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July 31, 2009

CSInsider | Design - Conditional Text and Smart Text Reflow in InDesign CS4

In this Eighth episode of CSInsider|Design, I will show how you can leverage the power of Conditional Text and Smart Text Reflow in InDesign CS4 to create modular layouts. For example what if I need text to change in certain situations, like prices for different currencies? What if my document needs to be flexible enough to adapt to more or less pages? Well, all of this is possible with these two very cool features.


July 29, 2009

3D in Flash CS4 Professional, a breeze!

I have just come across a new extension for Flash CS4 that allows to import of 3D files to be animated (3DS or FL3D). It literally took minutes to understand, and before I knew it, I was able to animate a 3D object and create a SWF. Remember that I am a designer, and don't know the last thing about code. Simply by using the new Motion Tween feature, or the provided behaviors you can interact directly with the object itself.
Another awesome point is that the guys at Revolver have created an AIR application that allows to convert and import a 3DS file (3D Studio Max) directly into the Library Panel in Flash. Oh joy!

This extension, called FreeSpin3D for Adobe Flash CS4, is a leap forward for interactive designers, eliminating lengthy development processes by enabling the display and management of 3D objects within the Adobe Flash workspace as Flash Movie Clip objects. The result is a superior workflow, minimal learning curve, low file sizes and extremely fast creation of interactive 3D elements. FreeSpin3D is an Adobe Flash Extension that is installed in seconds using the Adobe Flash Extension Manager.

Features of FreeSpin3D for Adobe Flash CS4 include:

  • Native 3D geometric shape modeling and texturing from the Control Panel.
  • Predefined and customizable interactive 3D behavior/physics libraries.
  • Improved usability and updated user interface.
  • Simplified 3D animation using Adobe Flash CS4's Motion Tween functionality.
  • New 3D optimization presets in the model conversion engine.
  • Direct 3D model import through the FreeSpin3D control panel.
  • Vastly improved performance with a higher polygon count.

Revolver offers a 15-day free trial of the CS3 and CS4 versions of FreeSpin3D at www.freespin3d.com. Make sure to give it a try!

July 24, 2009

Cross-Hatch Drawing with Adobe Illustrator

I just stumbled across Saurabh's great tutorial on "How to Convert a Photograph into Abstract Line Art" over at VectorTuts. Quite a nice effect there, but it got me thinking about the fact that there must be an easier way rather than duplicating paths and manually resizing each line to match the underlying image. Here I will show you how you can transform any image into a cross-hatch drawing in minutes.


Step 1
Create a new document and place the image you want to transform into a cross-hatch drawing (File>Place, or drag and drop from Adobe Bridge).

Step 2
Select the placed image and choose Object > Live Trace > Tracing Options... I prefer opening this window because it allows me to make changes and see them applied immediately (provided that the "Preview" check box is selected).
Feel free to try out your own options, or copy those shown in the screen shot. Changing the "Blur" options makes the trace smoother. Commit by pressing the Trace button.

Step 3
With the resulting vector art selected choose Object > Live Trace > Expand. Because now we need to access the newly created paths.

Step 4
Line_Drawing_PatternSwatches.jpgNow you could create your own Patter Swatches (see below for links on how to that) or simply open one of the many, many libraries already available in Adobe Illustrator. I chose: Window > Swatch Libraries > Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Lines
That's a pretty good collection of line patterns. If you want to see how one is made, simply drag it out of the Swatches Panel onto the Art Board.
(From the Adobe Illustrator CS4 Online Help: Create pattern swatches, Guidelines for constructing pattern tiles).

Step 5
Line_Drawing_AppearancePanel.jpgThe magic of the Appearance Panel is that you can apply multiple fills, strokes, and even effects to any selected vector shape. And this is just what I'll use it for. Select any tone with the direct selection tool (the white arrow pointer) in your traced image and choose Select > Same > Fill & Stroke and then click on any pattern in the Swatches Panel (or the secondary Swatches panel which was opened from the Swatch Libraries). Then, within the Appearance Panel, click on the "Add New Fill" button, and choose another pattern. You will see that the two fills now overlap.

Miscellaneous tips
For a more painterly effect select any fill and apply an effect such as the "Roughen" effect. Also, you can easily control how many lines you want in your drawing just by tweaking the Scaling Options (double-click on the Scale tool). Try scaling your illustration with the Patterns Option not selected, until you have exactly what you need; then check the Patterns Option and scale the illustration back down to the size you need it. Check out my original Adobe Illustrator file [Zip compressed, 1.1 MB].

You can do this type of illustration with any kind of pattern! Imagine diagonal lines, dots, stars, triangles, colors, *whatever*. Hmm... getting carried away here ;-)


July 20, 2009

Adobe MAX 2009 in Los Angeles - October 4-7 2009

Here are sessions I will be doing at MAX this year, but there are many more for you to check out. Historically MAX has always been an event for developers, but in the past few years we've started adding content for designers as well, going into the depth of our creative solutions (read Adobe Master Collection) adding content around designing for Print, Web, Interactivity, and Video. Well then, in a reality where Designers and Developers increasingly collaborate (or should be), it is necessary, if not critical, to mix and match both worlds and discover what each can do to accelerate business through alliance.

InDesign CS4 In Depth
Leave my hands-on lab with the power to harness InDesign for both print and digital publishing projects. Whether you're a novice or an intermediate InDesign user, this lab will walk you through creating and publishing a document from start to finish. Learn how to set up a new document, import text and graphics, create styled tables, keep track of links, apply creative effects to your design, preflight using custom profiles, and ultimately publish your document for print or the web. This comprehensive session will include tips and tricks to help you deliver documents in less time, with fewer clicks. [Skill: General Audience; When: Monday, October 5th at 5pm, and Tuesday, October 6th at 8:30am]

Using Your Skills in Photoshop and Illustrator to Create Content for Flash Player
In this hands-on lab you'll learn how to take the skills you already have in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign to quickly create content that can be viewed with Flash Player. Discover many new techniques that don't involve code and that allow you to add unique, visually interesting elements to your online projects. For example, learn how to create an animated marquee rather than just a static visual. [Skill: Advanced; When: Tuesday, October 6th at 1:00pm, Wednesday, October 7th at 9am and at 1:30pm]

Creative Suite 4 Evangelists' Shootout
Join in the fun for one of the most entertaining hours at MAX. This session pits the worldwide evangelists for Creative Suite (me, Greg Rewis, Jason Levine, and Paul Burnett) against each other in a creative "cage match". From Flash to Dreamweaver, After Effects to Encore, InDesign to Photoshop, there's no telling what amazing tips, tricks, and inspiring techniques these folks will share with you -- all in an effort to out-do each other! Your votes will determine the winner. [Skill: General Audience; When: Monday, October 5th at 2pm, and Wednesday, October 7th at 11am]

CSInsider | Design - The improved Links Panel in InDesign CS4

In this seventh episode of CSInsider|Design, I go through the improvements of the Links panel in InDesign CS4. Working with InDesign has much to do with linking to external files (Illustrator files, Photoshop files, etc...) that are being placed into the document itself. In this new version it has become easier to view your links and see important information about them; information such as the color space, effective and original PPI, scaling ratio, where they are located, and so much more. One feature I particularly like is that when a file is linked to more than once in my layout, these links get grouped together in the Links panel so as not to clutter it visually, also, each link has a hyperlink that lets you navigate to where the link is being used in your file. So much easier!