Publicious Links: The Real Balloon Boy Edition

He’s still up there. Somewhere. Alone. The poor balloon boy, captive of the merciless sky. Orphan of the atmosphere. My heart goes out to him. No, not that hoaxing chump whose dad sent up a Jiffy Pop bag and called 911. I’m talking about the real balloon boy. Pascal. Le garçon Parisien who has been riding the whims of the winds since 1956.

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At least he was wearing a warm sweater. In retribution for failing to protect one of their kind from the neighborhood bullies, pauvre Pascal was kidnapped by a marauding band of garish helium hooligans, never to be seen again.

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He would be in his 60s by now. Be brave, Pascal.

Now on to this week’s links:

Web 2.0 Journal has a look at the Nook (hey, that rhymes) vs. the Kindle.

2010 is going to be the Year of the E-book. Don’t take my word for it, PCWorld has a roundup of the new combatants in the War on Paper. Old Publicious pal Plastic Logic will ring in the new year in January with the QUE.

XML Journal has more on the Nook, and how Adobe worked with Barnes and Noble to get PDF and EPUB on the gadget.

Need to design and produce accessible PDF? Then you need to read Adobe’s resources on the subject. How to create accessible PDF from Word, InDesign, etc.

LiveBrush is yet another free and interesting drawing app.

‘Tis the season to be gory, and Naldzgraphics has gathered 45 horrifying Photoshop tuts. How to zombify, vampirize, etc.

Flash without ActionScript is like ice cream without hot fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry on top. That comes zooming onto your table from stage right. Enter ActionScript.org to help you learn the magic words.

Flash on the iPhone? Sorta, kinda. Newsfactor has an article on Apple v. Adobe.

VectorTuts has a tut on creating a vector texture with a wonderfully old school twist.

Creately is an online diagramming app that’s either free (basic version) or pay what you want (souped up).

InsideRIA is a great site from O’Reilly for keeping tabs on developments in the rich internet app realm.

Lastly, thanks to Pariah Burke and his column Free For All on CreativePro.com (required reading for destitute designers everywhere), for the heads up on FontCapture, a free online tool for making a font out of your handwriting. I don’t know why I think this is cool. I don’t try to write in Helvetica, so why would I want to type in Rankin? But I really do.

Till next time, think of Pascal, and keep watching the skies.

On the Threshold of Photoshop Greatness

Yesterday I was reading an article on TutorialBoard.net on How to Create a Stencil Look in Photoshop. I see this look all the time in ads, especially ones that want to convey artsy overtones, like the Gardner Museum’s After Hours Program. or something you’d see on the Montreal subway.

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You’ll get cleaner results with Illustrator, but Photoshop can get you almost there in much less time.

Anyway, the tutorial is a good reminder of Photoshop’s Threshold command, but as I read it, I was thinking how some images could be quite frustrating to Threshold. Finding just the right spot to divide light from dark may seem impossible….unless you remember that the most powerful adjustments in Photoshop can be performed on individual channels. You’re not limited to working with the composite channel when using Threshold, Curves, etc. Here’s what works on individual channels.

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Why is this important? Take for example, this picture of a fence.

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Say you wanted to include the fence in your stencil look, but not the sky or clouds. With the composite channel this is impossible. By the time you’ve blown out the sky, the fence is gone too.

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But if you isolate the Blue channel (just click on it in the Channels panel)…

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…you can immediately see that the fence and sky occupy two different ranges of values. Then, in the Threshold dialog, it’s a cinch to find the sweet spot.

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Now you need to apply that Thresholded channel to the whole image to work it into your composition. To do that, select the composite channel (again, just click on it at the top of the Channels panel) and choose Image > Apply Image. Then in the Apply Image dialog box, select your Thresholded channel as the source, and apply it using the Normal blend mode.

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Now the whole image is thresholded in a way that you could not achieve by working with the composite channel alone. Obviously, you’ll get the most powerful results from isolating channels on images with saturated colors. The more saturation, the more your channels will differ. Good times.

But wait, there’s more. When I’m struggling with an adjustment in Photoshop, I always remember the sage words of Photoshop author Dan Margulis, that every image has ten channels. Ten? Really? Yup. R-G-B-C-M-Y-K-L-A-B. By switching modes you can access ten different versions of an image instantly. For example, if you just want to isolate the blackest shadows, you can work with the K channel, Yellows, the Y channel, and so on. Actually, every image has an infinite number of channels, if you consider color profiles, but that is a story for another day.

Publicious Links: The Better Edition

I feel better. Thanks to the CVS-brand version of Zyrtec, I can breathe, sleep and surf the Web for the usual graphic goodies. With all the money I’m saving on tissues, I might even buy a new laptop. 

Kungfugrippe has a hilarious take on SnowLeopard and the cult of Mac.

Speaking of SnowLeopard, wikidot has a SnowLeopard compatibility list, so you can see if anyone else has got SoundJam to work in OS X 10.6 😉

If you’ve ever wanted to try out Adobe apps, but not actually go through the trouble of installing them, you can use Runaware to check out demos from within your browser. Not all apps are available, but Photoshop, Framemaker, and a few others are.

Discovered a cool RIA today, Fractal 4D. With it, you can draw some really cool vector shapes and export them to Illustrator.

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Speaking of Illustrator, didja know that the Illustrator team at Adobe has their own blog, with the cool moniker Infinite Resolution? You do now.

Jostens.com sponsored a contest where kids could design their own high school yearbooks using InDesign. Judging from the looks of the winners (and even the honorable mentions) there are some scary-talented young InDesigners out there. 

ContentServ offers some interesting-looking Web to print solutions for InDesign.

ZenTextures has hundreds of cool, free textures for Photoshop 

Know those hip “painting with light” effects used the Sprint ads and elsewhere? Well, if you ever wanted to try your hand at it, check out Designmag’s post on Light Effect Brushes

On the other hand, if you’re designing a logo, Tripwire magazine has a huge set of logo design tips and tutorials.

Adobe wasn’t satisfied with just buying Omniture. They also scooped up online business solution Goodbarry. and rebranded it Business Catalyst. It’s not too hard to imagine a web designer clicking an Export to Business Catalyst button in Flash, Flex, or Dreamweaver soon. TechCrunch has more details.

Working on PSD files without Photoshop? Blasphemy! Yet, there is more than one way to skin a pixel.

I love restoring old photos with Photoshop. TipSquirrel has some good info on bringing back ancient faded photos.

If you ever need to illustrate a professional quality map, definitely check out Ortelius.

Lastly, Halloween season is here, and with it the Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack will once again be playing in our house nonstop. If you know any kids (of any age) who are fans of Jack Skellington (and you don’t mind a bit of über commercialism) check out Create Disney, where they have Flash drawing apps where you can make all kinds of creations with the Pumpkin King, and many other minions of the Mouse.

Publicious Links: The Insomnia Edition

The thing about insomnia is…

Uh, sorry, spaced out there. The thing about insomnia is, I can never complete a thought after undersleeping for any extended period of time. Reminds me of the time my daughter was born. Little tyke didn’t sleep through till she was 4. That was about 1500 days of lousy sleep, give or take. So from 2002-2006, I had one long, unfinished thought. The upside was wakeful dreaming, so my PB&J could easily transmogrify into rattlesnake aspic, and the row of tulips in the Public Garden became soup ladles, gently chiming in the breeze. At least I think it was the Public Garden, maybe I just wandered into the kitchen scene from Goodfellas. Hi Hendry, how’s your mother? Still, I never saw anything so disturbing as the Bearsharktopus.

All this to say, I came up with a perfectly good theme for this week’s links, and then immediately forgot it. Or did I dream it? Oh well, on to the linkage.

First up, me. My latest post at InDesignSecrets, Find-Change Scripting Goodness. Wherein I point out some great scripts for formatting and cleaning text in InDesign.

The Light’s Right is offering a free Photoshop CS4 panel that is to the standard Unsharp Mask panel as a Swiss Army knife is to a butter knife. This looks seriously cool and I can’t wait to try it.

CarDomain Blog has an interesting post on how automotive designers use Photoshop. In it, the author uses the term “vexel” which I’d never heard before. Cute.

Kung Fu Grippe has a post taking Adobe to task for increasingly bloated, buggy software, and some advice for how to improve it. This article is part of what seems like a rising tide of anti-Adobe sentiment on the Web. Adobegripes is a blog devoted to crashes, bugs, and wtf dialog boxes. Maybe it’s just that Adobe’s grown so big and powerful that there’s no one else left to blame for your computer problems. Maybe trying to be all things to all users inevitably leads to application degradation. Maybe the Creative Suite should be smashed into a multitude of suitelets, targeting user needs with laser precision and speed. I use the Creative Suite apps every day, at home and work. I do my share of crashing, stalling, grumbling at bugs, stupid default settings, wonky tools, and missing features. I do the exact same thing with my Apple apps. Firefox is the crashiest app on my machine, by far, and I still like it. I totally agree that the Creative Suite apps are far from perfect. When I find bugs, I spread the word. Repeatedly. But context is everything. You may come across those wtf dialog boxes in the midst of hours of productive work. In the realm of training and support, I have dealt with lots of cases over the years where someone was pissed at the application, when really it was a case of RTFM. So if we’re serving up some blame pie, user error gets the biggest slice.

Tripwire Magazine has a Massive Collection of Stunning Photoshop Actions.

Ever heard of seam carving? If you use Photoshop, you will. CS5 is reportedly going to bring seam carving technology to Photoshop, and the world of retouching will never be the same. The fact that it’s going to apply to video too, is mind-blowing. Speaking of retouching, the movement in the UK and France to require labeling on retouched images continues to gain momentum. Although, I think they’ll just have to put a warning on the cover of some magazines stating that EVERY image inside has been retouched. Would save a lot of effort.

Finally, I did find the cure for my insomnia. Just swallow 2 Benadryl, and watch Microsoft’s so-bad-it-has-to-be-on-purpose-to-try-and-start-a-meme video “How to throw a Windows 7 release party at your house” Mission accomplished, Redmond.

Nighty-night.

Publicious Links: The Sick Edition

Man, I am sick of being sick. Like half of Boston, I’ve been coughing for two weeks straight, day and night. I’ve been more concerned with breathing than blogging. I think I have a touch of the ol’ H1N1. Or perhaps the 0C0M0Y100K Plague. I keep thinking it’s got to go away soon. Though I have insurance, my “health” plan is sucktacularly rigged by some evil geniuses to discourage folks from seeking treatment, lest we risk getting slammed with massive medical bills should anything serious happen. It’s like a reverse lottery, where you buy a ticket each time you see a doctor. This is exactly what happened last year when I cracked my head. Thus, we have a strict “severed limb” policy in our household. Anything less is referred to as a “boo-boo” or “the sniffles.” On the upside, I have perfected the recipe for a Delsymtini.

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Enjoy the links, and remember to wash your hands after each click. 😉

Smashing Magazine has a Back to Scchool list of 40 Illustrator tutorials, some of which are mind bogglingly photo realistic.

SitePoint has a nice little tutorial on filling shapes with text in Photoshop.

Colorburned has a downloadable set of “57 tape” brushes.

Photoshopstar has a tutorial on making wooden applique effects in Photoshop.

CSSCreme has a bevy of cool Photoshop tutorials worth checking out.

Adobe made waves recently by purchasing the Web analytics firm Omniture for $1.8 billion. Either this was a savvy, bold move to the social media future, or a colossal overpaying blunder. Depends on who you ask.

Want a sneak peek into Flash CS5? Check out Flashmagazine’s report from Flash on the Beach 09.

Back in the glorious 90s, the vector world was divided between the Illustrator Hatfields and the FreeHand McCoys. Then one day, Adobe arranged itself a shotgun marriage to Macromedia and sent Cousin FreeHand off to live in the hills.  But it turns out reports of FreeHand’s death have been somewhat exaggerated. FreeFreeHand.org is a community site devoted to what some folks still believe is the best vector illustration app ever. And yes, they’ve found it works in Snow Leopard.

Vector-Art has a fun little collection of free recording studio design elements, like cassette tapes, microphones, etc.

I’ve been neglecting my InDesignSecrets duties lately, but here are a couple of little posts that may be “new to you.” Pasteboard Notes and Type OFF a Path.

Speaking of InDesign Secrets, Steve Werner has posted info on Creating eBooks in InDesign, a topic that will only grow more important now that Print est mort. I have my own Publicious take on creating eBooks in InDesign, though Steve’s may have a wee bit more useful info. 😉

Brushes, brushes, who’s got the brushes? Designrfix has what they claim to be the Ultimate Resource list for Photoshop Brushes. From the looks, they may be right.

GraphicsArtsOnline has a piece about a product called PageZephyr, which can extract content from Quark and InDesign files for re-purposing in ebooks etc.

Last, because you can never, ever get too much InDesign, here are links to every update ever, from 1.0 to 6.0.4 in Mac and Windows flavors.. Collect ’em all kids.

Till next time, have a nice …cough…gasp…wheeze…gurgle…thud.

Publicious Links: The Squirrel Bombing Edition

OK, let’s just get it over with.

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squirrel-fenway

squirrel-soldiers

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Ever since he was first spotted, that damn rodent’s been following us around all summer. Now on to the links.

First up, my latest post at InDesign Secrets, Document Differencing.

Layers Magazine has an article on using Conditional Text in InDesign. Aside: ten years later, I still hate the phrase, “in InDesign.” AwKward.

What do you get when you cross Mad Men with Illustrator? Sketchpad, a 1963 computer illustration program created by Ivan Sutherland at MIT.

Thanks to mehallo.com for the heads up.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow (leopard, that is). Here’s a PDF on Adobe’s Creative Suite compatibility with Apple’s new version of OS X.

Elpical has a product called Claro Layout (which I haven’t tried yet) which gives you the ability to optimize and enhance your photos from within InDesign.

Vectorsonfire.com has a vintage Ford Thunderbird drawn in Illustrator that is so awesome it’s either going to inspire me to refresh my vector skills or make me never touch the Pen tool again. Too soon to tell which.

Examiner.com has a story about some members of the UK Parliament considering a ban on Photoshopped images for ads targeting kids. They’re upset about the widespread Photoshopping of already attractive people into poreless, wrinkleless monuments to Barbie-doll perfection. Here’s an interactive example of the typical process. Of course, this has been going on for a long time, witness the these pics of 18th century First Lady Dolly Madison:

Before

Dolly-1.0

After

Dolly-2.0

Prompting Ben Franklin to say, “M’lady, thou art a hottie.”

Designussion (i.e. Design Discussion) has 13 Amazing Vector Cartoon Tutorials.

If that wasn’t enough for you, Designreviver has 50 Illustrator Cartoon Tutorials.

Ever heard of Flash cookies? AKA cloud cookies? Apparently some sites now keep cookies on your surfing habits on their machines. Thus removing the last shred of a hint of the illusion of privacy. Might as well just post your browser history on your Facebook wall.

Wish you knew more about CSS? Existingvisual.com has 250+ Resources to Help You Become a CSS Expert. Hmmm, wonder if those resources include six months off from real life and a fresh brain.

Stumbleupon has the definitive list of Adobeans on Twitter.

Finally, if you just didn’t get enough rodent, here’s more squirrel bombing and an automatic squirrelizer app.

Publicious Links: The Dude, Where’s My Blog? Edition

And we’re back.

Sometime Monday the domain mapping that transforms mild-mannered “pubtech.wordpress.com” to it’s super hero identity “publicious.net” expired. Silly me, forgot to pay the bill. For about 48 hours, I was thinking I had offended some very important bots in Internetland. All the incoming links to Publicious disappeared and traffic was down more than 90%. It felt like Publicious had been put in solitary confinement.

After the inital shock, I said, “Oh well, whatever. Home alone at last. Now that everyone’s gone, I have all the time in the world and the whole internet to myself. Maybe I’ll just put on some Carpenters, kick back with bag of Cheetos, and check out SpongeBob On Demand.”

Every sha-la-la, Every whoa-o-oh, still shines.

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But then I got lonely. I finally figured out I should check one of the sites that links here and see what happens. Bingo. A hop, skip, and credit card payment later, I am once again master of my domain. Now, help yourself to some Cheetos. On with the show.

Might as well start with my latest post at InDesignSecrets.com, Snippet Style InJectors. I stumbled on this idea when I was preparing for a presentation last fall, and noticed that all the document resources used by a snippet get placed before the snippet itself. I said to myself, “Self, this could be useful someday.”

Drawn! the cartoon and illustration blog has an interesting video of an artist laying out a comic book in InDesign. You’ll never look at the Pencil tool the same way again.

Miverity has a tutorial on how to build a Flash XML slideshow app for a website.

Smashing Magazine has an article on Ten Simple Steps to Better Photoshop Performance. Life is short, no time for beachball cursrors.

The Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog has an good article on ebook format wars. Which one will end up the Betamax of the 21st century?

Speaking of which…

InformationWeek weighs in on the same ebook format issue, with a Sony v. Amazon angle.

Gigaom is ready to declare a winner: Adobe, because of Sony’s embrace of EPUB.

Relatedly (is that a word? if not, I just made it one) Digital Media Buzz has the scoop on Adobe’s Open Source efforts.

Thinking of using an online word processor? Read Linux.com’s comparison of GoogleDocs, Zoho, and Buzzword.

Quick, how do you make a dotted line in Photoshop? Sitepoint has some nice quick tips about using Photoshop brush options for dotted lines and such.

One NYTimes.com writer thinks the bloom is off the Rich Internet App rose already, with the arrival of Google’s Chrome. Please, don’t be evil, Google. Please.

Graphics.com has some ‘tony tutorials (as in duotone, tritone, etc).

Finally, if you’ve ever wished to see Photoshop and Illustrator battle to the death as giant transformer robots with foul language (and who hasn’t?) I recommend checking out GoMediaZine’s ongoing Photoshop vs. Illustrator series.