Adobe Suite CS5 Tricks – Noble Desktop

I had the pleasure of attending Noble Desktop‘s training of Adobe Suite CS5 on November 8th, so I can learn a bunch of tricks and tips new to more recent versions of Adobe’s famed suite. The hour-long seminar was led by Noble Desktop’s “Dan” who also maintains their site and occasional freelance gigs. Dan skillfully and quickly walked us through a number of features that have been added to the creative suite for Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign and Adobe PhotoShop. Because I currently don’t have the new suite and I know I will forget these tricks shortly, as well as the fact that the AIGA NY event had limited seating and many [d]online readers aren’t members of the AIGA or reside in NYC, I thought It might be nice to share some of these tips with you here while simultaneously documenting them for my failing memory.

Adobe Illustrator

1. Variable Width Strokes – You’ve probably seen Jessica Hische’s wonderful demo video which shows it in action, but doesn’t show the Presets or the modification of the new tool itself. Just as Anchor points are for adjusting shape, width points (new) are for adjusting stroke with and work with shapes, dotted lines, etc. You can also expand the appearance of the variable width strokes to create a shape, the same way you can with all strokes.

2. Draw Inside – There’s a new mode that allows you to draw inside which works similarly to clipping masks but without losing the shape and it’s border when created. Draw Inside mode is a quick, easy alternative and can be created in less steps than done when creating a clipping mask.

3. Control-Click (Command-Click) – The functionality has existed in InDesign for a long time, but the new versions of Illustrator allow you to select objects behind the ones in the foreground by simply Control-Clicking.

4. Appearance Panel – This is, without a doubt, one of the coolest new features in Illustrator. Anything that affects an object can be modified in this panel (i.e., stroke, fill, gradient, effects, opacity, etc.). Add a stroke inside or outside or center. Add multiple strokes to the same object, add a stroke to a group of objects by moving the new stroke below the “Contants” (which acts similar to effects/shadow), add fill and stroke to a “Type” object instead of characters so it doesn’t obliterate the type. Move to background and add a second fill behind to mimic stroke gradients (Still not possible with CS5). Distort and Transform the second fill to make live edits to text for solid dropshadows. It’s incredible at creating signage and specialty packaging design looks.

5. Duplicate Art Board – Simply Control-Drag an artboard and it’ll duplicate the existing one with all the objects on it. I find this tool to be greatly helpful for creating variations of palette and slight changes for multiple page PDFs for clients. If a client says “Can I see this in green, too?” before you’d have to save the file anew, modify the second one, export both to PDF and then combine to multiple pages in Acrobat. Now, all you need to do is Control-Drag to duplicate, change the color and print to PDF. Voila!

6. Recolor Artwork Button – Drag to see “Happy Accidents” (as Bob Ross would say) by clicking the “Recolor Artwork” button and dragging around the spectrum. You can also click the link icon to alter while retaining color relationships/harmonies. The Recolor Artwork button also allows you to recolor to a 2, 3, 4 color job and select libraries (like Pantone Coated, Uncoated, or CMYK) and there’s no need to group.

7. Gradient Annotator – I don’t know why this didn’t exist in previous versions, but now you can make live, realtime edits and custom gradients to objects with an annotator bar right over the object itself. You can slide the colors, add and remove new ones to the gradient, select from the color picker, swatch library and color spectrum, adjust the levels and locations and even work with opacity/transparency! Remember before when you needed to draw a gradient, remove, redraw, remove, redraw, remove, in order to center or align it correctly? No more!

Adobe InDesign

1. Different Page Sizes – Now, each document in CS5 (only) can have multiple page sizes. This means that one document can feasibly include your letterhead, business card and envelope, a book with multiple page sizes and gate-folds, and a variety of labels! This is all accessible from the Pages Panel and includes Presets for normal sizes.

2. “Allow Pages to Shuffle” – Remove the check in this box to create examples of gate folds. This option actually means “Allow InDesign to auto-shuffle pages for me” because even when unchecked, pages can still shuffle. But doing this helps you to create layouts with extended pages with gatefolds, perfect for books and magazines, and all in the same documents.

3. Change Units of Both Axises – Right-click the nexus between the rulers to change the units of both the horizontal and vertical rulers at the same time.

4. Span/Split Columns – This effectively allows you to have multiple columns of text in the same text block, above and below each other. Select the text, in “Paragraph Options” (top-left icons) click and from the “Span/Split Columns” option to bridge or break different paragraphs within the same text object.

5. Show Palettes – Many CS versions allow you to show palettes by Option (or Alt) clicking on the icon to the left of the option. Great shortcut and it’s been there forever.

6. Rearrange Styles –  Styles no longer need to be listed in alphabetical order. Simply click-drag to rearrange by preferred layout or convenience based on usage.

7. Quickly Apply Styles – Use the Eyedropper to suck up and then paste, however you can also create a style loop by using “Next Styles”. Then , select “All” or Highlight, Right-click on a style and then click “Apply Style then Next Style” from the resulting menu. This works on the entire selected area. You can also Control-Shift-End to select to the end of the text area and re-apply styles, in case the alternation of styles doesn’t work exactly as you want it to.

8. Redefine Styles – Manually edit and click the Paragraph turnstile and select “Redefine Style” to change the style and all paragraphs with the style applied on-the-fly.

9. Separations Preview – Window –> Output –> Separations Preview enables you to see how the separations will be exported. Within the Inks Manager, you an also click “All Spots to Process” to change spot color (ie. Pantone, Toyo, TrueMatch) to CMYK and preview how it looks. Note that this only modifies how InDesign will output, not the original embedded tif/eps files. Turnstyle is in the Separations Manager.

10. Palette Options – Select and Remove “All Unused Colors”  to clean the palette. Click “Add Unnamed Colors” to complete the palette from manually selected colors that weren’t previously added to the swatch list.

11. Keep Cursor In Palette – Shift-Return to keep cursor in an option after selecting something (i.e., font size). Control-Alt-7 switches sections of a palette (i.e., Character Options / Paragraph Options). Control-6 Highlights the first option in a palette.

12. Show Import Options – Shift-Return or Shift and click the “Import” button to only show the options once, for instance, when importing Excel files as table. Otherwise, the options will always show by default and you have to uncheck this option the next time you import to skip past it. Also you can paste XLS to InDesign and it will retain formatting.

13. GREP Styles (Advanced Search and Replace) – Similar to RegEx, apply a character style (new) and it will be modified on-the-fly to all characters that bear that Paragraph Style. For instance, 1) Change all Black to 30%, 2) \dt = digit repeated more than once, 3) \t = tab. Must escape characters (i.e., \$) and must be applied within Paragraph Style for it to be automatically replaced.

Adobe PhotoShop

1. Content Aware Fill – This is, without a doubt, one of PS’s best enhancements. Shift-delete to bring up the Fill dialogue (or select it from the Edit menu) and click “Content-Aware Fill” and then enter. Voila! A new area has just been created using scraps of surrounding ones and it’s much cleaner and smarter than the healing brush.

2. Healing/Spot-Healing Brush – Change from “Proximity Match” to “Content Aware” and click Edit –> Fade Spot Healing Brush (Control-Shift-F) directly afterward in order to modify the changes. You can use the arrow keys to step through this or Shift-Arrow (to fade the percentage faster) too.

3. Auto-Select – Select a Layer or Group automatically with this option turned on under the arrow tool. Delete to delete, shift to add, move to move, the same as Adobe Illustrator. If you Control-Click you can move groups or layers. There currently still is no way to click a layer below, like you can in Illustrator. Dan, the instructor, prefered groups to linked layers, though I haven’t quite converted over yet (i like the flexibility of linking in and out of multiple groups without having to guess which group you’re moving and if everything is contained).

4. Curves – Hold Alt to see what is being clipped in the Curves palette and watch what is pushed into black or white with a histogram.

5. Reduce Noise – Open As… force to open JPGs in “Camera Raw” and click “Detail” tab and zoom to 100%. From here you can slide up and down luminance and color noise, using the preview to see the changes. The luminance and color noise options in Camera Raw are far superior to the “Reduce Noise” filter in PhotoShop. This modifies the meta data of the image, not the image itself. So “Open As…” in PhotoShop helps apply this meta data so it exists when saving out. The original file still retains the meta data and it can be reverted at any time.

6. Surface Blur – Smooth surfaces where client gives low-rez images and wants them to “fake” a slightly higher-rez image without (or with less) artifacts.

7. View –> Show –> Pixel Grid – Toggles the pixel grid when zoomed to pixel level

8. See as Web – View –> Proof Set-up –> Monitor RGB – enables you to see how images (colors) will look when exported to the web.

This concluded the lecture with various people (mostly me) asking questions afterward. Note that Noble Desktop also has a handy short-cut key guide on their web site and that they offer training regularly, not only through the AIGA and with sponsorship by Adobe themselves. Write me if you need clarification on any of the above, but also note that I still haven’t been able to upgrade to CS5.

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