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    Russell Viers is a Transition Expert in the publishing world. Since 1997 he has helped newspapers and magazines adapt to changes in the industry. Read more...

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  • Archive for November, 2006

    Kuler part II…the Wonderful World of Flash

    Thursday, November 30th, 2006

    Let’s all head over to kuler.adobe.com together and check out something that is rapidly changing the way we view websites. Go ahead…I’ll wait a minute.
    We’ve already discussed what The Kuler and does in a previous article. What I want to throw at you today is how The Kuler is constructed and how that same technology is changing the way we use the www.
    Historically, when you click on a button on a website to activate an action, you have a wait time for the button to send a signal to the site, the site has to figure out what the next action is, then the data is sent down to the user again over the network. Depending on network speed, this can become a frustrating experience…but one we’ve all grown accustomed to.
    So while you’re at The Kuler (that’s what I call it, we’re still talking about kuler.adobe.com) click on buttons and notice the reaction time of the site. When working in the Create area, moving the sliders to create different colors and choosing different rules is instantaneous.
    The only buttons with a lag time are the ones where the site needs to go to kuler.adobe.com to get new data. For the most part, however, most of the information the site needs to work is downloaded to the user’s computer for quicker use of the site.
    If you like lingo, throw around the term “client side rendering” and you’ll impress your friends. Say something like “I sure prefer the new Flash sites, because they offer client side rendering and give me a faster, more pleasant surfing experience.”
    Or you could say “You’re so old fashioned browsing those server side sites where you have to wait forever to have the sites update from page to page.”
    You’ll sound so smart.
    The reality is this: Flash technology has allowed website programmers to push more of the site’s work onto the user’s machine (client side) so that it acts like a program running on the machine instead of just a workstation linked to the server. This is in sharp contrast to sites that rely on data stored on the server (server side) that gets downloaded to the local machine when an action takes place, like a button being pushed.
    After you play with The Kuler for a bit, venture over to www.leoburnett.com and be amazed at what could never be done in the server side world. Move your mouse over the pencil and the site comes alive. Move the pencil over various areas and let it sit or click your mouse for different responses.
    After you’ve wasted about a half hour there, stroll over to www.adobe.com/creativemind/, another great example of a client side Flash site which gives you, the visitor, an experience you couldn’t enjoy in the old days.
    Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite Flash sites? Share with us so we can all find new ways to waste time at work “working.”

    Avoid output surprises…use the Separations Preview palette

    Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

    I remember the days when we would output a file as separated to the laser printer to see if anything was going to show up on an extra plate if the job was CMYK. While the job spooled, we would watch the progress bar and if it mentioned a fifth (or often more) color, we would either stop the printing or let it continue and look at the printout to see where the extra color was.
    We would also use this trick to check for CMYK blacks like type that had been colored as “register” instead of black, etc. or grayscale images that were really RGB or CMYK.
    A lot of innocent trees gave their lives for the pursuit of perfect film output.
    We no longer need to rely on luck or laser printers for precise output. Using InDesign’s Separations Palette will give you a good headstart in resolving output issues, like the ones listed above or others, like proper overprinting and knockouts.
    Keep in mind that some of the overprint issues may be resolved based on your RIP (Raster Image Processor) settings, but it never hurts to see what’s going on in a file before letting it go, either as a PDF or native file.
    Let’s give it a go…
    Open up a document in InDesign and go to Window> Output> Separations Preview (CS2) or Window> Output Preview> Separations (CS1). I wanted to be clear on the two versions since they are SOOO different, and I don’t want you confused.
    After this palette launches, select Separations from the drop down menu and you will see a list of all colors used in the document.
    To the left of the colors is an eyeball, which you can toggle off and on again to see where that color is…or isn’t.
    I often toggle off the Black to make sure that what’s black disappears. If it doesn’t, I know there is an unexpected CMYK black. In which case I go to that image or text and change it to meet my output requirements. Simple.
    I also toggle off and on varnish plates to make sure they are overprinting as they should. This also works with foil, opaque inks, spot UV or any other special application that is to overprint the image below.
    Just remember that the Separations Preview activates the Overprint Preview mode which hides your guides and frame edges. If after you’re done using it you wonder where all your guides have gone, just go to View> Overprint Preview and you’ll be back where you started.
    If you want to watch a video that gives you an overview of the Separations Preview Palette, we’ve created one and aptly named it Separations Preview Palette.

    The Woes of Overprint Problems

    Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

    I had a customer one time who had a magazine cover go bad because they wanted a spot UV over an arrow, but didn’t set the art to overprint. When a bigillion of the magazines came off press and there was just a big white arrow on the cover instead of the photo with a shiny arrow over it, she threw up right there on the floor.
    Don’t let this happen to you. Take control of your files with an understanding of how to make things overprint, or not, depending on what you are wanting.
    Watch the video OVERPRINTING for a quick overview of InDesign’s default and customizable settings.
    One of the main things you want to know is that InDesign will overprint ALL blacks if you leave the default setting alone. If you go to preferences and turn it off, it will knockout ALL blacks. Those are your choices…on or off. Hmmmm…
    I always check with the printer or service bureau outputting my file to see if their RIP is set up to knockout and trap overprints if they are in the PDF file. I suggest you ask the same question.
    The reason that’s important is that you can knockout and trap overprinted black if it’s in the file, but you can’t overprint knocked out black later if you decide you need it.
    Should you decide you want black to overprint sometimes and knockout others, and you want to control this manually, here’s a little trick. Create a swatch called Knockout Black and make it 99.9 percent black. You can then use Black for all objects and type you want to overprint and use Knockout Black for all objects and type you want knocked out. The 99.9 percent black will plug up to solid on press.
    It’s also important to familiarize yourself with the Attributes Palette, where you can manually set overprinting on fills and strokes of type and objects. Just remember that for type you need to have the type highlighted with the Type Tool, not just selected with the Selection Tool.
    When checking your work, depend on your Separations Preview Palette, a video of which is available called…uh…Separations Preview Palette.

    Hangin’ Around the Kuler

    Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

    Have you ever gone to the paint store to select colors for a project. You know the nifty kiosks they have where you choose the main color then it will give you some great ideas for accent colors?
    Me either, but it’s a great idea.
    Such a great idea, that there are some online resources just like it, except they are created for designers, not painters.
    The newest of which, is kuler.adobe.com. Not perfect, but a great start at a very useful color creation environment which actually integrates with Creative Suite 2. That’s right…after you use Kuler to create your palette of five colors or less, you can download it as an Adobe Swatch Exchange file which can be loaded into Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign for consistent color in your document creation.
    Kuler is a public beta site bestowed upon us by the Adobe gods, driven by Flash technology. Make sure you’re using Flash Player 9 in your browsers. If you don’t have it you can download it free from adobe.com.
    Not only can you create your colors, but you can tap into the brilliance of others in the design community, because you can also publish your swatches to the site for others to view, customize and use.
    There is a whole slew of swatch collections there, already…1167 to be exact when I checked earlier today. By now that number has grown, I’m sure.
    You can view the most popular, most recent and highest rated collections for inspiration, as well. You can also search for tags that might fit your project, like Orange, Fall, Snow, Phlegm, etc. Keep in mind you are at the mercy of the people who publish the colors to give it information that makes sense as searchable. On one of mine I used the color name Asphalt instead of gray. I doubt anyone will be searching for Asphalt any time soon, and if they search for grey they won’t see my collection called Road Hazard.
    If you type in Green as search criteria you might find another of mine called Forest for the Trees.
    So check it out, but make sure you have some extra time before venturing over there…it can be quite mesmerizing (To quote Adobe brain, Colin Fleming).
    If you are having trouble figuring it out, watch this video for a quick overview: kuler.adobe.com.

    Creative Suite 2.3

    Monday, November 20th, 2006

    New Creative Suite? Well almost.
    Adobe has announced the release of Creative Suite 2.3, which includes something old, something new, something bought and something…well, I’m not sure if there’s anything really blue, but you get the idea.
    What’s old? InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Bridge and VersionCue all come over from the previous CS2 release…don’t expect anything new in this department until the release of CS3.
    What’s new? Acrobat 8.0. Yep, it’s that time of year again.
    I know for some it is frustrating that Acrobat is on a different upgrade schedule than the rest of the Creative Suite, and it’s not named Acrobat CS or Acrobat CS2.
    We’ll just have to get over that, since Acrobat has a much larger audience outside the print/publishing/design world we live in.
    As for the new version, however, we’ll talk more about how it impacts our industry in future discussions. For now I’ll just say that there are a few interesting new features for us like improved Color Management, shared Transparency Presets, Preflight improvements, Booklet Printing and some new Meta Data stuff.
    Today’s discussion focuses on when to buy Acrobat 8.0.
    So…when do you buy Acrobat 8.0?
    As a trainer and consultant, I have to get the software immediately and it’s just something I have to deal with.
    As a printer receiving PDFs from clients who might have Acrobat 8, you have to get the software immediately and it’s just something you’ll have to deal with. Unless you have the luxury of communicating with your clients and asking them to make their files compatible with previous versions.
    For those of us in a situation where we need the new software now, we possibly end up with more copies of software than we need. So I bought Acrobat 8, but I know I’m going to buy the Creative Suite 3 Premium when it comes out, which will give me another copy of Acrobat I won’t need.
    I could purchase the Creative Suite 3 Standard, which doesn’t include Acrobat, but I will want the web creation tool, as well, and to buy it separately would cost more than just getting the premium and having an extra Acrobat.
    So what’s the damage? Since Adobe has always been so kind with it’s upgrade pricing, those of us who buy the upgrade to Acrobat 8 professional are only set back $150. Not too much of an investment to have the software now, instead of waiting until the CS3 upgrade comes out in the spring.
    If you look at the new features and they’re worth 150 smackers, go for it and enjoy new productivity immediately. Otherwise, you may be better off to wait for CS and get your new version then.
    What’s bought? Dreamweaver is part of the MacroMedia package Adobe acquired recently and they are including it in the new Suite.
    As for the web creation tool, it seems the writing is on the wall regarding the future of the Creative Suite. I can’t imagine Adobe would release this CS2.3 with Dreamweaver then release CS3 with GoLive again. There is a greater plan in the works and I’m guessing we’ll see Dreamweaver 9 in the next CS3.
    What does that mean to me? I have to learn a new piece of software. Yabb-Adobe-Doo is created in GoLive since it integrates with the other Adobe products so well. Now that Adobe owns Dreamweaver, I hope to see the same happen with the new version.
    Regardless, I will be converting this site over to Dreamweaver in the near future and we’ll have discussions as to how well that works.
    What if you don’t own InDesign, yet? The longer you wait to get on board, the longer you will be working too hard and wasting time creating documents in other applications. My suggestion is to look at CS2.3 and consider joining the revolution. Even though there is an announced CS3 around the corner, it’s still far enough away that if you have projects to get out, you should be able to recoup your investment easily with improved productivity. If you don’t have much work in the next few months, it might be a good time to take advantage of a slow season and get up to speed on the software so you’re ready for your busy season.
    Here’s something else to consider: The CS2.3 upgrade is only $159. The Acrobat 8.0 upgrade is $159. So for the cost of the upgrade to Acrobat you can get Creative Suite 2.3 upgrade which gives you Dreamweaver for free. Hmmm…
    So what are you gonna do?