Blog changes

As you have noticed, I’m reworking the look of the blog. Hopefully it will be a little easier to find your way around. I will keep posting information about InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop almost exclusively for now, however starting this summer I will probably change the location of the blog as well as add new categories related to different aspects of design.

If you have anything in particular you are interested in learning, please let me know. Also, I would appreciate it if you would take the poll to the right to help me refine what I cover most often. Thanks!


Image Reference Points in InDesign

Reference points in InDesign are essentially the same as they are in Illustrator… Nine points forming a box with a center point around whatever path you have selected. These points allow you to stretch or resize an image box.

If you enlarge an image in InDesign by scaling then you will notice it expands your image box from a default point that stays consistent throughout your images. Mine is set for the upper left point which works well when I’m expanding an image to fill a given space in a document.

If you want to change this, simply select the image with your Selection tool and in the upper left corner of the Selection tools menu is that familiar diagram with nine little points in it. Highlight one of these to change the Reference point. Simple as that!

Reference Point controller
Reference Point controller in upper left corner of the Selection tool menu

The Reference point stays the same no matter what image you are using in that document.

Quick Tip #1 – Spell Check

For the life of me I can’t understand why Spell Check isn’t under Type in InDesign. In fact, it’s not really anywhere even close… you have to jump across Layout to Edit to find it and even then its near the bottom in a submenu of Spelling.

Location of Spell Check
Search far and wide and you'll finally find it hidden here.

Save yourself the trouble and just memorize the shortcut, Command + I, or right click on the text you have selected, go to Spelling and find it there.

Working with tabs in InDesign

If you’ve been exploring the menu in InDesign, you will see, just as in Photoshop and Illustrator, there is a Windows dropdown that gives you every palette you need. Well, almost every one. It’s strange to me that Tabs isn’t listed anywhere here seeing as how they are very important in the structure of your document.

You can find them under Type however. If you select the type you want to adjust the tabs for, then go to Type>Tabs (Shift +Command + T for those of you who want to do things a bit faster), you will see a wide palette open that contains a ruler of sorts. By default it usually starts and ends at the borders of your text box.
Tabs palette

The four small buttons in the upper left are your “Left Justified, Center Justified, Right Justified and Align to Decimal” tabs, consecutively. For the first three you simply drag from the button across the top of the ruler to set where your first tab will be positioned. If you have one selected that you want to change the justification of, simply click the button you want it to be identified with and it will change. you can drag as many tabs as you need this way.

Tabs palette with first tab selected

The box marked X tells you the position along the ruler where your tab is set. Each tab position can be changed by either dragging the tab marker itself or selecting it and typing in the position where you want it in the X box.

There is also a Leader box which allows you to set a character or symbol that will precede that tab. In other words, if you are pricing items on a menu and you want that familiar …. leading across the page to the item price, you can select the tab that is set for your price and put a . in the Leader box.
Tabs palette with Leader box active

You’ll notice that the Align On box also now has a decimal displayed. What this is telling you is that everything this tab is set for should align according to the decimal in its number.

If you are wanting to simply set a paragraph indent for multiple paragraphs then you don’t actually have to use a tab. On the left side of the ruler there are two triangles. The top allows you to set how far the first line of a paragraph will be indented. The second allows you to set the indention point for all of the copy in the text box. Also, on the right end of the ruler, there is a triangle that allows you to set the right indention of your copy.

Indents set in the Tabs palette

Each paragraph can have separate indentions (as in a long quote case) and all the tabs can be customized for whatever specific section of type you are using. Simply select the type with the Type Tool and examine the Tabs palette.

The small magnet to the right of the ruler snaps the palettes alignment to that of your text box, positioning it directly above the text box so you have a good visual of where your tabs are.

The dropdown options on the right are Clear All, Delete Tab, Repeat Tab and Reset Indents. Clear all deletes all tabs you have set. Delete Tab will only delete the tab you have highlighted. Repeat Tab creates another tab with the same spacing and features as the one before, and Reset Indents simply resets your Indentions to their starting positions.

The Tabs palette comes in very handy when dealing with structured type.

Brushed Metal Graphic Styles in Illustrator

We’ve spent the last two weeks talking about nothing but InDesign so I thought I would change it up a bit and talk to you about Graphic Styles in Illustrator. Your Graphic Styles palette essentially holds premade combinations of colors, effects, etc. for a specific look. These come in very handy since recreating a style can be tedious.

In our case, we will be creating a simple brushed metal look for text using a Graphic Style we create.

I’ve already created my text in Illustrator, sized it the way I want it and left it set with the default black fill and no stroke.

Type used for Graphic Style
Graphic Styles text before alteration

Now I’m going to drag a square using my rectangle tool and give it a gradient fill… when it is selected just click on the Gradient palette and start adjusting the handles.

Gradient square
Adjusted gradient fill on square

So you don’t have to guess at how I set my gradient, here’s what the palette looks like.

Gradient palette
Gradient palette after adjustment

If you want you can add a 50% gray stroke but keep it small, around .50 to .25 of a point.

Have it the way you want it? Now we’re going to hit our Effects menu, go to Texture and Grain. It will give you a fullscreen display to work in with a preview so you can adjust it visually. Change the Grain Type to horizontal, drag the Contrast slider all the way to 0 and start fiddling with the Intensity slider (this is what really controls how rough your brushed effect will appear). I set mine low for a more subtle effect.

Grain effect
Grain effect adjustment

Done? Then just drag the square we’ve been working on to the Graphic Styles palette. You can name it as you see fit by going to the options dropdown and if you want to make some adjustments click on the Appearance palette to see the fill and stroke separately.

Gradient text with stroke
Gradient text with faulty stroke

As you can see, when I apply the Graphic Style to my type, the stroke doesn’t work out the way I want it to, so I just go to my Appearance palette, drag the Stroke to the trash and that takes care of it. Also I decided to go with more of a pronounced brush pattern, so in the Appearance palette, I clicked the “Grain” item and adjusted it (with the type selected so it would apply these changes to the type I’m working with).

These Graphic Styles can be applied to elements and then adjusted individually.

Adjusting page numbers based on multiple Master pages – Part III

If you look through just about any text-book, you will notice that often they are numbered differently based on the section. In many cases Roman numerals will be used for the Glossary or Index sections and often the Appendices will have a hyphenated number to help you keep track of which Appendix you are looking at. This can all be done in the same way we have created our sections.

Let’s start out by creating a Master page to cover our Glossary.

Glossary Master page
Glossary Master page

We can set it for two columns but we want to include the word Glossary at the top of each page. Give this set of Master pages the Prefix C, just so we can keep them consistent. You’ll notice when we right click in the Master pages box that one of the options is “Based on Master.” This allows the Master we select to be a reference for the Master pages we are creating. One of the issues with doing this is that it will add the Prefix of the Master it is based on as the Prefix for the pages you are creating. To prevent this, set up your Master pages and then set the Columns the way we mentioned in Part I.

Let’s drag our new Masters into the Pages section to add two new pages between our back cover and our B section.

Added pages based on Master page C
Added pages based on Master page C

The page numbers remain consistent with the rest of the document by default, however we want to set them up with a different numbering system. Select and right click the first page to use your Glossary Master page and go to “Numbering and Section Options.” This time we are going to change the Style to lowercase Roman numerals to give it a bit of distinction. Make certain you have the “Start Page Numbering at 1” box selected.

New Section window for Glossary pages
New Section window for Glossary pages

Because we told it what number to start the new section with, the first page number should be an i. If you don’t see a page number look back on your Glossary Master page. Did you add a page number to it? If not then adding a page number the way we learned in Part I will work. It might be a good idea to adjust the look of these if you are using oversized stylized page numbers to something more generic and simple.
Page numbering for Glossary Master page

In my case I’m centering them at the bottom of the page and knocking them from 36 point to 12 point.

You can continue doing different Sections of a document in the same way. In a later post we will cover setting up Chapters, how that effects the numbering system and what advantages there are to setting up a document with Chapters.

Adjusting page numbers based on multiple Master pages – Part II

Ok, so we’ve figured out how to use multiple Master pages, we understand how to set up our basic page numbers for the Master pages and we know that by default, the page numbers will continue on advancing just as we would expect them to.

InDesign likes to fight you a little on changing the numbers… for some reason it doesn’t like to make things easy on you. This is the way I generally deal with it.

In our document, which you will recall has a front and back cover as well as six two-column pages, we have already removed the number from the first page. However our first inside page has two as it’s page number. We want to change this.

At this point we will introduce the use of Sections in a document and how we can renumber our pages based on that Sections settings.

You’ll notice when looking at the bottom panel of the Pages palette that there is a small inverted triangle above the first page. That tells us that this is a section. Every section you create will have one of these triangles above it’s start page.

Let’s say we want all of our “B” pages to be in a section by themselves so we can number them separate from the two covers, then we first need to select our Section starter page. Right click the first “B” page and you will see several options. Though the one we want for this particular exercise is the last one, named Numbering and Section Options, we first need to deal with a couple of others.

There are two that will probably be checked that say “Allow Document Pages to Shuffle” and “Allow Selected Spread to Shuffle.” Uncheck these. What they do is change the layout the pages are currently in.

If you want to see how, go to the Numbering and Section Options, add a prefix and click the radio button to tell the section where to start. Everything shifts a bit and you now have two pages that think they are the front cover.

This is what we DON'T want our document to look like.

So we uncheck those two first. Whatever page we have selected at the time will be seen as the beginning of the Section so be certain you have the correct page selected when you go to Numbers and Section Options.

Let’s pause for a second and I’ll explain a little about what you find in the New Section window.

The first part of the window is the Start Section. It has two radio buttons which allow either InDesign to handle the numbering automatically or allow you to set how you want the Section to be numbered. Within the Page Numbering section below, you can set a Section Prefix, which helps InDesign keep track of what Section is what, set a Style, basically the way you want the numbering or lettering of the Section to look, set a Section Marker, which we will cover later, and the option of including the Prefix you create to be part of the numbering process, which I usually leave blank for regular documents.

The second part of the window is for Document Chapter Numbering which we will cover in a later entry.

Ok, back to our document.

We want the Section to be page one so first we click the radio button that says “Start Page Numbering at:” and make certain it has a 1 in it. Then go to Section Prefix and give it a unique name… I just used B so I can easily remember what Section goes with what Master Page.

When you click OK, you will notice that in the Pages palette all of the pages for that Section are numbered with the Prefix and page number, however in the actual document it leaves off the Prefix.

Page numbers for the Section

Your new Section extends to the end of the document, so if you want to exclude the back cover page, select it in the Pages palette, right click and set it up as it’s own Section.

To get rid of the number on the back cover, you can do it the same way you did for the cover, as posted in the last entry.

We will cover how to work with multiple sections in the next entry.

Adjusting page numbers based on multiple Master pages – Part I

Last time we covered adding page numbers to a document by adding them to the Master page. This time we will cover the use of multiple Master pages and how to adjust the numbering system based on the Master page.

If you create a new Master page (leave the prefix set for B) and set the page number as we did in the previous post, you will notice that it inserts a ‘B’ where the previous Master page had an ‘A’. This is based on the prefix itself and helps identify what Master page you are on.

The following is after the typeface, size, etc. has been set to match those in Master page A

If the Master page B was set for two columns and certain pages were created from this master, as in a previous post, the numbers will still be consistent regardless of what master page was used. In other words, the page numbers will be in order no matter what Master page was used. Notice the Master page prefix in the upper corners of the pages? Below the page is displayed the page number it is assigned by default. This will change based on how we set sections next.

Lets say we don’t want the first page to have a number since it’s our cover page. The quick way to deal with this is to right click the page in the Pages palette and select the Override All Master Page Items command. What this allows you to do is alter or delete elements that the Master page includes in this page.

This only works for the page selected so it’s not very practical for changing more than a couple of pages. You’ll notice on the actual page that the text box has a solid outline rather than a dotted outline.

This tells you that you are free to alter it however you want. In this case we will be deleting it.

This page is still technically page one so the following page will begin the numbering with two. I’ll show you how to change this so that the second actual page will begin the numbering with one in the next entry.

Simple page numbers using Master Pages

I’ve already spoken a bit about setting up your Master pages in the last entry. For this one we’re going to focus a bit on setting up page numbers. I’ll outline the steps to set up these numbers.

1. Create a new document or open an existing document to work in and open the Pages palette.

2. Double click the Master page you want to work on in the top of the palette (If working with facing pages, choose the left page to start with).

3. Using the Type Tool to draw a small text box wherever you want to add your page numbers. In my case I’m adding them to the lower left corner of the left page, lower right for the right page.

The text box will appear as a series of dots rather than the solid line you get when drawing a text box in a regular document page. This is an indicator that whatever is placed in that text box will be repeated on each consecutive page.

4. With the type tool still selected, in the menu bar go to Type>Insert Special Character>Markers>Current Page Number as in the example below.

This will put a placeholder letter ‘A’ in the text box. At this point everything is still editable.

5. Select the ‘A’ and change the typeface, style, size, orientation, etc. until it looks the way you want your page numbers to look in the document.

DO NOT DELETE AND REPLACE WITH A NUMBER. If you do this then every page to follow will have that number rather than the natural progression of page numbers.

6. Once you have it looking the way you want it, and if you are working on facing pages, then drag a copy (Option + Click & Drag) to the other page, making certain to adjust your orientation to match.

The page numbers in the regular document pages will follow the same rules you set in the master pages.

You’ll notice that even on my regular document page, the page number still has the dotted box around it. That allows me to tell it’s a carryover from the Master pages and ordinarily would only be edited in the Master page.

Feel free to add any graphic elements that you want carried throughout your document to the Master pages as well.

In the next blog I will cover how to adjust page numbers to only appear on specified pages, how to set up sections and change how those sections will be numbered (as in the case of appendices, Glossaries and the like).