Archive for June, 2012

InDesign FX: How to create seamless patterns

Published by | Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Unlike Photoshop and Illustrator, InDesign doesn’t allow you to create pattern swatches and use them to fill an area with a seamless pattern. But don’t despair, you can create patterns (even seamless ones) without much hassle in InDesign. The key is to use the Step and Repeat command, as I show in this week’s InDesign FX tutorial.

The first method I show in the video uses Step and Repeat along with Corner Options to transform a single square into a fence to keep some cows from moo-ving where they’re not supposed to.

A square fence-like pattern created in InDesign from one repeating square.

A second example also begins with a humble square, but ends up as a nifty tiled pattern like this one:

Tiled diamond-shape pattern made from one repeated square in InDesign.

I also show how to make the equivalent of a pattern swatch from just about any InDesign object. You start by creating a rectangle and aligining your desired pattern elements along the edges of the rectangle.

Creating a pattern swatch using a rectangle as aplique alignment tool.

Then group the objects and paste them into the rectangle to create what I call a swatch object which you can then Step and Repeat to your heart’s content for a totally seamless, infinitely repeatable pattern.

Blue pattern swatch created using Step and Repeat in InDesign.

For members, I also have another new member-exclusive video this week in the library called Using Scripts to Create New Shapes. In the video, I show how to use the PathEffects script that comes with InDesign to instantly alter the shapes of objects, and create things that could be incredibly difficult, tedious, or downright impossible to do manually. For example, you can use the script to covert a plain old polygon into a spiky starburst to make a cool effect even cooler.

Regular star, next to a spiky starburst created from a standard polygon in InDesign.

Spiky bling stars on a chrome font created in InDesign.

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:
• InDesign Secrets
• InDesign CS6 Essential Training 
• InDesign CS6 New Features 
 Deke’s Techniques

Deke’s Techniques: Building a sci-fi structure from scratch in Photoshop CS6 Extended 3D

Published by | Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

This week’s Deke’s Techniques uses Photoshop CS6 Extended to create an other-worldly structure from nothing but Photoshop pixels. In other words, Deke pays appropriate 3D homage to his alien overlords by building them a temple out of standard earthly linear gradients. The key to building this sci-fi inspired structure is to work in 16-bit/channel mode with a black-to-white basic gradient image. You’ll then use that gradient to create a depth map in Photoshop CS6 Extended 3D. Remember, the white areas will go ‘up’ and the black areas will go ‘down.’

During this free video, Deke explains how to set Photoshop CS6 Extended’s 3D tools to render, turn, repositioning, add a textured surface, and adjust the ground plane for the alien temple you see below. Deke will show you how to load his preset lighting and bring in his textured “alien-crafted brick” surface to use as your materials option. After a few fine-tuning operations (like incorporating the temple into the sandy environment and adding an appropriate acolyte), you’ll have turned this barren dessert landscape on the left, decorated with the basic gradient image in the middle, into the fully rendered alien-acceptable temple on the right:

3D sci-fi structure rendered with Photoshop CS6 Extended 3D.

If you’re a member of, Deke also has a member-exclusive movie in the library this week called Drawing a 3D object with Curves in which he uses a Curves adjustment layer to define the contours of a 3D object. In other words, he uses Curves to draw in 3D space.

See you back here next week when Deke returns with a (suitably patriotic) new technique!


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 CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals
• Photoshop CS6: New Features
 Photoshop CS5 Extended One-on-One: 3D Fundamentals

Adding a soundtrack to a video with Adobe Premiere CS6 and Audition CS6

Published by | Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

It’s a fact that Adobe Premiere CS6 and Audition CS6 tend to play nicely together. It’s this compatibility that makes it very easy and convenient to use these two applications together when working on a video project that has any sort of audio component. While Premiere does have some very basic audio editing functions, Audition is a much more fully-featured application for audio recording, editing, and mixing requirements. So, using Audition specifically for editing and mixing dialog, sound effects, music, and foley, is a good way to improve the sound of your video’s soundtrack. author Steve Wright to host two-day Nuke Intensive Workshop in LA

Published by | Monday, June 25th, 2012

On June 28 and 29, 2012, author Steve Wright will be hosting a 10-seat Nuke Intensive Workshop in Los Angeles, California. The unique two-day workshop is designed specifically to catch you up on Nuke core concepts, and focuses on hands-on training that is infused with insights and understandings that most artists don’t get until they have worked with Nuke for years.

The workshop includes project media, prepared Nuke scripts that demonstrate specific key workflow situations, and multiple Nuke scripts that each workshop participant will create on their own in class. To ensure maximum quality of training, the class size is strictly limited to 10 seats.

Steve Wright Nuke Intensive Workshop topics covered.

Nuke Intensive Workshop topics covered.

Steve Wright is a 20-year veteran of visual effects compositing with over 70 feature film credits. He has been an author with since 2007, and has trained over 600 artists in Nuke.

To sign up for the Nuke Intensive Workshop, or for more information on the two-day experience, visit To watch a Nuke course from Steve Wright, check out his most recent course, Nuke 6.3 New Features, or his beginner-level course, Nuke 5 Essential Training, on

This week’s featured five: Using InDesign master pages

Published by | Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Recently a member wrote in asking for advice on using master pages in InDesign. Master pages allow you to place recurring items like page numbers, footers, or headers on multiple pages throughout your document automatically. Not only does this save time and energy, but it also gives you a one-stop location for updating a title or graphic globally later on.

InDesign Master page screenshot

An example of an InDesign master page in the Pages panel.

For this week’s featured five free videos, I’ve pulled together five tutorials from five different courses to give you a solid understanding of how to use master pages in different contexts. As a bonus, you’ll gather up some other useful InDesign tips along the way, as each author explains in his own way how to work with this useful feature.

1. Introduction to master pages
If you’ve never created a master page before and you’re new to InDesign, this first video from chapter four of Up and Running with InDesign will get you started without presuming too much prior InDesign knowledge. Author Deke McClelland starts from square one, showing you how to place a graphic header and folio with page number on a newly created master, and how to apply your new master to existing pages you’ve already created in your document.

2. Setting up a master page for a magazine layout
In this excerpt from chapter one of Designing a Magazine Layout Hands-on Workshop, author Nigel French shows you how to create the master page elements that you’d want for the interior of a magazine layout. You’ll see how to consistently place the headers and footers, format them appropriately with rules and mirroring, and set up automatically updating page numbers.

3. Creating master pages strategically for a book or other long document
The next tutorial is from chapter one of our Creating Long Documents with InDesign course. When you’re working on a long document like a several-chapter book, author Mike Rankin encourages you to set up your master pages strategically by first creating a base master, then placing additional master pages with tweaks that might be desirable for different kinds of spreads like body copy and chapter openers upon that base. This strategic layering will give you greater flexibility as the project grows, and keep you from having to set up completely new masters as the project expands.

4. Overriding master page items
Of course, once in a while, you’ll find that a particular document page doesn’t work quite right with all of your master page elements. Since the role of master pages is to hold those repeating objects in place, you can’t move, delete, or even select master page items on a regular page. In this excerpt from chapter four of InDesign CS6 Essential Training, author David Blatner explains how to override a master page with the handy Command+Shift+click shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+click in Windows), which frees an object from its master and assigns it directly to the document page. At that point, with the object assigned directly to the document, you can edit or delete it as you choose. If you change your mind and want it back, David shows you how to restore master page items as well.

5. Making sure master page items aren’t covered by document objects
Finally, in episode number 39 from the InDesign Secrets series (Moving master page items to the top layer for visibility), David Blatner demonstrates how placing your master page items on the top layer of your document ensures that they aren’t covered up by the occasional graphic or text frame on a running page. If you’ve ever experienced the mysterious missing master item, then this advice is for you.

For features like master pages in InDesign that don’t quite warrant an entire course on their own, it’s nice to be able to round up this collection of useful tutorials with different information, approaches, and bonus tips. With the depth and breadth of the library, we can probably create dozens of other “mini-courses” by compiling excerpts from different courses. Are there any software feature that you’d like us to provide this kind of round-up for? Let us know in the comments!

Low-light photography: What you can shoot, and why it’s an opportunity, not a hindrance

Published by | Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Very often you know what the subject you want to shoot is, but light levels in the scene are low enough that getting the shot can be difficult. For example, maybe you’re at a holiday dinner with your family, you know you want to shoot your relatives and the food, but the room is lit only by candles. Although light like this is going to make it hard to freeze motion and get a sharp image, the low room-lighting doesn’t mean you have to put down your camera. If you know how to work with it, low light can open up a world of new photographic possibilities. In this blog I’ll discuss some factors to keep in mind when shooting in low-light, including decreased visibility, textures created by lighting, and other plays on light like reflections, shadows, and splashes. I’ll also discuss ways of rethinking these hurtles that will help you think of your low light as a creative tool so you never again miss a photo opportunity due to less-than-optimal lighting conditions.

Now it’s a fairly obvious statement to say that the world looks very different at night or in very low light, but let’s think for a minute about why it looks different. First, with less light, some things are simply less visible. That lack of visibility in itself can really change the point your eye is drawn to in an image. In other words, in low light, the subject of a scene may shift dramatically simply because of what’s visible. During the day we mostly live by sunlight. When the sun goes down other light sources take over, and those light sources are not always as high overhead as the daytime sunlight. This change in the direction of lighting can lead to very different textures in a scene, which also can have a heavy influence on what the subject of the scene is. Rather than thinking of the low light as a hindrance, keep an open mind and consider that very often this different type of lighting can be an interesting subject in itself.

Low-light photography beach photo side by side.

The type of lighting you get in low-light situations is another factor to consider. Sometimes the type of lighting you get at nighttime or with dim light can create plays of light such as reflections, highlights, interesting shadows, and splashes of light that simply do not exist in the daytime. There can be all sorts of light features that don’t appear in the same scene under brighter light. As you learn to shoot in low light, you’ll naturally hone your ability to capture images that can be difficult, and you may also find yourself discovering shooting opportunities that you simply had not seen before, possibly in locations that you are already familiar with. Learning to shoot in low light is as much about learning to see differently and recognize a different type of subject matter as it is learning any particular technical process. That unto itself makes the study of low-light shooting a worthwhile pursuit, no matter how frequently, or infrequently, you ultimately end up doing it. In the end, the more you can learn about seeing, the better all of your photography will be.

Low-light photography building photograph side by side.

This blog is an unlocked excerpt from chapter one of Ben Long‘s Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light course. If you’re interested in learning more about the tools, creative options, and special considerations involved in shooting with a DSLR camera at night or in low-light conditions, check out the introduction to the course below, then head over to to view the entire course.


Interested in more?
• The entire Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light course on
• Courses by Ben Long on
• All Photography courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:
Foundations of Photography: Exposure
• Foundations of Photography: Lenses
• Foundations of Photography: Composition
• Foundations of Photography: Black and White


InDesign Secrets: How to properly format fractions

Published by | Thursday, June 21st, 2012

In this week’s InDesign Secrets episode, David Blatner unravels the mysteries (and hassles) of making fractions in InDesign text.

And we’re talking real fractions—not those regular-size numbers, both sitting on the baseline, separated by a common slash fake fractions like the one seen below left. David’s talking about properly scaled, baseline-shifted numerator, divided by a properly tilted fraction bar real fractions like the one seen below right:

Two styles of fractions made in InDesign.

There are two ways to make fractions in InDesign—the optimal, or "real" way seen above right, and the less-than-perfect "fake" way with regular-sized numbers sitting on the baseline, separated by a common slash, seen above left.

As David points out in the video tutorial, if you’re using an Open Type font, creating a properly scaled fraction is simply a matter of selecting the type and choosing Open Type > Fractions from the Control Panel menu. Of course, if your document is rife with fractions you’ll want a more efficient way to change all of your fractions at once, and for that, you’ll need to fearlessly tread into the world of GREP styles.

GREP styles search for a particular pattern in text—in this case “digit-slash-digit” (or, translated into  GREP, that’s “\d+/\d+”)—to apply a specific style denoted by you (in this case Open Type > Fractions). You can see in the video how to use this handy GREP feature to change all your fractions at the same time. David also shows you how to use another GREP style-replacement maneuver to remove unwanted spaces between your whole number and your fraction after you’ve properly scaled your fractions (these spaces will be there for fractions that have whole numbers associated with the fraction. For example, with a number like 18 3/4, the previously disproportioned “fake” fractions needed a space between the whole number, 18, and the fraction, 3/4).

Of course, this GREP automation relies on the use of an Open Type font. For cases where you don’t have the luxury, or desire, to use an Open Type font, David shows you how to manually create your own non-Open Type font proper fraction using Horizontal Scaling, Vertical Scaling, and offsets. By the time you’re through watching David’s less-than-nine-minute movie, you’ll never need to rely on an inelegant fake fraction again.

Meanwhile, for members of, David’s partner in InDesign Secrecy, Anne-Marie Concepcion, has another member-exclusive video called Fixing unwanted hyperlinks in an imported Word file that offers a handy way to deal with what can be a maddening InDesign situation.

David and Anne-Marie will be back in two weeks with more InDesign Secrets!


Interested in more?
• The entire InDesign Secrets bi-weekly series
• Courses by David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepcion on
• All InDesign courses

Suggested courses to watch next:
• InDesign CS6 New Features
 InDesign CS6 Essential Training
• InDesign Styles in Depth


Creating interactive documents with InDesign

Published by | Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

InDesign is best known for its print abilities, but over the years it has added a variety of interactive features. While InDesign CS4 was limited to mostly buttons and basic links, CS5 added animation and SWF interactivity. Now with the release of InDesign CS6 and the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, InDesign is fully able to publish interactivity directly to tablets including the iPad. To get a better idea of what InDesign can do, lets take a look at four tutorials that really showcase the breadth and depth of what creating interactive digital documents with InDesign is all about.

1. Exploring trends in digital design
Chapter one of Mike Rankin‘s InDesign CS6: Interactive Documents course begins by sharing some of the design trends that showcase the wide variety of ways in which we can share our messages via digital technology. These examples include interactive PDFs, digital books, responsive web sites and even digital magazines. In the movie below, Mike explains how a talented designer created an interactive keyboard shortcut guide primarily using InDesign CS5.

2. Interactive PDFs
When you hear PDF, you might think print. While PDFs may be a primary resource in the world of print, there really is a lot of that you can accomplish with interactive digital PDFs as well. In the past it was mandatory for you to do serious modifications in Acrobat Pro in order to get the interactive results you wanted. Finally, with the release of InDesign CS6, most of the PDF creation process can be done completely inside the InDesign software. In chapters four through six of InDesign CS6: Interactive DocumentsMike walks you step-by-step though PDF projects including presentations, catalogs, and PDF forms. In this video from chapter six of the course, Mike shows you how to make an interactive PDF document with checkboxes that can be turned on or off.

3. Animation
Moving beyond static layouts is easy when you use InDesign’s animation tools. In chapter seven of InDesign CS6: Interactive Documents, Mike walks you through the steps necessary to create your very own interactive portfolio or presentation with animation and page transitions. The movie below specifically covers the steps necessary to control the timing of animations in a bulled list.

4. Adobe Digital Publishing Suite
One of the biggest developments of the last few years has been the release of Apple’s iPad. Soon after the tablet’s release Adobe put together a series of plug-ins called the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite which provide the ability for designers to transform their InDesign layouts into interactive applications for the iPad and other tablets. The final few chapters of the InDesign CS6: Interactive Documents course cover the basic steps needed to create your first interactive magazine for tablets. In this movie from chapter eight of the course, Mike shows you specifically how to use the Web Content Overlay option to add a Google Map to your webpage.


Interested in More?
• The complete InDesign CS4: Interactive Documents and Presentations course on
• All courses from Mike Rankin on
• All InDesign courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• InDesign CS5: Interactive Documents and Presentations
• InDesign CS5.5 to EPUB, Kindle, and iPad
• Up and Running with Adobe Digital Publishing Suite