Photoshop sharpening tips for designers

Virtually every image you bring into Adobe Photoshop—whether it be a stock image or from a scanner or digital camera—will need at least a little bit of sharpening. This is just something we, as designers, have to deal with in the digital age. Many photographers will balk at such a statement: if they’re good and take pride in their work, the photo is close to perfect in their eyes to begin with. However, once the photo is brought in to your Mac and your image manipulation is complete, a loss in sharpness is almost always present, no matter how perfect the original photo, negative or slide was. A recently published article at titled Photoshop Sharpening Tips for Designers offers some tips for sharpening your images.

Learning the language of typography

If you would like to know more about typography, the meaning of terms used with regards to type (such as tracking, kerning, leading, x-height and more) and a little type history lesson thrown in for good measure, then check out Thinking With Type. For more in-depth discussion about type and some general “rules-of-thumb” you can check out Learn Typography and Page Layout. They have a great page that discusses some dos and don’ts of setting type.

Get better .eps preview images from Photoshop

You may have noticed that if you save .eps images from Photoshop, when you place them in InDesign, Quark or other layout application, the image is jaggy to outright ugly. This is because the .eps image is using the default preview mode of 1 bit/pixel (or 256 colors). You can get beautiful full color/full resolution preview images in your .eps file simply by changing the Preview setting when you save the .eps image. Simply select Macintosh (JPEG) from the Preview: drop down menu. No more jaggies! Never use the TIFF preview image option. It seems to cause a lot of problems with RIPs at service bureaus, printers and publications when outputting.

Getting multiple line-breaks in iChat

Here’s a clever little shortcut for iChat. Ever wish you could send a few lines of text in iChat with space between them? Well if you’ve tried to hit return or enter, you probably just sent the message. You can easily have multiple line-breaks where you want them by simply hitting Option + Enter when you want to force a line-break.

Seven habits of highly effective junior designers

Talent alone simply isn’t enough anymore. You have to be a well rounded person to be successful creative in today’s market. There are a lot of things you can do to help yourself on the way, and LifeClever: Tips for design and life has some tips to get you started in the article titled Talent isn’t everything: 7 habits of highly effective junior designers. The seven habits covered are:

  1. Work quickly, produce a lot
  2. Attend to details
  3. Be versatile
  4. Make an effort to learn
  5. Anticipate problems
  6. Set goals
  7. Display a positive attitude

DIY lightbox for better digital photography

Strobist shows you how to build a light box for shooting perfectly-lit close-up items for all you digital photographers on the cheap. I particularly like this one as it’s something I’ve often done myself. The only real expense is a large piece of white poster board, a cardboard box, some tissue paper (or tracing paper), some tape, scissors and some lights (any lamps or bright lights will probably do the trick).

Get to know InDesign’s Info Palette.

CreativeTechs has a great article covering InDesign’s Info Palette. The info palette is often overlooked in InDesign because unless you know about all it has to offer, you don’t immediately see the value in using it. Most people who have at least opened the Info palette know that it will tell you the document’s location on your hard drive, the size of the file and the date and time of the last modification made. But there’s so much more. As the article at CreativeTechs explains, the Info palette also informs you of the size, type, resolution, color space and embedded color profile of any images you click on in your InDesign document. And for text, it can offer even more. Characters, paragraphs, lines and word count of the document is just the start. You can also find out that information on just the text you have selected. And for the text you can’t see, you can check on the word count of text that is hidden in the text overflow. Very handy! Now you can tell your writing partner that they need to shorten their copy by “x” amount of words, rather than saying “cut a whole lot of it.”

Designers must write to be successful

Design is not solely visual. Those who believe it is, make an unconscious decision to confine themselves solely to craft. This limits these individuals from growing and taking on more complex and broad challenges.

No more true words have been spoken about what a designer really is in the advertising business. Production artists exist to be craftsman. People who know and understand the tools (software) like the back of their hand. Designers on the other hand must learn to be more than someone who can simply draw pretty pictures, they must learn to be communicators! has a great article titled Designers must write. It’s a great read for the novice or pro designer.

File extensions: What app made that?

Every once in a while, you get a file from a client or vendor and have no idea what app it was created in. It doesn’t open in Photoshop, Graphic Converter, Quark or InDesign, so what could it be? Well, you can always check over at contains a searchable database of file extensions with detailed explanations of each file type. Every file extension entry contains information about the file format, a description of the file, and how to open the file. Programs for opening the files are listed for both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. The information can be browsed by file type:

  • Text
  • Data
  • Image
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Web
  • Fonts
  • Plugin
  • System
  • Executable
  • Compressed
  • Developer
  • Backup
  • Disk
  • Game
  • Misc.

OS X Startup keyboard commands help in troubleshooting

When troubleshooting, performing maintenance, or otherwise starting up your Mac OSX computer in an abnormal fashion, there are a few keyboard shortcuts that you may or may not know about that can help you. Below is a list of them with an explanation of what they do:

  • X = Force Mac OS X startup
  • Option = Brings up a screen with startup volume choices (slow process, may take a while)
  • Option+Command+Shift+Delete = Bypass primary startup volume and seek a different startup volume (such as a CD or external disk)
  • C = Start up from a CD that has a system folder
  • N = Attempt to start up from a compatible network server (NetBoot)
  • T = Start up in FireWire Target Disk mode (very handy for plugging your Mac into another as an external hard drive)
  • Shift = start up in Safe Boot mode and temporarily disable login items and non-essential kernel extension files (Mac OS X 10.2 and later)
  • Command+V = Start up in Verbose mode.
  • Command+S = Start up in Single-User mode
  • Command+Option+p+r = Zap PRAM. Hold down until second chime.
  • Command+Option+n+v = Clear NV RAM. Similar to reset-all in Open Firmware.
  • Command+Option+o+f = Boot into open firmware
  • Hold mouse button down = Force eject a CD/DVD