November 3, 2009

Create an Interactive PDF/Flash Gallery with Adobe InDesign

The goal of this tutorial is to create an interactive Flash gallery using the tools available in Adobe InDesign CS4. What? InDesign? Isn't InDesign for print layout? Well, hmm... no, not only, not any more. What you'll be doing here is to create a Flash image gallery in InDesign to be deployed on a web page. Although this whole procedure also works for creating very cool interactive PDFs (see my example here: ID_PDF_Gallery.pdf [657KB]). Imagine that technique used in a book, or magazine layout!
This idea came to me when I saw the "Show/Hide Buttons" action in the Buttons Panel... Why on earth would you want to hide your buttons? Well, what if the buttons were in fact not buttons?
Very often designers (or their Clients) have more images than will fit into a layout. So here's a quick way to publish them all to an interactive PDF or SWF.

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August 30, 2009

10 Years of InDesign

indesign1.jpgWell, who would have guessed? It's been ten years now, since InDesign 1.0 shipped (read the original press release). InDesign 1 included many groundbreaking features unmatched in page-layout products that were available at the time. Such as:

  • Multi-line Text Composer
  • Optical Margin Alignment
  • Hierarchical Master Pages
  • Extensive Multi-lingual support
  • Optical Kerning
  • High-resolution EPS and PDF display
  • Multiple Redo & Undo
  • Zooming from 5% to 4000%
I remember being very excited at that announcement, and could not wait to investigate it. The tag line was: "Page layout and design for the future of professional publishing", now how accurate and forward looking was that?
Sadly, version 1.0 did not answer the immediate needs of my fast paced production environment, so I let it go, and went back back to my usual workflow (and we can all guess what that was).
Just over two years later, on September 24, 2001, Adobe announced InDesign 2.0 (Press Realease), and I got all excited again. So when Adobe Italy started touring the country showcasing it's features in 2002, I took a day off my daily routine to attend one of their events; and this time they had me 100% convinced.
Come on! I mean stuff like:
  • Transparency (drop shadows, feathering, and opacity settings to objects)
  • Support of native files and transparency (transparent Photoshop, Illustrator and PDF files)
  • Table creation features
  • Long document support
  • Etc...
I got myself InDesign 2.0, worked on a rather complex project of 300 pages involving maps, transparencies, multiple languages on layers, and so on... I then took it to the printer, and it did print like a charm. A few weeks later, I sold my licenses of Brand X, got Certified (ACE), and never looked back.
Thank you InDesign, and Happy Birthday, or would one call this an Anniversary? How much you have grown, and how much my life has changed thanks to you.

Feel free to share your experiences of InDesign here.

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).

Continue reading "Cross-Hatch Drawing with Adobe Illustrator" »

May 27, 2009

Welcome to Presentations

A while back, I wrote "Adobe, much more than just PDF"; is part of our Creative Pro Online Services (which also include Kuler and the Adobe Community Help) and is a set of services that you can use to create and share documents, communicate in real time, and simplify working with others, dramatically speeding up your production workflows.
Today we introduced Presentations, providing yet another cool online tool to our users.


Built on the Adobe Flash Platform, Presentations is a presentation application that provides a way for users to create, edit and share presentations together online. Currently it is in preview release and available on Adobe Labs as public beta. By making Presentations available on Labs, we are able to give people access to the product at a point where it is far enough along to be useful, but early enough in development where we can incorporate user feedback.

Read on for a Q&A.

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April 30, 2009

Meet Adobe Illustrator 88 (1987) - History lessons

I finally got my hands on the video of which I talk so much about in my presentations: John Warnock in person, presenting Adobe Illustrator 88 back in 1987 [thanks to Terry Hemphill for sending it to me]. For our "younger" users, John Warnock, together with Chuck Geschke, was one of the founders of Adobe Systems.

The concept behind Illustrator 88 was so new that it needed a video tape to explain what it did and how to use it. For example, how would you have known how to use the Pen Tool, had you never seen one before? How would you have known about direction lines and anchor points? The Pen Tool is now available in most graphics applications, and we almost take it for granted.
Check out the computer he is using, and how he talks about a "scanner hooked to the Macintosh"; it's a real treat and a lot of memories for me. This was the beginning people! John Warnock wanted a way to draw PostScript, and Illustrator was his answer. And look at where we are now as far as vector graphics are concerned.
The "Tutorial" part of the video is extremely interesting as John Warnock takes us through operations such as opening the application itself, and shows all of the available tools and how they work.

This is the full 34 minute version of it (divided into five parts). You can find the whole series on my YouTube Channel, or click on the links below to access individual parts directly.

Meet Adobe Illustrator 88

  • Part 1/5 - Introduction and Demo on how to create art using a scanned drawing as a template. [00:06:20]
  • Part 2/5 - Demo on how to create a drawing from scratch without scanned template. [00:07:27]
  • Part 3/5 - The Adobe Illustrator Tutorial. John Warnock starts with: "Now is the time for you to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator". [00:07:25]
  • Part 4/5 - The Adobe Illustrator Tutorial (continued). [00:05:47]
  • Part 5/5 - The Adobe Illustrator Tutorial (continued). [00:06:36]
Note: I have corrected the audio with Adobe Soundbooth CS4, to remove the hiss and make it slightly louder.

If you want to know more about the history of Adobe Systems, the book "Inside the Publishing Revolution: The Adobe Story" by Pamela Pfiffner is a great read. When I got it back in 2003, I read it all in one go. Go figure...

Enjoy and make sure to comment. Anyone among those who actually watched the original tape?

March 31, 2009

Adobe and Facebook teaming up? Time to get social!

Facebook Server IconOr: How you can use Illustrator, Photoshop, and Fireworks CS4 to design the next killer app with Facebook integration.
Just as a reminder, the Adobe Flash Platform and the Facebook Platform provide the ultimate solution for building rich, social experiences on the web. Remember that Flash is available on more than 98% of Internet-connected PCs, so people can immediately access the applications, content, and video that enable social interactions. Also, the Facebook Platform is used by millions of people everyday to connect and share with the people in their lives. Together, both platforms allow you to:

  • Share: Create rich interactions for users to share with friends.
  • Have fun: Make games social; let users compete against their friends.
  • Connect: Let users connect to your Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) with Facebook Connect.
  • Solve problems: Build RIAs that harness the power of community.
  • Reach people: Reach millions of Facebook users through social distribution.

What does that mean for us designers? This is not just about code. If you check out these pages (Adobe Developer Connection), you'll see that there are infinite possibilities! Integration, games, desktop AIR applications.
The cool thing is that you, as a designer, can participate in first person...

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February 20, 2009

Evangelists are just 140 characters (or less) away, on Twitter!

Rufus Deuchler - TwitterOur colleague from the Platform Evangelism Team, Serge Jespers, has created quite a hype when he published a comprehensive list of Adobe employees who have a Twitter account (click here for the complete list). Thanks for spreading the word Serge!
I myself have a Twitter account, and you are free to follow me for news on Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium, to engage with me, or just read random thoughts from my travels around the world.
What I love about Twitter, is that you have 140 characters (or less) to answer one simple question: What are you doing? But you will soon find out that users also post interesting information, links to cool stuff they find online, and so much more; all you need to do to make sense of the thousands of messages that are sent out, is to filter the stream for the things that interest you. At present I use TweetDeck on my desktop (it’s a cross-platform Adobe AIR application) to view tweets from my friends, read replies to my posts, and filter keywords such as “CS4” or “InDesign”, so that I can see what people are saying about the applications they are using, and sometimes even reach out to answer a question or solve someone’s problem. Another powerful feature of Twitter is that, when a post is important, users tend to repost it and the news virally flows through the stream.
When I am on the road I use Tweetie on my iPhone to stay in touch with followers, and write about “what I am doing”.
Here are the Twitter accounts of my four Creative Solutions Evangelism buddies:

*As Serge rightly points out: Please note that these are Twitter accounts. Just like everyone else on Twitter, the people posted here may Tweet about a variety of things and not just the product they are working on.

January 3, 2009

Kuler Patterns


I just stumbled upon this very cool Flash application that leverages the RSS feeds out of Kuler. The web application is written in ActionScript3 and has also been ported to an AIR application (Kulair) that can be downloaded from Dimitri and Nikos' blog.
Here's a Screen Shot of the AIR application. With Kulair you can browse through Kuler themes or search the Kuler database, and then create patterns in a variety of styles (Stripes, Confetti, Mosaic, etc...) to then save those to your desktop as PNGs.
ku_50pxWtext.pngI am a strong believer in the Kuler community and concept and I am confident that we will see more and more applications such as this one pop up on the grid. If you want more information on Kuler as a technology you can start here and move to the Developer Connection here. Also, on the Kuler Services Samples page there is a growing number of interesting examples of what has been created with the Kuler API (Application Programming Interface).
Remember that Kuler is accessible from your favorite Creative Suite 4 software. Explore, search, and create new color themes right where you work with the Kuler panels built into Adobe Illustrator® CS4, Photoshop® CS4, InDesign® CS4, Fireworks® CS4, and Flash® CS4 Professional software.
Join the community and enjoy a world in color!

December 10, 2008

Adobe MAX 2008 Milan - Infinite Images Sneak Peek

I had the great privilege to present a technology that "may or may not be part of any Adobe solution in the future" at Adobe MAX 2008 in Milan. This specific project is called "Infinite Images" and is being worked on by Shai Avidan (Senior Research Scientist at Adobe Systems Inc.); yes, the one that brought us Seam Carving (better known as Content Aware Scaling) in Adobe Photoshop CS4. This sneak won the applaudimeter test from the audience. Kudos Shai!

Thanks a million to Peter Elst for filming it and sharing this with me (there are about 20 seconds missing in the intro due to a change of batteries). For the full length video of the Milan Sneak Peeks go to Peter's blog.

July 24, 2008

Noisy, noisy night...

Ah well, sometimes I just stumble upon techniques that change the way I take pictures. I call these my "impossible pictures". But, before I begin, I'd like to thank Marianna Santoni, an Adobe Guru from Italy, for pointing this out.
Okay, so what's the problem with pictures you shoot at night with a digital camera anyway? It's all the noise, of course! The pictures used in this tutorial were taken with a Canon EOS 400D (ISO 1600, f/3.5, 1/15)


When you take pictures using high ISO and long exposure times, there is an easy way to get rid of those unwanted color speckles!

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July 2, 2008

Caffè Fibonacci - Behind the scenes

This is totally Adobecadabra material! Kush Amerasinghe has a new episode on Adobe TV that shows you how the virtual set in Caffè Fibonacci works [link to show]. Awesome stuff! I am glad that he chose to investigate that matter at "Ask the Adobe Ones". Thanks Kush, I love your show and that was pretty good Italian you spoke there ;-)

December 4, 2007


Those of you who have seen me presenting will have noted that there is a magic spell I use every time something spellbinding happens while Adobe technology is at work.
That word is "Adobecadbra!" (with the exclamation mark). If you want to read about the etimology of the original incantation you can take a look here. There are several theories about the origin of the word, but the one I like best is the Aramaic source: "I create as I speak".

Continue reading "Adobecadabra!" »