Archive for February, 2013

Automatically back up your Drupal site’s database

Published by | Friday, February 15th, 2013

You do back up your computer, don’t you? It’s an easy process, even if you don’t use a utility like the Apple Time Machine: you simply move a bunch of files from your one place to another.

But if you try that with your Drupal site, you’ll leave out the most important part—your site’s content and configuration. That’s because those parts live in your site’s database, which is stored far away from the site’s files. The solution is to export the database as a file, then save that file along with everything else. Doing that manually can be a pretty awkward procedure, but the Backup and Migrate module makes it easy. Here’s what I do:

  1. Install Backup and Migrate the usual way (shown in the section “Expanding a Site’s Capabilities with Modules” in Drupal 7 Essential Training).
  2. Define where you want Drupal to store private files by clicking Configuration > File  system. Be sure to secure the destination by following the link on that page. If you don’t, your raw database file could become accessible to everybody.
  3. Configure Backup and Migrate to save the database into that directory. (I set up a schedule to save it once a day.) The video Backing up with the Backup and Migrate module in Drupal 7 Advanced Training shows you how.
  4. Save that database file when you save the rest of the Drupal files.

A conservative strategy: Backup and Migrate set to save six months of backups.

 

One last step: Be sure to practice restoring from that backup to make sure it works, as a bad backup is the same as no backup! Note that this is not the same as a straightforward MySQL export: you’ll need to use the Drupal Backup and Migrate module itself to reestablish your site. But while unusual, I’ve found this procedure to be far easier (and more foolproof) than noodling with my site’s Drupal database manually.

InDesign FX: How to add fancy ornamental frames to placed images

Published by | Thursday, February 14th, 2013

In this week’s InDesign FX video, I show you how to add fancy ornamental frames to placed images in Adobe InDesign.

More than any clever technique, this effect highlights the idea of using the resources you already have handy to create unique and interesting graphics, so you don’t have to draw them. Specifically, the fancy frames are made from a simple solid stroke embellished with a series of characters from the Adobe Wood Type Ornaments font.

Use the Adobe Wood Type Ornaments font to create unique and interesting graphics

In the video, I start by making a copy of the frame containing the photo. This way I can place the ornaments in the duplicate frame and know they will be positioned precisely where I want them over the photo.

Then it’s time to find a suitable ornament. Here, you can think of the Glyphs panel like a library of clip art. You probably already have several dingbat, symbol, or ornamental fonts at your fingertips, each containing hundreds of interesting shapes.

Use the Glyphs panel in Adobe InDesign to help find a suitable font

After selecting a single interesting glyph, you can scale and duplicate it to make a series of ornaments, and then use a frame as a vector mask to crop the glyphs and show just the parts you want for the picture frame.

Use a frame that contains your favorite glyph as a vector mask.

Use a frame that contains your favorite glyph as a vector mask.

With that basic set of steps you open up a million other possibilities by incorporating different fonts, glyphs, scaling, and so on.

Use InDesign's Character panel to adjust the settings for each glyph

Use the InDesign Character panel to adjust the settings for each glyph you use.

Another example of a text frame filled with a Wood Type Ornament font

Another example of using a frame as a vector mask for your selected font.

Final example of using a font to create a unique effect

The final effect, created entirely in InDesign.

I also have a member-exclusive video in the lynda.com library this week called Framing photos in letters. It shows you how to use merged letter shapes as photo frames.

How to use merged letter shapes as photoframes

Interested in more?
• The entire InDesign FX biweekly series
• Courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com
• All InDesign courses on lynda.com

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

Deke’s Techniques: Creating a series of Warhol-style variations

Published by | Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Valentine’s Day is approaching, and in this week’s installment of Deke’s Techniques, Deke shows you how to build a Warhol-style serigraph portrait of your valentine, whether it’s your main squeeze, your best bud, or your favorite furry friend. This technique combines last week’s effect with a new high-contrast color palette and luminescent highlights in Adobe Photoshop. Follow along with Deke in this week’s free video and use the companion text below to help with each step.

1. Use the image variation from last week’s technique or start fresh with Deke’s exercise file, which includes a set of preselected color swatches. And here’s a tip if you’re starting from scratch: keep your palette garish, high contrast, and concise (around five swatches in total) for maximum impact.

2. Isolate and select the eyelids of your subject and fill them with white, the default background color in Photoshop.

3. Use the Eyedropper tool to sample your first color swatch, click on the eyelids again, and press Shift+Alt+Backspace or Shift+Option+Delete to fill them with the selected color.

Begin by using the Eyedropper tool to sample your first color swatch

4. Repeat step 3 to fill the lips, hair, and background of your image with the colors of your choice.

5. To offset the fill layers so that they appear out of “registration,” as they would in a real screen print, select the layers, press and hold the Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac) key, and press the right and up arrow keys a few times.

6. Save a copy of your new variation by choosing File > Save As.

7. To add more dimension to the image, create a rough mask of your subject (free of most of the background) and add a Color Overlay effect. Change the effect’s blend mode to Screen to brighten all of the clipped layers in the image. Experiment by adjusting the Brightness and Saturation values.

Add more dimension to your image by adding a Color Overlay effect

8. To create the luminescent highlights, Shift-click the base black and white image and then choose Image > Calculations. Set both Layer options to Merged and select the Red channel for Source 1 and Blue for Source 2. Change the Blending setting to Difference and check Invert.

Convert to black and white and then use Image Calculations to create the highlights

9. Back in the main image, press Ctrl+I (Windows) or Command+I (Mac) to invert the highlights effect.

10. Apply a Levels adjustment and increase the black point value to 100.

Apply a Levels adjustment and increase the black point value

11. Turn the visibility of your other layers back on.

12. Finally, fill your highlights layer with the final swatch color and move it to the top of the layer stack.

Fill your highlights layer with the final swatch color

Now you have a true Warhol-style portrait. However, Warhol would have never stopped at two variations. Tune in next week to watch Deke combine six variations in a precisely aligned hexaptych, or six-panel artwork. In the meantime, members of lynda.com can view the entire Deke’s Techniques collection in our library.

Sneak peek at next week's Deke's Techniques

Suggested courses to watch next:

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

Open source—a two-way street

Published by | Monday, February 11th, 2013

Do you have a favorite open-source software you’re using in your professional work? Most open-source software is created by volunteers, organized as a project where the software is created. If you’re making money from the software, strongly consider giving back to the project.

You don’t have to know how to program to contribute. Answer software questions in discussion forums or social media. Make a financial donation to your project. Many projects would like help with issues peripheral to software development, like accounting, legal advice, marketing or SEO expertise, and more. So get involved and give back to the software you love!

Plan for Drupal 8, build for Drupal 7

Published by | Friday, February 8th, 2013

Rumor has it that early computer maker Osborne folded because it promoted its next-generation (but not-yet-released) model over the adequate (but sellable) one. People decided to wait, starving the company of revenue.

But while Drupal 8′s release is mere months away, there’s no reason to wait. Here’s why you should build your site now, in Drupal 7:

  • Drupal 7 will be good for a while. The community officially supports Drupal with security updates for two major releases. Drupal 6 came out in early 2008; Drupal 7 followed in early 2011. If the pattern continues, Drupal 7 won’t be obsolete until 2015 or later.
  • You’ll (probably) be able to upgrade your site to Drupal 8 later, as core Drupal is always upgradeable. The potential problem is in add-on modules and custom code, which sometimes lag. The good news is the biggie: Views is becoming part of Drupal core.
  • The cost for waiting is too great. While you wait for Drupal 8, your site stays locked in your imagination. There’ll always be something “even better” on the horizon.

So don’t fall victim to the Osborne Effect—build your dream Drupal site now!

InDesign Secrets: Creating a list using the Table of Contents feature

Published by | Thursday, February 7th, 2013

In this week’s free InDesign Secrets video, David Blatner reveals another use for the Table of Contents feature in Adobe InDesign: namely, that it’s not just a TOC creation tool, but it can also create a list from text tagged with a specific paragraph style throughout your document.

In this example, David shows you how to create a list of people included in your layout’s photographs by using a layer of hidden text.

1. First create captions for all your photographs.

2. Isolate the captions on a single layer in your document, assign the same unique paragraph style to all of them, and hide the visibility of the layer.

Assign the unique paragraph style to your captions

3. Choose Layout > Table of Contents to open the Table of Contents dialog.

4. Select the paragraph style you applied to your hidden text.

Select the paragraph style you applied to your hidden text

5. Check Include Text on Hidden Layers option and click OK.

Check Include Text on Hidden Layers option and click OK

This video is a great example of the TOC feature’s uses, but you could create a list of anything, such as a list of advertisers in a layout for a magazine or yearbook.

Looking for more InDesign insights? Join Anne-Marie Concepción in a lynda.com member-exclusive video called Threading a bunch of frames together quickly (and unthreading too).

And 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 lynda.com
• All lynda.com InDesign courses

Suggested courses to watch next:
InDesign FX weekly series
InDesign CS6 Essential Training
• InDesign CS6 New Features

Deke’s Techniques: Creating a Warhol-style silkscreen effect

Published by | Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Warhol became famous in part for his brilliant high-contrast and high-color renderings of famous figures like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, and even Mao Zedong. In this week’s Deke’s Techniques video, learn how to add an Andy Warhol-like treatment to your favorite portrait.

Deke shows you how to avoid inferior automated effects by building your own in Adobe Photoshop, complete with canvas texture and midtones. Follow along with Deke in this week’s free video and use the companion text below to help with each step.

1. Start by converting your image to a high-contrast black-and-white version by applying a Black & White adjustment layer. Choose the High Contrast Red Filter from the Black & White presets.

Convert your image to Black and White

2. Increase the contrast of the image by applying a Levels adjustment. Increase the black-and-white points using the histogram.

3. Add texture to the image using a new layer filled with an image like plain-woven fabric or crumpled paper, or use the exercise files provided by Deke.

4. Make the texture appear more organic by choosing Edit > Free Transform and entering Warp mode. Use the handles provided to change the angles of the texture.

Use the Warp mode feature to make the texture look organic

5. Change the blend mode of the texture layer to Overlay.

6. Select the Brush tool to start painting in the color. Choose a variety of different vivid colors to paint the eyelids, lips, hair, and so on. And here’s a pro tip: reduce the Spacing value to make sure the brush strokes are applied smoothly.

Using the Brush tool, start painting in the color.

7. Select the image layer and change the blend mode to Multiply to merge the layer effects.

8. Finally, add a border to your image to make it a bit more authentic.

Create an Andy Warhol effect in Photoshop

To learn about a whole other set of Warhol-style treatments (six, in fact), tune in next week. And as always, members of lynda.com can view the entire Deke’s Techniques collection in our library.

Suggested courses to watch next:

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

The power of previsualization… what is “preVIZ”?

Published by | Friday, February 1st, 2013

The power of preVIZ

PreVIZ is short for “previsualization.” It’s a technique that allows filmmakers to quickly visualize parts of a script to solve problems and inform planning and execution prior to a costly production phase. Oftentimes, this process creates momentum and excitement and helps you determine where to allocate your creative and financial efforts.

What if you had a looking glass into the future of your projects? What if you could help uncover what projects your firm would work on and what they’d look like? I discovered something amazing by watching several behind-the-scenes documentaries of my kids’ DVDs. This insight helped me identify an opportunity for a new type of design group at my company. I realized that filmmakers had developed a language and a methodology for creating their movies and telling their stories. I learned that the same process could be used to design anything from a website, product, service, or business strategy. Storytelling the future seemed like a very valuable proposition.

I was discovering the power of preVIZ.