Archive for January, 2013

InDesign FX: How to create vertically oriented text in Adobe InDesign

Published by | Thursday, January 31st, 2013

In this week’s InDesign FX video, I show you how to create vertically oriented text in Adobe InDesign.

Example of vertical text similar to the text effect in The Matrix movie

Normally, InDesign doesn’t allow you to set text vertically inside of a text frame. You could fake it by inserting line breaks after each letter, but that’s pretty tedious and it breaks up the words.

Example of trying to fake the vertical text by using line breaks

But if you place your text on a path, you can set vertical text quickly and preserve it as actual words. The key is to use the Type on a Path option called Stair Step.

The Stair Step option keeps each letter oriented vertically at its position along the path. If you use Stair Step with a straight diagonal path, you get text that looks like it could be walking up or down stairs.

Example of stair step text

If you use it with a curved path, you can create some interesting effects where text slides and swirls around the page, but remains very readable because the letter shapes don’t rotate with the path.

Example of text on a curved path

Another example of text on a curved path

And, as I show in this week’s video, to create perfectly vertical text, you only need to use a perfectly vertical line.

Final example of vertical text in InDesign

I also have a member-exclusive video in the library this week called Achieving a developing Polaroid effect. It shows how to add some old-school fun to an image by adding a Polaroid-like border and then animating the image so it slowly becomes visible.

Achieving a developing Polaroid effect

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

Interested in more?
• Start a free trial membership at
• The entire InDesign FX biweekly series
• Courses by Mike Rankin on
• All InDesign courses on

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

Deke’s Techniques: Drawing an ISOTYPE couple in love

Published by | Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Get a jump on Valentine’s Day by building custom artwork for your valentine in Adobe Illustrator! Building on the last technique, this week’s installment of Deke’s Techniques shows how to create the very picture of a couple in love—in pictogram form, of course. Learn how to combine your finished ISOTYPE figures (based on the picture language of the same name designed by Otto and Marie Neurath in 1935) and have them join hands. Follow along with Deke in this week’s free video and use the companion text below to help with each step.

1. Refer to Building a universal ISOTYPE man with strokes in the library to create your ISOTYPE figures from scratch, or just use Deke’s exercise file if you are a premium member.

2. First, select the man’s left arm and use the Appearance panel to bend the arm outward, increasing the Vertical Scale, Move, and Angles values in the Transform Effect dialog.

Use the Transform effect to bend the arm

3. Duplicate the white underarm stroke and adjust its Scale, Move, and Angle values.

4. Next, adjust the shoulder by modifying the Scale property, and move it slightly left with Transform Effect.

5. Use the Move command to move the two figures closer to each other.

Use the Move command to move the two figures closer together.

6. Copy the fill (the head) to start creating the heart shape. Move it between the figures.

7. Create a duplicate of the red circle and move it to the right to complete the top half of the heart.

8. Click Add New Stroke and choose an arrowhead effect (resizing it with Scale and Distort & Transform) to start the bottom half of the heart.

Creating the heart illustration in Adobe Illustrator

9. Create additional strokes to fill the heart.

10. Expand the effect to make the artwork easier to work with.

11. Use the Pathfinder > Merge command to combine all the paths.

12. Finally, delete any remaining empty paths.

The finished artwork

Tune in next week, when Deke takes up with a couple of other universal symbols and combines them into a series of Andy Warhol–like silkscreen treatments. Members of can view the entire Deke’s Techniques collection here.

Suggested courses to watch next:

• The entire Deke’s Techniques collection
• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Intermediate
• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Intermediate

Manage unplanned expenses in your web projects

Published by | Monday, January 28th, 2013

When working on a website design or redesign project, have you ever encountered small, unanticipated fees in the course of doing business? These might include costs for stock photography, fonts, content management system extensions, domain name(s), static IP addresses … the list goes on!

Rather than paying this cost from your own budget, or hitting the client up with a bunch of little fees (which gets annoying on both sides), consider quoting a separate line item for website design and development fees. I typically budget roughly 10 percent of the total for this. This is for any additional costs for assembling the site. There’s no guarantee you’ll use this at all, but if you need it, the money is there!

Four steps to professional growth

Published by | Friday, January 25th, 2013

Many of us understand the importance of investing money to make more money. A consistent investment strategy can help you gain a steady financial footing.

Do you have a similar plan to invest time in your professional development? Do you have a strategy to invest a little time to increase your value at your workplace?

I recommend these four steps to invest time in your professional development:

First, determine how much time, on a weekly basis, you are willing and have available to invest in your professional growth. For most people, somewhere between two and five hours a week is appropriate. Whatever you feel is appropriate, schedule that time in your calendar and set it aside as sacred.

Second, choose your area of focus. Pick an area where you don’t have responsibility yet or have yet to prove yourself. For instance, let’s say you’re a marketing assistant and want to become a marketing director. You may begin studying topics essential to becoming a marketing director and determining what types of projects and topics marketing directors initiate and manage.

Third, select your course materials for your area of focus. What do you need to study to reach your goal? As a member, you have a wealth of classes to choose from in several areas. You can also create multiple playlists of courses that interest you and prioritize them to set learning goals. You might invest in relevant books and trade magazines or consult your local library for resources. You may also research software and company systems related to your desired position.

Fourth, make a commitment to deliver an assignment. Go to someone you know and respect and tell them what you are working on. Make a concrete commitment not only to the assignment, but also to a particular due date. Doing this will strengthen your personal commitment. It will also get the other person on your support team and possibly as an invested mentor.

These four steps are just a starting point for your professional growth. What other suggestions would you offer to help others invest in their own career? What actions have you taken that have helped you in your own career? Please comment on this page and I look forward to talking with you.

Interested in more?

• Courses by Dave Crenshaw on
• All Career Development courses
• All Business courses

Suggested courses to watch next:

• Enhancing Your Productivity
• Discovering Your Strengths
• Building Your Professional Network

InDesign Secrets: Working with sets in the Content Collector tools

Published by | Thursday, January 24th, 2013

In this week’s free InDesign Secrets video, Anne-Marie Concepción introduces one of the more interesting features included with Adobe InDesign CS6: the Content Collector tools, or more specifically, the Content Collector, Content Placer, and Content Conveyor. The Content Collector tools function like a permanent clipboard, allowing you to grab and place content in documents, copying and repurposing it in any way you need while your original InDesign document is open. You can grab text, images, animations, captions, groups of objects, and even entire pages.

Activate the Content Collector tool from the main toolbar (or press B) to open the Content Conveyor panel. To toggle between Content Collector and Content Placer modes, simply press B again. Click one or more pieces of content to place the items on the conveyor “belt.”

Use the Content Collector tools in InDesign to copy and repurpose elements from one document to another

In the video, Anne-Marie gives you an insight into sets, which allows you to marquee-select a group of objects and retain the same size and relationships between the objects. Discover how to drill down through a set to find the exact item you need. She also shows how to load, preview, and place sets; grab items from alternate layouts; and create sets from unrelated items.

Use the Conveyor tool to load individual images, text blocks, even entire pages to use them in another InDesign document

Overall, the Content Collector tools are a powerful new feature for repurposing layouts, artwork, and text in a precise and visual manner. Looking for more InDesign insights? Join Anne-Marie’s partner in InDesign exploration, David Blatner, in a member-exclusive video called Running text along the top and the bottom of a circle.

As always, 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 FX weekly series
InDesign CS6 Essential Training
• InDesign CS6 New Features

Deke’s Techniques: How to create the universal male symbol

Published by | Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

In this week’s installment of Deke’s Techniques, Deke McClelland shows you how to create a pictogram of the universal male symbol, originally created as part of Otto and Marie Neurath’s ISOTYPE, or International System of TYpographic Picture Education, collection. Learn how to create this pictogram with stroke effects applied to a single vertical path outline in Adobe Illustrator. Follow along with Deke in this week’s free video and use the companion text below to help with each step.

1. Create a new file for your artwork and use the Line tool to draw a vertical line segment.

2. Choose Window > Appearance to bring up the Appearance panel, which allows you to stack multiple fill and stroke effects on a single path.

3. Create the right leg first.

    a. Click the Stroke option in the Appearance panel and change the Weight to 28 pt and the Cap to the middle Round Cap option. Be sure to click on Stroke inside the Appearance panel or Options bar to get to the Cap option.

Adjusting the settings for the weight and cap style

    b. Choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. This command allows you to create and alter the stroke independently of the path outline.

    c. In the Transform Effect dialog box that opens, turn on the Preview check box to reveal your changes and change the Vertical Scale value to 70%. Select the bottom point in the reference point matrix. Make sure Scale Strokes & Effects are deselected. Be sure to change the Horizontal Move to 19 pt. This ensures you scale the virtual path that Illustrator is stroking here, but you do not scale the line weight itself. Click OK.

Adjust the settings for the Transform effect

4. Duplicate the right leg to build the left.

    a. Select the stroke in the Appearance panel and click the page icon at the bottom of the panel to duplicate the stroke.

    b. Twist open the properties of the new stroke and click the Transform property to open the Transform Effect dialog box. Change the Horizontal Move value from +19 pt to –19 pt, turn on Preview, and click OK.

Drawing the legs for our universal male symbol

5. Now it’s time to create the body.

    a. Select the first stroke in the Appearance panel, click the page icon to duplicate it, and change its stroke to 66 pt.

    b. Click the word Stroke to bring up the Stroke panel and change the Cap to Butt Cap to remove the rounded edges from the path.

    c. Click Transform to bring up the Transform Effect dialog box and change the Vertical Scale to 40%, the Horizontal Move to 0, and the Vertical Move to 54. Select the top middle point in the reference point matrix and click OK.

6. Create a rounded negative space between the legs with a white stroke.

    a. Select one of the leg strokes in the Appearance panel. Option+drag (Mac) or Alt+drag (Windows) it to the top of the stack to duplicate the stroke.

    b. Click on the swatch of your new stroke to bring up the Swatches panel and select white.

    c. Reduce the stroke to 10 pt.

    d. Click Transform to open the Transform Effects dialog box. Click the center point in the reference point matrix to scale the stroke from its center. Change Vertical Scale to 20%, Horizontal Move to 0, and Vertical Move to 54. Click OK.

Connecting the legs of our universal male symbol.

7. Now to add the arms.

    a. Select one of the 28 pt strokes. Option+drag (Mac) or Alt+drag (Windows) it to the top of the stack to duplicate the stroke.

    b. Change the weight of the new stroke to 24 pt.

    c. Open the Transform Effects dialog box and reset the reference point to the center. Change Vertical Scale to 26%, Horizontal Move to 55 pt, and Vertical Move to –18. Click OK.

    d. Duplicate the new arm by clicking its stroke in the Appearance panel and clicking the page icon.

    e. Click the Transform property of the newest stroke and change the Horizontal Move value in the Transform Effect dialog box from +55 to –55. Click OK.

8. Create the shoulders.

    a. Duplicate one of the arm strokes by selecting it and clicking the page icon in the Appearance panel again.

    b. Click the new stroke’s Transform property. This time, change the Rotate Angle to 90 degrees. That rotates the stroke so it’s perpendicular to the path outline.

    c. In the Transform Effect dialog box box still, set the Vertical Scale to 28%, the Horizontal Move to 0, and Vertical Move to –56. Click OK to commit your changes.

Creating the shoulders

9. Create negative white space underneath the arms to simulate rounded joints.

    a. Select the 24 pt stroke that represents the right arm. Option+drag (Mac) or Alt+drag (Windows) it to the top of the stack to duplicate the stroke.

    b. Click on the stroke’s color swatch and change it to white.

    c. Change the line weight of the stroke to 10 pt.

    d. Click the stroke’s Transform property and change the Vertical Scale to 24%, the Horizontal Move to 38 pt, and the Vertical Move to –16 pt. Click OK.

    e. Copy the right underarm stroke to the left by clicking the stroke in the Appearance panel and clicking the page icon to duplicate it.

    f. Click the left underarm’s Transform property to open the Transform Effect dialog box. Change the Horizontal Move value from 38 pt to –38 pt and click OK.

10. Now draw the missing head.

    a. Move the fill from the bottom of the Appearance panel to the top of the stack.

    b. Change the fill color to black by clicking on the swatch and selecting black from the Swatches panel. Note you are not actually going to see anything change immediately because you’re trying to fill an open straight path outline.

    c. Click on the fill to make it active and choose Effect > Convert to Shape.

    d. Choose Ellipse as the shape in the Shape Options dialog box. Select Absolute from the Options and dial in Width and Height values of 52 pt each. Click OK.

Adding the arms to the universal male symbol

    e. The fill needs to be moved upward on the canvas. Choose the fill from the Appearance panel and choose Effect > Distort and Transform > Transform. When the Transform Effect dialog box opens, type in a Vertical Move value of –122 pt. Click OK.

Side note: Positive horizontal values move things to the right; negative values move them to the left. Positive vertical values move things down; negative vertical values move them up. It is a little counterintuitive, but that’s the way it works inside Illustrator.

11. Now you need to convert the strokes to path outlines.

    a. Return to the Layers panel.

    b. Option+drag (Mac) or Alt+drag (Windows) your man layer to the top of the stack to duplicate it.

    c. Double-click the new layer to open the Layer Options dialog box. Change the Name to paths and select a new color for your outlines. Click OK.

    d. Choose Object > Expand Appearance.

    e. Choose Path > Outline Stroke to convert all the strokes to filled path outlines.

    f. Then merge all these path outlines according to their colors. Choose Window > Pathfinder to open the Pathfinder panel and click the Merge icon.

    g. Choose Object > Ungroup to ungroup the white paths that are nested inside the black ones.

    h. Press V to switch to the Selection or black arrow tool, click off the path outlines to deselect them all, and then click one of the white outlines that represents a void space. Go to the Options bar and click the arrow next to the far right Select Similar Objects icon. Choose Fill Color from the popup menu to select all the paths with white fills. Press Backspace (Windows) or Delete (Mac) to remove them.

    i. Now you can rotate, size, or manipulate the figure however you want, as he’s now a single merged path outline.

Final image of the universal male symbol

For members of, Deke has another exclusive movie this week called Building a universal woman with strokes, in which he shows you how to create the female companion for your figure. Plus, stay tuned for next week’s tutorial, when Deke shares a special Valentine’s themed project in Illustrator.

Suggested courses to watch next:

• The entire Deke’s Techniques collection
• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Intermediate
• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Intermediate

Share and share alike with AutoCAD WS

Published by | Monday, January 21st, 2013

Historically, exchanging Autodesk AutoCAD drawings with non-CAD-using clients was a challenge. That’s because viewing DWG files outside of AutoCAD required downloading and installing special software. For this reason, many clients preferred using PDF files to review design changes.

Nowadays, AutoCAD WS makes it easier for all stakeholders to participate in project collaboration, whether they have CAD software or not. AutoCAD WS is a free application offering virtually unlimited online storage for your project drawings.

Select File in AutoCAD WS

Visit to create an account and get started. After creating an account, uploading and managing files within AutoCAD WS is as simple as using a USB flash drive. To share a file, simply select it and press the Share button.

You can then enter the recipient’s email address, assign file permissions, and jot down a quick message related to the file. When finished, click the Share button.

Share DWG Files in AutoCAD WS

Another great part is your client doesn’t need an AutoCAD WS account to view the drawing. Within the email they receive will be a View Online link. Clicking this link will automatically launch AutoCAD WS allowing them to pan and zoom around the file.

Your client doesn’t have to stop there. Using AutoCAD WS they can work with the drawing by measuring, editing, adding comments, downloading, or printing it. And if your client is running the AutoCAD WS app on their smartphone or tablet, they can do any of these things on the go.

Editing AutoCAD DWG Drawings

If you and your client are both viewing the same drawing, you can engage in a “live collaboration” where you can chat, and edit the file simultaneously. During the meeting, AutoCAD WS will automatically archive the entire revision history, which allows you to restore the drawing to any prior version.

Using AutoCAD WS helps make your designs accessible to every stakeholder.

Interested in more?

• All courses by Jeff Bartels on
• All 3D + Animation courses on
• All AutoCAD courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:

• AutoCAD WS Essential Training
• AutoCAD Essentials 1: Interface and Drawing Management

Letter from Lynda

Published by | Thursday, January 17th, 2013
Lynda Weinman discussing the investment deal on Bloomberg West

Lynda on Bloomberg West, January 16, 2013.

Some of you may have heard our big news: has raised a $103M investment from Accel Partners, Spectrum Equity, and Meritech Capital Partners.

In our 17-year history, we have never needed investment money because our business has been profitable and self-sustaining. We’ve been approached by investors for the past seven years on a fairly regular basis, and never seriously considered taking an outside investment. Bruce and I covet the creative and financial freedom to chart our own journey, and we weren’t sure what we would do with the money.

What changed? As we’ve grown to more than 400 employees, achieved record revenue numbers, expanded with offices in the United Kingdom and Australia, and built out a stellar executive management team, we now have a clear idea of what to do with the extra funding. Our plan is threefold: increase our content scope and output, improve our delivery platform, and expand internationally.

Bruce and I still hold the majority ownership of and continue to be grateful every day for this opportunity to do what we love—we have no intention of changing that! We are really excited to welcome Andrew Braccia from Accel Partners and Vic Parker from Spectrum Equity to our board of directors. They are great investors who share a passion for what we have built, respect our vision, and welcome our deep engagement in the business.

We are thankful to have such an amazing culture, to be part of such an important mission, and to foster the many new ideas that haven’t yet been realized.

Stay tuned for more of what we’ve always created: effective, efficient training that helps people achieve their goals and gain confidence with their skills.

Thank you for all your support over the years, and we hope to continue to earn it for many more years to come!

— Lynda

Read more:

• Bloomberg: “ lands $103 million in biggest education financing”
• VentureBeat: “ raises $103M to tackle the tech talent crunch

Article on Bloomberg covering the $103 million investment given to

VentureBeat article covering the $103 million investment deal


Watch Lynda’s interview with Robert Scoble about the deal: