Archive for November, 2011

Deke’s Techniques: Creating a starburst in Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

This week, Deke builds further on his completely fabricated (but no less green) energy project, adding an altogether unnatural but otherwise sustainable starburst glow around a light bulb. If you followed last week’s free technique, Tracing an image with path outlines in Photoshop, you saw how to trace around the light bulb using a combination of vector-based shapes. Deke followed this up in last week’s exclusive Online Training Library® video (Turning path outlines into a vector mask) by adding a greenish glow around the bulb using the meticulous outline as a vector mask. This is the starting point for this week’s free technique:

Green glow made by turning path outlines into a vector mask

In this week’s free-to-all movie, Deke will take the whole glowing phenomenon one step further using two vector masks and a little-known feature in the Masks panel to create a custom starburst. You’ll start by using the Custom Shape tool to create a very pointy, skinny star shape, twice. Then you’ll use the Feather setting in the Masks panel to basically soften the edges of a very sharp outline. The resulting effect is by no means realistic, but it is an enlightening mix of constraint and dissipation:

Photoshop starburst made from two vector masks

For members of, Deke also has an exclusive video in the Online Training Library®, Drawing concentric glow rings, that shows you another approach that allows you to make an even more unbelievable starburst of concentric circles. While you may never convince anyone this unreal glow actually came from a light bulb, you’re bound to find creative ways to employ these compelling custom Photoshop starbursts in your own projects.

See you back next week with more Deke’s Techniques.

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

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
• Photoshop for Designers: Shape Layers
Photoshop Masking & Compositing: Fundamentals
Photoshop Masking & Compositing: Advanced Blending

Logic Pro’s ES P polyphonic synthesizer: Introduction

Published by | Monday, November 28th, 2011

For the next several months, we’ll be releasing new training bi-weekly on the virtual instruments found in Logic Pro and Pro Tools. In this week’s post, we’ll dig deeper into the instruments found in Logic Pro.

From the newly released chapter of Virtual Instruments in Logic Pro, author Brian Trifon shows off Logic’s ES P polyphonic synthesizer and what it’s capable of. Check out the ES P Polyphonic Synthesizer introduction video here, then log in and dive deeper into learning the instrument and creating amazing music with it.

Check out Virtual Instruments in Logic Pro in the Online Training Library® today, and look out for new training on virtual instruments for Pro Tools and Logic Pro users coming soon!

Interested in more?
• All audio courses in the Online Training Library®
• All courses from Brian Trifon in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next:
Logic Pro 9 Essential Training
• Pro Tools 9 Essential Training
Ableton Live 8 Essential Training
Jason Bentley’s Twilight Remix: Start to Finish

InDesign FX: Exploring Inner Shadow settings

Published by | Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Using shadows to create a sense of depth in a design can really bring it to life and make it pop. Most often you might employ effects like Drop Shadow or Bevel and Emboss to make elements seem like they’re lifted up off the page (or screen). But you can also add depth by going in the opposite direction, down into a design, with the help of the Inner Shadow effect. In this week’s video I show how to use the settings in the Inner Shadow dialog box to make it look like objects are sitting at a lower level than their surroundings.

Example of inner Shadow used to make an object appear lower than its surroundings

Inner Shadow can also be very effective for making text seem like it’s cut out of an object.

Example of inner shadow used to make text appear cut out

In the video, I also show how to apply a big, soft inner shadow to give a more subtle sense of dimension to something like this envelope.

Envelope with big, soft inner shadow to give it subtle dimension

We tend to think that lighter objects are closer than darker objects, so darkening the edges of the envelope just slightly makes the middle of the envelope seem to puff up toward the viewer.

For members, I have another new video this week exclusively in the Online Training Library® that explores Drop Shadow settings, including how to add noise to an object, like I’ve done to this object below:

Object with noises added by InDesign Drop Shadow settings

See you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect.

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

Suggested courses to watch next:
InDesign CS5 Essential Training
Designing a Magazine Layout Hands-On Workshop
• InDesign CS5 New Features
InDesign Secrets

How to create a camera shake in CINEMA 4D

Published by | Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Welcome back for another Design in Motion! This time around we’re going to have some fun in CINEMA 4D building a camera rig that will give you the ability to add very convincing multi-directional camera shake that is easy to control. Camera shake is an important component of animation. Just like motion blur, it adds a lot of realism to your movements.

Last week I introduced you to the idea of expressions in After Effects. CINEMA 4D also has an expression language—in fact—CINEMA 4D has three expression languages; Xpresso, Coffee, and Python. Don’t be alarmed, though—we won’t be writing code. We’re going to use the Xpresso language, which is a visual, node based way of making connections between objects and parameters.

Even though we’re building an easy to use camera rig, really, this technique is largely about the idea that you can use the Xpresso language to control objects and animation.

Interested in more?
• The full Design in Motion series in the Online Training Library®
• All 3D + animation courses in the Online Training Library®
• Courses on CINEMA 4D in the Online Training Library®
• Courses by Rob Garrott in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next:
• CINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects
CINEMA 4D R12 Essential Training
After Effects CS5.5 New Features

Deke’s Techniques: Tracing an image with path outlines in Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques movie, Deke McClelland demonstrates how to trace a fairly complex shape in Photoshop without relying heavily on the often unintuitive Pen tool. Being able to select a complex shape—like this week’s light bulb—without relying on a complex manipulation of anchor points and control handles can be a very handy way to trace objects in Photoshop. For those of you, like me, who find the Pen tool somewhat daunting, this week’s technique is an early holiday gift from Master Deke.

Deke starts with this image from the Fotolia image library:

Light bulb image from the Fotolia image library

Then, deftly adding and subtracting ‘primitive shapes’ (namely circles and rectangles), Deke ultimately creates an accurate vector-based path outline around the entire object. Here’s a diagram of all the shapes that go into creating this combined path.

Light bulk image with Photoshop primitives

After you ingeniously apply the Combine button to your primitives, you magically arrive at this single meticulous path:

Light bulb image with Photoshop vector path

Of course, aside from just merely selecting the light bulb, having it designated by a vector-based path means that you can easily create a vector mask from it. By doing so, you can apply effects that remain constrained to the light bulb. In this week’s Online Training Library® exclusive members-only movie, Turning path outlines into a vector mask, Deke shows you how to create that mask and then apply some cool effects to create this image:

Light bulb image with vector mask applied

If you’d like to dive deeper into this light bulb project in particular, check out Chapter 27 of Deke’s Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery course. If you tend to create your vectors in Illustrator instead, Mordy Golding walks you through a similar Illustrator philosophy in the Drawing artwork vs. building artwork chapter of his Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing Without the Pen Tool course.

See you back next week with more Deke’s Techniques.

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

Suggested courses to watch next:
Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
Photoshop Designers: Shape Layers
Photoshop for Designers: Layer Effects
Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing Without the Pen Tool

Determining the right listening position in your studio

Published by | Friday, November 18th, 2011

If you’re an aspiring mix engineer, or even one with years of experience, Bobby Owsinski’s Audio Mixing Bootcamp course has something for you. Built around a series of hands-on mixing exercises designed to show audiophiles how to listen and work like mixing pros, this course reveals the tips, tricks, and secrets to all of the facets of mixing music, including instrument and vocal balance, panning, compression, EQ, reverb, and delay—all with the intent of making your mix sound as interesting as possible.

In the first movie of chapter one, Determining the listening position, Bobby shows how to properly set up your listening environment so that you can improve the quality of your mixes.

Determining the listening position
| Audio Mixing Bootcamp | by Bobby Owsinski


Wanna know how and why you can use EQ to make your tracks sound better, how to optimize your listening environment to create better mixes, or how to use compression to make your tracks more punchy? If you answered yes to any, or all, of these questions then Audio Mixing Bootcamp is the course for you.

Interested in more?
• All audio courses in the Online Training Library®
• Courses by Bobby Owsinski in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next:
Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools
• Pro Tools 9 Essential Training
Digital Audio Principles

Music Editing for TV and Film in Pro Tools

InDesign Secrets: Decoding hidden characters

Published by | Thursday, November 17th, 2011

In this week’s free InDesign Secrets movie, Anne-Marie Concepcion translates mysterious hidden characters that you often see lurking behind your text in InDesign. If you have a document of your own with any significant amount of formatted text, you can probably spot some of these elusive symbols yourself by choosing Type > Show Hidden Characters. When you do, you’re bound to spot one of these examples:

InDesign hidden non-printable characters

Although one might be tempted to think they contain messages in a cryptic language spoken only by angry aliens, they are actually non-printing characters that are used to indicate various types of spaces, hyphenation settings, comments, and other InDesign features. It’s useful to know what they mean when you run into them. For instance, you wouldn’t want to erase an index entry-marker by accident. (A good indexer is more powerful than an angry alien.) Anne-Marie explains the more common characters in this week’s free field guide to special characters video, and in the InDesign Secrets exercise files section she also provides this free Special InDesign Characters guide which charts many more of them. You may have started the week only knowing a dot indicated a space and the paragraph mark was called a pilcrow, but now you’ve got the InDesign Secrets Official Decoder Ring to clarify many additional mystery symbols.

Meanwhile, Anne-Marie’s partner in InDesign Secrecy, David Blatner, has an exclusive movie in the InDesign Secrets course for members of the Online Training Library®. This week David shows you how to trash and restore your Preference settings, which can come in handy when InDesign is acting oddly.

See you back here in two weeks with more InDesign Secrets.

Interested in more?
• All the InDesign Secrets in the Online Training Library®
• Courses by Anne-Marie Concepcion in the Online Training Library®
• Courses by David Blatner in the Online Training Library®
• All courses on InDesign in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next:
InDesign CS5 Essential Training
InDesign CS5 New Features
InDesign FX series

Practical and effective email marketing strategies

Published by | Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

With the holiday season upon us, you may be thinking about email as a way to get the word out about your products or services. Email is still a great way to capture and engage customers—if you know how to plan a campaign that maximizes marketing dollars and maintains your company’s brand and reputation. This week we released a course by online marketing guru John Arnold that explains how to do it right. John has some serious cred in the email marketing world as the pioneer of Constant Contact’s small business education program, a sought-out conference speaker, and the author of For Dummies books on online marketing.

In Effective Email Marketing Strategies, John gives practical tips for how to build a top-quality subscriber list, comply with spam laws, increase sign-ups, choose design elements that grab customers, create compelling content, write subject lines, analyze the effectiveness of your email campaigns, and much more. Here’s a peek:

John’s number one email marketing tip? Think long-term.

“Avoid planning one email at a time or judging your success on one or two emails,” he explains. “Instead, plan to invest in email marketing over the course of six months to a year with multiple emails over the course of several campaigns. That way, you give a chance for the power of repeat messaging to work and you give yourself a chance to fine-tune your email content, frequency, and targeting.”

Suggested courses to watch next:

Google Analytics Essential Training
Social Media Marketing with Facebook and Twitter
• All courses on business in the Online Training Library®