you can use Bright! for personal and commercial projects free of charge.

Adobe offers Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Soundbooth betas

Adobe did the unprecedented with Photoshop a year or so ago when they offered the next major upgrade available for public beta testing, something they had never done before. Next came Lightroom, Flex, Kuler, Air and Photoshop Express. Adobe is at it again, offering what will likely be Creative Suite 4 (supposedly being made available later this year) versions of Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Soundbooth. One of the biggest features, in my opinion, is that the former Macromedia applications appear to have finally gained the Adobe face-lift. Both are sporting a new Adobe-ized interface which promises ease, familiarity and tighter integration. You can use the betas for 48-hours, at which time former CS3 Suite or Dreamweaver/Firefox users can enter their CS3 serial numbers to receive a new beta serial number. See the notes at the bottom of the linked pages for more info. Note: A word of caution. A LOT of people had difficulty installing CS3 when it shipped because they had not fully removed the Photoshop beta properly. Who knows what these betas will install, so be warned.

Free vector art from Dezignus

There’s no freebie like a vector freebie, I always say. Dezignus’ site is full of them, including this beautiful floral border design, as well as Simpsons characters, stars, flourishes, icons, and other border elements. Be sure to also check out the links to Photoshop brushes, tutorials and inspirational material while you’re there.