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Adobe InDesign Cheat Sheet

The Digital Workshop Center provides free cheat sheets on many popular software applications. If you are looking for a quick Adobe InDesign reference sheet, then we’ve got just the thing for you!

The InDesign cheat sheet includes several useful shortcuts and common commands to help you be more efficient and confident while working in InDesign. Several of these commands are included in our hands-on InDesign Level 1 training class, so if you need more InDesign help please contact the Digital Workshop office. Stay tuned for more cheat sheets coming soon!

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3 Reasons to Get Certified in Graphic Design

There are several great reasons to get your professional graphic design certification- here are three of them.

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Set, Forget InDesign Styles for Consistency

In my opinion, one of the marks of a professional graphic designer is consistency. It is so important to make sure that fonts, colors, and design elements are consistent throughout a project, but also across an entire company brand. Design consistency gives a feeling of familiarity and provides the consumer something to recognize about your products or services. When Adobe InDesign was introduced in the Creative Suite in 2002, it came with a bundle of new features that helped designers ensure consistency across documents. One of the easiest ways to do this was to use Adobe styles. In most of the graphics programs in the Adobe Creative Suite — including Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator — there are multiple panels referring to style. An Adobe style is simply a package of style information that can easily be applied to your document objects. In Adobe InDesign, there are separate panels for character styles, paragraph styles, table styles, cell styles and more. Each of these is intended to help you create the style and then easily deploy it as needed. By connecting all of your relevant objects to the style, you can easily make one change to the style definition and it can be re-applied to all associated items. For example, a paragraph style may contain the font, spacing and alignment information for different types of paragraphs. This concept alone can save you hours of tedious cleanup work. It also reduces human error and guarantees that all similar elements have the same appearance. However, these concepts can be taken to a much higher level. Adobe InDesign also has a way to create a pattern of styles throughout your project. For example, many print documents follow a familiar flow to organize the content. You may have a header, followed by a sub-heading, a first paragraph with an interesting design for the first line of text, and then subsequent body paragraphs. A feature of a style called Next Style allows you to set up an order for styles to follow. All you would have to do is set the style of header and then tell InDesign to flow the Next Style to ensure the remaining styles follow from there. Each style will remain connected to the source to allow for quick changes and consistency. There are far too many other-style related features and time-saving tricks than I can mention in this short column. I hope you try to use styles in your Creative Suite projects and find new ways to become more efficient with your design work. [Originally posted in the Coloradoan on...

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Fun with Adobe Creative Suite Panels

The possibilities with Adobe Creative Suite are endless. For this reason and more, Adobe CS has become the industry standard for graphic design, video production and many other creative professions. Programs such as Adobe’s Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign have revolutionized several industries and are now more accessible to the average consumer than ever before. At the Digital Workshop Center, we consistently see students who have been forced into these complex programs by their employers in the hopes they’ll be able to bring design work in-house. However, Adobe CS is designed for personal computers and, therefore, has a ton of options centered around customizing the program to best work for you. Whenever I open any of my Adobe programs, I first open and arrange the panels to best suit my needs. Adobe panels are common in almost all CS programs — they’re the small, moveable pieces within the greater Adobe puzzle. Each panel is focused on one group of commands. For example, in Adobe InDesign you have the Pages panel, which gives you all the choices you need to create, arrange and manage your pages. While you could also use the text-based menus at the top of the program, the panels are typically easier to understand. Each panel also includes a menu is in its top-right corner. The panel menu provides additional commands or options to help you fine-tune exactly what you need. Another feature of the Adobe panel system is that you can easily group or dock panels. By default there’s a dock section on the right side of most Adobe programs. This section usually has a dark-gray background separated from the design area of the program. You can fit all of your desired panels into the dock or drag and drop panels in any order you want. In addition, you can re-size the dock or collapse it to save you space. The size and resolution of your monitor is a huge factor in how you will arrange your dock, but don’t be afraid to play around with different arrangements. The more you use an Adobe CS program, you’ll learn which panels you need for your work. When you have all the panels opened and arranged the way you like, I highly recommend saving that as a workspace, which takes a snapshot of your program’s environment so you can easily return to that arrangement as you see fit. There’s no limit to the number of panel workspaces you can create and it works well to create different layouts for different types of projects. For example, you can create one workspace for your graphic design projects, another for web projects and maybe one for advanced typography. Through the window menu in any Adobe CS program, you can easily manage future workspaces. When a new student opens Adobe for the first time, I think there’s always a brief feeling of anxiety, maybe due to the amount of commands on the screen. However, if you embrace the panel system and get used to the similarities across all Adobe Creative Suite programs, you will see the logic behind panels and start to enjoy it. Stu Crair is the owner and lead trainer at The Digital Workshop Center, providing digital arts and computer training instruction in Fort Collins. Reach him at (970) 980-8091 or stu@fcdigitalworkshop.com. [Originally posted in the Coloradoan on...

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Trading Places: Dropping Photoshop Files Into InDesign

If you’re trying to use multiple Adobe Creative Suite programs together, one of the first things you should become familiar with is the Place tool. Place functions similar to the Open tool. The biggest difference however, is that the Open tool lets you open a document as a new file, while Place lets you stick an image, text file or other materials into an existing document as a new layer. InDesign is a robust layout tool for fliers, ads, magazines, etc. Photoshop lets you edit images to add effects, combine multiple images together, perfect a photograph, etc. Illustrator offers many tools to create designs from scratch. If you need to learn more about these three Adobe CS programs, check out our blog post “The ABCs of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.” When you use all of these Adobe programs together, you’re really firing on all cylinders. Adobe CS programs are highly compatible with each other, so you can mix-and-match any number of Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign files across the programs. As a basic exercise, we created a document in InDesign, and we will be using the Place tool to import an image from Photoshop. Frame Your Layout To get things started, we created some basic text to work with in our document. We did this by selecting the Text tool and creating a text box to write in. You can play with the text to stylize it and add effect if you wish. Now that we have some text, it’s time to get our image from Photoshop. Prepare to Place For our image, we picked something simple: an image of Spider-Man with a white background. Tip: When selecting an image to place in InDesign, keep in mind that the background color of your Photoshop image will carry over to the InDesign document. To save yourself grief, you should give any files you will place in InDesign a transparent background. If you have a specific idea for what you want the background of your final design to look like, you can create that background as a separate file (in Photoshop or another CS program) and use the Place tool for that as well.   When you’ve finished touching up your image in Photoshop, simply save the file (we recommend saving it to a location that can be found easily, such as your Desktop). If you need help getting started on enhancing your Photoshop image, read our “Cooking Up Basic Photoshop Designs” Trading Places Now that you have a basic layer with text in InDesign and a Photoshop image ready, it’s time to “drop” the Photoshop file into InDesign. (If you need help with layers, read our Introduction to Layers blog). Create a new layer in the Layers panel. Click on File from the main toolbar and find the Place tool. After opening Place, select your Photoshop file. Now, a miniature version of your Photoshop image will appear where your mouse was. This happens so you can customize the placement and size of your image. Put your mouse in a good starting point for where you want the image to rest and click-drag until your image is the appropriate size. The proportions of your image will stay intact, so don’t worry about stretching or shrinking your image. Now that your image is in a decent spot, you can tweak its placement. A translucent “eye” or circle will appear in the middle of your newly placed image. (If you don’t see the eye, select the move tool from the Tool Palette and click on the image.)   By clicking on the eye...

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