Archive for December, 2011

InDesign FX: Simulating multiple strokes in InDesign

Published by | Thursday, December 8th, 2011

If you’ve ever wished you could apply more than one stroke to an object in InDesign, then this week’s free InDesign FX video is for you. While there is no way to trick InDesign into applying more than one stroke at a time to an object, it is easy to create custom-stripe stroke styles (try saying that three times fast!) that give the appearance of more than one stroke. In the video, I show how to create a custom inset stroke-style by starting with the Triple stroke and simply removing the outer stripes you don’t want. In the example below, I made a custom stroke based on Triple, and then simply deleted the two outer strokes in the New Stroke dialog box. The result is an inset stroke, held in place because it started out as the innermost of three strokes.

InDesign Triple stroke simulating a double stroke

I also show how to use InDesign’s Gap Color and Gap Tint settings to make multi-colored strokes using solid color swatches or gradients. The Gap Color controls are key for simulating multiple strokes and they are easily overlooked because they’re not in the Swatches panel. You’ll only find them in the Stroke panel. I’m especially fond of using gradients to create a metallic look in striped strokes, as I’ve done here by setting the Gap Color to black and the Stroke color to a metallic swatch:

InDesign metallic-look striped strokes

A double-stripe stroke is great for simulating a photo frame and matte combination, like the one below. In this instance, I also applied an Inner Bevel to the stroke to make the frame look like it was made of four separate pieces:

InDesign double-stripe stroke effect

For members, I have another new video this week exclusively in the Online Training Library® that demonstrates even more ways of simulating multiple strokes. It’s called (wait for it…) Simulating Multiple Strokes, Part 2. Here’s a preview of one of the effects:

Multiple strokes InDesign simulation: Postage-Stamp Look

So, if you don’t want to settle for InDesign’s single stroke per object limitations (or wait for an Illustrator-like Appearance panel in some future version of InDesign), you can trick InDesign into simulating multiple strokes by tweaking the existing stroke styles today.

I’ll 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
 InDesign Secrets
InDesign Styles in Depth

Online marketing fundamentals: Blogs, SEO, & beyond

Published by | Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

The web has completely changed marketing from a primarily one-way form of communication to an interactive, two way customer-centered conversation. It has also changed the rules of participation. You don’t need a big budget or a marketing team to embark on an effective online marketing campaign, you just need to know the fundamentals of online marketing so you can get started on a new campaign, or optimize the campaign you have. The smallest businesses—the one-woman design shop, the auto repair place down the street, the ten-employee consulting business—can engage in many of the same marketing activities as a multinational fast-food chain with a massive marketing budget.

In Online Marketing Fundamentals, web marketing expert Lorrie Thomas Ross explains how businesses can:

• Set themselves up for success by defining their audience and creating an effective website

• Use social media sites from Facebook to Foursquare to interact with customers and prospects in new ways

• Blog to become credible sources of information and reach new audiences

• Use SEO and SEM to reach customers interested in their goods or services

• Analyze their online efforts with web analytics software

• And much more

Whether you’re contemplating your first web marketing efforts or are an experienced web marketer looking for new ideas, you’ll find plenty of information in Online Marketing Fundamentals.

Interested in more?
• All business courses in the Online Training Library®
• Courses by Lorrie Thomas Ross in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next:
Social Media Marketing with Facebook and Twitter
Effective Email Marketing Strategies
Analyzing Your Web Site to Improve SEO
Google Analytics Essential Training

Using After Effects’ Graph Editor to control animation

Published by | Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

The difference between a good animator and a great animator is finesse, and no matter what application you’re using, adding finesse to your animations boils down to having control. Using any kind of animation software is a lot like playing a musical instrument, and the greatest musicians in the world all need to have control over their instruments to create the strongest final product.

For musicians, finesse means moving from one note to the next in the appropriate manner, which can mean abrupt movement or seamless and smooth movement. The same is true for motion graphics, except an animator’s finesse means moving with appropriate control from key frame to key frame, rather than from note to note. For motion graphics, After Effects, and CINEMA 4D (C4D) are my instruments. In C4D, you finesse your animations using the F-Curve manager (which you can learn more about in the CINEMA 4D R12 Essential Training course). In After Effects, you finesse your animations using a tool called the Graph Editor, which is like a  flipped version of the timeline—where you see the key frames themselves in the timeline, we see what’s happening in between the key frames in the Graph Editor.

By definition, a key frame is simply the value of an animation parameter recorded at a specific moment in time. Normally the software will automatically figure out the animation from one key frame to another, but each application has its own default method. For After Effects the default animation between key frames is a linear transition from one value to another. That means that the values automatically move in a straight line with a sharp transition at each key frame. Sometimes that sharp transition is just fine, but there are other times where smoother, more fluid transitions may be the answer. To achieve these fluid transitions, you could use one of the preset key frame interpolations like easy ease (which is my solution about ninety-percent of the time if I need a smooth transition in key values). It’s when you need extra control over your animation’s finesse that I recommend using the Graph Editor.

If this introduction to the power of the Graph Editor gets you fired up, make sure to check out the course After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation by Chris and Trish Meyer and pretty soon you’ll have all the finesse you need!

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 Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next:
After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation
CINEMA 4D R12 Essential Training
CINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects
After Effects CS5.5 New Features

Deke’s Techniques: Creating an Indiana Jones text effect in Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

If you’re craving real Photoshop adventure, then this week’s Deke’s Techniques is just what you seek. In this free-to-all video, Deke creates a classic Indiana Jones-style logo. Start with whatever phrase you like, and use Deke’s process to transform your text into the multicolored, Saturday-matinee, cliffhanger text you see here:

Example of Deke's Indiana Jones-style Photoshop text

Grab your bullwhip and hat and set out on the adventure Deke has in store for you this week by first downloading the “SF Fedora” font from Shy Foundry. Then, after a series of small alterations, you’ll load a special Deke-created “Indiana” gradient so that you have just the right mix of orange, yellow, and white traveling intrepidly down your text. (If you aren’t a member of, you can still roll your own gradient based on the info in this video.) After applying a few careful transformations and a clipping mask, you’ll find that you’ve turned your ordinary text into the stuff of treasure-seeking legend.

If you have a detailed eye, you may have noticed at the end of Deke’s free technique our created Indiana Jones text has slightly rounded corners around the altered SF Fedora font. If you’re on a search for the elusive sharp, or mitered, corners that we see in the original Indiana Jones logo and you’re a member of, this week’s exclusive Online Training Library® video, Achieving mitered corners in Photoshop, will show you how to take your logo into Illustrator, square off the corners of your type, and re-import the results into Photoshop for a pristine replication of the classic Indiana Jones movie poster effect.

And of course, for further Photoshop adventure, join us next week for another free edition of 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: Type Essentials
Designing a CD Cover in Photoshop Hands-On Workshop
Photoshop CS5 Top 5

Pro Tools 10 new features

Published by | Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Pro Tools, the industry standard digital audio workstation, offers users a number of new features in its latest version, Pro Tools 10, including clip gain, real time fades, the ability to bounce your songs directly to your iTunes library, and the ability to share your music directly from Pro Tools with SoundCloud.

Avid has included some new plug-ins and made enhancements to its existing plug-ins, even adding a new plug-in format called AAX. There are also new importing and exporting features, audio engine and disk performance enhancements, extended system capabilities, added support for more file formats, and some interface and nomenclature changes.

Check out this introductory video to Pro Tools 10 New Features and then peruse all of seventeen videos in the course for free in the Online Training Library®.

See you back here next Friday for more training on the leading digital audio workstations including both Logic Pro and Pro Tools.

Interested in more?
• All Pro Tools courses in the Online Training Library®
• All audio courses in the Online Training Library®
• All courses from David Franz in the Online Training Library®

Suggested Courses to watch next:
Audio Mixing Bootcamp
Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools
Music Editing for TV and Film in Pro Tools
Pro Tools 9 Essential Training

InDesign Secrets: Aligning decimal points in a numbered list

Published by | Thursday, December 1st, 2011

This week’s InDesign secret is all about getting yourself (and your decimal points) properly aligned. In this week’s free-to-all movie, David Blatner shows you the subtle adjustments you have to make to your bullet position, left indent, and hanging indent to get the decimal points in your numbered list lined up correctly. David’s quick and clear advice helps you define, locate, and implement your bullet and indent position options in InDesign, resulting in an upgrade from the unkempt figure on the left to the tidy one on the right:

Example of decimal points aligned in InDesign

Meanwhile, over in the Online Training Library®, David’s partner in InDesign secrecy, Anne-Marie Concepcion, has a new member-exclusive video this month (Running a Script) that shows you how to install and use scripts in InDesign. Scripts are little sets of instruction that allow you to automate behaviors in InDesign, such as the merging of two tables, to save yourself hours of work and strained patience.

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

Suggested courses to watch next:
• InDesign CS5 Essential Training
• InDesign Styles in Depth
Up and Running with InDesign
• InDesign FX series