warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/dgeek/designgeek.com/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.

A Ton of New Content on DesignGeek Central

December 5, 2005 - 3:00am ||| 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 - 2:00am ||| 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 >

Synchronized Text in InDesign

September 20, 2005 - 2:00am ||| 3 Comments | Add new

QuarkXPress 6.X has an interesting feature called Synchronized Text, useful for keeping the contents of multiple text frames in synch with each other. When you modify the text of one of these boxes, all the other boxes you tagged to "synch to it" update automatically with the same text modifications (but keep their own formatting intact).

It's great for those times when you need more flexibiity than a master page text box affords, since a synched text box can be placed on any page on the fly, in different locations with different formatting, even in multiple layouts in the same project (file). No need to go to a master page to edit it, just edit the text in any of the frames and the ones in synch with it immediately update to match.

Surprisingly, everything you need to add a Synchronize Text feature to InDesign CS and CS2 is sitting right there in your program installation CD. They're called the InCopy Plug-ins. Look inside the program CD for a folder called Technical Information and you'll find them.more >

Second Occasional Bookmark Issue

August 23, 2005 - 2:00am ||| 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 >

Vector EPS Preview Fix in InDesign

March 30, 2005 - 3:00am ||| 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.

more >

Bad PDFs from Quark 6.x? Disable OPI XT

March 30, 2005 - 3:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

QuarkXPress 6.x users, have you noticed that its optional OPI XTension is installed and turned on by default? If you're trying to troubleshoot random, bizarre problems with your PDFs or printouts, this could be the culprit.

The OPI XT is only needed if you're a worker bee in an OPI workflow, the kind where you're using low-res images in your layouts (for speed's sake), while their high-res versions are automatically substituted when you output to print or PDF or do a Collect for Output . A big fat OPI image server and OPI software on your network runs the whole shebang. It's not really that common these days except for large publishers with lots of huge images.

more >

Quark 6.5's PSD Import Tips

January 26, 2005 - 2:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

True to their word, Quark released the free PSD Import XTension last month, short on the heels of their 6.5 update, which was available last fall. I've installed it and have been playing with it a bit, it's pretty cool.

The ability to import a Photoshop image into a Quark picture box (without having to save it as a TIFF or EPS first) is great all on its own; on top of that you can turn the image's layers, channels and paths on and off on the fly within Quark, something you can't do in any other program. The same PSD image can be placed multiple times within a Quark file and each instance can show/hide different layers, effectively wringing multiple images out of the same single image file. I've had no problems printing these or exporting them to PDF.

But the XT (seemingly a straight port from alap's ImagePort XT) has some limitations and glitches. If you want to use it, I'm hoping this article will help you out.more >

InDesign CS's Auto-Trapping

November 2, 2004 - 3:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

A friend of mine, a meticulous designer (and a relative newbie to ID) e-mailed me two simple questions a few days ago: Does InDesign automatically trap, like Quark? And can you see those traps when you preview separations (in Window -> Output Preview -> Separations)?

The answer to the first question is yes. Sort of.

more >

Quark 6.5 Installation Report

November 2, 2004 - 2:00am ||| 1 Comment | Add new

Speaking of which … Yesterday afternoon, Quark posted its free v6.5 updaters to its web site. You can only upgrade to 6.5 if you have Quark 6.1; if you never ran the 6.0 to 6.1 updater, you'll have to do that first. (Instructions and links are detailed on the Quark site.)

QuarkXPress 6.5 Update Page:

more >

Create Scaled PDFs Outside Acrobat

October 5, 2004 - 2:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

I frequently get asked by training clients how they can create a scaled PDF from QuarkXPress or InDesign; and occasionally from Word or any other program that has an Export/Save As/Convert to PDF option.

Scaling is normally done in a program's Page Setup dialog, but the trend with modern software, especially in Adobe and Quark, is to roll Page Setup functions into the Print dialog.

more >