“You TOO can become a graphic designer!”

A recent post on Creative Bits (and the subsequent commentary underneath) got me thinking about what might be required to refer to oneself as a ‘graphic designer’. Is it a college degree, a kick-ass portfolio, or is it simply because you’ve printed the flyer for the local church’s fish dinner on your home inkjet for the last 10 years running…? There’s a commercial that appears on TV in my neck of the woods for a local trade school called Gibbs College, and it manages to make my blood boil most every time. Not only because of the deafening audio levels at which all cable ads seem to run at, but because it also seems to cheapen what I do for a living. (more…)

Cool site for package designers

Package design is a niche in our industry that gets little attention, even though it’s probably one of the coolest things to design and looks great in a portfolio. There are few resources dedicated to it, so when I came across The Dieline, I knew I wanted to share it with you. The site offers inspirational samples and articles about great package design, as well as design studio spotlights.

Hiding icons and windows for screenshots

If you run a Web site, create training manuals or do something that requires you to take and use screenshots a lot, one thing you probably find yourself doing is hiding certain windows and moving icons on your desktop out of the way. It’s a royal pain in the behind. (more…)

Fine-tune your volume adjustments in OS X

If you own a laptop, you probably use the Volume key shortcuts (F4 and F5) to adjust your volume, rather than visiting the System Preferences or Volume menu item. Every time you press the Volume key, a full block of volume is raised or lowered in the Volume bezel on your screen. If the amount it is raised or lowered is too much or not enough, you can adjust the amount by a quarter of a block at a time. To fine-tune the Volume adjustment, hold the Shift and Option keys while hitting F4 or F5. This fine-tuning can be done with the Volume menu item as well, but it’s just easier to use the keyboard shortcuts. Update: This trick, as stated in the first sentence, is for Apple Laptops. While it may work with Apple desktop keyboards (I don’t have one hooked up right now, so I can’t check), it also may not work with any other branded keyboard. It’s also a Leopard-only trick.

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.

How to add photorealistic perspective to your design

Sometimes, flat just doesn’t cut it, and we need to find other, more attractive ways to present designs to our customers. One technique I’ve been using recently works remarkably well for text, logos and other vector artwork. It consists of taking a virtual photograph of the work by combining Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop filters. The dramatic end result can’t be distinguished from a real photograph. This tutorial from FontShop starts you out in Adobe Illustrator and finishes off with some adjustments in Adobe Photoshop using a few built-in filters. It’s quite easy, and produces dramatic results, as seen in the image above.

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.

How to speed up your Mac

While there is no definitive cure-all for making your machine as good (and as fast) as day one, there are some basic things you can do that might help reclaim disk space, remove some clutter and generally speed up your Mac. Wired Magazine offers some insight and advice on how to speed up your Mac – what works and what doesn’t. If you don’t read the article, or you miss it, the one point I wish to drive home is that repairing file permissions and updating the prebindings will NOT speed up your Mac. It’s a myth that has lived too long.

Save time with OSX Finder shortcuts

As with any program, the speed with which you use OSX’s Finder can increase your productivity quite a bit, and we can all use a few extra minutes a day can’t we? With that in mind, here’s a few helpful Finder keyboard shortcuts to help you save the extra few minutes. Finder Views:

  • Command 1 = Switch window to icon view
  • Command 2 = Switch window to list view
  • Command 3 = Switch window to column view
  • Command 4 = Switch window to coverflow view
  • Command Y = Toggle Quick Look on and off
  • Command Option Y = Toggle Slideshow mode

Open Items

  • Command Shift i = Open iDisk
  • Comand Shift k = Open Network
  • Command Shift a = Open Application folder
  • Command Shift d = Open Desktop folder

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.