Tagged: tutorial

How to create customized OSX Mail stationery in Leopard

This tutorial has been updated for Snow Leopard users! Please visit the updated article here. While not much has changed, I’ve edited it for a bit more clarity.

If you enjoy Leopard’s new Mail Stationery for sending beautiful HTML email, but wished you could personalize it more, read on for some very good news!Apple has made Mail’s new Stationery feature quite easy to edit to your heart’s content, as long as you have an image editor that can save .jpg and .png files, and an HTML editor such as Dreamweaver (or just text edit if you’re a die-hard HTML coder). Just follow these simple steps: (more…)

Create a halftone-dot effect in Adobe Illustrator

A while back I posted a link that would show you how to create an interesting halftone-dot effect in Photoshop. Recently, a reader left a comment on the post asking if there was a way to achieve the same effect in Illustrator. I’m happy to report that there is, and I’ve put together a tutorial to show you how. Step 1: Create a shape in Illustrator that you wish to convert into the halftone-dot effect. I chose a star. To achieve the mixed-size dots, you’ll want to use a gradient, and to make it easy later, you should probably start with a simple black color. Step 2: Select the object and select Effect>Pixelate>Color Halftone… from the menu. The color halftone dialog box will open where you can enter some numbers to adjust the appearance of the effect. Set the Max. Radius to 10-15 pixels. This will determine the size of the largest dot in the effect. Go ahead and leave the screen angles at the default setting. Hit OK. The star is now converted to a raster image. The darkest areas of the star have the largest dots, and the lightest areas have smaller dots. We are now half way there. We need to convert the raster image to vector. Step 3: With the star still selected, go to Object>Expand Appearance in the menu. Now select Object>Live Trace>Make and Expand from the menu. The star is now a full vector object. You can select each dot individually if you choose because they’re all vector shapes (see step 3 in the image above). But you probably want to add some color. Step 4: If the star is on a white background, everything will appear to be perfect. But draw a box, fill it with color and send it to the back by hitting Command-Shift-[. You’ll notice that the inside of the star remains white. If you want it to be transparent, you have just a bit more work to do. See the image at the right for an example of what I’m talking about. Use your Direct Select tool (the white arrow) to select any white are in the newly created halftone dot area. Go to Select>Same>Fill Color in the menu. Now that all the white areas are selected (including the white bounding box around the star, hit Delete. You should be left with nothing but the dots now. Now select the star again and add a color to it as you would any other object. Because the star is a compound path, all the dots will be colorized. That’s it. You have your halftone-dot effect, and it’s a fully-editable vector object in Illustrator. Why would you want to do it in Illustrator? Because many sign shops and screen printers require everything to be a vector shape depending on their production methods. Plus, it adds a little more flexibility for later editing. I chose to use a one color object for the sake of keeping this tutorial simple, but you can apply the same technique to a full color object for different results. See the image above with the same star filled with a color gradient.

Save time and space with InDesign Workspaces

Adobe InDesignIf you’re the type who likes to have their InDesign panels in a certain spot all the time, or like to have certain panels open for certain types of projects, you simply must take advantage of Workspaces. Workspaces allows you to save your panel locations for use at any time. To save your Workspace, set your panels up the way you like them, then go to Window>Workspace>Save Workspace… Name your workspace when prompted. That’s it. To test it, move your panels around, close some, open some others. Then go back to Window>Workspace and select the Workspace you just named from the list. Your panels should all snap back to where they were when you saved. You can set up multiple Workspaces. I have one for when I’m working on text heavy documents in which I have most of the text-related panels like text wrap, story, character, styles, etc. open. Then I have another one for “all-around use” which have totally different panel locations. If you work on multiple computers, you can bring your Workspace with you, though it’s not quite as easy as it should be. To bring your Workspace with you, navigate in the Finder to: Users/YourUserName/Library/Preferences/Adobe InDesign/Version 5/ Workspaces. If you’re still running CS2, the path is the same except substitute Version 4 for Version 5 in the file path. In that folder you’ll see an XML file named after the Workspaces you’ve saved. Simply burn it to CD or email it to your other computer and place it in the same folder on that computer. Workspaces aren’t exclusive to InDesign. All the Adobe Creative Suite 3 applications have them, and work in much the same way. Photoshop goes a few steps further in that it also allows you to save any custom keyboard shortcuts and menu customizations you’ve made in the Workspace as well.

Adding realistic fog to your images using Photoshop

Get more bang for your buck by depositing a fog bank into your landscape photos using the Dissolve brush mode and the Gradient tool to vary density. Fog is actually transparent unless you try to look through layers and layers of it. Then it becomes dense, and in some places, impenetrable.

The secret to realistic fog is to vary its density…

David Diotaveli offers a pretty decent tutorial on how to add realistic fog to your images.

Turn your images into pop-art

Turn your photos into Lichtenstein inspired pop art. This Photoshop tutorial will also show you how to create great-looking half tone shading! The tutorial states that it is for beginners to intermediate users, but I think “beginners” is stretching it a bit.

Easily apply scanlines to your images in Photoshop

One of the most popular techniques lately seems to be adding a pseudo-TV look to images, also called “Scanlines.” Here’s a down and dirty simple way to add some “tech/gritty” look to your image. The technique is used in a lot of movie posters and hi-tech imagery. Read on for a step-by-step tutorial on how to create scanlines quickly and easily. First, choose your image. High contrast images work best, but virtually any image will do. Here we have a fairly boring product photo. But we need to add “a little something” to spice it up for a Web site splash page. The first thing to do is make sure you’re working at 300 dpi. This technique will work with 72 dpi, but the effect won’t be the same. You can size it down later.

  1. Create a new layer
  2. Press “D” to reset your colors to black and white
  3. Hit Command + Delete (Backspace on some keyboards) to fill the new layer with white
  4. Go under Filter>Sketch>Halftone Pattern and choose 1 for size, 50 for contrast and Line for pattern type
  5. Your image should look something like this:

Now you could stop there, but the image may be “distorted” enough that your client isn’t happy. In this case, we want to see the keys on the phone more, and the image itself to be a little more dirty and have a little more contrast. To do that:

  1. Create a selection around the areas you want to adjust (in this case it was the keys and the screen
  2. Feather the edges around 5 to 10% (you can use whatever amount you like)
  3. Paste this selection on top of the scanline layer
  4. Set the layer style to Overlay and adjust the opacity to around 80% (you can adjust this amount to your liking)

Now we need to focus on the highlight area again. To do this:

  1. Make a copy of the layer we just worked on (the selection of the buttons)
  2. Command + Click on the layer to select it
  3. Go to Select>Modify>Contract and enter about 10-20% (again, you can use any amount, but we’re trying to reduce that selection by about 20%)
  4. Invert your selection and hit delete to get rid of the area outside the selection
  5. Set the layer style to Normal and the opacity to around 90%

We could stop here. But It’s still not “dirty” enough. Lets add some “distortion” to the scanlines. This portion is completely optional. If you want a “clean” look to your image, skip this step.

  1. Create a new layer on top of all the other layers
  2. Fill the layer with white by hitting Command + Delete again (your colors should still be the default black & white)
  3. Go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise and use 40% for the amount and set the check boxes for Gaussian and Monochromatic and hit OK
  4. Now make your layer style Multiply and the opacity around 20% (adjust to your liking)

Now you can just add text or other elements as you see fit. I chose to set the type layer to overlay and place the layer just above the original image layer. You could also adjust the colors to add some mood or action by using the Hue/Saturation (Command + U) dialog with the Colorize box checked. Now is the time to reduce the resolution for Web use. The reason you do that last is that if you start out with 72 dpi, the scanlines we created in the first steps will be too large.

Color shifting and replacement in Photoshop

The Color Replacement Tool is often overlooked by many designers… mostly because it’s a relatively new tool, and partly because it’s somewhat hidden where you wouldn’t expect to find it. It’s not a terribly difficult tool to master, and using it once will show you how often you *could* use it. In Adobe Photoshop CS it is bundled with the Healing Brush tool (another tool many people tend to “forget to use”). In Photoshop CS2, Adobe decided that it needed to be moved next door to the Brush Tool (see image at right). No matter where you happen to find this little bugger, you’re going to love what it can do for you. Lets say you want to change the color of the shirt in a photo to better match your layout. Many folks would spend a lot of time making a mask or clipping path, create a new layer and paint a color over top of the shirt, then adjust the layer transparency settings. Still others would just use Selective Color under the Edit>Adjustments menu and hope that it didn’t alter the image too much. These and other methods work fine, of course, but take much more effort than is necessary. To use the Color Replacement tool, choose a color to make the shirt. Then click on the Color Replacement tool icon in the tool bar. Then you’ll need to make some quick adjustments in the Options Bar. First, click the Brush size icon and adjust your brush settings. You’ll want to use a larger brush with a soft edge. Be careful not to make the brush too large though, you want to keep some control. Second, make sure you select Contiguous from the Limits pop-up menu and you set the Mode to either Color or Hue. These are the three main adjustments that need to be made. You can also adjust the Tolerance, but try working with the tool a little first. Now comes the fun part. You should now see the round outline of your brush with a little crosshair, just start painting over the area you want to color shift, being careful not to let the crosshair touch any color you DON’T want to shift (if it touches any other color, it will shift that color as well). Now that you see how easy it is to use and how well it works, play with the color modes, tolerance settings, etc… I think you’ll find it to be quite a useful tool not only for changing colors completely, but simply color correcting them as well.