Archive for March, 2012

How to become a web developer: Tips for those with a print background

Published by | Saturday, March 31st, 2012

I meet a lot of people who come from a print background and are interested in learning new web skills. Learning to make that transition doesn’t have to be scary—I know because I was one of those people who learned about designing for print first and then moved on to the web. I went through my first few jobs working for commercial printers learning about paper, inks, imageSetters, imposition, trapping, film, and typography. When the web came around, I realized that it was the next big thing and I needed to learn as much as I could about it in order to survive in the long run. Eventually I managed to learn what I needed and move on to work on the web full-time.

The web can be scary, but learning new web skills doesn’t have to be hard. It’s like trying to eat an elephant…you have to do it one bite at a time. In this post I will share some of my learning experiences and offer some recommendations for those with a print background who are interesting in learning more about web development. I encourage you to share your print to web journey, and to ask questions, in the comments section below.

Overcome the experience deficit

Every job listing will ask for years of experience. Whether it’s two years or five-plus years, I’ll let you in on a secret—the years are not as important as your portfolio. If you come from the print field, you know what I mean. Generally people get hired based on what they’ve accomplished, not how long they’ve been doing it. I know because I landed my first online job with zero years of experience in the field, and I did it by building a portfolio of work that was equivalent to years of experience. Although I hadn’t worked in the industry, I had projects to show that I knew what I was doing. So, your first step in the print to web development migration is to start building websites as soon as possible.

Start by learning how to build sites with WordPress. It doesn’t require any development skills and it’s pretty easy. You’ll need to know how to set up WordPress and how to set up a server with your own domain name. For help with this, check out Managing Hosted Websites, a course that goes through the process of setting up a domain name and installing WordPress. Once you’ve installed WordPress and set up your server and domain name, it’s time to start building web sites. For this I recommend checking out WordPress Essential Training. Some entire businesses are based on building web sites with WordPress, so it’s a great first skill that will help you gain some of that critical experience everyone is looking for. Plus, it’s a marketable skill that you can use to build a portfolio of work right away.

In this clip from chapter one of the Managing Hosted Websites course, I discuss how to pick the right domain name before you choose your server, since your domain name decision will have an impact on how people arrive at your web site:

Just knowing how to install and work with WordPress is not enough, though. What people will really want to see is how well you can customize a WordPress web site. Go through WordPress: Creating and Editing Custom Themes to sharpen your WordPress customization skills, then dive into Create an Online Portfolio with WordPress (because after you’ve got a few sites under your belt, you’ll need to show off what you’ve done).

Build from your Strengths

Another thing I did when I got started was to focus on building from my strengths. I had a design portfolio, so I started learning software that would let me build on design skills. This was the late ’90s so I began by learning a program called GoLive, a website editor much like Dreamweaver.

I already knew how to use Photoshop, so I worked with those skills and focused on designing projects for the web first in Photoshop, and then transferring those skills to Adobe Fireworks, which is better for preparing online graphics. I knew about formats like EPS, PDF, and TIFF, so I learned about the online formats like GIF, JPEG and then PNG. The point is, when you get started plan to evolve your skills instead of trying to learn too much.

So, if you’re starting with a background in design, check out Designing Web Sites from Photoshop to DreamWeaver. This course will point you in the direction of a quick win and teach you how to build on your existing Photoshop knowledge. From there, move on to DreamWeaver with Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training.

Find out what the market needs

Even when I was a new designer, I knew that development skills would be very valuable, but that learning development wouldn’t happen overnight. So right away I established learning development as one of my long term goals. I started with HTML since it was the easiest to learn. If you’re just getting into development, I recommend you start with HTML 5 Structure, Syntax and Semantics. It’s a thorough course that explains the basics of HTML. CSS wasn’t as critical to learn when I got started in the ’90s, but it is very today, so I would head in that direction after HTML. If you’re primarily a designer, then this should be an area of focus for you. Start with CSS Fundamentals, then move on to CSS Page Layouts, and plan to go through one new CSS course per month.

In this movie clip from chapter three of the CSS Fundamentals course, James Williamson asks the question “What is CSS3?” and walks you through the answer in detail:

Becoming awesome

Once you’re past the basics, your next skill should be JavaScript—this is a very hot skill. JavaScript is one of those topics that can be tougher to learn, but the better you get with JavaScript, the more sought after you’ll be. Start with JavaScript Essential Training and then move on to jQuery Essential Training. (jQuery is a javascript framework that helps you build interactivity into your projects easily and handling a lot of cross-platform issues.)

Once you’ve got those under your belt, move on to a server-side programming language. I recommend starting with PHP and then moving on to MySQL. Once you’ve spent some time with JavaScript, the same programming concepts apply to PHP and MySQL, so they will be easier to pick up. As you begin looking for development work, you’ll start to notice those two languages featured prominently in job descriptions. Remember, the stronger you are, the more you’re worth. When you’re ready, try out PHP with MySQL Essential Training.


Remember the elephant…one bite at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed with all the technology. Make yourself a plan and remember to be consistent with learning. Even if you watch only one movie a day or a few movies a week, you can make a dent in that virtual elephant and build enough experience before you know it. Using myself as a case study, I know you can do it. There weren’t any special skills I started with, I was a print designer just like you. If I can do it, I know you can. Just remember, even when it seems overwhelming…you can learn it! Learning Path: Learning how to create electronic documents with InDesign

Published by | Friday, March 30th, 2012

Although our content team is pleased to be able to bring our members a growing number of courses on a wide variety of subjects, we know that sometimes that vast breadth can be a little overwhelming. This is especially true if you’re focused on learning a specific new skill and don’t know where to start. By laying out a possible learning path, I’d like to help turn what I like to call “the benevolent fire hose of information” into a gentle shower of useful knowledge you can use to meet your focused learning goal. (And if you have ideas about specific topics that you could use a little guidance on, please share them in the comments.)

Today’s learning path focuses on learning how to use InDesign to create a document destined for electronic distribution. No matter where you stand in reaction to the “Print is Dead” meme, it’s clear that knowing how to create electronic documents is a strong and arguably critical professional survival skill. This week, I propose a path through the library that takes you from your established print layout skills into creating documents for the electronic age, whether you’re a novice at laying out books, or a seasoned InDesign professional. If you’ve got some InDesign knowledge in your pack, you can skip to the signpost along the way that best suits your learning and experience.

1. Starting from scratch: I need to learn InDesign. 

If you’ve never used InDesign at all, or you’ve merely poked at it because it came with your installation of the Adobe Creative Suite, then the first thing you’ll need is a working education on how to use the layout program in general. Our library provides two useful options at this stage, and your ideal choice depends on whether you’re the type who wants to move forward with the basic accomplishment of making your first InDesign document, or whether you would rather establish a strong foundation in all the features the application provides.

  • If you’re the ‘get going quickly’ type, then I’d recommend Up & Running with InDesign. In this brief course, Deke McClelland will give you a quick overview of how to use InDesign to set text and graphics on the page, after which you can move on to more specialized training.
  • If you’re an ‘I first need to know how everything works before I get going’ kind of person, then InDesign Essential Training is your best starting point. Essential Training courses are designed to give you a foundational overview of a product from a real-world perspective, and David Blatner takes you systematically through each of the key activities involved in creating InDesign documents.

2. Catching up: I have basic InDesign knowledge, but I haven’t been able to keep up with recent feature advances. 

Sometimes you have an established workflow inside an application, but you haven’t had the bandwidth to keep up with new tools that might make your work more efficient. This is particularly true if you’ve used InDesign for basic print-destined documents and you haven’t yet considered what you might need for electronic publishing. Both InDesign CS5 and CS5.5 have upgraded features that can help in this particular scenario.

To see what I mean, check out chapter 5, Enhanced production for Cross-Media, from our InDesign CS5 New Features course. If you’re not a member and want to test drive the course, try this movie, Creating documents with interactive features, which gives a nice overview of the new interactive features.

Meanwhile, the InDesign CS5.5 product upgrade was almost exclusively centered around moving your content to electronic output. In our InDesign CS5.5 New Features course, James Fritz explains how all those new electronic-output features work.

3. Transitioning to interactivity: I’ve used InDesign, but only for print.

If you’re familiar with creating static print-bound documents in InDesign and would like an overview of all the built-in features for creating interactive documents, then our InDesign CS5: Interactive Documents and Presentations course can help you get your electronic-age bearings. The course provides a tour of digital publishing trends, showing real-world examples of what can be achieved with InDesign. There are several start-to-finish projects examples, such as creating a presentation with transitions and animations, and building an interactive microsite, so you can see interactivity in action first-hand.

Of course, one of the easiest transitions from print-to-electronic is the creation of an interactive PDF. The PDF format will hold all your carefully constructed layout in place, while providing you with opportunities to add links, movies, sounds and other dynamic features to your document. Although the course was recorded using the CS4 version of InDesign InDesign CS4: 10 Things to Know About Interactive PDFs, has a great deal of handy, and immediatly relative, information on how to avoid common PDF pitfalls, and includes some tricks for making eye-catching documents as efficiently as possible.

4. Moving to electronic publishing: I’m confident working in InDesign, but the transition to EPUB is mysterious.

Once you move to ebooks, your formatting generally must succumb (at least to some extent) to the will of the ebook reader your audience will be using. InDesign to EPUB, Kindle, and iPad from Anne-Marie Concepcion will help you understand how the software you already know for print can be used to create content for the key distribution channels in the emerging ebook market. This course comes in three versions, each specialized for a version of InDesign. The clip below (How dow and INDD file become an EPUB File? from chapter two of the course) explains the ebook conversion process:

5. Creating beauty: I want to create an ebook that honors my design.

Maybe you’re familiar with creating ebooks, but you’re frustrated by the single-column flowable display that wreaks havoc on your design. In our most sophisticated ePublishing title, Anne-Marie Concepcion shows you how to create a specialized fixed-layout book that has the image and text control of a PDF, but can be used in ebook products for one of the most popular distribution services, the Apple iBookstore. Here’s an excerpt from the course that explains the difference between fixed and flowable InDesign documents:

Are there other tasks you’d like to be guided through in the library? What sorts of learning paths would you like to see created? Please share your thoughts below, and I’ll be back next week with another lyndaPath through the lush, dense forest of training. This is a great chance to not only request navigational help, but also to reveal to our content team what courses they should be thinking about adding to our ever expanding library.


Interested in more?
• All InDesign courses

Suggested courses to watch next:
InDesign Essential Training
Up & Running with InDesign
• InDesign CS5: Interactive Documents and Presentations
InDesign to EPUB, Kindle, and iPad

InDesign Secrets: Moving pages from one document to another with formatting intact

Published by | Thursday, March 29th, 2012

In this week’s free InDesign Secrets tip, David Blatner reveals how simple it is to move pages from one InDesign document to another. Moving entire pages to new documents, formatting and all, can be a very convenient way to create excerpts, variations, and compilations, but this is one of those relatively simple, common desires that can vex you if you don’t know where to look. By accessing one of the three instances of the Move Pages command, or simply dragging-and-dropping from one document window to another, you can quickly move an InDesign page, spread, or entire file to another InDesign document with all formatting intact. Sometimes during this process a common glitch called overset text may occur. In this tutorial, David also shows you how to deal with this glitch by quickly adjusting the baseline preferences.

Meanwhile, David’s partner in InDesign secrecy, Anne-Marie Concepcion, has another handy technique for members of called Wrapping bulleted text around a curve. This member-exclusive tutorial shows you how to change the shape of a text frame and use the Bullets and Numbering dialogue box to create a nice arched list with bullets.

Revit Architecture: How to design a house, and learning advanced modeling skills

Published by | Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

This month has shown the release of several Revit Architecture related courses, further expanding our ever growing list.

Paul Aubin, our ever-reliable and popular Revit author, has just released Advanced Modeling in Revit Architecture. In Revit, simple objects, such as walls and floors, are reasonably easy to construct. Modeling more complex objects, however, can be a bit of a challenge. Paul Aubin helps you think both inside and outside the box to use Revit’s modeling tools to create sophisticated and detailed models. He also digs into some more specialized Revit features such as in-place Families, topography, and the Massing Environment. The Advanced Modeling in Revit Architecture course is great for anyone wanting to add more detail to their Revit projects.

In this video from chapter one of the Advanced Modeling in Revit Architecture course, Paul shows you how to build an in-place mass:

In our second new Revit course, Designing a House in Revit Architecture, new author Brian Myers takes you step by step through the process of designing a house from scratch in Revit Architecture. The course covers the design of a multi-level home, and the documentation process required to create multiple plans, sections, details, and schedules. This course is terrific for anyone wanting to understand the full design process within Revit Architecture.

This clip, from chapter two of Designing a House in Revit Architecture, walks you through the process of creating exterior walls for an American bungalow-style home, which is usually the first modeling step taken after you’ve reviewed all your project requirements, and entered your project information into Revit:

If you’re interested in architecture, stay tuned as we have more courses focused on architecture-related software in the works.

Do you have any Revit modeling tips or tricks worth sharing? Let us know in the comments section what you’ve been working on, or what you’ve discovered through trial and error.


Interested in more?
• All 3D + animation courses on
• All Revit Architecture courses on
• Courses by Paul Aubin and Brian Myers on

Suggested courses to watch next:
Revit Architecture 2011 Essential Training
Revit Architecture: Rendering

Revit Architecture: The Family Editor
Google SketchUp 8 Essential Training

Deke’s Techniques: Creating a Star Wars–style hologram effect in Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

In this week’s free technique, Deke uses a variety of Photoshop effects to turn a couple of unsuspecting rental car agents from this world into rental car agents from a galaxy far, far away. The eerie Star Wars hologram effect made famous by Princess Leia can work nicely on everyday substantive earthlings with the right combination of a custom pattern, a Displacement Map, and some choice layer effects. Imagine if your next rental car included the two regular people (on left) waiting virtually (on right) to acclimate you to the cool, but unfamiliar, controls of your strange vehicle.

People with Star Wars hologram effect applied in Photoshop.

The effect starts by saturating an ordinary pair of humans with some old-school, horizontal TV static via the application of a simple custom pattern (Deke shows you how to make the pattern in the free video). Then the shadows of the humans are given faux-holographic substance via the application of a Displacement Map. To finish the effect, Deke applies a few layer effects and shows you how to customize your holograph based on whether it’ll appear digitally or in print.

On the note of cool but unfamiliar controls, you may notice that in this week’s Deke’s Techniques movie Deke is using the new dark user-interface brought to you by Photoshop CS6. While Deke’s technique will work just fine in CS5, if you’d like to try Photoshop CS6 and experience the dark interface for yourself, you can download the free Photoshop CS6 public beta for a limited time from Adobe Labs. After you have the CS6 beta, if you’d like to hear more about how it works, has made Deke’s Photoshop CS6 Beta Preview course free to everyone for a limited time as well.


Now that you have the power to hologram yourself into any setting with Photoshop, where will you go first?


Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series 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: Fundamentals
Photoshop CS6 Beta Preview

This week’s Featured Five: Finding value

Published by | Monday, March 26th, 2012

Did you know unlocks a number of videos from each course we publish, so that even if you’re not a member you can watch a sampling to find out whether a course is right for your learning needs? The result is a trove of free video tutorials in our library just waiting to be discovered. To help you make your way through these free movies, each Monday I’ll post a themed round-up of five of my favorite videos here.

In this week’s theme we’ll be looking at videos that help you recognize value—either in your work, in your tools, or in yourself. Check out this selection of free videos pulled from the library, and let us know in the comments section which videos your featured five list would include this week.

1. From our Invaluable series with Dave Crenshaw comes this third installment, Invaluable: Making Yourself Irreplaceable. In this movie titled Understanding Irreplaceablity and focus, from chapter one of the course, Dave explains how you can make yourself irreplaceable by identifying your most valuable activities, thus ensuring your position in your company. Once you’ve identified what makes you valuable, you can then focus on making sure you’re concentrating on what protects your personal value at work.

For more episodes from the Invaluable series, check out our Business segment.

2. Although our new course Budgeting Video Projects focuses on strategies for those in the video business, this free video, Determining Rates for Services, from chapter two of the course, has salient advice that is valuable for anyone working on creative business endeavors. Pricing your services is often a balancing act between determining your value and staying competitive. To help with that task, Rich Harrington gives you an objective list of all the things you should be considering when setting your rates.

3. If you’re trying to get the most value out of your tools, you may not feel like you’re quite ready to make a full-fledged financial commitment to Photoshop or the professional version of Adobe Premeire. This week we have two new courses that discuss the Elements version of Photoshop and Adobe Premiere, which come at a fraction of their professional counterparts cost, but still provide solid photo- or video-editing power.

With our new Photoshop Elements 10 Essential Training course, you can get started with organized and sophisticated photo editing. In this free video, Cropping photos, from chapter 14 of the course, Jan Kabili will show you how to use one of the most straightforward photo techniques—cropping your photo—to remove distracting elements and fine-tune your composition.

4. If you’re interested in getting started with video editing, our new course on Creating a Mini Documentary with Premiere Elements, will show beginning filmmakers how to create a simple mini-documentary from start to finish. In this free movie, Marking shots and adding clips to the Timeline, from chapter two of the course, you’ll see how to bring your clips into your first assembly edit.

When you’re ready to upgrade, or if your expertise requires more sophisticated tools from the get-go, you may find what you need in our library of Photoshop and Premiere Pro courses.

5. Finally, if you’re interested in using the Facebook timeline to promote your business, or just keep your personal relationships going, we’ve updated chapter two of our Facebook Essential Training course to include this free tutorial, Understanding and managing your timeline.


Remember, 10 percent of all content is free to try. Just click on any of the blue links on any course table of contents page in our library. free tutorials can be found in blue on course table of contents pages.

Have you come across any particularly exciting free content this week? Please leave us a comment in the section below. We’d love to hear what is working for you!

Adding and formatting staff lyrics in Sibelius 7

Published by | Monday, March 26th, 2012

Adding notes to a musical score is the basis of scoring your music, but what if you want to add lyrics to your score as well? Whether you’re creating a full score that includes every instrument in your musical masterpiece, or a simplified lead sheet that only shows the lead melody, lyrics, and chord changes, Sibelius 7 makes it easy to add the lyrics.

Usually, when added to sheet music, lyrics are aligned centrally under their respective melody notes. If you prefer, sometimes you can also adjust the font, font size, word placement, and many other elements of the lyrics to create what you consider to be the best presentation of your work.

Watch here as author Jenny Amaya adds and formats lyrics on a score. Navigating the Sibelius 7 ribbon and menu items, she shows you how to lay out multi-syllabic words and words that extend across several notes, and she demonstrates options that will help you make your score look pretty:

For more training in Sibelius, check out Jenny’s courses Sibelius 7 Essential Training and Sibelius 6 Essential Training.


Interested in more?
• All audio courses on
• All Sibelius courses on
• All courses from Jenny Amaya on

Suggested courses to watch next:
Film Scoring with Pro Tools
Mark Mothersbaugh, Music Composer
Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools 9
Finale 2012 Essential Training
Pro Tools 10 Essential Training

Building 3D geometry from 2D sketches with SolidWorks 2012

Published by | Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Used for a wide variety of applications, including product design and manufacturing, SolidWorks is currently one of the most popular CAD packages on the market, and we’re very proud to have finished our first SolidWorks course this month.

In SolidWorks 2012 Essential Training, author Gabriel Corbett shows how to create manufacturing-ready parts and assemblies in SolidWorks 2012. Beginning with simple 2D sketching and the software’s sketch-editing tools, the course provides step-by-step instruction on building 3D geometry from 2D sketches. In addition, the course also covers creating complex 3D objects with the Extrude, Revolve, Sweep, and Loft tools, and shows the process of building complex assemblies by mating individual parts together into robust assemblies and structures.

Diving deeper into the course you’ll find tutorials that discuss generating manufacturing-ready drawings complete with an itemized Bill of Materials, cutting and revolving holes, and using the Hole Wizard tool to generate industry standard holes like counter bores, counter sinks, and taps. The course concludes with Gabriel showing you how to photo render a final design.

If you have any interest in SolidWorks, this course is a great way to start learning more about this popular CAD tool.

In this movie from chapter seven of the SolidWorks 2012 Essential Training course, Gabriel describes how to extrude your sketches and turn them into 3D solid objects using Solidworks 2012:


Interested in more?
• The complete SolidWorks 2012 Essential Training course on
• All 3D + animation courses on
• Courses by Gabriel Corbett on

Suggested courses to watch next:
AutoCAD 2011 Essential Training
Rhino 4.0 Essential Training
Google SketchUp 8 Essential Training
modo 501 Essential Training