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Find and View Illustrator Freebies

December 21, 2005 - 2:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

Many illustration programs ship with gobs and gobs of free clip art, templates, and other goodies, and Illustrator CS2 is no exception. When you install the program it copies over 150 MB of templates and sample files to your hard drive, virtually all of it very high quality artwork that you can use as is or as a starting point for your creative muse. And there's another 170 MB of excellent clip art and stock photos sitting on the installation CD.

Two questions: Where are these files located, and how can we see them without having to open each one in Illustrator? more >

A Ton of New Content on DesignGeek Central

December 5, 2005 - 2:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

My assistant, Sherri, and I just wrapped up a months-long effort of updating the content in DesignGeek Central, the section of my web site that contains my software resource pages (as well as DesignGeek back issues):

Check out the resource pages for Photoshop, Acrobat, InDesign and Illustrator, especially; as we found great new books and a sheaf of new Adobe white papers (in-depth guides in PDF form) for each of these programs, which were buried in various places on Adobe's web site. Also of note, the OpenType Resources page has links to new Type 1 to OpenType conversion guides and glyph charts, and I added two new resource pages, one for Adobe Bridge and one for Version Cue.

As before, each resource page contains links, artwork, and pithy commentary about what I consider to be the best information available for the program or topic in question, and best of all, many of the resources are free. A typical resource page includes links to relevant DesignGeek articles, best books and magazines, Adobe/Quark/Apple white papers and tutorials, user groups, mailing lists, forums, video and on-line training, third-party web sites, blogs, podcasts, plug-ins, actions, XTensions, and kitchen sinks.more >

Global Gradients and Patterns in Illustrator

October 19, 2005 - 1:00am ||| 1 Comment | Add new

One of the most common questions I hear from designers when I'm teaching Adobe Illustrator is, "What's the "Global" checkbox for in Swatch Options?" (Swatch Options is the dialog box that opens when you double-click a color in the Swatches palette so you can modify the color mix, or when you choose New Swatch from the Swatches palette menu.)

When you tick the Global checkbox in Swatch Options, you turn that swatch into a "linked" or "smart" swatch. From then on, filling or stroking an object with that swatch links the object's color to the swatch's definition, equivalent to applying a paragraph or character style to text. Modify the swatch's color mix via Swatch Options and you'll see all the swatch-colored objects in your illustration update their color to reflect that change.

In other words, global swatches act just like ones in InDesign's Swatches palette or QuarkXPress's Colors palette.more >

Adobe Bridge Tricks for Designers

October 4, 2005 - 1:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

I confess, like a lot of graphic designers, I've been a little underwhelmed with Adobe Bridge, the free file management hub application that comes with every CS2 program. Until recently, my feelings ran along the line of "Are you kidding me? Yet another program to learn? Forget it. Let the full-time Photoshop geeks figure it out. I have publications to design."

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Second Occasional Bookmark Issue

August 23, 2005 - 1:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, once again it's time to clean out some of the backlog of sites I've bookmarked as fodder for DesignGeek articles. If you're a relatively new subscriber, you might have missed the first time I did this:

The First Occasional Bookmarks Issue (#32, 11/24/04):

The basic idea is that instead of spending a lot of time developing a DesignGeek article on one or two of these sites, I'm just going to list a bunch of them with a few notes explaining why I thought it was bookmark-worthy. Then I can delete it from my bookmarks utility and move on.more >

Web Design Tricks in the Creative Suite

July 27, 2005 - 1:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

I just came back from the first-ever Creative Suite Conference, five straight days of non-stop information, tips and techniques about every program in the Adobe Creative Suite:

My head is about to explode from information overload. In a good way.

Of course, the fact that it was held in Las Vegas — Caesar's Palace, specifically — didn't help my synapses. Unlike most of the other speakers and attendees who were able to control themselves in a mature, professional manner, picture me getting off the plane with lucky 7's instead of eyeballs … I was like, "Vegas! Five days! Oh, mama!"

I hit the tables for a couple short visits every day — after lunch, during session breaks, on the way back from dinner — it was a novel experience having a full-blown casino just an escalator ride away from sessions on Version Cue and Photoshop Smart Objects.more >

Flash from Illustrator

July 27, 2005 - 1:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

You don't need to know how to use Flash, nor even own it, to create slick .swf art for your web site complete with plug-in detection code. Just create your artwork in Illustrator, then go to File > Export and choose "Macromedia Flash (SWF)" from the Format drop-down menu.

The resulting Macromedia Flash (SWF) Options dialog box offers a ton of goodies, and the following tips are all found here.

To create a static piece of vector web art, choose Export As: AI file to SWF file. Since virtually everyone has the Flash plug-in already installed in their browser, they can see its fine, clean lines without problems.more >

Dashboard Widget for Designers

June 7, 2005 - 1:00am ||| 1 Comment | Add new

Mac OS X users who've made the plunge to Tiger (10.4.X) are exploring the world of "widgets," useful little programs, that run from Tiger's new Dashboard feature:

A starter set of widgets are included with the Tiger install. They're general purpose ones like a mini-iTunes controller, a unit converter, and a translator. Cutting edge, eh?

Of course, Apple has an agenda. The point of Dashboard widgets is to create an open-source-like hook into OS X. That way the legions of design geeks out there who know a thing or two about XML, CSS and JavaScript (how widgets are written) can develop widgets on their own and release them for the benefit of all Apple-kind. Apple says, "If you know how to create a web page, then you know how to create a capable Widget." more >

Vector EPS Preview Fix in InDesign

March 30, 2005 - 2:00am ||| 2 Comments | Add new

Art departments making the move to InDesign from QuarkXPress or PageMaker probably have hundreds, if not thousands of vector EPS files lying around — logos, illustrations, clip art, posters, etc. InDesign can import EPS files, but sometimes the low-res preview that's included with the EPS causes problems with output.

A little tech background for newbies: When you're working in a PostScript-based drawing program like Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia Freehand, saving a version of the drawing in EPS format (instead of or in addition to the program's native format) is necessary if you want to import that image into other program's files like QuarkXPress, Pagemaker, and Microsoft Word. These programs understand that they should use the low-res screen preview of the file (included by default with a vector EPS) to show you what it looks like onscreen, but when the job is output, they should send the underlying PostScript code.

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llustrator's "Flatten This Transparency Now" Command

February 22, 2005 - 2:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

When I'm helping new InDesign users understand exactly what "flattening transparency" means, I like to show them a concrete example. One way is to export the same simple InDesign file (containing a few overlapping transparent objects) to PDF twice: Once as an Acrobat 4-compatible (PDF 1.3) PDF, which flattens transparent objects, often splitting them up into "atomic regions;" and again as an Acrobat 5-compatible (PDF 1.4) PDF, which supports transparency and thus doesn't flatten.

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