Using Type as a Mask

Adobe Illustrator has a wonderful assortment of tools for adding fill colors and patterns to paths and objects. However, those fill options aren’t as plentiful when it comes to adding fills to type. Workarounds for these limitations are available. One method allows you to use type as a mask to apply a gradient to your text. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Create a word or phrase of text.have a great day
  2. Use the rectangle tool to create a rectangle about the size of your text. Apply a gradient fill to this rectangle.green rectangle
  3. Drag your type on top of the filled rectangle, making sure that the text is on top. (Object > Arrange > Bring to Front)have a great day
  4. Select both pieces, the type and the rectangle.
  5. Choose Object > Clipping Mask > Make.
  6. Click anywhere outside your type to see the effect.have a great day!

You could use this technique to create unique headlines for a newsletter, or in your company’s logo.

Work in RGB, Preview in CMYK

While Photoshop files intended for use in full-color print jobs will ultimately need to be converted to CMYK color mode, working in RGB color mode means more filters for you to use, and a smaller file size, which allows Photoshop to operate more efficiently.

photoshopKnowing these benefits, wouldn’t it be nice to work in RGB mode, but see the effects of your work in CMYK mode?

Here’s how you can do just that in real-time. While your image is open onscreen, go under the Window menu to Arrange, and choose New Window. This will open another view of your existing document. Press Command-Y (for a PC: Control-Y) to show a CMYK preview of your image, then return to your original document and edit as normal. The changes you make in the RGB window will be updated in the CMYK window.

Your finished file will still need to be converted to CMYK mode for use in full-color print production. If you need assistance with this final step, please contact us – we’ll be happy to help.

Adobe InDesign’s Paragraph Composer

First, a little history… Back before computers, when type was set by hand, great care was taken to make a page of type appear “beautiful.” The typesetter would have the luxury of analyzing each line of type to make sure it didn’t create unwanted text disturbances like rivers, widows, orphans, or hyphenation problems. If an aesthetic problem was identified, it, along with any other lines of type affected by the change, could be quickly remedied.

paragraph composer

Now, fast-forward to the computer age. Even though computers have made the job of setting type much more efficient, the software has always lacked the ability to analyze multiple lines of text in order to achieve the best aesthetic typographic result.

Enter Adobe’s InDesign, and the introduction of the Adobe’s Paragraph Composer, which has the capacity to reduce the amount of time spent on composition, and increase the consistency of hyphenation and overall letter and word spacing.

Adobe’s Paragraph Composer can consider multiple lines of text, eliminating widows, orphans and text rivers, and improving the overall quality of the body of text as you type, allowing you to approach page layout from an artistic point of view.

adobe paragraph composerPreferences for Adobe InDesign’s composition engine are defined by selecting the Adobe Paragraph Composer or Adobe Single-line Composer from the InDesign Paragraph palette menu.

Choosing whether to use the Paragraph or Single-line Composer depends on what type of work you are doing. If you are working with a small amount of text, such as a headline or caption, the Single-line Composer will allow more user control. The Paragraph Composer is best suited for larger bodies of text because it was designed to consider multiple lines of text at one time, and will provide the highest-quality aesthetic results with very little hassle.

Adobe Acrobat’s Dictionary on Demand

Did you know that Adobe Acrobat (since version 6.0) provides a convenient dictionary at your disposal?

If you are connected to the Internet while working in Acrobat, you can easily look up the meaning of any word in a text object. Here’s how:

Simply select the word you want to look up with the text tool and right-click (Windows) or control-click (Mac), then choose Look Up “selected word.” Acrobat will then launch your web browser and the meaning of the word you selected will be displayed.

adobe acrobat dictionary

Naming Layers in PhotoShop 7.0

Why You Should Name Your Layers
If you’ve ever created a multi-layered document in PhotoShop, you know it can become very difficult, time consuming, and frustrating to keep track of what is on which layer. That is a great reason to name your layers as you go. The following techniques will help you become a more efficient PhotoShop pro:

Naming Layersphotoshop 7.0
As You Go

To name a new layer as you go, hold the Option key (Mac) or Alt key (PC) before you click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette.

Renaming Layers
If you want to rename your layers after you create them, double-click directly on the layer’s name in the Layers palette and it will highlight the text so you can type a new name. (If you double-click anywhere else besides the name, it will bring up the Blending Options in the Layer Style dialog.)

Save Time in 7.0
This way of naming layers directly in the palette is new in PhotoShop 7.0. In version 6, you had to hold the Option key (Mac) or Alt key (PC) when you double-clicked and it would bring up the Layer Properties dialog where you could rename the layer. This minor change is a big timesaver.

Fixing a Problem Photo…

…by blurring the background, yet keeping the grain.You can remove distracting detail from an image or focus attention on the subject by isolating the subject and keeping it in focus as you blur other parts of the picture. The Photoshop technique presented in this tip imitates the effect you get with a shortened depth of field, traditionally achieved by opening up the camera’s iris (setting the f-stop low). The blurring can be limited to the background, or, as shown here, the sharp subject can be sandwiched between blurred background and blurred foreground. In either case, you’ll need to make the blurred areas match the sharp ones by restoring the film grain or digital noise (the equivalent of film grain in an image captured with a digital camera) that was lost in the process of blurring. photo
Defining the Foreground
If you want to keep a foreground subject in focus while blurring only the background, it’s a good idea to make sure the foreground subject bleeds off the bottom of the picture, even if it means cropping the image. Otherwise, if the subject is standing on the ground, it can be very tricky to make the transition from the in-focus ground at the feet of the subject to the out-of-focus background.
photo

The Secret of Good Forms

There are those who are bored to tears by the thought of designing a form and those who love the fussy challenge of creating a good, clear, usable document. Forms are seriously underrated in the world of graphic design.

Of the four basic design principles (contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity), the secret to a good-looking form is alignment. Lack of alignment is the single biggest failure that makes a form appear unclear to the user. The other principles are also very important, as in any design, particularly contrast to help direct the user through the form, proximity to keep groups of related pieces of information together, and repetition to tie it all together. But alignment is the key.The top example uses interesting typefaces and calls out the major features in bold for clarity in communication and visual contrast and repetition, but it doesn’t look as clean and clear as it could.In the lower example, elements are aligned, which naturally presents a cleaner look. Cleaner (usually) communicates better. Also, the spacing was adjusted so that the elements that belong together (like those two lines of “suggested donations”) are closer together, and the separate elements have a wee bit of extra space between them (following the principle of proximity). good formsgood forms

Resizing Multiple Layers at One Time

Here’s a real timesaving tip for Photoshop that enables you to resize objects or text on multiple layers all at the same time. Just link together the layers you want to resize, then press Command-T (Macintosh) or Control-T (Windows) to bring up the Free Transform bounding box. Hold the Shift key (to constrain proportions), then grab any of the bounding box handles and drag. As you drag, all of the linked layers will resize at the same time.

resizing multiple layers

Understanding Compound Paths

Illustrator lets you carve holes inside a path. You can then see through these holes to objects and colors that lie behind the path. A path with holes in it is called a compound path. If you convert a letter such as B or O into outlines, the letter is automatically converted into a compound path. To make a compound path, do the following:

  1. Draw two shapes. Make one smaller than the other. You can use any tool to draw either shape, and the paths can be open or closed.
  2. Select both shapes and choose Object>Compound Paths>Make. Where the two shapes overlap, the compound path is transparent. Where the shapes don’t overlap, the path is filled.
  3. Edit the individual shapes in the compound path with the direct selection tool. After you combine two or more shapes into a compound path, select the entire path by clicking on it with the arrow tool. If you want to select a point or segment belonging to one of the subpaths — that’s the official name for the shapes inside a compound path — press Command-Shift-A (Mac) or Control-Shift-A (Windows) to deselect the path, and click an element with the direct selection tool. You can then manipulate points, segments, and control handles as usual.

At this point you might ask, “Why do you need a path with a hole in it? Why not just stick the smaller path in front of the bigger path and fill in the smaller path with the background color?” Two reasons:

  • First, the background may contain lots of different colors. The “B” on the left is a proper compound path, allowing us to see through the holes to anything behind it.
  • Second, working with opaque paths limits your flexibility. Even if you can get away with filling an interior path with a flat color, you’ll have to change that color any time you change the background or move the objects against a new background. But with a compound path, you can move the object against any background without changing a thing. You can even add effects like drop shadows without modifying the compound path one iota. It’s flexibility at its finest.
compound paths

Now, as we said, Illustrator automatically turns letters into compound paths. But you may want to create additional compound paths of your own. Doughnuts, ladders, eyeglasses, windows, and ski masks are just a few of the many items that lend themselves to compound paths.

Straightening a Crooked Photo

Let’s face it. We’re not all expert photographers. Occasionally, a photo comes out a little more crooked than we’d like. You probably already know how useful Photoshop’s crop tool can be for trimming undesired elements from your photos, but did you know you can use it to straighten a crooked image, as well? Here’s how:

1.Select the Crop tool from the tools palette.
zebra

2.Click and drag the cursor across the portion of the image you wish to use.

3.Move your mouse outside the selected area. The cursor will turn into a double-sided arrow, connected by a curved line.
zebra

4.Press and hold down the mouse button (left mouse button on the PC) and move your mouse. The selected area of the photo will rotate in whatever direction you move.

5.Once you’ve rotated the selection enough to make up for the photo’s crookedness, release the mouse.
zebra

6.Press Enter, or double-click inside the selected area. The image will be cropped accordingly and rotated to bring it straight.