Next week, I'll start with back with my Wednesday Quick Tips.

Below are a few shots from my trip to Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. All were taken with my iPhone and all have been processed with Flare. I've posted a new Flare preset, Arco, for download.

Grouping Colors in InDesign CC 2014

The new versions of Creative Cloud are out, and InDesign has picked up a few new features. One of the minor tweaks will be really welcomed by obsessive compulsive designs.

InDesign CC (2014) now lets you group your colors into folders. Just click the folder icon at the bottom of the Swatches palette to make a new color group.

While it's a small thing, having the ability to group colors will be helpful or large and complex documents.

Every Wednesday, I post a tip for an Adobe app.

Not everyone upgrades right away

Adobe introduced some new versions of Creative Cloud today. And since not everyone upgrades right away, it's a great time to remind you how to save an InDesign file so it can be opened in an older version of InDesign.

Simply go to File > Export and choose "InDesign Markup Language (IDML)" at the bottom of the dialog box. The resulting file will be have an .idml extension and should open up in older versions of InDesign.

Of course you'll still need to package your images and fonts if you are transferring the file to another computer. Just collect the job by selecting File > Package... and selecting your options. Then save an IDML file, too.

Every Wednesday, I post a tip on an Adobe app.


Typekit integration

At the top of the Type menu in Adobe InDesign CC is a new addition: Add Fonts from Typekit...

Selecting it will open Typekit in a browser window and you can choose typefaces that you would like to install.

Pick which versions and weights you want to use and sync them to your computer. There are lots of tools to help you discover new type, allowing you to search for type styles, thicknesses and weights. Creative Cloud automatically downloads and installs the fonts for you. 

A large selection of type, including Mark Simonson's excellent Proxima Nova, are available as part of your Creative Cloud subscription. I'm surprised at how many folks have no idea that this is part of your monthly subscription cost. And the type can be used in any app.

Every Wednesday, I post a tip on an Adobe product.

Measure twice...

InDesign has a built-in ruler – the Measurement tool that hides behind the Eyedropper. You can use it in a couple of ways.

Select the Measurement tool and draw a line to measure something. The Info palette should open. Your measurement results will appear in the Info palette.

Below, measuring the left side of the magenta box, you can see the length (D1) and the angle. Also note that the width and height of the shape, the coordinates and the colors are also shown in the Info palette. And once you've drawn a measurement line, you can move it around to compare to other shapes.

Distance and angle is easy to find.

Distance and angle is easy to find.

But that's not all. You may need to measure the angle between two lines. If I want to measure the angle between the pink and black boxes, InDesign has a hidden "protractor" measurement mode. Draw your first line. Then, holding down the option key, draw a second line that starts at the endpoint of the first line. Your cursor should change into a protractor that looks suspiciously like a compass. When you draw both lines, your measurements for the first line (D1), second line (D2) and the angle between them is shown.

Protractor measurement mode in action.

Protractor measurement mode in action.

Oddly, this ruler is more capable than the one in Illustrator where I would use it more often. The Illustrator measurement tool lacks a protractor mode. Seems like it would be an easy addition for them. (And if Adobe really wanted to improve the ruler in their apps, they should take some tips from the type design app, Glyphs, which has an amazingly functional measurement tool.)

Every Wednesday, I post a quick tip on an Adobe app.

InDesign's hidden distraction-free writing mode

I’m a big fan of distraction-free writing environments that strip away all of the formatting and let you focus on the words. (I normally use Byword for iOS and Mac.) What does this have to do with today’s quick tip? Adobe InDesign has a built-in, distraction-free editing mode.

It’s called Story Editor and it’s helpful when you are trying to edit text without the formatting. To activate it, select a text box and go to Edit > Edit in Story Editor. A simple window will open that looks like this:

The default Story Editor in InDesign.

The default Story Editor in InDesign.

Any text changes you make in the Story Editor are also made in the InDesign layout. It's just a different view of your story.

To the left you have the Paragraph style and a ruler showing how many inches of text you’ve written. The ruler takes into account the type style and width of column to give you an accurate estimate of how long your text is. If you don’t find them helpful, you can disable them by going to View > Story Editor and hiding them.

Also, I’m not a big fan of the type settings. Thankfully, you can change the appearence in InDesign > Preferences > Story Editor Display... Change the typeface, size, background colors line spacing and more.

With some tweaks to the interface, the Story Editor now looks like this:

Slightly customized Story Editor.

Slightly customized Story Editor.

In a perfect world, Adobe would include some other options. Personally, I'd like to be able to adjust the width of the side margins so can take the window full screen width and still have an easily readable line length. As you can see from the shot above, the text goes all the way to the edge of the window.

It's not going to replace Byword for me, but it is a nice option when editing text in InDesign and really helpful with complex documents.

Every Wednesday, I post a quick tip on an Adobe app.

Selective Select

I've been working on a project this week that has a bunch of layered objects.  And it reminded me of today's tip, which I do instinctively, but that not everyone knows.

In InDesign and Illustrator, hold down the command key when you select objects that are stacked. Each time you click, it will cycle through the objects underneath that click point. 

For example, you have a stack of three objects. You command-click on the stack. The first click selects the top object. The second click selects the middle object. The third click selects the bottom object. The fourth object selects the top object again and the cycle continues. (Bonus tip: If you command-option-click, it reverses the cycle order.)

It's really helpful when you have a complicated document.

Every Wednesday, I post a quick tip for an Adobe app.

Customizing a better umbrella

Designer Khoi Vinh has a great post on how to build a better umbrella. Which got me thinking about umbrellas, too.

Up until about a year ago, I never really worried about an umbrella. My driveway is close to my front door. And at work, I parked reasonably close to the office. Unless it was a downpour, no umbrella was needed.

But all that changed when I started working at the University. My car is about four blocks from my office. I have meetings all over campus. So now, I need an umbrella. I had a nice umbrella, but my lovely wife has stolen it for her car. I have another umbrella that stays at the office. And a compact umbrella that stays in my Timbuk2 bag. 

So Khoi's thoughts on umbrellas all resonated with me. But today, as I headed to meetings in a steady rain, I started to think about how expensive an umbrella like this would be – with electric trackers and custom handles. Would I pay a premium for an umbrella like this?

I would if I could completely customize it.

What if Timbuk2 made umbrellas? Awesome custom umbrellas to match their awesome custom bags. Pick the size, color and style of fabric, handle style and features. Options like electronic trackers and buckle straps. All with a warranty similar to what they offer on their bags. Eventually, you could offer a line of umbrellas from small compact models to large golf umbrellas.

I'd pay a premium for an umbrella that is exactly what I want. Just like I paid a premium for my Timbuk2 bag that I love so much.

Timbuk2 is probably too disciplined to enter the umbrella market. It would be a completely different market for them. But if someone could replicate the wonderful buying experience that Timbuk2 offers, I think there would be enough of a market for them to be successful.

Find anything. Change anything.

The Find/Change feature of InDesign is ridiculously powerful. Most people only use a fraction of its capabilities. There are four types of searches: Text, GREP, Glyph and Object.

The text find/change dialog is the only thing most people see, but there is more power lurking underneath those other tabs.

The text find/change dialog is the only thing most people see, but there is more power lurking underneath those other tabs.

A Text search is most common. Find a certain word or phrase and replace it with another. But by using the boxes at the bottom of the screen, you can also search by how the word is formatted and replace with a different format.

The GREP find/change in much more complex. It searches for patterns. So if you want to find all phone numbers in a document and format them the same way, GREP search is for you.

A Glyph find/change lets you isolate a specific character. Helpful for locating or altering of random bullets.

Using the Object tab in the Find/Change dialog box, you can restyle an entire document quickly.

Using the Object tab in the Find/Change dialog box, you can restyle an entire document quickly.

But the Object tab is the one that gets the least attention and it's the most powerful. Find and change the formatting on shapes, lines, text boxes and more. Find all boxes with a 1 pt. line and replace with a 2 pt. line. Find all shapes with a drop shadow and remove them. Powerful stuff, and most people have no idea it's available to them.

If you are working with long documents, Find/Change will save you a ton of time. 

Every Wednesday, I post a quick tip for an Adobe app.

Sketchbook B now on Creative Market

So far, I've only offered my fonts for sale at MyFonts. Today, I've added another distribution channel. You can now buy Valdes Clarendon at my shop on Creative Market.

Creative Market is a new marketplace that sells fonts, images, templates, themes and more. I'm excited to be a part of it. I also like the idea that I can sell more than just type. (As for what those products will be... well... I've got some ideas...)

For now, Powerlane will remain a MyFonts exclusive. I'm not sure it's right for Creative Market. But my plan going forward is to offer all my fonts through Creative Market and MyFonts.

Museum-caliber modular type

Last week, Stefan Sagmeister unleashed the most high-profile modular typeface design since Wim Crouwel's New Alphabet.

The redesign for the Jewish Museum in New York features two modular typefaces. You can get all the details over at Brand New. It's a complicated and massive identity. I like what Sagmeister has done and the whole system works well. But those modular type designs stood out to me — especially the primary "script" type.

As a fan of modular type and the work of Crouwel in the 60's and 70's, it's really nice to see a high-profile, modern designer embrace a modular aesthetic.

(If you want to play around with modular type, head over to Fontstruct and build something awesome.)

Better spacing or fewer hyphens

Hyphenation can be critical when you're trying to justify text. Below is a passage with three hyphens:

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 9.39.24 PM.png

Lots of people hate hyphens and might ask you to turn off hyphenation. That's a bad idea because then it will look like this:

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 9.40.55 PM.png

That's some bad spacing. Thankfully, InDesign offers a better way to control hyphenation. Go to the flyout menu on the Paragraph palette and choose "Hyphenation..." A dialog box will pop up:

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 9.41.50 PM.png

InDesign checks the entire paragraph and decides the best locations for hyphenation based on your settings. Look for the slider at the bottom of the box. On one side, you have "Better Spacing" and on the other "Fewer Hyphens." Choosing the "Fewer Hyphens" side will only leave the hyphens that InDesign needs for proper spacing. Below is the same passage with "Fewer Hyphens" selected.

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 9.41.57 PM.png

InDesign eliminated one hyphen and changed the hyphenation on "coordinate" to maintain good spacing. I usually adjust the settings with the "Preview" box checked so I can see the changes as I move the slider. 

Just know that you have more hyphenation options than "on" and "off." 

Every Wednesday, I post a tip on an Adobe app.

Caught in the middle

Last week, Apple reported that they had sold more than a few truckloads of iPads. Of course, some Wall Street types weren't impressed. Which led some tech writers to question the iPad's future, Apple's innovation, Tim Cook's leadership style, Steve Jobs' legacy and Jony Ive's accent. (You can catch up here.)

Which got me thinking about my iPad and the fact that it's the least critical computer I own.

I say this as someone who loves their iPad. I've got a first generation iPad mini. The non-retina one. I use it regularly. But it's one of three machines that I own. I've got a MacBook Pro and an iPhone, too.

My MacBook had a hard drive failure recently. I repaired it within hours. If my iPhone was lost or stolen, I'd be at the Verizon store quickly. And if something happened to my iPad... well... I'd wait to replace it. I would miss it. I prefer the iPad for several daily tasks, but it doesn't serve a critical function for me. I can live without it.

I don't see this as a problem with the iPad, though. It's a testament to how useful the iPhone and MacBook are. I need the MacBook for Creative Cloud and type design software. I need my iPhone for phone calls, messaging and taking pictures. And I use the iPhone as the network connection for my iPad and MacBook when I can't get reliable wifi.

Not too long ago, I had a desktop and a laptop. Laptops were slow and underpowered. The screens were too small. You had a laptop for convenience, but you had a desktop to get things done. Over time, laptops improved. They got faster and had better screens. The prices came down. Battery life improved. I used the laptop more and more. And when it was time to replace my desktop, I didn't. I bought a new laptop. 

So all this chatter about whether the iPad has lost momentum? Give it time. These type of transitions take a long while. 

I believe that the iPad can replace a laptop for many people. Personally, I have specific software that I want to use. It will be a long, long time before an iPad can run the design software that I need. But someday, I could see my kids with with tablets as their primary computers instead of laptops.

I can confidently say that today, my iPad isn't as critical to me as my iPhone and my MacBook. I'm not sure, however, that will be true in 5 to 10 years.

A path to better pictures

John Nack (Google, formerly Adobe) linked to this great article by Stu Maschwitz, "How to Take Good Photos for Under $1,000." My favorite line:

The oldest advice about photography is still the best. A “fast 50” is the cheapest, best lens. On your inexpensive DSLR, 50mm is a portrait lens, which means it’s good for taking pictures of people—which are the only pictures anyone cares about.

It's a good collection of sensible advice and you should absolutely read it... especially if you are a designer that ends up having to take a lot of pictures.

A couple of comments:

  • His recommendation to buy a fast 50mm lens is a great one. Yes, zooms are convenient, but shooting with a faster lens is wonderful, especially if you can use natural light and not use a flash. Plus, the 50mm lens is affordable.
  • I wouldn't throw away the kit zoom. But lens quality does matter.
  • Yes, shooting in RAW is worth the extra file size. If you want great results, shoot in RAW.
  • He mentions that Lightroom will cost you about $100. But if you have Creative Cloud, it's one of the apps that Adobe included in the subscription.

When I first started shooting, a 50mm lens was always included when you bought a camera. Now, it's all about zooms. I'm planning on upgrading my camera system soon and I'll definitely take some of Stu's advice.

Align strokes

In the middle of the Stroke palette are the Align Stroke options.

In the middle of the Stroke palette are the Align Stroke options.

InDesign lets you determine where the stroke is located on a box or shape. In the middle of the stokes palette is the "Align Stroke" option. By default, the stroke is centered on the path. So a 2 point line with have 1 point outside the box and 1 point inside the box. 

With thicker strokes, the placement of the stroke really matters. Below are three boxes that are drawn to be exactly the same size. The only difference is the alignment of the stroke.

These three boxes are the same size. Only the alignment of the stroke varies. From left to right: Inside, Centered, Outside.

These three boxes are the same size. Only the alignment of the stroke varies. From left to right: Inside, Centered, Outside.

It's helpful to use these settings when you are trying to get precisely measured shapes. I use the inside alignment option all the time.

Every Wednesday, I post a quick tip on an Adobe app.

Star command

Stars and polygons are easy to build in InDesign. Most people, myself included, set the angles and number of sides by double clicking on the Polygon tool. Which brings up a dialog box allowing you to set the number of sides and star inset percentage.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 11.00.05 PM.png

But let's say you want to change the number of sides or the star inset angle while you are drawing the shapes? Easy. Start to draw the shape. Press the spacebar and then use the arrow keys to adjust the shape without opening the dialog box. Right and left arrows change the angle of the star inset. Up and down changes the number of sides.

But here's the really awesome tip. Start to draw a star or polygon. Don't push the space bar like you did above. Simply push the arrow keys right or left. InDesign creates a horizontal line of identical shapes. If you use just the up and down arrows, the shapes form a vertical line. Or use both sets of arrows and create a grid of shapes. 

Even better, the grid tip also works on rectangles and circles, too. It's magic.

A couple of rows of shapes created with the arrow keys.

A couple of rows of shapes created with the arrow keys.

A grid of circles created using the arrow keys while drawing.

A grid of circles created using the arrow keys while drawing.

FYI: The spacebar acts like a toggle. So you can easily switch between the two modes.

Every Wednesday, I post a quick tip for an Adobe app.

Change the size of the pasteboard in InDesign

The InDesign pasteboard is narrow on the top and bottom and wide on the sides. But it can be changed. Before...

Go to InDesign > Preferences > Guides & Pasteboard... and change the "Pasteboard Options" at the bottom of the preference screen.

Change the horizontal margins to 10 inches and the vertical margins to 2.5 inches and it looks a little different...

I'm not sure how often I'll change the margins. The defaults have always worked pretty well for me. But especially on large format designs, it will be nice to have the option.

Every Wednesday, I post a tip on how to use an Adobe app more efficiently.