Archive for September, 2011

The making of Times Square: LIVE! with Bert Monroy

Published by | Friday, September 30th, 2011

Don’t miss this opportunity to see Bert Monroy— author, teacher, and a preeminent pioneer of digital art—at a live one-day seminar about the making of his spectacular digital painting masterpiece, Times Square. Bert will be demonstrating the tools and techniques used to make the 5-by-25-foot digital illustration of New York’s Times Square. The 6.5-gigabyte image was built pixel by pixel, using more than 750,000 Photoshop layers, over more than four years.

Locations and dates
Los Angeles, October 21
New York, November 3
Chicago, November 17

Special savings for members
Use priority code TMOTSLYN and save $10 off the seminar fee when you register.

Go to Bert’s web site to learn more information and to register for these events.

Watch Lynda’s interview with Bert about the event:

Learn more about Times Square and Bert Monroy on

•  Bert Monroy: The Making of Times Square, The People
•  Bert Monroy: The Making of Times Square, The Techniques
•  Bert Monroy: The Making of Times Square, The Tools
•  Bert Monroy, Digital Painter and Illustrator

Bring your friends! Bert does not travel much or often, and he’s a great teacher and inspirational speaker.

REGISTER by September 30 and save a total of $60 with this discount plus Early Bird pricing!

InDesign FX: Building better bevels

Published by | Thursday, September 29th, 2011

As I wrote in my last post, I think Bevel and Emboss is the most versatile and useful of InDesign FX. But it does have one weakness. When Bevel and Emboss is applied to a path that intersects itself, the shadows and highlights make the path segments seem fused together. So if you try to make something like this garden hose, the 3D effect of Bevel and Emboss is quite unconvincing.

While this isn’t especially useful behavior, it’s not fair to call it a bug. When InDesign has only has one path to work with, this is what would be expected. A single path has no stacking order. It’s a perfectly flat object existing in two dimensions. So there’s no way InDesign could possibly figure out which segment should be on top of (or behind) which other segments.

In this week’s video, I show how to get around this limitation. The trick is to create your own stacking order with new, independent paths that look like they’re all one object. The key is to use the Paste Into command to mask out the ends of the new paths.

When you do this for each overlapping segment, you create a totally seamless 3D effect.

Also, it’s worth noting that sometimes when you do this trick, it can look like the new paths are misaligned with the original path, giving away their presence and ruining the effect. Don’t worry. If you follow all the steps shown in the video, the new paths will be perfectly aligned. The apparent misalignment is just a screen redraw problem that’s more likely to occur if you work at odd zoom percentages. If this happens, just press Shift+F5 to force InDesign to redraw the screen and display the effect correctly.

For members, I have another new video this week exclusively in the Online Training Library® on how to punch holes in InDesign objects.

And I’ll see you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect.

•  InDesign FX complete course
•  Courses on InDesign in the Online Training Library®
•  Courses by Mike Rankin in the Online Training Library®

Deke’s Techniques: Drawing a Command key symbol in Illustrator

Published by | Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

In this week’s free technique, Deke demonstrates how to create a Command key symbol (⌘) inside Adobe Illustrator. The ⌘ symbol, also known as a Bowen knot, a cloverleaf, or Saint John’s Arms, has come to rest on that handy key on the Mac keyboard. If you find yourself often typing up technical instructions, as Deke has been known to do, you may want a symbol that survives the vagaries of font characters by being an actual graphic. Along the way, you’ll get some basic instruction for how to select, copy, and join paths in Illustrator.

It’s a fairly straightforward process, and even an Illustrator-wary student like me could put the technique to work. One observation—when you drag to duplicate in Illustrator, you must start the drag first, then add the modifier keys: Shift (to constrain the angle) and Alt (Windows)/Opt (Mac) to duplicate the object. Once you create your symbol, Deke shows you how to give it the 3D treatment as I’ve done below.

If you enjoy creating this symbol and you’re a member of the Online Training Library®, Deke has some exclusive videos for drawing other shapes: a house, a gear, and a play button. And of course, members always have access to the whole library of Deke’s Techniques.

We’ll see you back here next week with another technique from Deke that’s free to all.

Interested in more?
• The entire collection of Deke’s Techniques 
• Courses on Illustrator in the Online Training Library®
• Courses by Deke McClelland in the Online Training Library®

Creative Inspirations bonus feature: Marian Bantjes, Graphic Artist

Published by | Friday, September 23rd, 2011

The recently released Marian Bantjes, Graphic Artist installment of our flagship documentary series, Creative Inspirations, had the documentary team racking up some serious mileage. We followed Marian to her one-woman show in Toronto, filmed her at her home on secluded Bowen Island (off the coast of Vancouver), and filmed segments in New York and Los Angeles. Marian is a delightful travel companion and always gave us her best whether the camera was on or off. This Creative Inspirations also features an original score written and produced by composer Reg Powell. We’re looking forward to a screening of the film at Phoenix Symphony Hall on October 14th as part of AIGA’s Pivot Conference. Marian will be in Phoenix and will be interviewed by design legend Michael Bierut after the screening—and of course, our cameras will be there.

The bonus feature release shows Marian’s presentation to a packed auditorium at the Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto. She speaks extensively about her creative process, including why rest and relaxation plays an important part in generating new ideas.

InDesign Secrets: Building graphs with the Chartwell font

Published by | Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

For those of you who’ve ever been disappointed by InDesign’s lack of charting features, I’ve got a solution in this week’s InDesign Secrets episode. The Chartwell font (yes, font!) from TK type makes ingenious use of ligatures in order to turn simple text numbers into bars, lines, and pies.

I’ll show you how to start by typing the mathematical equation that represents your chart numbers. You’ll turn off InDesign’s ligatures at first, then you simply apply variations on the Chartwell font and turn those numbers into corresponding charts when you turn ligatures back on.

Deke’s Techniques: Using the healing brush to mirror part of an image

Published by | Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

In this week’s free technique, Deke takes a look at the healing brush, with a particular focus on using a similar, mirrored part of an image (such as the other side of a person’s face) to retouch a large area.

Of course, sometimes the character of a face should be left to its own beauty and evocativeness. But if you need to retouch large areas that are the mirror image of another area, this week’s technique will show you how to exploit the symmetry of the human face to your advantage.

Faces are generally symmetrical, so if you need to use the right side as a source for the left side, you’re going to have to flip the information somewhere along the way. In Deke’s case, he needs to flip the eye on the right over, as well as angle it more appropriately to his subject’s face once it reaches its destination (because no one is perfectly symmetrical). Enter the Clone Source panel, a handy device for changing the orientation and angle of your cloned pixels. The result, you can see below, is simple but effective:

Join us next week for another free technique from Deke.

Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques collection
• courses on Photoshop in the Online Training Library®
• courses by Deke McClelland in the Online Training Library®

New feature: Play an entire chapter with one click

Published by | Friday, September 16th, 2011

You can now play an entire chapter by clicking a chapter title on a course’s table of contents page. All movies in that chapter will play, one after another. Toggle auto-play on or off by clicking the auto-play chapter button at the bottom of the player.

Clicking a chapter title plays all movies within the chapter

If you don’t see this button in your player, log in to and go to the my account menu at the top right of the page, then choose site preferences. Change your player preference to Flash, QuickTime Custom, or Windows Media.

Business presentations in PowerPoint: How do you think they can be improved?

Published by | Thursday, September 15th, 2011

As a follow-up to PowerPoint 2010 Essential Training, we’re working on an intermediate course that covers business presentation design and delivery with PowerPoint. We’d like to hear what you want improved in the presentations you’ve participated in, either as a creator, presenter, or an audience member.

1. Neon colors, background images, cartoonish fonts: what’s attractive or fun to the creator might give the audience a headache. In terms of design, what kinds of things make you cringe as an audience member?

2. If you create business presentations, what aspects of design do you struggle with?

3. Some presenters make you sit up and take notes. Others make you watch the clock. When it comes to the delivery of a presentation, what are your pet peeves—and your best memories?

4. If you give business presentations, in what ways would you like to improve your delivery skills?

Please share your thoughts on any or all of these questions in the comments, and your suggestions and questions will help shape this upcoming course. Thank you!