Some people use those cheesy pine tree air fresheners hung from the rearview mirror. Not me. I went for the fully-organic, completely natural solution:
Of course, I’ll never get all those pine needles out of the upholstery…
I recently received this question:
“In Illustrator, is there a way to take off the default setting of “Lock Guides”? I’d also like to display rulers automatically. I know it doesn’t take long to unlock guides or display rulers, but it would be nice to make these the default settings.”
There is a way to control some aspects of Illustrator, and while it may seem a bit long-winded, it’s actually a pretty simple undertaking. You may decide it’s just saner to change such things when you open a new file, but if you’re curious … Continue reading →
(What does this have to do with software? Uh, I had to use Photoshop to clean up my photos…)
At the end of the year, all the travel starts to wear me down: I pack robotically, the flights seem longer, and the hotel food gets steadily worse. But this is my last trip of the year, and it’s a nice way to end the year. I’m doing 4 days of Acrobat training for the United Nations — I’ll bet you didn’t know that there’s a complete printing plant in the basement of the U.N.! They’re a great bunch of people, from all over the world, and they have to run 24 hours a day to keep up with the avalanche of words generated by all the diplomatic missions every day.
I’ll be working in rotating shifts to train everyone, so I’ll be a bit crispy around the edges by the end of the week. But that’s offset by the fun of being in New York City near Christmas. No snow yet, but it’s quite cold. That hasn’t deterred the tourists and locals crowding the streets to ooh and aah at the decorations, the imaginative store windows, and — of course — The Tree at Rockefeller Center.
It odd when you see something that you’ve seen countless times on television or in movies — it’s a sort of artificial déjà vu. It somehow seems “realer” in person because it’s already familiar. The tree is huge, but the surrounding buildings dwarf it, and you sort of lose your sense of scale. Suddenly, the skaters on the rink below seem miniature.
On another note, I don’t understand the jokes about “rude New Yorkers” — I’ve never had that experience. If anything, I find it a very comfortable city, and never more so than at this time of year. The decorations sort of soften everyone up, and the kids’ excitement is contagious.
Hope that seasonal feeling is starting to take hold where you are, too. We all need a little winter cheer to warm us against the cold (well, not so much in Miami…) and to act as an antidote for the increasingly bitter economic weather.
Onward to Spring.
I’ve just received word that my book, “Real World Print Production” (Peachpit Press, 2006) is going to be revised. I’m pleased that Peachpit is going to let me update the book for current versions of software, and it will also give me the opportunity to expand some of the other content to reflect changes and growth in print and imaging technologies.
It all sounds like such fun now; check back when I’ve been up for 18 hours pounding the keyboard or staring at a stubborn paragraph 🙂
No ETA yet; I haven’t started pounding the keyboard. But I’m hoping to have it done by early Spring.
If you’re a print service provider who’s starting to receive CS4 files for output, you might appreciate the latest revision of the venerable Printing Guide. It’s now available here.
The PDF is fully bookmarked; open the Bookmarks panel (View>Navigation Panels>Bookmarks) to reveal the extensive list of hyperlinked topics. Additionally, the Table of Contents is hyperlinked to internal content, so it’s easy to find your way around.
Designers will find lots of useful content, too. You can select a low-res or high-res version of the 139-page guide, and you’ll also find the CS3 version of the printing guide on the same page. Both offer insights into print-specific features in the Suite applications, and provide cautions and workarounds for each application.
I’m proud to say that I’m responsible for both the CS3 and CS4 revisions, starting with the CS2 version and building on its content. Consequently, some of the content is legacy, some was contributed by other revisers during the early CS3 phase, but the final versions of both are my doing. It was a labor of love, and I’m proud of the finished pieces. I hope you find the guides a valuable resource.
Given recent upheaval at Adobe (600 layoffs yesterday, including some very dear friends), I don’t know if there will be more versions of this resource. If Adobe doesn’t spearhead an update for future CS versions (assuming there will be future CS versions, and I can’t imagine there won’t be), I’ll do it myself.
Photoshop’s “Smart Object” and “Smart Filter” options provide the ultimate in flexibility: in essence, you store an unchanged version of the pixel or vector data in the pantry (embedded in the file), and Photoshop can always use that information as a fresh starting point for edits and transforms. You can designate any layer as a Smart Object via the Layers Panel menu, and when you import pixel or vector content by choosing File>Place, it’s automatically earmarked as a Smart Object.
Additionally, you can use Filter>Convert for Smart Filters to use the Smart Object approach while you apply endless filters to transmogrify a layer (and not always for the better). Continue reading →
If you create an EPS or PDF from an Illustrator file, everything is all glommed together in the resulting file: there’s no need to keep track of graphics and fonts — they’re automatically embedded. If you choose the “include linked files” option when saving an AI file, graphics are embedded.
While embedding graphics makes the file portable, it limits editability; you can’t extract the embedded graphics to restore them, as you can in InDesign. If you created the file, you probably still have the images lying around somewhere: you can edit the images, then replace the embedded images in the Illustrator file.
But what if your print service provider needs to color-correct an embedded graphic? You’ll have to hunt down the image and send it. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to package an Illustrator file like you can an InDesign file?
Well, with the spiffy Scoop plug-in, you can! (Oh, gee. That sounds like a cheesy late-night infomercial. Sorry.) Available from the Orwellian-named Worker72a, Scoop ($47) gathers up all placed artwork, as well as fonts. It’s just like the Package feature in InDesign, or Collect for Output in QuarkXPress. It’s reasonably priced and painless to use. It’s handy, too, when you need to archive an Illustrator job; you can quickly gather all the pieces without wondering if you got it all. Worker72a also offers a bunch of other nifty plug-ins for Illustrator; check ’em out.
As of this writing, Scoop is available for Illustrator up through CS3. I’ll let you know when it’s updated for CS4.
LATER NOTE: Scoop CS34 has been released; it works with both CS3 and CS4. See my updated post here.
My friend Randy received a customer’s InDesign CS4 file which simply refused to package all of its links. There’s an easily-overlooked option in the Links panel menu that will copy all links manually (Utilities > Copy Links To…), but even that refused to gather more than a few links.
I exported the file to InDesign Interchange (.inx), opened the .inx file in InDesign CS4, confident that would do the trick, but to no avail. So I opened the .inx file in InDesign CS3; no luck. I searched for known issues, but “failure to package links” didn’t appear anywhere. There was nothing exotic about the links — just TIFFs, EPSs, and JPEGs. Continue reading →
If you’ve created gradients in previous versions of Adobe Illustrator, you will love the improvements in CS4. The new on-object Gradient controller lets you intuitively manipulate the gradient position and angle.
Want to change the color of a gradient stop? Hover near the gradient controller and the stops appear. Double-click on a stop, and an instance of the Swatches panel appears next to the stop. Choose a new color, then press Return or Enter to dismiss the Swatches. To add a stop, just click on the bottom edge of the gradient controller. You can even control the opacity for each stop along the gradient.
So far so good.
But I’ve discovered that some objects refuse to display a gradient controller. If you convert text to outlines, then apply a gradient, you’ll see the controller for an instant as you drag across the newly-created shape, but that’s it. The controller immediately disappears and you can’t have any of the fun I’ve described above.
You can’t use the gradient controller with grouped objects, or multiple selected individual objects. With Pathfinder-created objects, it gets even more confusing: if you Expand the object, it will display the gradient controller. Un-Expanded objects will have to be ungrouped first (even though the object may seem to be a single object). As for selecting multiple objects, you just can’t use the gradient controller: you can drag across multiple selected objects with the Gradient tool, but the controller disappears when you release the mouse button. To use the gradient controller, you have to address each object separately,
For text converted to outlines, try one of these approaches:
Here’s a tip for owners of Creative Suite Premium 3.3, the intermediate release that included Acrobat 9: you’re eligible for a discount! Because you’ve already paid for Acrobat 9, which is also included in Creative Suite 4 Design Premium (could they make the name just a little longer?), you don’t have to pay for it again.
Owners of plain old CS3 Premium (the one with Acrobat 8 Pro) pay $599 to upgrade to CS4 Premium. But CS3.3 owners can upgrade to CS4 Premium for $440 ($599 minus the $159 you paid for the CS3.3 upgrade).
The catch? You have to call Adobe customer service to get this special pricing. Here’s the number: 1-800-585-0774. The Adobe customer service line is open 5am-7pm Pacific time, Monday-Friday, and 6am-6pm on Saturday.