Archive for January, 2011

Branding type on a texture in Photoshop: Deke’s Techniques

Published by | Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

It’s a blog post. It’s a podcast. It’s another quick step-by-step tutorial from author Deke McClelland! However you think of it, we were thrilled with the positive feedback you provided for last week’s preview episode of Deke’s Techniques, Creating Ice Type. Today, Deke’s Techniques becomes a full-fledged course in the Online Training Library® where members can go to review all the episodes to date and find a new members-only entry to the course. Meanwhile, here on the blog, we’re happy to share another free episode with everyone.

This week’s technique features Deke showing you how to virtually brand your chosen type into any surface imaginable in Photoshop. The specific background (leather, cowhide, parchment, corrugated paper) doesn’t matter. (In fact, for Thanksgiving, Deke employed this technique on my hand. Totally painless, except for holding my hand in the right position to make the turkey’s eyes google correctly.) The key to this technique is turning your background (or your hand, as it were) into a displacement map, then applying some Burn tool action and a little Bevel and Emboss. Check it out, and we’ll see you next week for another quick technique!

And thanks for letting us know how these quick-burst tutorials fit into your training needs. Keep the feedback coming!

How to use the free Find My iPhone (and iPod Touch and iPad) feature

Published by | Friday, January 7th, 2011

With the release of the iOS 4.2 update in November, one of the most valuable features of MobileMe was made available for free to all iPhone 4, iPad, and iPod Touch (4th generation) users. The Find My iPhone feature allows you to track the location of a lost or stolen iOS device. If you’ve lost your iPhone, iPad, or iPod, you can use this tool to locate, lock, and even erase your missing device if necessary. Plus, you no longer have to sign up for the MobileMe service to get this tool. The only catch is that you have to do a little bit of setup before you lose your device.

We think Find My iPhone is so valuable that we decided to release this movie from iPhone and iPod Touch Essential Training for free. In this movie, author Garrick Chow will show you how to get everything set up so that you will be protected next time you lose your precious device (though we can’t guarantee the police will send out the choppers). Garrick will also show you a handy trick for getting Find My iPhone set up on older iOS devices.

Want to learn more tips and tricks for your iPhone, including new features from the iOS 4.2 update? Be sure to check out the rest of iPhone and iPod Touch Essential Training in the Online Training Library®.

Drupal training released on the same day as Drupal 7

Published by | Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Drupal 7 is scheduled to release today—and in a happy coincidence,’s first release of 2011, Drupal Gardens Essential Training, with Tom Geller, was also released today.

Kirk Werner was the training producer for this course. The day we talked about creating this course he went out to test Drupal Gardens for himself. When I asked him about the software, he told me that he found Drupal Gardens to be an amazing CMS solution, giving people the ability to make a great looking, custom site in less than 30 minutes.

In this course, author Tom Geller demonstrates how to create and publish a complete web site with the powerful tools in Acquia’s hosted service, Drupal Gardens. The course covers how to leverage its pre-built page layouts and add custom styling without having to learn CSS, using the Theme Builder tool, integrate rich site features, such as forms, surveys, and media galleries, and how to push content to Twitter and Facebook. The course also shows how to transition a Drupal Gardens site to a self-hosted Drupal site.

I caught up with Tom to ask him about his course.

How is Drupal Gardens related to Drupal 7?

It’s real Drupal, only without the server maintenance hassles of traditional, self-hosted Drupal. Think of it this way: What the blogging site is to WordPress, Drupal Gardens is to Drupal.

Drupal Gardens also differs from the “core” Drupal by including a lot of extra pieces. I think Acquia did a good job picking which modules to add: They really give you features you want, but that aren’t in core Drupal. On the down side, you can’t add modules (as you can with self-hosted Drupal). On the other hand, you can always export your Drupal Gardens site if you outgrow its functionality.

What skills will people need to use Drupal Gardens?

Not nearly as many as for Drupal! If you’ve ever used a publishing platform — WordPress, Blogger, MediaWiki, or even services like Facebook or LiveJournal — you’ll feel comfortable publishing in Drupal Gardens right away. Now, you’ll only use five percent of its power at first: It’s really that much deeper than those other programs. But that just speaks to how far you can go with it.

In your opinion, what’s the most interesting feature in Drupal Gardens?

One feature? I’d say it’s the Theme Builder, which gives you incredible freedom to change your site’s appearance. You get pixel-level control over the theme’s Cascading Style Sheets without having to learn CSS — although knowing a bit about its structure sure helps. I give a brief background about it before showing how the Theme Builder works.

But what most impresses me about Drupal Gardens is the whole package. It feels solid; there are no loose ends. Given Drupal’s flexibility, that’s saying a lot.

Are there any key features that have been added since you recorded your course?

Yes! In late December, when the course was in post-production, Acquia added a neat data-collection feature called webforms. Drupal Gardens already had something similar — the Poll module that comes in core Drupal. But webforms takes that concept much, much further. As with the Theme Builder, they improved webforms by giving it a more click-and-drag interface than you usually see in Drupal.

Since we’re planning to update this course on a regular basis, I’ll be able to update the Drupal Gardens course to include webforms the next time I’m at

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Just that Drupal Gardens really owes its life to two parties: Acquia, the commercial company that released it, and the Drupal community as a whole. It’s an excellent example of a community-built open-source project that’s been commercialized with intelligence and sensitivity. It sure helps that the same person created both Acquia and the original Drupal software.

Introducing a new training series—Deke’s Techniques #1: Creating Ice Type

Published by | Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

This month, we’re introducing Deke’s Techniques, a new offering of bite-sized training from computer graphics guru Deke McClelland. It’s a cross between a weekly blog post, podcast, and project-based tutorial, presented in Deke’s signature step-by-step style. Each week, you can stop by our blog to watch Deke share another of his visually compelling creative effects in a quick, accessible, recipe format. We’ll feature a new free video for everyone every week, and members will have access to the entire, ever-growing collection of Deke’s Techniques directly from the Online Training Library® (including exclusive member-only videos.)

Many of you rely on Deke for his in-depth One-on-One series on Photoshop and Illustrator, those wonderful full-course meals of training that comprehensively cover a vast compendium of features. By contrast, Deke’s Techniques will provide a quick inspiring bite on a specific technique that you can put to work in your creative projects right away.

For example, check out this week’s episode, in which Deke shares his method for creating this icy cool type effect. In this preview installment, Deke combines the Wind filter and some quickly applied layer effects in Photoshop to create this chilly effect, including fully formed icicles. But thanks to a careful use of smart objects, the text remains decidedly unfrozen and completely editable underneath. It’s perfect for your winter-themed design projects (for instance, those of us who might not get our holiday greetings out until mid-January). And Deke delivers it in under 10 minutes, so you can put your new information to use right away.

Stop back by next week to see another installment. And let us know what you think about getting fresh installments every week in this easily digestible format.