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Getting into design? Be a reverse engineer

I’m a reverse engineer when it comes to design. There, I’ve admitted it. I can’t claim to be a fantastic designer, far from it. I’d call myself a functioning (or disfunctional) user. I’m not a super creative guy, though I’d like to be. This is probably why I get paid to show software rather than use it all the time.

When I see what real creative people can do with Adobe products like After Effects and the like, I can take one of two approaches. I can get depressed and think I can never be as good as them. Or, I admire what they’ve done and break the image or composition down to it’s elements and figure out how it was done.

Maybe you’re the fantastic designer or the one that will be with practice and application. If you’re not a design genius but still need to bring up your design chops, I’ve found that the second approach is a lot more fun, enabling and useful – go figure. It’s helped me to be more useful when I do get asked to do a design (friends, church, school, etc.) and also when customers come up to me and ask, “hey, how do you do XYZ?”

A lot of the simpler commercials and print ads can easily be broken down to a couple of elements – bits that you know you can do (or figure out). This is especially true as a lot of design has had a very simple asthetic following the simple design trend typified by Apple campaigns.

So, when you see that commercial, print ad or graphic, stop and figure out how it was done. You’ll be glad you did.


I am starting a video project and I need to make the lips of a greyhound move as it speaks English. I have CS3 Master Collection but I sure could use some pointers. Can you help?

[DR – sure Rusty.

First off, you can check out Aharon’s tutorial on lip-synching

Here’s another one:

Another technique you can look at employing with CS3 is the new Puppet tool. A quick look on the web showed a basic approach but not quite what you’re looking for:

Hope this helps,

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