Archive for November, 2012

Deke’s Techniques: Creating the parts of a looping braid for an Illustrator Pattern brush

Published by | Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

In this week’s Deke’s Techniques series, Deke McClelland shows you how to create an intertwined-rope pattern, then he shows you how you can use the perfectly aligned rope pattern with the Adobe Illustrator Pattern brush feature. Unlike a similar circular-stroke pattern Deke created a few episodes back in “Creating a currency-style emblem in Illustrator,” this approach creates a pattern that can successfully navigate 90-degree corners.

The entire pattern begins with a simple, unassuming line segment:
A simple line segment

The wave pattern is created by applying the Zig Zag effect, setting the absolute size to 4 points and the number of ridges per segment to 1.

A curved line with the Zig Zag dialog box in Adobe Illustrator


Next, Deke creates the second strand of the twist by using a Transform effect that reflects the now wavy segment over the y-axis:

Intertwined lines and the Transform Effect dialog box in Adobe Illustrator


Deke completes the straight portion of the pattern by copying one link of the twist and attaching it to the end. He then duplicates those same two segments and rotates them to begin building the corner component of the pattern.

Two intertwined lines with the Rotate dialog box in Adobe Illustrator

To make the looping design in the corner, Deke starts with a carefully measured Arc segment:

Arc Segment Tool Options dialog box

After rotating the arc into place, Deke lines the segment up and attaches it to the existing pattern using the Join tool. In the Join dialog box, you can tell Illustrator to create a smooth point at the join site.

The Join dialog box in Illustrator

The link shape is then duplicated, truncated, and rotated to become the basis for the next part of the corner loop. Again these end points are joined to the existing path:

The join dialog box with the link shape rotated


To create the very outer turn of the corner, Deke uses a modified ellipse. By measuring the distance he wants to cover ahead of time, Deke can tell Illustrator precisely the dimensions he needs for the ellipse:

An ellipse added in Illustrator


Once the ellipse is clipped in half, maneuvered into place, and joined up, the corner loop design is complete:

The finished loop in Adobe Illustrator

Deke also uses a similar measure, draw, cut, and rotate procedure to make the end segment. The result: three perfectly aligned components ready to serve inside the Illustrator Pattern brush feature. (I temporarily changed their stroke colors so you can see where each begins and ends.)

The final result with the three components ready for the Illustrator pattern brush

To see how these pieces are put to work, Deke has a member-exclusive movie this week called Assembling a seamless pattern brush, in which he shows you how to set your pattern pieces up for use in a Pattern brush.

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


InDesign Secrets: Placing one InDesign file inside another InDesign file

Published by | Thursday, November 8th, 2012

In this week’s InDesign Secrets video, David Blatner explains how you place one InDesign file inside another and, perhaps more importantly, provides some reasons why you might want to exploit this feature.

Placing an InDesign file inside of another InDesign file works much like adding any other type of file, such as a PDF. Once you use the standard File > Place command, choose your desired InDesign file and position it where you want it to appear in the layout of your original InDesign document. Just like any other placed file, the new file will appear in the Links panel, and any edits made externally to the placed InDesign file will automatically update. Accordingly, changes made will also appear with the same warnings and update ability that any placed link would display in the Links panel.

The Links panel in Adobe InDesign

Initially, the new InDesign file behaves just like a static, uneditable PDF or picture, but you can use the Edit Original command to open the linked file in InDesign. David also has a tip in the video for downloading a free plugin that allows you to convert the placed file into its constituent objects. That way, you can change the layout and other features just like you would any other page in your document.

For members of, David’s partner in InDesign secrecy, Anne-Marie Concepción, also has an exclusive video in our library called Creating bookmarks for PDFs, in which she explains how to create bookmarks in InDesign that will appear when your document becomes a PDF.

Anne-Marie and David 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
Up and Running with Acrobat XI



Brandon Hall Group and to present webinar on innovation

Published by | Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

This week, Brandon Hall Group and present a free webinar for users in business, education, and government. In Exploring Innovation in the Learning Landscape, Laurie Burruss, senior director of education at, and David Wentworth, senior analyst at Brandon Hall, will explain the key tenets of innovation. They will discuss the role and benefits of questioning, experimentation, observation, associating seemingly unrelated concepts, and sharing.

Join the webinar to

  • • Explore teaching and learning strategies that foster innovation
  • • Discover practical ways to incorporate innovation into your work
  • • See how to produce innovators, not just subject matter experts
  • • Discuss lessons from curious and creative risk takers and real-world leaders
  • • View case studies and best practices

Webinar details:
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

1 to 2 p.m. ET
10 to 11 a.m. PT
[register now]


Deke’s Techniques: Creating 3D punched letters in Illustrator

Published by | Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

In this week’s Deke’s Techniques, Deke McClelland shows you how to transform plain text into punched-out 3D letters in Adobe Illustrator.

Graphic with the word "good" in plain text

In order to keep the original type intact, Deke begins by making a copy of the type layer to work on. After converting that copy to outlines, he also makes a copy of the outlines layer to work on. This way, the original type isn’t destroyed in the design process. Safety observed, Deke then removes the black fill and adds a 4-point white stroke, setting the stroke to align to the outside of the letters.

The plain text with white fill in Adobe Illustrator

After converting the stroke to outlined fills, the type is ready for 3D extrusion. From the Effects menu, choose 3D > Extrude & Bevel, and set the  Z value to 0 degrees, and the X and Y values to 4 degrees.

The Adobe Illustrator 3D Extrude and Bevel Options panel

The next step involves some careful expansion, selection, grouping, and the creation of a compound path to prepare the edges of the letters for a white fill and the extruded edges for a red fill. And by careful, I mean follow Deke’s instructions carefully here and you won’t go wrong. Cavalierly ignore certain aspects of the instruction in this section, as I may have done, and you may go astray—as I may have done.

The layers panel in Adobe Illustrator

After some housekeeping in the Layers panel (using the Reverse Order command to put the letters g-o-o-d in the right order), it’s time to do a little straightening of the letters themselves. The application of the 3D effect tends to misalign the letters and their edges a bit, so switching to the Outline mode (Command/Ctrl+Y) allows you to drag the paths back into alignment.

The outline mode in Adobe Illustrator

The next step is to take a hypotrochoid pattern and duplicate it over each letter. (Check out this episode of Deke’s Techniques for more on how to create the hypotrochoid pattern.)

The 3D text effect with a spirograph pattern

After pasting the pattern in back of the letters, Deke creates a clipping mask for each letter/pattern combination, eventually filling the inside of each letter with the pattern.

A clipping mask applied to a text effect in Adobe Illustrator

After refilling the letters with red and adding a narrow stroke, it’s time for another round of alignment, which again is best done in Outline mode.

Aligning the letters in the Adobe Illustrator Outline Mode

Lastly, a drop shadow, another stroke around the letter edges, and the application of the Multiply blend mode provide the final touches to this sculptural letter effect:

The final 3D punched-out letter text effect

Of course, this rich graphical 3D effect would not be the same without its fancy intertwined border, so next week, Deke will show you how to create that design using a pattern brush in Illustrator.

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


InDesign FX: Creating photo corners

Published by | Thursday, November 1st, 2012

This week’s InDesign FX video shows how to create the look of a photo glued into a scrapbook. The effect is achieved by adding a stroke to the photo, plus four triangular objects that resemble adhesive photo corners.

A picture with photo corners created in InDesign

This technique is a nifty way of presenting a photo, and it illustrates effective use of small drop shadows, rounded corners, and the use of a light gray tint instead of pure white for added realism—all effects that have useful application in many other InDesign effects.

But maybe the most valuable aspect of this lesson is how it demonstrates a way to fix inconsistent shadows and highlights that undermine the realism of an effect, a common problem you can encounter when you flip or rotate objects after you’ve applied transparency effects to them.

To illustrate where the problem occurs, let’s consider each step in this effect.

First, the placed image is given a stroke and a drop shadow, so it looks like a printed photograph:

The picture with a drop shadow added in InDesign

Then, the first photo corner is created by applying Bevel and Emboss effects to a small triangular object:

Triangle shape with the Bevel and Emboss effect

And the other three photo corners are created by duplicating, flipping, and rotating that triangle:

The photo with photo corners that have inconsistent lighting

Can you spot the shadow and highlight problem with the photo corners in the image above? When they were flipped and rotated, so were the highlights and shadows of the Bevel and Emboss resulting in inconsistent and unrealistic lighting with visible highlights on all four sides.

As I show in the video, the way to fix this problem is to make the four triangle corners behave as one by converting them to a compound path. Then the Bevel and Emboss is applied to all four triangles at once, with highlights and shadows all aligned to a consistent angle.

The picture affixed with four photo corners

An added benefit of making the corners into a compound path is that you can easily make changes to the triangle’s bevel attributes or the fill color.

The picture with red photo corners

I have another member-exclusive movie in the library this week called Making new shadow effects, which shows how you can replace a typical Drop Shadow effect with shadow shapes and patterns of your own design.


Demonstration of two shadow effects in Adobe InDesign

Another patterned shadow effect

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