We all strive to be more creative. How many times have we admired a cool campaign, an ingenious product design, a spectacular photograph, a smart logo, or an awesome video clip—and wished we could have come up with those ideas?
So how do we grow in our creativity? The first step is expanding our vision and embracing more of what’s around us. Reading is one way to do that. In his course Drawing Vector Graphics, Von Glitschka equates reading to “thinking with someone else’s head.” And while it’s true that reading—and reading almost anything—will help you become more creative, it’s a slow, gradual process that requires investment over time. You can’t just read one thing and—BAM!—you’re a more creative person.
There is a quick fix however—a way to get an instant energy boost of creativity. And so I present my top one ways to be more creative.
Each year at the Adobe MAX conference, session attendees vote on their favorite speakers—and the top names are invited back to speak at future MAX events. We’re proud to announce that 10 of the top 22 speakers this year, or “MAX Masters,” are lynda.com authors.
We work hard to choose authors who are not only experts in their field and passionate about their subject matter, but are engaging teachers as well. We’re glad Adobe MAX audiences enjoyed their presentations as much as lynda.com members do!
Check out our training from these authors and see for yourself why they’re MAX Masters:
To celebrate the new year and my new position as content manager of the design segment at lynda.com, I decided to quiz some of our lynda.com authors about what kind of advice, warnings, or personal goals they might have for 2011. Here are some of the useful tips, gentle admonitions, and personal goals they shared:
David Blatner suggests that we take a little time now to make styles, master pages, learn keyboard shortcuts, set up workspaces, or other time-saving shortcut skills, in order to save a lot more time downstream. I so agree with David on this one. And while I’m really good (obsessive, really) about creating styles in InDesign, I’m a horrible procrastinator when it comes to learning shortcuts. Which is silly. A few seconds of concentration on learning how to navigate the Layers panel in Photoshop with the keyboard would probably pay off before I even get around to breaking the rest of my resolutions.
Deke McClelland thinks you should stop adding those heavy-handed precious-memory vignettes to your portraits no matter how easy they are to create in Photoshop/ACR these days. Let’s face it, vignettes are the drop shadows of the new millennium. Unless you are shooting actions shots of dinosaurs, of course, then vignette away (check out the Adding grain and vignetting effects from Deke’s Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced course for why this last bit makes any sense whatsoever).
Mordy Golding thinks learning to exploit Illustrator’s Appearance panel is definitely worth your 2011 attention. In fact, Mordy once claimed that “…the Appearance panel was the source of all things about modern Illustrator usage. The path to Illustrator righteousness. If you aren’t using it yet, you need to get with the program.” (Illustrator that is). You can get Mordy’s rundown on Using the Appearance panel from his Illustrator CS5 Essential Training course.
All good ideas, I think. Any bad design production habits you want to replace with better ones this year? Any good habits you hope your friends and colleagues adopt? What about things you want to learn—and how can we keep our resolution to help you with that?
Last spring, lynda.com published Flash Catalyst CS5 Essential Training to show members how to create and publish fully interactive Flash (SWF) micro sites, widgets, portfolios, and applications from static artwork without writing code. Previously, we had published the Flash Catalyst Beta Preview course. This year, we’re trying something new. Instead of a Beta Preview course, we’re going to be publishing a series of videos and blog entries. We’re starting this new series of posts to coincide with Adobe MAX, to take advantage of an anticipated public beta of a new and improved Flash Catalyst. Here is the first of my posts.
At their MAX conference in 2007, Adobe showed a demonstration of a new product they were building, dubbed Thermo— a product that would come to be known as Flash Catalyst. At the ’08 and ’09 conferences, they released public beta versions of Flash Catalyst. Adobe seems to be keeping with the tradition at this year’s Adobe MAX conference by posting a preview release of a future version of Flash Catalyst, code named Panini, to Adobe Labs. It’s obvious that the Flash Catalyst team has been hard at work, because Flash Catalyst Panini sports some pretty big features.
Roundtrip designer-developer workflow
In the CS5 release, Flash Catalyst enabled designers to send their projects to a developer, who could open them in Flash Builder. However, once a developer worked on a project, there was no way to send it back to a designer to make changes.
With Flash Catalyst Panini, designers can start the process by creating an interactive wireframe, which they then hand off to a developer. Using Flash Builder Burrito (a preview release of that product, which is now also available on Adobe Labs), a developer can open the wireframe and add logic and connections to data services, and then send the project back to the designer. The designer can now reopen the project in Flash Catalyst Panini to skin the project and make additional changes. Developers can control which parts are editable and protect other parts. This means the designer can actually preview live data connections while working on the design.
Support for creating resizable applications
Perhaps one of the things designers struggle with most is dealing with layouts that will be viewed across multiple devices and screen sizes. Creating resizable layouts (also referred to as fluid, or liquid) is not only possible now in Flash Catalyst Panini, it’s also really easy to do. I demonstrate how it works in the video accompanying this post.
Better wireframing functionality
In the CS5 release, Flash Catalyst featured a list of ten wireframe components such as buttons and sliders. Flash Catalyst Panini now features an impressive library that contains over 35 components that include things like navigation elements, accordion boxes, and basic building block elements such as body copy or image placeholders. All of the components have also been redesigned to feature a consistent grayscale appearance. What this means is that you can quickly create great-looking mockups and wireframes for just about anything. You can see these new components in the embedded video as well.
While Flash Catalyst Panini is a wonderful peek at what’s to come, it’s still a preview release, so I’d be careful about using it on real-world projects (there’s no backwards-compatibility with CS5, and developers must use the Flash Builder Burrito preview release to open projects made in Panini).
Of course, if you want to learn everything there is to know about using Flash Catalyst CS5, be sure to check out Flash Catalyst CS5 Essential Training in the lynda.com Online Training Library. And you can be sure that I’ll continue to bring you the latest information on future versions of Flash Catalyst here on lynda.com.
Got a request on what topics you’d like to see in a future Flash Catalyst title in the lynda.com Online Training Library? Let me know in the comments below!
When it comes to creating graphics for the many different screen sizes in use today, designers and developers have a variety of choices at their fingertips, including Photoshop and Fireworks. More and more however, designers are looking to Illustrator, as well. With the Illustrator CS5 release, Adobe added finer control over antialiasing, which results in great-looking pixel-perfect artwork. With its vector-based editing environment and ability to integrate with virtually any other Adobe application, Illustrator offers a wide range of benefits for web and interactive designers.
In the past, the titles I recorded covering the use of Illustrator for web design were filled with workarounds to address the shortcomings of using Illustrator for that kind of work. With the new features that Adobe added to Illustrator CS5 however, I was able to refocus the majority of my latest course—Illustrator CS5 for Web and Interactive Design—on workflow. The course covers how to best use the creative toolset and powerful production tools in Illustrator to crank out high-quality pixel- and vector-based web content quickly and efficiently. For example, the title has dedicated chapters focused on using Illustrator hand-in-hand with other applications including Photoshop, Fireworks, Dreamweaver, Flash Professional, and Flash Catalyst.
With the public interest in mobile apps, many designers are tasked with creating content for all kinds of screen sizes, and also for generating the numerous icon sizes. Through the generosity of the fabulous visual designer Jon Hicks, I’ve included his template for designing icons for Apple’s iOS in the course.
Adobe recently released extended functionality for Illustrator via the HTML5 Pack for Illustrator CS5 technology preview (you can download it on Adobe Labs). This pack adds the following six capabilities to Illustrator CS5:
• Designate certain attributes (i.e., fill, stroke, opacity) as variables right from the Appearance panel in Illustrator. When saved as SVG, developers can easily change the variable definition to “reskin” or modify the art. You can even create global variables.
• Create multiple artboards in Illustrator at various sizes, for example to design art for different screen sizes. You might do this to create different designs for mobile, tablet, and desktop versions of a design for example. You can then save your file as SVG and include all the different artboards. Illustrator creates an HTML file and a CSS file, along with separate SVG files for each artboard. The CSS uses media queries to detect the screen size and automatically serves up the correct SVG image.
• Define character styles in your Illustrator document, and then export those character styles as a valid CSS file. You can do this directly from the Character Styles panel.
• Select an object in Illustrator and export valid CSS directly from the Appearance panel. Of course, if you mockup an entire page in Illustrator, you can simply select all of it and export it to a single CSS file. IDs are picked up from the Layers panel (so you want to name artwork carefully), and Illustrator can export Fill, Stroke, Opacity, and Absolute Position, and Dimensions.
• Select styles from the Graphic Styles panel and choose to have them exported when you save your file as SVG. What’s really cool is that you can include styles even if they aren’t applied to your artwork. This would allow you to deliver multiple styles to a developer within a single SVG, and even programmatically swap styles.
With the current trends in the world of web and interactive design, it’s obvious that Illustrator is going to play a large role in future web workflows. Adobe added powerful SVG support to Illustrator nearly 10 years ago, and today’s renewed interest is driving the product even further with support for the HTML5 Canvas tag and CSS3.
In the coming weeks, I will be recording an additional chapter of videos covering the new features included in the HTML5 Pack for Illustrator CS5. These videos will then be added to Illustrator CS5 for Web and Interactive Design course. Stay tuned for information on when that will be available.
This Wednesday, lynda.com author and Google expert, Susan Cline is offering afree one-hour webinar on Google Forms on behalf of the Google apps solutions company Dito. Topics will include creating new forms, designing form questions, analyzing responses with Google Spreadsheets and more. Register today.
Join author Mordy Golding weekly for his new Adobe Illustrator webinar series, Fridays with Mordy. Each week Mordy will pick a different topic based on the user feedback he receives through his Twitter account. At 2 pm Eastern, each Friday, you can sit in and watch Mordy demo various Illustrator topics, and answer questions in a live webinar. For more information, and to check out his new weekly seminar, check out his blog.
It’s inevitable, that when you get so many industry power-houses together, they will talk shop, compare histories, and brainstorm upcoming projects. It’s always a treat to hear about conferences from the past, like Mordy Golding recounting the ADIM (costume mandatory!) conferences, or different methods to slow down their speech in the booth (Mordy has a wall of snail images, stop signs, sloths etc.). But it’s also a treat when you find out that authors have crossed paths before, and hadn’t realized it until something triggers them—like Taz Tally (who now lives in Homer, Alaska) remembering James Williamson from a South Carolina service bureau in the late ’80s!
Stay tuned for upcoming training from these greats.