Archive for February, 2012

Deke’s Techniques: Drawing a highly graphic text explosion in Illustrator

Published by | Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Rumor has it that next month Adobe Illustrator will turn 25 years old. To celebrate, Deke offers a free technique this week that uses Illustrator to make its own graphic celebratory explosion. You’ll start with some ordinary text, set in an ordinary font, and then you will attach eye-catching stroke effects around it, using a variety of commands from Illustrator’s Effect menu (including a bit of Transform goodness, some offset paths, and the delightfully named Pucker and Bloat commands). After that, Deke shows you how to fill the text and create a series of strokes to form an outline.

Illustrator text with eye-catching stroke effects

Eventually, you can save the whole slew of effects (accumulated in the Appearance panel) as a graphic style to be reused in the second phase of the technique.

To make the “explosion” part of the graphic, you’ll start with a single line segment emanating from the center of the drawing. Next, Deke shows you a super secret way to create a random cacophony of duplicate lines. (OK, it’s all about holding down the tilde key [~], but it’s quick and cool.) Now, you can apply the graphic style you’ve created from the text, turn off some of the options in the Appearance panel, change the fill color, and speedily create a complementary (and no less explosive) effect for the burst of lines. The results explosively speak for themselves. Meanwhile the text is editable, so you can update your center message at will (or depending on the age of your subject). Happy graphic explosion birthday, Illustrator! You’ve earned it.

Adobe Illustrator text with explosive line effect

Deke will be back next week with another free technique (and a couple of exclusive variations exclusively for members).

Interested in more?

• the entire collection of Deke’s Techniques on
• All Illustrator courses on
• All Design courses on
• All courses by Deke McClelland on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Up and Running with Illustrator
• Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced
• Illustrator CS5 Essential Training
Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

Meet the new content manager for Design, James Fritz

Published by | Monday, February 27th, 2012

James Fritz Headshot

As the new content manager for Design, I would like to say hello to all of our members!

I began my relationship with many years ago as a member. With an appreciation for  learning as much as possible, my membership helped me gain the skills that I needed to succeed in my career as a designer. Over time I became an Adobe Certified Instructor, and eventually an author at If you are interested in learning more about me, please check out my courses, or you can follow me @jamesfritz on Twitter where I post design-related tips, news, and inspiration.

Here at my job is to help envision future course development for the design segment, and work with authors to produce the best content that we can for you, the members. While we have lots of great things planned for 2012, I would love to hear what you would like to learn next.

In the comments below, please let me know if there are any techniques, technologies, or concepts related to design that you would like to see at

Thank you and I look forward to hearing your suggestions.


Interested in more?
• Courses by James Fritz on
• All Design courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Muse Beta Preview
• InDesign CS5.5 New Features
 InDesign CS5: Interactive Documents and Presentations
Design Projects: Restaurant Menu
Photoshop for Designers: Color 

Using the jQuery UI library with Google’s CDN

Published by | Monday, February 27th, 2012

The jQuery library gets a lot of coverage online at It’s a great way to build cross-platform interactivity into your websites with a minimum amount of effort. But you might not be familiar with its cousin, the jQuery UI library, which allows you to add tough-to-code widgets to your websites with just a few lines of code.

The JQuery UI  library screenshot

There are widgets in the jQuery UI library for all kinds of useful functionalities like drag and drop, buttons, dialogs, and progress bars. In fact, The jQuery UI library is so big it’s not even included in the normal jQuery library, and it comes as part of a separate download. In this week’s View Source tutorial, I will take a peek into the jQuery UI library to show you how to create a Datepicker you can use on your online projects.

Using the library is pretty simple. Let’s say you have this basic form:

<form action="#">
	<label>When <input id="datepicker" type="text" name="date" /></label>

First, you’ll need a copy of both the jQuery library and the jQuery UI library. If you don’t have the libraries already, Google and others keep copies of popular libraries online, so you can use a copy from Google’s CDN (Content Delivery Network). When you use a popular CDN like Google’s, it means that if someone visits a different site that uses the same library before coming to your page, it will be cached by your browser and available quicker to your users, which makes your page operate faster. Here’s two lines that will load up the libraries via Google’s CDN.

<script src=""></script>
<script src=""></script>

This usually goes in the <head> section of your HTML page. In WordPress, you can update the header.php template by going to your dashboard, finding the Appearance panel, and then selecting the Editor option.

Next, you’ll need to pick a style for the calendar pop-up. You can do this yourself by using the jQuery UI ThemeRoller, or by using jQuery UI’s library of predefined styles. Just go to the ThemeRoller page and choose the tab labeled Gallery.

Example of pre-built ThemeRoller jQuery themes

Once you pick the theme you want, you can download the theme to your desktop and install it, or you can simply link to Google’s copy of one of the themes from the Google CDN. Here’s the formula:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="[JQueryUIVersion]/themes/[ThemeName]/jquery-ui.css" />

So in our case, since we’re working with version 1.8.17 of the UI, and the pepper-grinder theme, so we’ll use:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="" />

The names of the other theme options are: base, black-tie, blitzer, cupertino, dark-hive, dot-luv, eggplant, excite-bike, flick, hot-sneaks, humanity, le-frog, mint-choc, overcast, pepper-grinder, redmond, smoothness, south-street, start, sunny, swanky-purse, trontastic, ui-darkness, ui-lightness, and vader.

Now that our setup is done, all we need to do is type in our jQuery code that links the form field to the widget. You should put this before the closing </body> tag in your document. In WordPress, that would be in your footer.php file.

$(function() {
	$( "#datepicker" ).datepicker({ });

The jQuery code looks for a form element with the ID of Datepicker and adds the functionality to that field. Here’s a full listing of the code.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
	<meta charset="utf-8" />
	<title>DatePicker Sample</title>
	<script src=""></script>
	<script src=""></script>
	<link rel="stylesheet" href="" />
<form action="#">
		<input id="datepicker" type="text" name="date" />
	$(function() {
		$( "#datepicker" ).datepicker({ });

There are a lot of other options you can use, and when working offline you should definitely include a call to a local copy of the libraries. To find out how to do this and more, check out this week’s free View Source tutorial called Creating a Datepicker for your forms with jQuery on If you’re a member and want to learn more about how to speed up your site with content delivery networks (CDNs), check out the member-exclusive video called Using a CDN to speed up your website.


Interested in more?
• The full View Source series
• All developer courses on
• All web + interactive courses on
• All courses from Ray Villalobos on

Suggested courses to watch next:
Create an Interactive Video Gallery with jQuery
Create an Online Photo Gallery with jQuery and Dreamweaver
Create an Interactive Map with jQuery and Dreamweaver
jQuery Essential Training
Set a Marquee to Autoplay with jQuery and Dreamweaver

Tour Douglas Kirkland’s portraits of Oscar nominees

Published by | Friday, February 24th, 2012

This year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to commission portraits of each of the 20 2012 Oscar-nominated actors and actresses.

Who did they call? Renowned photographer (and author) Douglas Kirkland, who has photographed hundreds of actors and performers in his storied career. The resulting portraits form an exhibit called Out of Character, which is on display at the Academy’s Beverly Hills headquarters until March 18.

Last Friday, Douglas gave a few of us an exhibit tour, during which he talked about the portraits and his process. We’re pleased to be able to share it with you. Check it out, then check out his Douglas Kirkland on Photography series.

Interested in more?
• All Photography courses on
• All courses from Douglas Kirkland on

Suggested courses to watch next:
Douglas Kirkland on Photography: A Photographer

Narrative Portraiture: Portraits of Two Texas Artists
Douglas Kirkland on Photography: Natural Light Portraiture
iPhone Photography, from Shooting to Storytelling
Foundations of Photography: Composition

InDesign FX: Creative blend mode tricks

Published by | Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

When it comes to changing colors in photos and other artwork, you’d probably think of Photoshop first. Obviously, Photohop’s image adjustment tools are unrivaled in their number, power, and flexibility. But InDesign’s 16 blending modes offer you a handy means for tweaking and remixing the color of objects directly in your layouts. InDesign has the same blending modes found in Illustrator and Photoshop, so if you know how to use them there, you already know how they work in InDesign. The great advantage of using blending modes in InDesign is increased efficiency. You get to see color changes in the context of your design without having to save files, switch back and forth between applications, or update links.

In this week’s free video, I cover some of the fundamental aspects of InDesign blending modes, including how to combine photos and solid colors to adjust hue and saturation.

Example of hue and saturation in InDesign

I also show how to use blending modes to colorize grayscale images. You can experiment with a variety of monotone and duotone effects very quickly and easily by blending a true grayscale image with the fill of its frame, or with a color overlay.

Colorized grayscale images from InDesign blending modes

Once you get the hang of working with them, blending modes are fantastically fun to experiment with. As you try different combinations, you can often come up with new looks that you didn’t even know you were searching for. One slight word of caution though: when you use blending modes, it’s important to have a grasp on InDesign’s Transparency Blend Space feature, so you don’t get unexpected results in your output. I also recommend checking out this post I wrote on getting InDesign effects into print.

For members, I also have another new video this week in the Online Training Library® that showcases even more creative blend mode tricks, including how to completely invert colors in InDesign with blending modes. (See Creative Blend Mode tricks, Part 2.)

Using InDesign blend modes to invert colors

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

Interested in more?
• The complete InDesign FX course
• All InDesign courses on
• All courses by Mike Rankin on

Suggested courses to watch next:
Photoshop Blend Mode Magic
• InDesign CS5 Essential Training
 InDesign Secrets
• Creating Long Documents with InDesign
Designing an Event Poster Hands-On Workshop

The techniques and community of iPhone photography

Published by | Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying “the best camera is the one that’s with you.”

For millions of people, that camera is an Apple iPhone. The iPhone’s popularity has led to a flood of photography-related apps and a thriving community of iPhone photographers who meet up in person and share photos using the wildly popular Instagram site.

The iPhone’s popularity as a camera has also led to our first course devoted to “iPhoneography.” The course, called iPhone Photography, from Shooting to Storytelling, is taught by Richard Koci Hernandez and is our latest photography course.

When we set out to do a course on iPhone photography, it was obvious that we needed to cover shooting tips and cool photo apps, but we also wanted to celebrate the iPhone photography community. We wanted to show the fun and mutual inspiration that comes from sharing visual stories with other people. We wanted to capture the spirit of communal creativity that happens when photographers get together and interact.

Our opportunity came last October, when the world’s first iPhone photography conference took place in San Francisco. We attended the conference and shot video of the sessions and then enjoyed shooting a morning photo walk through San Francisco’s Mission District. We even used the iPhone 4S to shoot some of the photo walk video.

iPhonography photo through an iPhone 4S

Shooting with Richard Koci Hernandez during the 1197 Conference photo walk. Photo Credit: Jim Heid

After the conference, we hit the road with author and multimedia photojournalist Richard Koci Hernandez. We tagged along as he went shooting on the streets of Los Angeles, and then we returned to the studio, where he shared tips for his favorite photography apps as well as insights on the art of visual storytelling.

We think the course reflects the creative excitement surrounding the world of iPhone photography. It was a fun course to work on, and we hope you’ll find it a fun course to watch.

(And if you’d like to hear more from Richard Koci Hernandez, don’t miss the Richard Koci Hernandez, Multimedia Journalist Creative Inspirations documentary we did about him last year.)

Interested in more?
• The full iPhone Photography, from Shooting to Storytelling course
• All Photography courses on
• All courses from Richard Koci Hernandez on

Suggested courses to watch next:
iPad Tips and Tricks
iPhone and iPod touch iOS 5 Essential Training
Richard Koci Hernandez, Multimedia Journalist
Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos
Creating Photo Books with Blurb

Shading type with gradients in CINEMA 4D

Published by | Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Often times creating type is the bread and butter for motion graphics artists. But like plain old bread and butter, it can get a bit stale. When that happens, gradients are a great way to freshen up your stale type.

A gradient is simply a transition from one value to another. This can be from one color to another, or from light to dark. When used properly, gradients can be used to pump up the legibility of your type, and to make the text really leap off the screen.

Using gradients on text in CINEMA 4D boils down to understanding how textures are applied to objects. This can be a difficult concept to understand, but it’s crucial to getting control of the look and feel of your objects in 3-D. There are three main tools that help you manage the projection of textures on to the surfaces of 3-D objects: The Texture Tag, the Texture Tool, and an often overlooked command in the object manager called Fit To Object. These three elements will give you tremendous control over how your objects appear to the viewer.

For more on this, check out CINEMA 4D R12 Essential training. Chapter six has some great movies on creating and manipulating textures.


Interested in more?
• The full Design in Motion series on
• All 3D + animation courses on
• All by Rob Garrott on

Suggested courses to watch next:
CINEMA 4D R12 Essential Training
CINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects
After Effects CS5 Essential Training
CINEMA 4D and After Effects Integration

Deke’s Techniques: Creating a perfectly spaced frame effect in Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

In this week’s free movie, Deke shows you how to create a perfectly spaced frame around a graphic inside your Photoshop file. Now, at first glance, this may seem rather simple, especially for those of you who have mastered adding drop shadows. But the real key to this effect is a rather ingenious use of Photoshop’s ability to contract a selection uniformly in order to create the boundaries of the frame. To do this, start with a selection based on the size of the graphic you want to frame, use the Select > Modify > Contract command to shrink your selection to the exact size you want the width of your frame to be, then invert your selection, and voila you have a perfectly sized frame around the graphic. No measuring or calculations necessary.

Once you’ve created the frame layer this way, it’s then a relatively simple matter of applying the right layer effects to sell the overall idea. In Deke’s demonstration, he applies nuanced measures of the aforementioned Drop Shadow, plus the Color Overlay, Bevel and Emboss, and Outer Glow effects. The result is an organic frame that’s integrated into your image, using a technique that has plenty of room for personal customization. In fact, I played with the technique myself this week, and using a text layer as my graphic I was able to create a birthday card for a certain application who’s about to turn 25. (See next week’s technique for more information there.)

Birthday card with frame created in Photoshop

For members of, there’s an exclusive movie this week (Adding a frame to a photograph) in which Deke shows you how to frame a photograph, making sure the boundaries of the frame are exactly those of the original image.

Stay tuned next week for another free technique which features Deke’s own birthday homage to Adobe Illustrator.

Interested in more?

• The entire Deke’s Techniques collection on
• Courses by Deke McClelland on
• All Photoshop courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
• Photoshop for Designers: Layer Effects
• Photoshop Masking & Compositing: Advanced Blending
Photoshop CS5: Creative Effects
Photoshop CS5 for Photographers