Retain spot colors and transparency in Illustrator

If you’ve tried to design with spot colors and transparency effects you certainly know how frustrating it can be. In fact, if you’re using Photoshop, you’re probably making more work for yourself than is necessary. Thank goodness for Illustrator guru Mordy Golding. Mordy has penned a great tutorial at CreativePro, titled Retain spot colors without losing your marbles, on not only how to retain spot colors with transparency effects in your Illustrator artwork, but he’s done so with yet another “Apple Glossy Aqua Orb” tutorial.

Tabbing to text entry fields only in OS X browsers

On a recent new install of OSX, I noticed that when surfing the Web in Safari or Firefox that when I hit the tab key, every button in the toolbar, on the page and every text box was highlighted. This was different than what I was used to seeing, which was only the text fields such as the Location bar (address box) and text fields being highlighted. It took me a while to figure out why all the active controls were being highlighted. A visit to OSX System Preferences>Keyboard and Mouse Preferences>Keyboard Shortcuts got me on the right track. As seen in the graphic above, you have two options. The first option titled Text boxes and lists only seems like the obvious choice to select if you only want to tab to text input fields. However, my results were just the opposite, every time I hit tab the buttons in the browser bar and on the page were highlighted. By selecting the second option, All controls, I got what I wanted which was just tabbing to text fields. Perhaps I have a ghost in the system, but if you’re having the same problem, you may want to take a look at this workaround.

Two ways to apply a drop shadow in Adobe InDesign

Most people probably never notice this, but there are actually two ways to apply a drop shadow in Adobe InDesign. Actually, you apply it the same way, but the results are much different depending on the way you have the object selected. First, place a logo in a box and fill the box with a white color (to illustrate my point better). Now, if you select your object with the Direct Selection tool (the hollow white arrow tool) and apply the drop shadow, it applies to the logo itself – using the edges of the logo to create the shadow as in the first logo in the screenshot above. As you can see, the box itself is unaffected, but the CG logo has the shadow. But, if you select your object with the Selection tool (the solid black arrow tool) you are actually selecting the box itself. Apply a drop shadow now and you give the box a drop shadow, rather than the logo itself – as seen in the second logo in the screenshot. Now of course this will only work if the box itself is filled with a color. By filling the box with color, you actually give yourself some options. You can apply a drop shadow to both the object and the container it’s in, as seen in the third logo in the screenshot.

Easily center objects on the page in your InDesign document

There’s a quick way to center objects on your page without using the ruler and guides. First you need to select all the objects you want to center. Once you have them selected, Cut them (Command + X). Once you have them Cut to the clipboard, set your view to Fit in Window (Command + 0). And finally, Paste your objects (Command + V). All the objects should be centered on the page. One thing that will make this work as accurately as possible is to make sure that any frames which contain images or text are “trimmed” so that the boxes don’t have excess space to either side.

Moving from Web design to print

It used to be that all things design started out in print. TV commercials, radio spots, outdoor boards and even Web sites started out with a print ad and were modified to fit other mediums. That time has long-since passed. Many Web site designers nowadays are finding that the market for Web work is rough going and extremely competitive. Factor in ever-changing technology, and you have thousands of Web and multimedia designers scrambling to supplement their income—or slide over to print design completely. So, if you’re a Web designer looking to add print to your stable of talents, you may want to take a look at this article I recently wrote for, titled Moving from Web design to print. I also encourage you to register at the MacWorld site so you can post comments on the articles. The more interaction, the better the resource becomes.

Easily add vignettes to your Photoshop images

It’s a really old technique, and looks great when done properly. But adding Vignettes for some is overly complex. One of the easiest methods I’ve come across is this tip at LifeClever. But I’m lazy, so I’ll go even further into the “easy” method. With Photoshop CS2, Adobe added a nifty little filter that does, among other things, vignettes. Here’s how it works: Make sure your image is in RGB mode. Select Filter>Distort>Lens Correction… There are several sections of this filter, but we’re going to use (obviously) the Vignette portion. First thing you may want to do is turn off the grid with the checkbox at the bottom of the dialog window. Slide the Amount slider under Vignette toward darken. This adds darkness around the edges and corners of your image. Now you adjust the amount of vignetting with the Midpoint slider. Move it to the right to have less of the image darkened or to the left to have more of the image darkened. That’s it. You can also apply the same technique to a layer filled with white above your image and set the layer effect to Multiply – this will allow you to adjust the darkness later if you wish.

Quickly place selective pages of a PDF into your InDesign document

Did you know that you can place a multi-page PDF file in your InDesign document only using the Place command one time? Let’s say you want to place your two-page PDF file into your InDesign document. Start by hitting Command + D to place the file, navigate to the PDF you wish to place and select it. Then make sure you have the Show Import Options box checked. When you hit Open, the Options dialog box opens. Click the All button in the Pages section (or select a page range if you only want a few pages from a long PDF file), and hit OK. Now when you go to place your file in your document, the cursor changes to a PDF icon with a plus mark. That plus mark indicates that there is more than one page to be placed. Simply click in your InDesign document where you want to place the PDF pages.

Saving your Illustrator files correctly

After installing the Adobe Creative Suite on a new MacPro and getting down to business on it, I noticed that a native Illustrator file (.ai) placed in my InDesign document was not displaying correctly. The first clue was that the transparency of the placed file wasn’t displaying at all in my InDesign document – that is to say, the artwork had a white bounding box around it. Fortunately, I remembered that I really hadn’t checked my Options in the Illustrator Save As dialog box when I saved the file. If you’re experiencing the same issue, it’s easily fixed. When you save your Illustrator file as an .ai file, make sure you have the Create PDF Compatible File box checked.

Preparing your files for commercial printing

For your average designer or production artist, preparing your files for printing is nothing more than selecting “collect for output” from a menu in your favorite layout application. But if you want to be more than average, you should get to know the pre-press & printing process and how you can make your jobs run more smoothly. Gregg Stalter at PhotoshopCafe has a lengthy article covering the entire printing process from terms used and selecting a printer, to prepress and finishing your job.