New presets for Flare 2

I've posted two new presets for Flare 2, Rose-Colored Glasses and Tunnel, on the Flare Presets page. Note that these will only work with Flare 2. The new preset format doesn't work with the first version of Flare.

Rose-Colored Glasses is a filter that tints the image. The default is pink, but it can easily be altered to any color. Just change the colors in the Duotone filter. The gallery below has rose, garnet and blue.

Tunnel is a desaturated filter with a heavy vignette. Designed to make most images look pretty ominous.

Rethinking Wednesday Quick Tips

For about 9 months, I published a quick tip for Adobe apps almost every Wednesday. And while I enjoy posting them, coming up with a new tip weekly was starting to be challenging. So I'm going to scrap the weekly posting schedule and just post them as I find them. You can find the most recent tips on the Creative Cloud Quick Tips page.

Efficient packing

One of my designers pointed out this great tip the other day. I usually send PDF files to printers, but occasionally I have to package a job to give to another designer, send to a vendor or archive on a server.

In InDesign CC 2014, you create a package the same way you always have – "File > Package..." but there is an additional twist. When you go to save your packaged folder, two new options are at the bottom of the save dialog box: "Include IDML" and "Include PDF(Print)."

These are definite time savers. I often have to save an IDML file for those who haven't upgraded to Creative Cloud and the ability to save a PDF with a specific preset saves another step. 

It's a nice addition by Adobe to make a commonly used feature more powerful.

See more quick tips on Adobe products.

Unexpected troubleshooting help

I was trying to get some materials printed yesterday at the office and InDesign was repeatedly crashing shortly after I hit print. 

I usually ignore the "Crash Report" dialog box. No offense to Adobe, because I ignore them from Microsoft and Apple, too.* But I was on a deadline and I was irritated and so I typed "Trying to print" in the text field and hit "Send Report." I started to reopen InDesign.

I didn't notice the checkbox to "Allow Adobe to suggest a solution or work around." But then, another message popped up: "Adobe has found a solution or workaround for the recent crash in Adobe InDesign CC 2014. Please click here for further details."

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.00.21 AM.png

I'll be honest, I was so floored, that I didn't take a screen shot or really read it too carefully. (I had to recreate to crash to get the above screenshots.) I clicked the link which took me to "InDesign & Illustrator | Crash while printing to Fiery RIP." Which, by the way, was exactly the solution to my problem.

I'm guessing the error code pointed exactly to the issue with the Fiery. I have no idea if Adobe provides this kind of troubleshooting help for other known issues. I've never seen it before. I'm guessing this feature was added in a recent version on Creative Cloud. But it was helpful, and I really had no idea that Adobe** could even respond in that way.

So today's quick tip is "Don't ignore the crash report dialog box." You never know when you'll get unexpected troubleshooting help.

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

* A random note: I will fill crash reports out for small developers. I guess I think my data will mean more to them since they have a smaller installed base.

** Or that any company could automatically respond to a crash report. I really just assume that all troubleshooting info goes into some giant automated database that no one looks at...

Flare 2 Review

With the release of Apple's new version of OS X, Yosemite, came a surprise update from the Iconfactory... a new version of their great image styling app for the Mac, Flare.

If you aren't familiar with the original Flare, it allows you to apply and fully customize Instagram-like filters at full resolution. And while there are Photoshop actions that can replicate filter sets, the ease and power of Flare make it a great tool for designers. (And as an added bonus, it's really fun to use.)

Flare 2 improves significantly on the original and adds a pretty clever companion iOS app.

Flare interface in full screen mode. Notice multiple images open across the bottom.

Flare interface in full screen mode. Notice multiple images open across the bottom.

For me, the biggest improvement is a rethinking of the interface. Presets are to the right and customization is on the left. You can now have multiple images open... a big help when you're trying to apply similar effects to bunch of pictures. And light and dark interface themes are a welcome addition. 

Flare 2 interface in dark mode.

Flare 2 interface in dark mode.

The new interface makes it easier to find and organize presets. Preloaded effects are on a "Best of" tab. Another tab keeps track of your saved effects. And a third tab keeps track of snapshots — a history that lets you return to previous settings. 

Simple edit lets you make quick adjustments.

Simple edit lets you make quick adjustments.

Flare 2 adds a new simple edit feature. Simple edit allows the creator of the preset to pick a handful of settings that will impact the filter's effect. And if that doesn't work, then you move into advanced edit. It works well, but will take a little while to figure out exactly which sliders to add to the simple edit popup.

Flare 2 adds a few new filters and effects to the already solid arsenal. And before adding new effects, you can see a preview. It's a nice touch.

When selecting a new effect to add, Flare 2 gives you a thumbnail preview.

When selecting a new effect to add, Flare 2 gives you a thumbnail preview.

Access Flare Effects from the Camera Roll.

Access Flare Effects from the Camera Roll.

Completely new is the iOS Flare Effects app. You download the app to your phone, open it and... instructions... The app contains a couple of slides with instructions. Follow the instructions and your Flare effects are available from Camera Roll or Camera app. It's really impressive. I was expecting a full featured app, but Flare Effects takes advantage of iOS 8's extensions to work with the app you already use. It's nice. 

And it automatically syncs all your effects to your phone and groups your favorites together. I'm actually not sure how it syncs the effects. I didn't log in or create an account so I'm assuming it uses iCloud. It's pretty much magic.

I'm thinking more than a handful of social media managers will create a custom look for their Twitter, Instgram and Facebook feeds and then use Flare 2 and Flare Effects to apply it consistantly.

For a limited time, Flare 2 is $9.99 on the app store. Flare Effects for iOS is free. I think it's a great addition to any designer's toolkit for quickly adding effects to images or illustrations. And being able to use your effects on iOS makes Flare even more useful.

FYI: I need to update my presets on my Flare page to more easily work with Flare 2, but they all should work fine. And I plan to add more in the next few weeks.

Fixing punctuation in Illustrator

For whatever reason, I occasionally end up with punctuation issues in Adobe Illustrator. Thankfully, there is a quick – and powerful – way to correct common typographic issues across an entire document in Illustrator. Simply go to Type > Smart Punctuation...

Choose the issues you need to fix and zap all those annoying dumb quotes, double spaces after a period and awkward dashes with a single click.

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

QR Codes in InDesign

InDesign will let you create a QR codes without leaving the application. Go to Object > Generate QR code... You'll have options for hyperlink, text message, email, business card or plain text. 

Once you have all the information filled out, you can then place the QR code like you would an image.

I will freely admit that I tend to avoid QR codes like the plague. I'm not convinced of their effectiveness. But sometimes, you need to use one and generating one without leaving InDesign is helpful.

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

Linked: Good at math

Seth Godin has a great post on being "good at math." I'm a designer that doesn't mind doing math. But when I was younger, I was convinced that I wasn't good at math and avoided it. It took a really great 12th grade calculus teacher to convince me that I could succeed at math.

Now I have a daughter that is convinced she isn't "good at math." My goal is to build her confidence in math before she gets to 12th grade.

Highly satisfied

I was in the grocery store the other day. Normally, canned music plays over the speakers, but this day, it was interrupted repeatedly by announcements every few minutes encouraging people to take a post-visit survey and say you were "highly satisfied."

I bought a car a couple of years ago. The sales rep asked several times if I was "highly satisfied." I assured him that I was. He mentioned that I might get a phone survey from the car company and if I did, to make sure I answered that I was "highly satisfied."

I did receive a call — from the dealership. They wanted to make sure that I was "highly satisfied." When I told them that I was, them reminded me that if I get a call from the car company, to tell them that I was "highly satisfied."

What's going on here? Why is everyone so concerned that I am "highly satisfied?" Because that's the only acceptable answer.

Car dealerships, retail stores, financial services institutions, insurance companies and other businesses* all want to improve customer experience. So they create surveys to see where they need to improve. 

Often, bonuses for staff and managers are tied to the responses. Managers and staff obviously want the bonus money, so they go to great lengths to ensure that all customers report that they are indeed "highly satisfied."

The salesman at the car dealership confided that the only answer that was acceptable to the higher ups was "highly satisfied." Everything else is a failing grade and results in the sales team taking a personal financial hit. I had a similar conversation the other day with someone in the financial services sector.

This is a ridiculous misuse of metrics. Instead of testing whether a customer is actually satisfied, you are testing how skillfully the management can manipulate the customer into responding with the highest ranking. These survey results give you no real insight into the mind of the consumer. You've simply created a system to feed you the information you want to hear.

A survey with one "right" answer creates a situation where the goal for the staff is not a happy customer — it's a successful survey. If a company wants honest survey data, they have to get real, uncoached answers. And that means not pushing the customer into giving a particular response.

* And software companies. The same basic principle is at play in the app store. Everyone is pushing to get the highest star rating because apps with higher rankings are more profitable. The emphasis isn't rating the app accurately, it's playing the game to get the highest ranking.

Bob Wertz

Husband, Dad (x3), Creative Director at @UofSC, Type Designer, Teacher and Volunteer. Blogs at Sketchbook B and Wanted in Columbia.

Optical alignment and the oddball, single-function Story palette

Tucked away in InDesign's Window menu is a Story palette. This palette has exactly one function – to turn on and off optical margin alignment.

You can find the Story palette at Window > Type & Tables > Story. There are two settings. The first is a checkbox to activate optical margin alignment. And the second alters the intensity of the alignment.

Optical margin alignment automatically adjusts the positioning of characters on the margin. It's especially noticeable for punctuation and letters like "A" and "W" which look a little odd lined up exactly on the margin. See the example below.

Optical margin alignment. Off (left) and on (right). Notice how the quotation mark and the lower case "w" move in relation to the margin.

Optical margin alignment. Off (left) and on (right). Notice how the quotation mark and the lower case "w" move in relation to the margin.

I'm not sure why Adobe didn't just include it on the Paragraphs palette. Seems odd to hide such a powerful feature on a random single-function palette.

Almost every Wednesday, I post a tip on an Adobe app.

Apple Watch: Cost isn't my biggest question…

When the iPhone was released in 2007, I had never paid more than $15 for a phone. Whatever phone was free with contract was what I purchased. I simply didn't see the point of spending significant money on a phone. But when the iPhone was announced, I wanted an iPhone. And now, 7 years later, every two years or so, I drop significantly more than $15 on the newest model of iPhone.

I've never paid more than $150 for a watch. I don't wear one every day. I really didn't see the point in investing a significant amount of money on a watch. But now I look at the newly announced Apple Watch.

And I want a watch.

I read John Gruber's thoughts on the new Apple Watch the other day. And what he's thinking is what I was thinking. The Apple Watch Sport will be $349 and the prices will increase significantly from there. Luckily, I like the Sport. But I really like a bunch of the other models as well — especially the stainless steel Apple Watch with Milanese Loop.

Price increases significantly as you move from left to right.

Price increases significantly as you move from left to right.

I have lots of questions about the Apple Watch. But cost really isn't the major concern. I expect a quality device with a premium price tag. But the more expensive the watch, the more these questions impact my decision.

Will the battery charge last for the entire day? For me to buy an Apple Watch, the charge has to last for at least a full day. And then hopefully, I'll remember to charge it every night. (I stink at remembering to charge my devices nightly.)

Will the Genius Bar become a jewelry counter? If I'm going to spend this kind of money, I want to try it on. See how it feels on my wrist. Think about the current Apple Stores. How in the world would they accommodate that type of customer interaction? They are already incredibly crowded. Will other retailers sell the Apple Watch? Can you see Best Buy selling solid gold watches? My guess is that Apple will offer the Sport through various retail channels, but the more expensive models will be sold exclusively through the Apple Store.

What will the upgrade cycle be like? Most of us buy an iPhone every two years. But that's because it's tied into a contract. I update my iPads and my Mac less frequently. How frequently will I upgrade my Apple Watch? For me to invest in a more expensive version, it's going to need to last more than two years.

Can I run with my Apple Watch without my iPhone? If I want to use my watch to workout, I don't also want to have to carry my iPhone. If all the GPS and network connectivity is in the iPhone, won't you need both with you to take advantage of apps like Nike Plus? And who wants to run with a giant iPhone 6 or an enormous iPhone 6 Plus? If I can leave behind my iPhone and run with just my Watch, then I'm interested. Otherwise, I'll leave the watch at home and run with my iPhone like I do now.

As we get closer to the release, we'll discover the answers to some of these questions. I have confidence that Apple will do its best to address these issues.

I intend to buy an Apple Watch. Will I spurge and go with the more expensive option? Probably not initially. I have trouble with the idea of investing in an expensive watch that is obsolete after a few years. But just like how Apple changed my attitude towards buying mobile phones, I think they will radically change my attitude towards buying watches.

Follow the leader

Most people don't know how to use tabs properly. But tabs can be really powerful, especially if you are building a form or table of contents.

Below you see a simple form with the tab ruler above it. Select each tab and type an underscore in the "Leader" box. Whatever character you type in the "Leader" box will repeat all the way to the tab. The underscore becomes the lines on the form. Much quicker and more accurate than trying to draw the underlines yourself. And much, much easier to edit the form later.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 10.04.58 PM.png

If you are building a table of contents, you may want to have a dotted line from the end of the chapter name to the page number. Don't type a bunch of periods! Just set the "Leader" to a period. You can also use a right-justified tab to line up all your numbers correctly. Faster to build. Faster to edit.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 10.07.09 PM.png

Does anyone still use TIFF files?

Does anyone still use TIFF (TIF/.tif) files? And if so, why? Back when I was a young designer, a TIFF file was the only real choice for exporting a high quality image. But I can't really imagine why anyone would use one in today's Adobe/Creative Cloud workflow.

InDesign's support for directly placing native files – Photoshop, Illustrator, PDF and even other InDesign files – largely eliminates the need to export to another file before placing. (Although I still save logos as EPS files when they are final.) Many people don't know that InDesign has the capability to place native files or assume that it will cause significant problems in production.

For high quality, high resolution images, you can place a Photoshop file (PSD) directly into InDesign. This way you place the original image and you aren't exporting a new TIF with each revision. One major benefit is that the PSD maintains all transparency when placed into InDesign. The only drawback I see here is that file size might get unwieldy if it's a large image with a bunch of layers.

If you are sharing a high resolution image, a JPG will work fine. Many designers turn their nose up at JPGs because they associate them with low resolution, highly compressed web images. But a high quality JPG doesn't have noticeable artifacts from compression and is much smaller than a TIFF.

Greyscale and bitmap files might be the only remaining use for a TIFF. When placed into InDesign, a greyscale or bitmap TIFF can be colored. So if you are wanted to colorize a grayscale image with a spot color, a TIFF is still your best option. But as 2-color print jobs become less common, I rarely use this technique for anything except screen printing.

Every Wednesday – and sometimes Thursday morning – I post a quick tip for working in an Adobe app.

Quark did one thing right...

There isn't much I miss about Quark Xpress, but I did prefer the way Quark handled text wrap.

In both apps, you select an object and set the text wrap. By default, InDesign applies the text wrap to all objects, regardless of whether the object is on the top or bottom. Quark only applied text wrap to text frames underneath the text wrap.

To turn on Quark-style text wrap in InDesign, go to InDesign > Preferences > Composition... and select "Text Wrap Only Affects Text Beneath." Now text wrap will only impact the frames underneath.

Highlighting bad lines

InDesign can highlight lines of text that are spaced badly. By default, the highlighting is turned off for justification issues. To turn it on, go to InDesign > Preferences > Composition... The highlighting options are at the top of the window:

Turning on "H&J Violations" will highlight in yellow any place where InDesign can't meet your hyphenation and justification settings. Here's an example of a block of justified text with hyphenation turned off:

The worse the violation, the darker the yellow highlight is. Here is the same passage with hyphenation turned on:

Obviously, allowing InDesign to hyphenate and handle the bad breaks results in much better spacing.

I try to avoid full justification because of the issues that almost always come up with the spacing. But sometimes, you have to justify. And when you do, it's easier to spot and fix badly spaced lines with the highlighting turned on.

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

Washington Redacted

There's been a lot of talk this summer about renaming the NFL's Washington Redskins. But this week, sports talk radio has discussed that some announcers will be going out of their way to not even say the name "Redskins" during a broadcast. 

If the network truly deems the word to be offensive, they could just bleep out the word "Redskins" with the 7-second delay. Just think...

"Welcome to an epic battle between division rivals. The Dallas Cowboys versus the Washington BLEEEEEP. John, what do you thing about the matchup today? What do the BLEEEEEP need to do to beat the Cowboys."

Awesome, right. Or considering how much the Federal Government loves to redact classified documents, we could just rename them the Washington Redacted. The logo could look like this:

The logo for the Washington Redacted.

The logo for the Washington Redacted.

Same colors. And same number of letters as "Redskins" so die hard fans can pretend the name of their team hasn't changed. Think of the possibilities. You could redact the name of players on their jerseys. Announcers can use all sorts of bad puns. Fans could chant "Redact that kick." Or not.

Washington Redacted, secondary mark.

Washington Redacted, secondary mark.

Of course I'm kidding, but it will be interesting to see what happens with the Redskins name. I'm pretty sure Daniel Synder isn't willing to change it, but who knows, maybe the league or some other outside pressure will force him to change it.

(And by the way, the "official" typeface for the Washington Redacted is Power Grid 2.0, which I released this week. You can buy the entire family for $29.)

InDesign Presentation Mode

InDesign CC 2014 adds a new screen mode: Presentation.

You can enter Presentation mode in a couple of ways. From the menu bar, select View > Screen Mode > Presentation. I often to use the button at the bottom of the Tool Palette to switch screen modes. And if you are a keyboard shortcut person, "shift+W" will do the trick. (Don't worry, pressing "W" by itself still gets you into Preview mode.)

So, what is Presentation mode? It hides the palettes and toolbar and displays only your InDesign document surrounded by black. You can page between them using arrow keys. Or you can click to advance and shift-click to go back. It's very similar to Full Screen Mode in Acrobat.

Presentation mode will be helpful when showing artwork to clients and coworkers. And if you are like me and build "PowerPoint" presentations in InDesign, it will be nice to preview your artwork in full screen mode before you export to PDF.

Could you actually use InDesign to show a presentation? I suppose you could. Although it seems clear to me that isn't Adobe's intention with the feature. Users can add transitions in InDesign that export with a PDF file. Those transitions aren't shown in Presentation mode. If Adobe intended for you to use this mode to show presentations, they would have supported transitions. For building presentations in InDesign, your best bet is still to export a PDF and present in Acrobat.

On Wednesday's, I post quick tips for Adobe apps.

New Fonts: Power Grid 2.0 and Saluda

I'm introducing two new commercial typeface families today: Power Grid 2.0 and Saluda. Both are available now through Creative Market. 

Power Grid 2.0

Power Grid was one of my favorite Fontstruct creations, inspired by lettering I found on some 1920s Russian constructivist posters. A few years ago, I released a free, Opentype version.

My first commercial font, Powerlane, was a heavily reworked version of Power Grid. Completely redrawn from scratch, Powerlane gained new weights, an expanded character set, Opentype small caps and a handful of alternate characters. 

When I released Powerlane over two years ago, I took Power Grid out of my free fonts and disabled download from Fonstruct. But over time, I've decided that Power Grid and Powerlane – while definitely related – are different. Different enough that I've decided to bring Power Grid back. 

Power Grid 2.0 retains the basic look of the original. It's still uppercase only and tightly spaced, but I've reworked some letterforms. The alternate forms that used to live in the lower case have been moved to their proper place in the stylistic sets. The ampersand is much improved and inherited from Powerlane.


The big change is that the regular version of Power Grid also picks up some new siblings: Inline, Stencil and Rounded. Each of them adds a little different character to the Power Grid family. And each has a a regular and oblique version. 

For a limited time, I'm offering the entire Power Grid Family – 8 fonts – for $29 at The Creative Market. If you are looking for a tough, industrial typeface, the Power Grid family is a great option. 


Saluda is a simple, sans serif design in a single weight. I started work on Saluda after I finished Powerlane. And after building a typeface with 20 fonts and thousands of glyphs, I really wanted to tackle something simple. Saluda has modular underpinnings that are rooted in some of my Fontstruct work, but there's nothing modular about the final design.

I'm especially fond of the italic version that adds some simple terminal serifs throughout. Saluda's inspired by the trails and river at a park near my home and is intended for display and identity work. Saluda and Saluda Italic are available as a package at the Creative Market for $10.

Creative Market

Power Grid and Saluda join Valdes Clarendon in the Sketchbook B store on the Creative Market. I've also added Powerlane to the store as well. You can buy Powerlane Complete (20 fonts) for $99 and subset of the family –  Powerlane Select (10 fonts) – for $49. Look for more products from Sketchbook B on the Creative Market coming soon.

Bob Wertz

Husband, Dad (x3), Creative Director at @UofSC, Type Designer, Teacher and Volunteer. Blogs at Sketchbook B and Wanted in Columbia.

Lorem Ipsum in Photoshop CC 2014


The newest version of Photoshop includes the ability to paste dummy text into a text layer. Create a text layer and then select Type > Paste Lorem Ipsum. A paragraph will appear with the classic lorem ipsum text. I imagine that web designers will use this feature when building comps. And print designers will continue to yell that you don't do long passages of type in Photoshop.

Every Wednesday (well, ALMOST every Wednesday), I highlight often overlooked features in Adobe apps.