Jan 2 2010

illustrator techniques, part 2: editing colors

This is the second part of a two-part tutorial on creating a repeat pattern. This (much shorter) part explores using the Color Editor features of Illustrator CS3 or CS4 to change the colorway of a pattern swatch. Defining a pattern is covered in Part 1 of this tutorial.

Defining a pattern has been a part of Illustrator for many, many versions, however Color Editing is only available in more recent versions, starting with CS3. If you want to skip Part 1 and move right into color editing with the pattern swatch used for this exercise, it can be downloaded and installed as follows:

Un-zip the downloaded file

Move the file japanese_04b.ai to the Applications folder (or Program Files directory for Windows):

Adobe Illustrator CS3 (or CS4) > Presets > en_US > Swatches > Patterns > Decorative

Quit and restart Illustrator

Note: The colorizing techniques using Color Edit can be used with any pattern.

Open a new document (print or web)

Insert the pattern japanese_04b into a Swatches panel by clicking on the upper right corner of the panel (A) to reveal a flyout menu of options for this panel. Select Open Swatch Library (B), the choose Patterns (C), then Decorative (D), and finally the swatch file japanese_04b.

This will open a new swatches panel with the color swatches and pattern swatch.

With the Rectangle Tool, draw a box.

For the fill color, select the pattern from the Swatches panel.

With the Selection Tool, select the filled box.

Open the Color Guide panel (A) and click on the color wheel icon at the bottom of the panel (B) to open the Recolor Artwork dialogue box.

In the Recolor Artwork dialogue box, click the Edit button (A) to reveal the Color Editor.

The link icon (B) should be ‘connected’ to preserve the same color harmony relationship. If you want to experiment with other relationships, you can ‘unlink’.

To see the results of your color choices, be sure Recolor Artwork (C) is checked.

Rotate the Active Colors (D) by clicking on one of the circles and dragging it around the color wheel to test various hues. You can also change the value by pulling the Active Color toward or away from the center of the color wheel.

Once you have chosen a new colorway, give it a name (E) and create a new group (F).

Click OK to close the Color Editor.

This will result in a new color group and a new pattern swatch being added to your Swatches panel.

A complete explanation of the Color Editor can be found in the Adobe Illustrator help file:


Dec 28 2009

proofing your website on different browsers

Chances are that you have designed a website or two where your creativity pushed the limits of (specifically) Internet Explorer’s capacity to deal with it. I’ll bet that most web designers don’t use IE as their default browser. Being a Mac shop, I have struggled with a foolproof way to proof newly-minted websites in IE. I broke down and bought a used Windows laptop for that (sole) reason. It was less expensive than running Windows through Parallels on the Mac. Also, in that way I get to see the actual rendering of fonts and images at Windows screen resolutions. I am suspicious that using a Windows emulator on a Mac would not render the screen in the same way.

This method works well but Windows has a tendency to drop out of my network for no reason, especially if I have not been using it. When I need it the most it takes precious time to wade through the maze of Windows to find the one that allows changes to the IP addressing. When Internet access is finally restored I must install all of the system security and virus protection updates that I missed. I digress…

When it comes to proofing for IE I like IE Tester, which is a free utility from DebugBar. This utility permits live testing of the site in IE5 through IE8 in XP, Vista, and Windows 7 environments (you supply the OS). The nice thing about IE Tester is that the functionality of the site can be tested as well as the styling. If you’ve wondered whether the Javascript utility operates as intended, this is a good solution.

The one remaining problem is proofing on the other browsers that Windows supports. It means preserving archival versions of Firefox 2.0 or Opera 6.0. And there’s Chrome. I have not found an easy way to proof on earlier versions of browsers for either Mac or Windows.

That is until now. If you sometimes haunt the halls of Adobe Labs you may have heard of Adobe BrowserLab. If you have not, it is worth trying to get on board with their limited free preview.

This utility resides in “the cloud”, similar to Kuler (another worthwhile utility) so all you need to do is download a small app and use your Adobe registration to log in. BrowserLab renders screenshots of your site in Firefox 2.0, 3.0 and 3.5 on Windows XP and Mac OS X; Internet Explorer 6.X, 7.X, and 8.X on Windows XP; Safari 3.X and 4.X on Mac OS X; and Chrome 3.0 on Windows XP. This list will be updated as browsers are updated–soon I hope for Chrome on Mac OS X.

You access the utility from the Adobe BrowserLab website, provide your Adobe registration info (or sign up), choose the combination of browsers/OSs that you want to preview and feed it the URL of your site:

You can compare in a 2-up display or as an ‘onion skin’, showing two browsers superimposed, which is helpful for fine-tuning alignment. Also helpful is a ruler option to pinpoint an exact location.

The utility can also accessed through a Dreamweaver CS4 extension.

The most discouraging aspect of this otherwise very helpful utility is that it renders the page as a static screenshot. The dynamic functionality cannot be tested or compared. Still, I hope that Adobe continues to make this available, if not for free, at least as a low cost subscription.


Jun 19 2008

InDesign CS3 crashes on Open/Place/Save/Export (Intel Mac, OS X 10.5.3)

It was a dark and stormy night with the deadline for a project looming. All I needed to do was make a few changes to the piece in InDesign. I had not used InDesign since installing a CS3 update several days before so had to re-launch (normally it stays running in the background). Everything launched normally until I tried to open the document. InDesign immediately crashed. I tried again and the same thing happened. Even opening from Bridge caused InDesign to crash. I was able to create a New document but InDesign would crash when I tried to Save or Export.

I fired off a crash report to Adobe and then searched Google for a solution. Most people attribute this to the updates to CS3 or OS X 10.5.3 and the consensus seems to be that Apple needs to come up with a fix. However, because Apple and Adobe no longer play nice together they are (select one) a) slow, b) unwilling, c) unable because it’s really Adobe’s problem to fix. So, short of a lightening-induced power outage or system crash, this is the worst place to be. There was, however, a common thread among the blogs for helpful workarounds.

I first tried 3 recommendations from the Adobe Tech Notes that were also recommended by several bloggers, none of which solved the problem. I tried trashing the InDesign Preferences. No help there either. I re-read the Tech Notes carefully and since recommendation 1. is to uninstall Version Cue I was a little mystified when the uninstall package was not available, but since I don’t use Version Cue I was not concerned and went on to the other recommendations. But the careful re-read suggested an entirely different fix was available if these symptoms started after installing the Version Cue update. I didn’t pay attention to which components of CS3 were in the last update but since the problem seemed to start after I installed them I decided to try this out.

The first Tech Note contains an inconspicuous link to an entirely new Tech Note which held the magic key. A patch is available to download which finally fixed the problem. Well, not entirely. In the middle of my now frantic edit session, the power did go out…