Tagged: Illustrator

Extensis Suitcase Fusion 8: The best font manager, reborn

Suitcase Fusion 8 main window
I’ve been a huge fan of Extensis since long before Mac OS X. In particular, their font manager, Suitcase Fusion, has been one of only two tools I consider mission critical beyond the essential Adobe apps I use.

The recently released Suitcase Fusion 8 doesn’t turn font management on its ear like version 5, 6 and 7 did—but it does greatly improve the experience for designers in lots of little ways.

What’s new:

Extensis completely revamped the user interface of Suitcase Fusion. It’s much more consistent and looks right at home in macOS High Sierra. Gone is the third sidebar that cramped the main window. To replace some of the features found in that sidebar, Extensis added a more contextual pop-up right at the font location in the window. The pop-up allows you to view info about the font, a preview of the font, available glyphs and QuickMatch info (which searches your entire library of fonts for similar looking fonts). (more…)

Adobe CC 2018 and macOS High Sierra

Adobe CreativeCloud 2018
Adobe released the latest major updates to their CreativeCloud apps this past week, and I’m happy to report that they’re running smooth as silk on macOS High Sierra—both the standard release version as well as the beta version.

The major bugs present in the CC2017 versions of Illustrator and InDesign running on High Sierra have been worked out between a macOS update and the latest CC apps, and I’ve noticed fairly significant speed gains in both those apps. As for Photoshop, I’ve not noticed much of an increase in speed, but no decrease either.

Some of the cool features include the ability to add rules around paragraphs in InDesign without having to resort to crude workarounds is a God-send! And I’m happy to see Adobe add the ability to keep text in CC Libraries and have them available in both InDesign and Illustrator. Type fanatics can now use InDesign’s Character panel to search for fonts based on visual similarity, a nice feature that you would normally need Suitcase Fusion for—though Suitcase still works better because it will find fonts that aren’t activated. Read about InDesign CC2018’s new features here.

Illustrator users will love the speed increase the most, but the variable font feature is really, really cool. The new Properties Panel is fantastic for those with a smaller screen or people like me who just hate having a bunch of panels open all the time. It’s a contextually aware panel that changes based on what you’re doing. Draw out a text frame and the panel displays text-related features like font, size, kerning, etc. Draw a shape and you get stroke and fill settings. Select multiple shapes and you’ll get the Pathfinder features. You get the idea. It’s only taken me a few days of using the new Illustrator to get used to using the Properties Panel vs. having a bunch of panels open all the time. Read about Illustrator CC2018’s new features here.

You might also want to take a look at the new Adobe Dimension app. Adding 3D objects to your 2D image just got a whole lot easier. It’s ultra-slick!

Free distressed halftone pattern vectors

Distressed halftone vector patterns

This free set of distressed halftone patterns for Adobe Illustrator contains 10 seamless vector swatches that can be applied as fills to add retro comic book style print effects to your illustrations. There’s a range of dot pattern densities so you can effectively shade your designs by using the different pattern fills across your artwork. Unlike your typical halftone pattern with clean, perfectly formed circles, these patterns have a distressed style to give your designs that grungy rock poster vibe.

Thanks to SpoonGraphics for providing these awesome distressed halftone vector patterns.

Advice: When to use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign

I belong to a lot of design forums and Facebook Groups and the question I see more often than I care to think about is “which app should I use to do X?” Should I design a logo in Photoshop, build an ad in Illustrator or InDesign, etc.

If you’re new in the graphic design field, or just never used Adobe’s Creative Cloud applications, take a look at this 30-minute video from Adobe Evangelist Terry White.

There are always exceptions to every rule, but in general:

  • Photoshop is for photo editing.
  • Illustrator is for logo design & custom illustration.
  • All the pieces should be brought into InDesign for layout and export to Acrobat PDF files.

The ONLY design rule that (in my opinion) has absolutely no exception: Design your logo in Illustrator. You’ll thank me later.

How to make your Adobe Illustrator documents much smaller

If you’ve used Adobe Illustrator for any amount of time, you’ve probably created a complicated piece of artwork. Those files can be fairly large, making file transfer and storage cumbersome. Thankfully there’s a simple way to drastically reduce your file sizes.

When saving your files, choose the native AI format. This offers you the most flexibility, and the ability to reduce the files. You’ll also want to tick the Create PDF Compatible File box. This allows Illustrator to recover the file should the program crash.

Illustrator Options
In the Illustrator Options dialog box that pops up, tick the Use Compression box. That’s it! Instant smaller files.

Now you may have guessed that ticking that PDF Compatible File box also adds some overhead to the file, so if you’re looking for the smallest file size possible, go ahead and uncheck the box.

Illustrator file sizes
As you can see in the image above, the original Illustrator file weighs-in at 101.2 MB. Saving the file with PDF Compatibility and Compression reduces the file to 63.7 MB. Unchecking the PDF Compatibility box reduces the file even further to 25.4 MB in size.

That’s a big savings!

Adobe Illustrator’s hidden gem: Width Tool

Illustrator's Width Tool
Illustrator's Width Tool iconAdobe Illustrator has an awesome tool that I’m willing to bet most designers have never used. The Width Tool (pictured at right) allows you to adjust the width of paths—not just the entire path as a whole, but the parts of the path between handles independently (see the image above for examples normal paths, and the same path adjusted with the Width Tool). Adjustments can be made to any path, including outlined fonts.

For the full scoop check out Getting a Handle on Illustrator’s Width Tool over at Creative Pro

Adobe’s unwelcome Welcome screen

Adobe welcome screen

Hey Adobe, see that button down there in the lower right corner of your highly-annoying Welcome screen that pops up every time I launch InDesign CC 2015—the one that says “Don’t Show Welcome Screen Again?” How about you fix whatever bug that tells the app to ignore the fact that I clicked that button the last time I launched the app, EVERY TIME I LAUNCH THE APP!!!

When you do manage to fix the bug, please share your findings with the Illustrator team, because it happens every time I launch that app as well.

To be fair, this only happens on two out of the three Macs I use on a regular basis. But all three Macs have exactly the same software installed, and are running the same OS versions.