Archive for October, 2012

Deke’s Techniques: Creating a currency-style emblem in Illustrator

Published by | Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques episode, Deke McClelland shows you how to use Adobe Illustrator to create a filigree emblem worthy of being used in your money-like design.

Deke begins with a dark background covered with intricate, scaled, hypotrochoid patterns based on last week’s Spirograph technique:

Spirograph-style filigree emblem background in Adobe Illustrator

Next, he adds some scalloping to the edges of the black background circle using the Distort & Transform effect called Zig Zag. By setting the points to Smooth, the default sharp corners of the Zig Zag effect become gentle waves:

Spirograph-style background with scalloped edges and Zig Zag effect

By duplicating the effect and turning it 9 degrees, Deke creates a second set of scalloped edges that will come in handy for the next step.

Spirograph-style emblem with a second set of scalloped edges

After moving the two scallop shapes to the top layer, deleting their fills, and applying a 4-point white stroke and a 6-point black stroke to each, the result is this intertwined braid around the edges of the Great Seal of Deke:

Emblem with an intertwined braid effect on the outer rim

In order to make the braid a continuous shape (as opposed to looking like two intertwined lines), Deke moves the Transform effect up above the Stroke effects in the Appearance panel. Then to give his emblem a more American-currency hue, he changes the white stroke color to a pale green.

Emblem with a green braided outer rim

He also applies that pale money-green fill to the 5 character and gives it a shadow by creating a copy of the fill and using Transform to move the shadow down and to the right:

Emblem with a green fill and dropped shadow

Deke then adds another Stroke effect to beef up the shadow, applies a thin stroke above the green fill, and uses the Offset Path effect set to a negative value (-3) to really sell the currency effect:

Emblem with an Offset Path effect on the 5 character

Finally, the filigree lines created with the Spirograph pattern are given the same pale green color. In the video, you’ll see the quick tips Deke uses to select all those paths and make sure no pale green lines extend beyond the emblem. The result is this currency-like seal:

Next week, Deke begins his Halloween techniques weeks!

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

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals
• Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals
• Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool to host a webinar on user tips and tricks

Published by | Saturday, October 13th, 2012

This week, presents a free webinar for users in business, education, and government. In User Tips and Tricks: Learning with, Laurie Burruss, a professor of interaction design and director of the Digital Media Center at Pasadena City College, explores the library of instructional videos as an organization-wide resource for learning and professional development. Discover new features and rewarding tips and tricks—from managing course queues and bookmarks to strategies for spreading the word among employees, students, and faculty.

Join our webinar to

• Speed up projects or research
• Share courses with teams or classes
• Learn about content pedagogy and curation
• See how the site accommodates distinct learning styles
• Explore how the timecode-enhanced search engine “thinks

Topics to be covered include transcripts, video player options, course histories, meta tags, certificates of completion, and using with a variety of desktop, laptop, and mobile devices. Q&A session to follow.


Webinar details:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Choose your time:

7 to 8 a.m. PT
10 to 11 a.m. ET
[register now]

11 a.m. to noon PT
2 to 3 p.m ET
[register now]


InDesign Secrets: Using Illustrator to tweak InDesign vector shapes

Published by | Thursday, October 11th, 2012

In this week’s free InDesign Secrets episode, David Blatner reveals the secrets of using Adobe Illustrator to tweak your InDesign shapes. This technique is really a matter of allowing each application in the Creative Suite to do what it does best: InDesign is great for page layout, but when it comes to high-powered vector manipulation Illustrator is the stronger choice.

For instance, let’s say I had this InDesign document with a ho-hum six-point star and some surrounding text:

Plain white star in Adobe InDesign

By copying the star shape from InDesign and pasting it into Illustrator I can easily leverage dynamic, transforming effects. In this case, I used the Zig Zag effect in Illustrator to quickly and efficiently change my star into a snowflake by adjusting two simple numerical settings:

Star with added Zig Zag effect in Adobe Illustrator

After the shape is modified so it’s looking how I want it, it’s just a matter of copying the new shape in Illustrator and pasting it into InDesign where it becomes a fully editable path outline:

A snowflake shape in InDesign

While Illustrator and InDesign are meant to work together, and using Illustrator to dynamically transform shapes is much more efficient than trying to make transformations in InDesign with the Pen tool or other workarounds, you should be aware of some tricks and traps along the way. In the video above, David shows you how to exploit and avoid these tricks and traps.

David’s partner in InDesign secrecy, Anne-Marie Concepción, also has an exclusive video for members this week called Automating Find/Change with the Find/ChangeByList script, in which she explores how to use a special script to automate the Find/Change command.

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


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

Suggested courses to watch next:
InDesign CS6 New Features
 InDesign CS6 Essential Training
Illustrator CS6 Essential Training

Introducing Jerry & Maggie: This is not photography

Published by | Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

The documentary team is pleased to announce the release of Jerry & Maggie: This is not photographyour most ambitious film to date about photographers Jerry Uelsmann and Maggie Taylor.

Jerry & Maggie: This is not photography was shot in California, Florida, Wyoming, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, where we spoke with a diverse cast of museum curators, academic historians, digital wizards, and artists.

We spent over a week shooting with Jerry and Maggie at their compound in Florida, including an amazing six-hour session under safelights in Jerry’s darkroom to capture the first live documentation of Jerry creating an original piece of art. Fortunately, we were able to shoot this film on two brand-new Canon EOS C300 cameras, which have an ISO range up to 20,000!

We’ve entered Jerry & Maggie: This is not photography in a number of 2012 and 2013 film festivals. First up is the ArcLight Cinemas Documentary Film Festival in Los Angeles, where entry into the festival is contingent on community votes. If you’d like to vote for Jerry & Maggie: This is not photography, visit the ArcLight Cinemas Facebook page now through October 14, 2012 and select “Jerry and Maggie” in the Biographical/Historical Documentaries category. If you’re not on Facebook, you can also vote by clicking the Like button associated with the “Jerry and Maggie” trailer on the ArcLight Cinemas YouTube page.

We’re extremely proud of this film and hope you’re as inspired watching it as we were making it.

Director Scott Erickson with a Canon EOS C300 camera

Director Scott Erickson checking the shot with a Canon EOS C300 camera.

Cinematographer Mia Shimabuku with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera

Cinematographer Mia Shimabuku waiting for her next shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera.

Cinematographer Aron Ives with a Canon EOS C300 camera

Cinematographer Aron Ives shooting a scene with a Canon EOS C300 camera.


Interested in more?
• The entire Jerry & Maggie: This is not photography documentary
• All documentaries

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Richard Koci Hernandez, Multimedia Journalist 
• Natalie Fobes, Photographer
• Rick Smolan, Photographer
• Bert Monroy, Digital Painter and Illustrator

Deke’s Techniques: Creating a Spirograph-style pattern from a single path in Illustrator

Published by | Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques video, Deke McClelland shows you how to create a Spirograph-style pattern from a single, continuous path in Adobe Illustrator. Yes, it’s true, two weeks ago, Deke showed you a similar technique, but the fact is, although that project was legitimately a Spirograph-esque design, it was not a legitimate unbroken hypotrochoid. Those of you who may remember using a Spirograph know that the magic of it involved creating the design without ever lifting your pen from the paper. And Deke has discovered two ways to achieve that continuous line effect with Illustrator, which he demonstrates in this week’s episode:

The first step involves squishing a standard circle shape into this unassuming ellipse:

An ellipse

That ellipse is then duplicated 11 times using the Rotate tool to make copies, and each copy is turned 30 degrees from the previous copy’s opposite anchor point. Once the entire rotation is complete (and this is admittedly tedious), you can delete all the center anchor points and join the remaining half-ellipses to make a single path. After converting all the outer points to smooth points, you’re left with this regulation hypotrochoid:

A hypotrochoid in Adobe Illustrator

The second approach Deke demonstrates in the video also starts with an ellipse. But in this case, rather than duplicating whole ellipses and then efficiently cutting half of them away, Deke creates an open shape (like a lowercase cursive letter l) by cutting the shape open with the Scissors tool, then slightly rotating half of it:

Cursive l in Adobe Illustrator

Once you have this open shape, it can be duplicated and rotated using Transform Effect:

The transform effect applied to the cursive l


With either approach, there are a few fine tuning tweaks needed to perfect the shape, which Deke demonstrates in the video. In the end, you can combine the two shapes and apply the Multiply blend mode to mix the ink colors for a nostalgic, single-path Spirograph-like piece of artwork.

The final Spirograph-style art

For members of, Deke also has a third approach for this kind of effect called Scaling circles into complex patterns, where he shows you how to use the Scale tool to make very intricate, lace-like designs.

Deke will be back next week with another free technique!


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

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals
• Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals
Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool

Exploring browser animation options: Part three, Canvas

Published by | Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Over the past few weeks my blog posts have been exploring different animation options available in modern browsers. First, I looked at using CSS, and then jQuery. In this article I want to take a look at a third option, Canvas, and talk about some of the advantages and limitations of working with this part of the HTML5 specification.

InDesign FX: Creating custom InDesign buttons

Published by | Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Nowadays, Adobe InDesign is often used to produce interactive documents with features like slideshows, audio, video, animations, and hyperlinks. To make all these elements truly interactive, you have to provide readers with controls, usually in the form of buttons. InDesign has a sample library of buttons you can use as is or customize, but if you want your buttons to fit seamlessly with the rest of your page design, you might consider creating your look from scratch. In this week’s InDesign FX video, I show how you can quickly make great looking buttons by starting with simple circular shapes, and adding effects like Gradient Feather, Inner Shadow, Outer Glow, and Bevel and Emboss.

The four main elements required to make a round button that has dimension and a shiny finish are the button text, shine effect, background color, and outer boundary ring.

The four elements of a dimensional button graphic and their composite

You can, of course, tweak any of the elements to suit your taste. Try experimenting with different fonts or colors for the text and background. Adjust the opacity of the shiny highlight to make your button polished or dull, or omit the highlight altogether to make a flat button instead of a convex one. Adjust the outer glow on the text. Use different bevel settings for the outer ring, or remove the bevel if you don’t like it. The options are endless and so easy to tweak that experimentation and creativity are encouraged. Here’s a tip: When you have a version you like, just select it with the Direct Selection tool, and Option/Alt drag to make a copy. That way you can compare versions of your button side by side and never have to recreate your work.

Side by side comparison of two sets of buttons

I also have another member-exclusive movie in the library this week called Creating wraparound headings, which shows you how to create wraparound headings that can be edited and moved intact.

Wraparound heading example in Adobe InDesign

A text box with two wraparound headings

Wraparound headings are a very trendy look in magazines and websites right now, and with good reason. They give a very clean, crisp sense of depth, and offer a fresh alternative to effects like bevels and drop shadows.

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


Interested in more?
• The complete InDesign FX bi-weekly series
• 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: Turning a pencil drawing into ink-style art in Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques episode, Deke McClelland shows you step-by-step how to use Adobe Photoshop to turn a scanned pencil sketch into a digital ink-style drawing.

For his sample file, Deke uses a scanned pencil-sketched comic strip reminiscent of art he drew in his youth:

Scan of a pencil sketch

The first step is to get rid of some color effects that were created during the scanning process. Because this unwanted color is living in the Blue channel, Deke uses the Photoshop Channel Mixer to reduce the effects by mixing in greater values of the Red and Green channels. This process also creates an opportunity for Deke to darken the outlines of his characters.

Pencil sketch darkened in Photoshop

Next, he strengthens the black outlines with a Levels adjustment:

Pencil sketch after a Levels adjustment in Photoshop

Then Deke applies the Despeckle filter to help reduce the noisy edges around the drawing caused by the JPEG compression, and creates a white rectangle to cover the edge of the drawing paper that reveals where the scanned paper ends and the scanner itself starts.

Pencil sketch with noise reduced using the Despeckle filter in Photoshop

One advantage of drawing digitally is the ability to reconsider details. Before taking the time to redraw the cartoon with pencil, Deke brushes white around the eyes of his square character, who he’s affectionately named Jello, so he can redraw the eyes digitally.


Pencil drawing with hand-drawn digital adjustments

After switching his brush color to black, Deke redraws a more refined expression of gelatinous rage and reconstructs the side of Jello’s face that got cut off by the scan:

The final ink-style drawing of the pencil sketch

In the end, you get all the benefits of drawing in the real world, and refining in the digital one. To see every nuance and detail of the process, check out the movie Turning a pencil sketch into digital ink at the top of this post, or on

For members of, Deke also has a member-exclusive movie this week called Adding a graph-paper background, where he shows you how to give your digitally inked characters a unique background.


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 One-on-One: Intermediate
 Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Advanced