Archive for March, 2012

InDesign FX: Drawing with the Pathfinder commands

Published by | Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

This week’s free InDesign FX video really takes me back in time. Way back to the days before I’d ever even used a computer, when I was first learning how to draw. My tools then were just a pencil, a piece of paper, and those “How To Draw” books. The greatest thing that I learned from those books was that a drawing of any subject can begin with the simplest of shapes. With an oval, I had the beginnings of a lion. With a triangle, I had the start of a rocket. In every case, the trick was to learn how to see the simple shapes hiding in a complex subject.

In this week’s video, I show how you can apply this same idea to drawing in InDesign by using the Shape tools and Pathfinder commands. To illustrate this idea, I create a precise gear shape using nothing more than a couple circles, a few triangles, and the Pathfinder Subtract command.

A gear shape created with basic InDesign shapes
A gear shape created with basic InDesign shapes

While you probably won’t find yourself drawing gears every day unless you need to render a lot of bicycle illustrations, the gear is great practice for recognizing how to create whatever shapes you need with Pathfinder commands.

I also demonstrate in the video how you can use InDesign Pathfinder commands to create design elements that fit together. In this case, two frames that follow the same curves to convey the sense of an ocean wave.

Two InDesign frames that convey the sense of an ocean wave

If you want to take this technique a step further, making cool shapes is not all you can do with the Pathfinder panel. You can also use it to solve a problem that occurs if you try to put text in a frame that has been transformed. Here, the text appears flipped, along with the frame that contains it.

Backwards text in an InDesign frame that has been transformed

This is a job for the Add command! Using the Add command, you can create a new, untransformed shape so the text displays correctly.

Using the InDesign Add command to create text that displays in transformed images correctly

For lynda.com members, I also have another new video this week in the online training library called Transform Again Tips and Tricks. In that video I discuss how to use the Transform Sequence Again command to repeat a number of transformations and create effects like this awesome retro zoom effect.

InDesign retro zoom effect

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

 

Interested in more?
• The complete InDesign FX weekly series on lynda.com
• All InDesign courses on lynda.com
• All courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com

 Suggested courses to watch next:
• InDesign CS5 Essential Training
Creating Long Documents with InDesign
 InDesign Styles in Depth
InDesign CS4: 10 Habits of Highly Effective Pros

 

Photoshop CS6: Free beta. Free training. Free insights from our resident experts

Published by | Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Today, Adobe made a beta version of Photoshop CS6 available to everyone, providing an opportunity for you to download and check out the new version of the application for free. The CS6 version of Photoshop includes mammoth updates to the program, and to make sure you get the most from your free test-drive, lynda.com has made our new Photoshop CS6 Beta Preview course, authored by Deke McClelland,  completely free to everyone today as well.

Photoshop is used for a myriad of creative endeavors, whether it be editing, manipulating, enhancing, or even creating images from scratch. This Photoshop update has something for everyone from photographers, to print, web, and interaction designers, to video and 3D artists. The list of new features is impressive, bordering on overwhelming. Which new feature will be the most significant for you? Depends on your point of view. To help you decide where to look first during this free trial period, I quizzed some of the lynda.com resident Photoshop experts for their initial reactions:

Justin Seeley, lynda.com staff author: “My favorite new feature is the auto-saving. Photoshop CS6 automatically saves a temporary file as you work, so that if the program crashes, you can recover easily. This will be killer for new and old users alike. I’m always flooded with emails from people asking if I know any magic trick to recover unsaved work they’ve lost in a power outage or software crash. Now they don’t have to endure that!”

Michael Ninness, lynda.com VP of Product and Content, and veteran lynda.com author: “I’d say I am most interested in all the changes they’ve made to the Shape tools attempting to provide a real object-based design metaphor.”

If you’d like to see what Michael is talking about in action, check out this video:

Nigel French, author of the lynda.com Photoshop for Designers series: “Loving the new Camera RAW process. The new sliders make more sense and the results are discernibly better than previous versions. The improvements to the Graduated Filter are especially welcomed.”

James Fritz, content manager for the Design segment at lynda.com:  “As a designer, I am happy to see that with the release of Photoshop CS6 graphic designers are finally getting some love. With the addition of new vector layers and layer filtering, comping up web sites, posters, and other complicated designs is easier than ever. As usually is the case, the little ‘just do it’ updates have my favorite new feature—the ability to insert Lorum Ipsum text.”

Deke McClelland, lynda.com author of the free Photoshop CS6 Beta Preview course and Photoshop One-on-One series: “Content-Aware Move, which allows you to select an object in your image and move it somewhere else while filling in the old background works extremely well. You’ll still need to have the refinement features at the ready, but Content-Aware Move gets you most of the way there.”

Chris Orwig, lynda.com author of the Photoshop for Photographers series: “I’m concentrating on the features that are particularly useful for photographers, namely the Lighting Effects Gallery, the redefined Crop tool, the Blur gallery, the redesigned Print dialog box, and the improvements to Adobe Camera Raw.”

Ben Long, author of the lynda.com Foundations of Photography series: “The Blur Gallery is cool. In general, if I want shallow depth of field (one of the things the Blur Gallery lets you simulate) I prefer to get it by using a fast lens and a wide aperture. But if I don’t have a fast lens with me—or if decide that I’d like a shot to have shallower depth of field than what I originally captured—it’s nice to have the option. I’ve also found that the Blur Gallery delivers better results than third-party plug-ins that provide similar features.”

Jim Heid, content manager for the lynda.com Photography segment: “It isn’t as glitzy as the Blur Gallery, but Photoshop CS6′s revamped Crop tool is one of those improvements that will make my photographic life better. One Crop tool enhancement in particular stands out: the tool is non-destructive. If you change your mind about a crop after you’ve been working on an image, just activate the Crop tool again and recrop. Unlike previous Photoshop versions, CS6 doesn’t discard pixels that you cropped out. It’s a bit more analogous to how cropping works in Lightroom, and it gives you more freedom to experiment.”

Here’s a video look at the new improved Crop tool from the Photoshop CS6 Beta Preview course:

Not surprisingly the new dark interface that you saw in the first video is the most obvious change and the one mentioned most often by our esteemed panel. By default Photoshop CS6 will use a dark gray interface, providing a vastly different look from previous versions. You can of course change back to a more familiar lighter interface by resetting the preferences, as Nigel did: “The first thing I did when I got the beta was make the interface look like what I was used to. But upon reflection, and with some time to get acclimatized, I like the new, lean, mean dark interface.” Deke, who has been using the light interface for over 20 years notes, “Surprisingly, I’m finding the dark interface my preference. It’s much less distracting, and lets me focus on just the image at hand.”

If your interest in the new Photoshop is piqued, you can download the beta for free from Adobe and pair it up with our free Photoshop CS6 Beta Preview course. For further exploration, in the coming months, lynda.com will also be creating new courses that provide in-depth, specific information on Photoshop CS6, from a variety of perspectives.

 

Let us know in the comment section here what you think of the new Photoshop CS6 beta, and what Photoshop CS6 features you are most interested in learning about in greater depth.

 

After Effects 2D tracking basics

Published by | Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

The tracking tools in After Effects allow you to select a spot in a video clip, lock onto it, and then use that movement for effects and compositing. This week on Design in Motion, we’re going to take a look at 2D tracking, a tool that gives you position information for elements moving on X and Y—or left right (X), up down (Y).

Tracking this kind of movement in clips is often the first step in the effects process, and the information it generates can be used to place elements into the footage to match camera movement. 2D tracking information could also be used to drive a particle effect that adds “magic” to the end of a magic wand. Today we are going to specifically work on selecting a spot in a video clip, inserting a piece of type into a piece of video footage, and having the inserted type stick to the motion of the spot we selected to track.

When you’re ready to do a 2D track you need to ask a few questions: What do I want to accomplish with the track? Is the object or spot I’m trying to track moving or is it moving and rotating? Another important question is whether or not your feature is moving in Z space as well. If your feature is moving in Z space, then you’re going to need a different type of tracking and tracking tool that we’ll dive into in a future edition of Design in Motion.

2D tracking is an important part of many visual effects and compositing workflows. If you’re interested in learning more about the tracking tools in After Effects, watch After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and Keying, from Chris and Trish Meyer. If you’re specifically interested in learning more about how to stabilize jerky handheld video footage, check out After Effects CS5.5 New Creative Techniques, also from Chris and Trish Meyer, to learn more about a great new tool called the Warp Stabilizer. Chris and Trish Meyer will help you become a tracking master!

 

Design in Motion is a weekly series of creative techniques featuring short projects using After Effects and CINEMA 4D. Taught by motion graphics expert Rob Garrott, the course covers how color correction, expressions, rendering type, lighting, and animation are used in each program, and the topics are updated weekly. Using these tips and tricks, motion graphics designers will find designing to be a more efficient process. Exercise files are included with the course.

 

Interested in more?
• The complete Design in Motion weekly series on lynda.com
• All video courses on lynda.com
• All courses on After Effects
• Courses by Rob Garrott on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:
After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and Keying
After Effects CS5.5 New Features

After Effects CS5 Essential Training
CINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects

Deke’s Techniques: Creating a railroad track in Illustrator

Published by | Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

In this week’s free video, Deke shows you how to create train tracks in Illustrator—and not your simple Thomas the Tank Engine tracks—but real honest-to-goodness wooden ties with shiny rails. The basics of this technique involve using nothing more than a total of 19 strokes heaped into a single path outline, and the rest is just a series of colors and numerical settings applied from the Appearance panel.

The key is leveraging Illustrator’s ability to apply a multitude of attributes to a single path and carefully offsetting them so that you create the shadows and highlights that really sell the effect. The result is this authentic railroad track that will make any train nerd proud.

Just so you have an adequate appreciation of what’s going on, here’s your everyday-average Illustrator train track effect (made with just 3 strokes):

Illustrator train track effect

And here’s Deke’s subtly more sophisticated railroad effect (made with 19 strokes):

Illustrator train tracks, option two with 19 strokes

If you’re not a straight-and-narrow (gauge) type of artist, Deke also has an exclusive movie for lynda.com members this week called Bending the railroad track around curves, in which he shows you an alternative technique that allows you to create curvy tracks.

 

Interested in more?
• The entire  Deke’s Techniques weekly series on lynda.com
• All Illustrator courses on lynda.com
• All Design courses on lynda.com
• All courses by Deke McClelland on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Up and Running with Illustrator
• Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced

• Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

Family and group portraiture: Posing tips

Published by | Monday, March 19th, 2012

When you shoot portraits—whether of individuals, families, or business groups—are you posing your subjects to look their best?

In the latest lynda.com photography course, Family and Group Portraiture, author Natalie Fobes (former photographer for the Seattle Times and National Geographic) describes the techniques behind successful group portraits, including tips for posing individual subjects, large groups, and families. She also details how to work with subjects to minimize those things they’d rather not have committed to pixels.

Natalie’s new course is just one of our recent photography releases. If you’re interested in Adobe’s new Photoshop Lightroom 4, don’t miss the new Lightroom 4 Essentials series, with Chris Orwig. The first two installments are available now, with more coming very soon.

Happy shooting!

 

Interested in more?
• The full Family and Group Portraiture course on lynda.com
• All Photography courses on lynda.com
• All courses from Chris Orwig on lynda.com
• All courses from Natalie Fobes on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:
Photoshop Lightroom 4 Essentials: Enhancing Photos with the Develop Module
Photoshop Lightroom 4 New Features

Shooting with Wireless Flash: Studio Portraits
Narrative Portraiture: Portraits of Two Texas Artists
Photoshop Lightroom 4 Essentials: Organizing and Sharing with the Library Module

Announcing lyndaEnterprise multi-user solution

Published by | Saturday, March 17th, 2012

LyndaEnterprise multi-user experience

Recently lynda.com released lyndaEnterprise, the newest lynda.com multi-user solution. lyndaEnterprise is an opportunity for any kind of company, whether you need to help designers keep their skills sharp, or your focus is more on smooth software transitions.

With lyndaEnterprise, employees quickly set up their own accounts from the company’s network without any setup administration. Members then get unlimited access to lynda.com anytime, anywhere, on PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones.

Intended for both beginners and experienced veterans, lyndaEnterprise allows employees to choose what to learn, set their own pace, and track their usage with course-tracking reports (which are available company-wide as well as individually).

 

If you’re interested in lyndaEnterprise or any of our multi-user products, use the Contact Us form on the lyndaEnterprise homepage to reach a Sales representative.

 

 

Migrating to the cloud: What are your thoughts?

Published by | Friday, March 16th, 2012
Evernote is one example of a popular cloud tool being used by businesses.

Evernote is one example of a popular cloud tool being used by businesses.

In 2012 lynda.com will be investing more time exploring the way both individuals and businesses are migrating to the cloud. Office 365, Gmail, Google Docs, Evernote, and Salesforce are only a few popular cloud tools finding permanent homes in businesses worldwide.

We’d love to know what matters to you as you consider integrating or migrating to cloud tools. What questions do you have about cloud computing? Which tools are you interested in? What do you and your business need to know?

Please leave us a comment to let us know what’s important to you and your business and which technologies hold the most promise for your daily workflow.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

 

Interested in more?
All business courses on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:
Up and Running with Office 365
Gmail Essential Training
Google Docs Essential Training
Gmail for Power Users

New Get In the Mix interactive audio exercise files

Published by | Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Get in the Mix downloadable exercise files in Foundations of Audio: EQ & Filers courseAs part of our focus on audio training expansion, the lynda.com audio segment is pleased to announce the release of a new type of interactive exercise file that brings the author directly inside your Digital Audio Workstation.

In all of our new Foundations of Audio courses, we are now including Get In The Mix interactive exercise files (affectionately called GITMs) that are available to all lynda.com members. GITMs are native, high-fidelity project files purpose-built for your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). The author uses instructional video and audio tracks to walk you through the session or project, referencing listening examples in the DAW timeline. The author shows you how to effectively use digital signal processing plugins such as compressors, EQs, and delays, by leveraging the DAW’s built-in mix automation capabilities. The result is that you can watch as the authors turn the knobs and tweak the settings of plugins in your DAW in real time. Simply download the relevant GITM .ZIP file from the lynda.com website (located in the exercise files tab on the course’s page), open up the 24-bit session file in your DAW, and press play to follow along with the instructor as they demonstrate how to master a variety of audio production techniques.

GITM files are currently available for Pro Tools and Logic Pro users, and we are looking into rolling out GITM files for additional DAWs in the near future. The GITM sessions are free to any lynda.com member and include, in addition to the author-led training, musical material at the end of each session/project file in the form of practice tracks that you can experiment with on your own.

In addition to the Get in the Mix sessions that all members have access to (about 6-10 GITMs per course), Premium members of the lynda.com Online Training Library® also have access to all of the raw audio example files (WAVs) that are used throughout the GITM-equipped course. These raw audio files include listening examples and real-world audio demonstrations that illustrate production concepts, and can be imported and played within any DAW.

For those who don’t want to use the Get In The Mix files within a DAW, just watch the Foundations of Audio course movies within the lynda.com course player like normal. The course movies designated “Get in the Mix” will automatically play the author’s tutorial demonstration, and you can still stop, start, and rewind as necessary (What’s the difference in a nut shell? GITM exercise files are interactive and play in your DAW; watching the course movies designated “Get in the Mix” in the standard lynda.com player just gives you the instruction—no DAW needed.)

Here’s an example of a Get in the Mix movie from chapter four of the Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing GITM-equipped course:

Now—dig in, try them out, and let us know what you think of the new GITM files!

 

Interested in more?
• All audio courses on lynda.com
• All courses from Brian Lee White on lynda.com
• All Logic Pro courses on lynda.com
• All Pro Tools courses on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:
Foundations of Audio: EQ and Filters
Foundations of Audio: Delay and Modulation
Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing