June 29, 2006
In Dust we Trust
Sometimes you just know you’re among your people. A few years ago, when I was new to Adobe San Jose, someone parked & more or less abandoned a car in the West Tower parking garage. After a few months the car’s windows had grown almost totally opaque, coated by the unending flow of construction-related dust. And so, in classic Photoshop style, someone had drawn in the dust a little tabbed palette with a slider marked, “Opacity: 80%.” Yeeeah, thass’ my geeks…
I thought of this when seeing the work of “dust artist” Scott Wade. Scott makes his filthy Mini into a canvas for reproducing everything from da Vinci to dogs playing poker; check out a gallery of his work. [Via] Maybe now I can convince my wife that I’ve been prepping my once-blue Jetta to be an artistic medium, not just letting it go to seed…
June 26, 2006
Building the Brain Trust: Adobe acquires Pixmantec
Though by now you may have seen the news elsewhere, I’m happy to report that Adobe has announced plans to acquire the raw image processing technology of Pixmantec. (More details are in this FAQ.)
Adobe Camera Raw is already the overwhelming favorite raw converter (see p.23), and we’re delighted to have one of the world’s best raw-processing developers, Michael Jonsson, joining Thomas Knoll, Mark Hamburg, & the rest of the ACR/Lightroom team. It’ll be great to see what this incandescent group can do together, and we’re looking forward to being joined by business-savvy Pixmantec co-founder Kenneth Tang Laerke as well.
Welcome aboard, guys!
Bumpin’ 3D desktop interface
BumpTop brings some fresh thinking to the 20+ year old metaphor of desktop organization. Check out this video to see how it combines 3D, physics, pie menus, and pen savvy to improve file handling.
Cool as it is, however, I was struck by what Merlin Mann has already written up: namely, that the future belongs to file management based on searching. It just isn’t possible for a traditional file system metaphor, no matter how slick, to keep pace with an explosion of data. We see this again and again:
- Google cruised past Yahoo (i.e. Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle) when categorization couldn’t scale.
- Smart folders (i.e. saved searches) in email take over when you can’t keep switching among your zillion mailboxes.
- Desktop-level searching like Spotlight, Google Desktop Search, and Vista’s built-in engine become essential when your number of files overwhelms your ability to categorize them meaningfully.
Maybe, then, the future belongs to slick, forward-thinking UIs that rest atop great search plumbing. This, I think, is where Adobe could make a difference. Why not enable developers to create powerful, lightweight interfaces as they do in Flash (e.g. Felix Turner’s Flickr Related Tag Browser) and use those on the desktop in tools like Bridge? Flickr has thrived by becoming skinnable in interesting ways. There’s no reason that local file management should be less innovative.
For more info on BumpTop, see also the personal site of researcher Bill Buxton. [Thanks to Joel Bryant of Wacom for the link.]
June 25, 2006
Flash video, AE, InDesign, and more on Design Center
- New Tutorials:
- Adjust Bézier curves and make motion paths take flight by Jeff Foster.
- Create and configure a Dreamweaver site by Lucinda Dykes
- Use the image tools in Dreamweaver to work with images in your website by Nolan Hester
- Broadcast video using the camera object in Flash by Tom Green and Jordan Chilcott
- Enhance your Flash movie with sound by Russell Chun and H. Paul Robertson
- Frame video with a mask by Tom Green and Jordan Chilcott
- Work with Word documents in InCopy CS2 by Adam Pratt and Mike Richman
- Place Word documents into InCopy CS2 for ultimate control over styling and formatting by Adam Pratt and Mike Richman
- New in the Think Tank:
- New music for the masses By Tina Blaine
- New in the Gallery:
- Big Spaceship: Gallery
Thanks to Jen deHaan for the heads-up.
PUG Rock 07/11
The Photoshop User Group in San José is meeting at Adobe HQ (map) on Tuesday, July 11, featuring guest speaker Stephanie Lim, a photo illustrator at the San Jose Mercury News. Event organizer Dan Clark writes,
Fueled by high-octane pigtails and a steady diet of frozen yogurt, Stephanie Grace Lim is a photo illustrating designing machine. She has won hundreds of awards for her photography, illustrations and design. Among them, acclaim from Nikon, Society of News Design, National Press Photographers Association, California Press Photographers Association, Associated Press, National Headliner Awards, as well as winning Michigan College Photographer of the Year and a Pulitzer Prize nomination. In winter of 2007, Sherpas plan to scale the mountain of toys in Stephanie’s cubicle at the San Jose Mercury News.
We’ll have pizza and drinks at 6:30, and the meeting will start at 7:00 in the Park Conference Room. Now, excuse me while I get “PUG Life” tattooed on my abs. (You know I like the blackletter…)
June 21, 2006
12 Tips for Photoshop Text
This is one of those blog entries that start innocently enough, but which quickly become War and Peace in length. But take a second to scan it quickly if you find yourself setting text in Photoshop. Some of the tips will be familiar, but I’ll bet that others will strike you as new.
[Update: Photoshop Grand Master Russell Brown has now created a video to show off these tips–plus four more, just to outdo me!]
- Photoshop CS2 added a WYSIWYG font menu, so that you can preview fonts before applying them. But what if you want to cycle through fonts on the document itself? Select the name of the current typeface in the Options Bar, then hit the Up and Down arrow keys. That’ll cycle through the available fonts on your system.*
- If you find that you’re setting the same style of text repeatedly (e.g. Times New Roman 12pt underlined, no anti-aliasing), create a Type tool preset. Click the tool preset icon (you know, that thing no one clicks in the upper-left corner), click the New Preset button, and you’ll record all your current font parameters. (This works with nearly all tools, by the way.)
- It’s now much easier to change the settings for multiple text layers at once in CS2. Select the layers you want (Shift-click in the Layers menu to select a range, or Cmd (Mac)/Ctrl (Win)-click to select non-adjacent layers. Any changes you make to the font settings will apply to all selected layers. If you’re working with CS1 or earlier, this still works, but it’s a little more hidden: link together the layers you want to change, then hold Shift before changing the text properties.
- If you want to curse less, hit Cmd-Return (Mac)/Ctrl-Return (Win) when you’re done setting a line of text. That way, instead of adding a line break (Return), Photoshop will commit the text edit.
- If you’re setting paragraphs of text in Photoshop (e.g. comping up Web pages), and if the process consists of “type type type RETURN, type type type RETURN”–please, for the sake of your sanity, stop! You can simply click with the Type tool, then drag to create a text box (like this). This way, if you need to modify the dimensions of the text box, you don’t end up deleting & reseting tons of hard returns.
- Okay, that’s cool, but what if you want to fill not just a box, but some irregular shape? Draw your shape with the Pen tool (making sure to have it set to draw paths), then hover near the inside of it with the Type tool. The cursor will change & you’ll be able to type inside the path, like this. What’s particularly nice is that the path & text stay editable, meaning that if you adjust the path, the text will reflow automatically.
- Similarly, you can set text along a path. Draw the path, then use the Type tool to click near the outside of the path. Et voilá—text on a path in Photoshop.
- Starting in Photoshop 6, it’s been possible to warp text by clicking the warp button on the Options Bar. Clicking it presents a range of options for warping type while keeping it editable. But did you know…
- You can animate text warps. After creating a warp, create a second frame, change the warp, and hit the Tween button on the Animation palette. Boom–you’ve got something like this (but hopefully way less cheesy).
- For more warping control of text, first convert the text into to a Smart Object (choose Layer->Smart Objects->Group Into New Smart Object). This provides two main advantages: you can apply a custom warp (pushing and pulling it freely, like this), and you can warp multiple text layers as a single unit. (Downside: you can’t animate a warp applied to a Smart Object.)
- Illustrator CS2 has added a bunch of kickass typography tools–a good deal richer than what Photoshop offers. But because Illustrator now shares a type engine with Photoshop, you can set text in Illustrator using features like the Glyphs & Open Type palettes, then copy the text, paste it in Photoshop, and keep it fully editable. (Just make sure you select the letters in Illustrator, rather than the whole text object, before copying, and that you’ve clicked with the Type tool in Photoshop before pasting.) Or, if you have a lot of text in Illustrator, try exporting a PSD file (via File->Export). The amount that can be preserved–including text on a path & text in a shape–is pretty amazing.
- Don’t blindly trust any program’s letter spacing. Take a minute to make sure your text looks decent, and adjust the kerning when letters pairs are too tight or loose. (Click between the letters, then Opt (Mac)/Alt (Win) + left/right arrow to adjust the kerning.) You may also want to see Geoff Stearns’ tips on setting good Web-res type. (The default settings for print-res work may not deliver the best results at 72dpi, and vice versa.)
- Hold down the Cmd (Mac)/Ctrl (Win) key while you’re working on a line of text. This will let you reposition the text on the layer, without first having to commit your edit.
- To select an entire string of text (everything on a layer), double click the layer’s thumbnail in the Layers palette.
Whew–hopefully some of that will prove useful to you. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some tips, so I may come back and update the entry later. If you’ve found tricks you find useful, please add them via the comments.
* If you plan to do this often, you might want to go into Photoshop preferences and raise the number of undos, since each change of font counts as an undoable step.)
June 20, 2006
Lightroom: 240,000 downloads and counting
Passing along a quick bit of good news: the Adobe Labs folks report that Lightroom has been downloaded more than 240,000 times since Beta 1 was posted earlier this year. The response from photographers has been tremendous, and these download numbers are Mac-only. As soon as we post a version for Windows (yes, we know–it is coming!), I expect download activity to go completely bananas. In the meantime, if you have a Mac handy & haven’t done so already, grab Beta 3–fresh off the compiler & ready for action.
June 19, 2006
Angels & Insects
Maybe it’s because dachshund-sized moths like to lay eggs on the side of my apartment, or because I used to draw the occasional beetle, but I find the photographic project Angels & Insects arresting, though far from comforting. [Via] In a similar vein, Attracted to Light, from Brooklyn-based twins Doug & Mike Starn, explores the interplay of light, darkness, and these airborne sweater-wreckers. You can flip through the book and check out images from the project online. [See also previous entry on PS & insects.]
June 14, 2006
Your photos -> Your furniture
Sure, you can upload images from Bridge & Photoshop Elements to create custom stamps, photo books, and more, and Neighborhoodies & co. let you customize just about anything. But–and I know you’d been hankering for this–the long national nightmare of not being able to print your photos on furniture is finally at an end, thanks to ClothUK. Better start saving those shekels now. [Via]
Photoshop Illustrators Gone Wild: Frodo & Mo’
- On The Photoshop Experiment, illustrator Cory Godbey walks step by step through his creations in Photoshop. (More of Cory’s work is here.) I love seeing the pieces move from the simplest of sketches to richly toned paintings. [Via]
- Vishal Pawar checks in from India with a terrifically detailed portrait of Frodo Baggins. [Via Mike Downey]
- Fantasy vehicles & creatures come to life in the work of German artist Daniel Simon. Daniel starts traditionally with pen and marker, then applies digital airbrushing. [Via]
- My old Agency.com colleague PJ Loughran brings a great sense of color and texture to his illustrations, combining brush and ink with Photoshop composites. His work appears in print, on the Web, and even on Burton snowboards.
June 13, 2006
“Raise that flag, my man–Respect!”
Jimmy Smits, Geraldo Rivera, and a pair of us pasty ex-Midwesterners rubbed elbows with a couple million jubilant New Yorkers this Sunday at the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade in NYC. I’ve posted a gallery of some of our snaps. We didn’t see this dude, but the giant papier-mâché heads and skull-faced kid (see gallery) more than made up for it.
Photoshop TV @ Adobe: The Interview
Okay, maybe we’re not talking Nixon/Frost-type historical significance, but a bunch of us had fun chewing the fat with Matt Kloskowski in the latest installment (Episode 34) of Photoshop TV. The chat with Photoshop co-architects Russell Williams and Scott Byer, as well as me and Matt, starts around the 24:30 mark. (Incidentally, despite appearances to the contrary, Adobe HQ was not hit with a nuclear blast during the shooting. Rather, the building’s power-saving light system cut out, necessitating a little spontaneous hand-waving.)
On a related note, the Photoshop TV team has announced that they’ve reached 2 million downloads in a month. Congrats, guys!
[Update: Photoshop engineer John Peterson (known for Photomerge, Merge to HDR, warping, and more) writes, “The ‘I didn’t know it could do that’ remarks in the PhotoshopTV spot reminded me of the #1 funniest line I’ve ever seen in a report from our users studies group: ‘…[T]he test subject was not aware of this feature (even though it was implemented by her husband).'”]
WDDG: Lo-fidelity all-stars
Heh–I love passing along great design and photography, and I think that the WDDG’s new site fits the bill, if in an entirely unusual way. Amidst a sea of handsome, interchangable sites, this willful awfulness really clears the palette. (Yes, Corporate America, this is what your Web designers crank out while on speakerphone during those interminable calls with you. No, seriously, that’s how this came about.) Now, despite having cranked out lots of solid work, WDDG founder James Baker wonders whether the forthcoming real company site can ever match up…
(Okay, okay–you want some more traditionally great work? Check out this collection from Arnold Newman, who passed away last week at the age of 88.)
Lightroom Beta 3 now on Adobe Labs
The second major update to the Lightroom Public Beta is now available on Adobe Labs. This release remains Mac-only, but the Lightroom Beta for Windows will be available this summer and more public Betas are scheduled to follow with additional functionality.
Beta 3 for Mac includes the following updates:
- Before and After views in Develop
- History of Develop edits provided
- Live preview of HTML/Flash web output in new Web Module
- Auto Import or Hot Folder support
- Better handling of PSD and TIFF files
- Resolution control in Export
- Additional straighten tool
- Saving module settings with collections and shoots
- Keyword import/export
- User can specify a custom order for images in a collection or shoot
- More options for filtering based on rating
- Ability to not filter lists with search string/rating
- Black point compensation in Print
- Can specify Develop preset to apply during import
As always, we’re eager to hear photographers’ thoughts/rants/raves on what’s needed in this professional workflow application. Click the Community tab on the Lightroom product page for links to the forums. Thanks in advance for your insights.
June 12, 2006
Adding Flash to PDF & more in Adobe Design Center
Jen deHaan has pointed out a number of new updates to the Adobe Design Center:
- New in Tutorials:
- Action item: Be more productive by using Actions in Photoshop
by Bruce Fraser and David Blatner
- Add some Flash to your PDF files from Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Classroom in a Book
- Achieve photorealism with Gradient Mesh from Real World Adobe Illustrator CS2 by Mordy Golding
- Use layer masks to make realistic photomontages by Steve Caplin
- Make your PDF files sing by adding sound to them from Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Classroom in a Book
- Action item: Be more productive by using Actions in Photoshop
- New in Dialog Box:
- Video on the web: My favorite designers by Hillman Curtis
- New in Gallery:
June 09, 2006
SiteGrinder 2 turns PSDs into HTML/CSS
MediaLab, makers of the popular PSD2FLA Photoshop-to-Flash conversion plug-in, have introduced SiteGrinder 2.0 for converting PSD files into interactive HTML pages and Web galleries. Some of the capabilities match things Photoshop and ImageReady already offer (e.g. slicing, creating rollovers), but SiteGrinder goes further by generating scrolling text boxes, CSS-styled text from Photoshop text layers, multiple pages from Layer Comps, and more. The site lets you see the product in action and check out example pages it has generated. I’m no CSS ninja*, so I can’t evaluate the quality of the generated code, but overall this looks like a pretty slick product.
All this makes me curious about what kinds of similar support, if any, we should add to Photoshop in the future. Past efforts to generate CSS have gotten pretty well ripped apart, and I don’t know whether any machine-generated code would ever please purists. And similarly, for the last six years GoLive has offered the ability to turn a PSD into a stack of DIV, but I’ve never met a soul who’s tried the feature. (Maybe it was ahead of its time–or at least the browsers–in 2000, or maybe it’s too hidden.)
So, I’m wondering: should we be working on ways (export from Photoshop/Fireworks, import via Dreamweaver/GoLive, etc.) to turn PSDs into images+CSS, or is that not a big need?
* I can’t get my blog comments to alternate colors, for crying out loud.
Lightroom Podcast #7: Microsoft’s Tim Grey
Adobe’s pro photography evangelist George Jardine recently headed north to meet with the folks at Microsoft and has posted a new recording. George writes,
This podcast was recorded May 26th, 2006, at Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond, WA. In this podcast, we dig into Tim’s role at Microsoft as the Director of Professional Photography Community. We also talk about the recent focus on the professional photographer’s workflow at Microsoft, and what Microsoft is working on to make Windows a compelling platform for photography.
The podcast is available via iTunes (search for “Lightroom”) and via this RSS feed.
June 05, 2006
Photography with a conscience
Mike Johnston & co. at the consistently excellent Online Photographer blog have been posting a great series, Top Ten Greatest Photographs Ever Made. In the latest entry, Mike examines the interplay of gritty real life (a migrant mother, a deformed child) with classical imagery (the Madonna, the pietà), and he discusses the ways that photographers like Eugene Smith compose images that transcend the story at hand. It’s an unusually literate blog & well worth a read.
Representing the ongoing efforts of conscientious photographers, The Press Photographer’s Year showcases some of the most arresting photojournalism from the last 12 months. The slideshow interface makes it tough to navigate/link to specific image, but stick with it; there’s much that demands to be seen. [Via]
New Lightroom resources: O’Reilly site; eBook
O’Reilly has launched Inside Adobe Lightroom, a site devoted to Adobe’s newest pro photography application. Resources include a 22-page booklet from photographer Ken Milburn, an audio interview with Adobe evangelist Julieanne Kost, and tips blogged by author Derrick Story. [Via]
Elsewhere, George Mann of dpmac.com is creating a downloadable Lightroom eBook. He’s also posting daily installments from the series in his Adobe Digital Photography Workflow section.
June 03, 2006
Photographers Directory gains traction, gets props
Launched a little over a year ago, the Adobe Photographers Directory is continuing to grow into a great resource for pairing photographers with designers, art directors, and anyone else wanting to commission work. According to the APD team, every month some 2,000 photographers are getting contacted for business as a result of the directory. They also report that:
- The directory is now available in 5 languages: English, French, German, Italian and Spanish
- 3,500 pro photographers have joined the directory representing:
- Partnerships with 28 pro photography associations in 10 countries
- Photographers from 35 countries
- 36% of the invited photographers
- 43,000 (on average) unique visitors a month go the directory, with the majority coming from the link in Adobe Bridge.
The Webby Awards have dubbed the directory an Official Honoree in Services Category–nice props that follow a WebAward it earned last year. If you’re a pro photographer, or if you’re in the market to hire one, we hope you’ll find good things via the directory. As always, feedback is most welcome.