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Blog Post to Audio File

Yesterday, I found something great using my Mac. I normally find many great articles online about how to improve my art – Everything from how to better market myself to a new trick in Photoshop. The problem is I never find the time to actually read these articles. I always open the post in a new tab in Safari with the best of intentions of going back and reading the article, but I never seem to find the time. So yesterday I had about 15 of these tabs open and was just about ready to close them all because I knew I was never going to read them when I had a thought. What if there was a way to convert these articles into an audio file that I could just listen to. I love listening to audiobooks while I work so this seem like a great idea, but how to do it. It turns out it’s easy, if you’re on a Mac.
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On a Mac all you need to do is select the text you want read, using speech to text, and then click on the text holding the Control button. The normal control options show up and if you’re using OSX lion or higher in the dialog box will be a option called “Services” and under services will be another option that says “add to iTunes as a spoken track”. Click the option and another dialog box will pop-up asking you what you would like to save the file as, which voice you would like to use, and where you would like to save the file to. Click save and after a few seconds the text you had selected turns into a audio file inside iTunes for you to listen to at your leisure. I know the voices in OSX aren’t perfect to listen to, but it’s one way to get the information without having to sit down and find the time to read all these articles.

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A few things to keep in mind when trying this. It needs to be an Apple application. I’ve got this trick to work in Safari, Preview using a PDF and TextEdit. I’m sure there are many more ways to do this but these are the Applications I use in my own personal workflow. I haven’t been able to try it in all applications, but I did try in Google Chrome and this option was not available when I selected the text. There’s probably a PC way to do this as well but since I’m on a Mac I haven’t done the research. If anybody knows of a way please let me know in the comments or write you’re own post, it’s fun.

I personally will use this for all the art articles I want to read, but when I told my wife about it she was super excited about using the same trick for all of the sites she frequents as well. I guess the Internet is full of loads of other information besides artist blog articles, who knew.

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

Amazon’s introduces the Kindle Kids’ Book Creator

On Sep 3, 2014 Amazon introduced Kindle Kids’ Book Creator. Amazon has offered tools for authors to publish their own books for a while but kids books are a completely different product. In the past making ebooks has been fairly simple because it’s just been flowing text into a e-book program (this is an over simplifyication), but tons of bright and colorful images as well as type that is a bit more playfully laid out, makes picture books completely different than a textbook. This is where Amazon’s new tool, the Kindle Kids’ Book Creator comes into play. It’s a free tool for authors and publishers to turn their children’s picture books into a digital version for use on the Amazon Kindle line of products. Which sounds great if you’re happy with only publishing on the Kindle store. “Kindle Kids’ Book Creator makes it easy for authors and publishers to import artwork, add text to pages, and preview how their book will look on Kindle devices.” says Amazons page for this product. Amazon’s new piece of software is available to download from their site and supports both Mac and PC. Chapter books can be imported using the following formats: Word’s doc/docx, HTML, Mobi, and of course ePub. Import formats available for Illustrated books are: PDF, PNG, JPG, TIFF, and PPM.

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“Authors want to focus on telling great stories and we want to help them do that. No one should have to be a computer programmer to create a beautiful, illustrated Kindle book for kids,” said Russ Grandinetti, Senior Vice President, Kindle.

Alongside this new piece of software Amazon also opened a new section in their Digital self publishing platform called Kindle Direct Publishing Kids. This new section was created to help authors prepare, publish and promote both illustrated and chapter books in Kindle Stores worldwide. KDP Kids also offers authors better age and grade recommendations so their customers can more easily choose the best books for their kids. You can read the full press release here.

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

Helpful WordPress Plug-ins for your Portfolio Site

Now that you’ve got WordPress up and running on your site… you don’t? Well, this post assumes that you’ve read over our first post “Building a Portfolio Site using WordPress”. Now that you have read through that, let’s take a look at a few plug-ins that will help your site stay up and running. There’s a ton of WordPress plug-ins out there so I wanted to share the plug-ins that I use or have used on my own site to keep it running smoothly. It’s not good to use too many plugins for your blog and with there being so many plug-ins out there it can be hard to find the right one for you. There’s an amazing number of ways to add to your original WordPress installation so let’s take a look at them now.

If you’re not sure how to install a WordPress plug-in I found this helpful YouTube video to get you started.

Google Analytics – http://www.google.com/analytics/
While it’s not really a plug-in Google Analytics shows you the full customer picture across ads and videos, websites and social tools, tablets and smartphones. It lets you keep track of how many visitors are coming to your site and where they are coming from. This makes it easier to serve your current customers and win new ones. Once you’ve signed up for a Google analytics account there are many plug-ins that you can install to WordPress to give you a picture of the people who visit your site. One of these plug-ins that comes highly reviewed from other WordPress users is called Google Analytics by Yoast and you can find it here.

All in One SEO Packhttp://wordpress.org/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/
All in One SEO Pack is a WordPress SEO plugin to automatically optimize your WordPress blog for Search Engines such as Google. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s natural or un-paid search results.

Shareaholichttp://wordpress.org/plugins/shareaholic/
Shareaholic adds an attractive social bookmarking menu and related content widget to your posts, pages, index, or any combination of the three. Shareaholic is a extremely useful and successful tool in getting your readers to actually discover and submit your articles to numerous social bookmarking sites. Full support for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, and a shocking number of others.

Thank Me Laterhttp://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/thank-me-later/

Print Friendly and PDF Buttonhttps://wordpress.org/plugins/printfriendly/
The Print Friendly & PDF button automatically creates printer friendly and PDF versions of your pages without the hassle of having to create a print CSS file. No coding, hacking or programming required. Simply install the Print Friendly & PDF plugin, activate, and choose settings for full customization. It also gives your user the ability to remove images and paragraphs of text, so they really only have to print exactly what they want.

nRelate Related Contentwordpress.org/extend/plugins/nrelate-related-content/
The best way to display related content from your site, and/or your blogroll. This ultimately leads to higher page-views for your site, and a better user experience for your visitors.

BackUpWordPresshttps://wordpress.org/plugins/backupwordpress/
BackUpWordPress will back up your entire site including your database and all your files on a schedule that suits you.

MailChimp for WordPresshttps://wordpress.org/plugins/mailchimp-for-wp/
MailChimp for WordPress lets you create a highly customizable sign-up form which you can display wherever you want it to display using a simple shortcode, widget or template function. You can also add sign-up checkboxes to various forms on your site, like your comment or contact forms.

These are just a handful of the many plug-ins out there for WordPress. There’s a ton more to choose from and if you’d like to see some of WordPress’ is more popular’s plug-ins check out this link and if you use any other plug-ins that could be helpful to your fellow illustrators, leave them in the comments.

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

Could Adobe have a new Challenger?

For years Adobe hasn’t had much competition in the photo editing, vector drawing and desktop publishing application space. Adobe software has been the pinnacle of desktop publishing software for as long as I can remember. A few years ago they switched their software model to subscription-based which upset a lot of their core customers. Now a company named Serif has come out with a new product called Affinity Designer to try to change all that. Serif Ltd. is an independent developer founded in 1990 and a publisher of design software. Serif was founded with the aim to develop low-cost alternatives to high-end desktop publishing and graphic design packages for the PC. Despite developing exclusively for PC and Windows for over 25 years, their new product, Affinity Designer, is turning that all on its head. Built for the Mac, Affinity Designer is the first of a new line of products by Serif aimed at anyone who’s not a fan of Adobe subscription model. Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher will be coming out over the next 12 months to complete the new suite of design applications. Affinity Designer is available now in beta and you can grab your copy for Mac at https://affinity.serif.com/.

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Affinity Designer’s site says that “Affinity Designer is the fastest, smoothest, most precise vector graphic design software available.” Whether you’re working on graphics for marketing materials, websites, icons, UI design or just like creating cool concept art, Affinity Designer will revolutionize how you work.” and “Working in Affinity Designer is always live – pan and zoom at 60fps, transform objects in correct z-order, make adjustments or apply effects in realtime and always see live previews of brushes or tools. Whether it’s a 100 megapixel image or the most complex vector drawing with thousands of curves, it’s still the same and never runs out of memory.” When Affinity Designer is out of beta it will be available exclusively on the Mac App store for $49.99.

We are still a long ways from seeing if Serif can knock off Adobe’s crown but it’s nice to see that some alternatives are starting to pop up. If you’ve tried Serif’s new vector drawing application, please let us know what you think about it in the comments. I will be trying it out soon myself and giving a report on OUaS.

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

Yet Another Cintiq Companion Review

By now, most digital artists have heard of the Wacom Cintiq Companion and what it does, so I’m not going to bore everyone reviewing the basic specs. In fact, Norm wrote a nice review awhile back covering just that- LINK. I wanted to give my personal take on the machine as an illustrator and as a user who has put the Companion through it’s paces for the last 8 months or so.

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The Good

  • Natural Drawing: Before I purchased the Cintiq Companion, my digital illustrations were created using Wacom tablets. The main reason I made the switch was because I wanted something that could mimic the more natural feel of drawing and painting traditional. As good as tablets are, you can’t recreate the same direct relationship between your hand and eyes while you are drawing. This is where the Companion has me sold; and even after years of working on tablets, it only took several hours for me to feel comfortable making marks on the Companion.
  • Portability: Another big reason I decided to go with the Companion and not one of the larger-screened Cintiqs out on the market was that this had a built in computer. This made working on the go a true possibility. In fact I’ve spent hours at a time working in my car, with a battery life of about 3 hours, I’ve found a real use for my Companion outside of my studio. The only caveat I have working outside when it’s bright outside can be a bit difficult.
  • Performance: I’m really impressed by the processing power of the Companion. In Photoshop, my files can be as big as 150mb yet there is no noticeable lag.
  • Customization: Wacom has really done a good job making this product user-friendly. Being a Photoshop-user who relies on a lot of keyboard shortcuts, I was concerned about compromising my workflow on the occasions where I didn’t have access to a keyboard. To my surprise however, with the abundance of customizable shortcut keys (express keys on the side of the Companion as well as the onscreen shortcuts), really once you have everything customized to your liking, I found I could work easily without the keyboard. Right now, I mainly decide whether to use a keyboard based more on screen space rather than efficiency.

 

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A screen shot of my Companion. Along with the express keys that are off screen (mainly for brush and erase tools), you can see that you have a lot of flexibility, plus I still have room for more if I need them.

The Bad

  • The Stand: Compared to the quality of the Companion itself, the stand almost feels like an afterthought. Though it does a reasonable job while the device is firmly resting on a hard, flat surface, such as a desk; if I decide to move it around, there’s a good chance it’ll slip off it’s notch and collapse down. This is especially true when I have it resting on the most vertical setting. To me, it makes a lot more sense for the stand to be permanently attached. Since it has the ability to fold flat anyway, I haven’t found a reason to not have it attached…and it’s not like it adding a lot of extra weight.
  • Scratches: Within a week or two after I started using my Companion, I noticed I had a scratch on the screen. The thought of my beautiful new machine covered with scratches put me in a panic, so I quickly ordered a screen protector. After about 4 months with the screen protector on I’m still noticing an increasing number of scratches. These are minute scratches mind you- that you only really notice when you have blank white areas on the screen. Personally, I don’t think I’m heavy-handed when I draw, and my nibs don’t really show signs of wear, so I’m left wondering if this is just a common thing for Cintiqs. All I know is that replacing screen protectors will be part of my routine.
  • The hiccups: When my Companion is running well, it’s a great tool to work on, however I have noticed more instability issues with Photoshop than normal.  These crashes were not caused by me overworking the processor, so my guess is that it may be Windows 8 related. Also there has been a tendency for my onscreen shortcuts to malfunction or my stylus or onscreen keyboard to not respond. This tends to happen if I accidentally hit too many shortcuts at the same time or too quickly. Other issues happen when I have my Companion coming out of sleep mode or screensaver. I tend to point my finger at Windows 8 and Wacom compatibility issues.

 

The Ugly

  • No Charge: About a couple months into using my Companion, the battery inexplicably decided not to recharge when it was plugged in. This became really frustrating because I would be working and my machine would just shut down on me without any warning and all the work that wasn’t saved would be lost. The first couple times this happened, my Companion was able to hold a charge partially if I played with the connections. But in a matter of a week or so, it recharged for the last time and was basically dead. Fortunately, by then I had prepared for this and backed up all my files, but it was of little comfort. After contacting Wacom, I was left with sending my Companion back for repairs. Three weeks later, I received a package from Wacom and to my surprise, rather than fixing my Companion, they ended up sending me a new one. And the new Companion is charging like it should…for now.

 

Seeing double...after returning my broken device back to Wacom, they decided to send me a new one rather than repair it. So now I have two nice boxes for my trouble.

Seeing double…after returning my broken device back to Wacom, they decided to send me a new one rather than repair it. So now I have two nice boxes for my trouble.

Despite having it’s fair share or glitches and imperfections, the Cintiq Companion is still a great tool and the best portable drawing device I’ve ever worked with. With it, I have been able to produce my illustrations without sacrificing any quality or efficiency… if anything, it has improved it. A lot of the issues I have with the Companion, I chalk up to Wacom venturing into new territory. I can only imagine if they do decide to come out with a second generation model, it would simply be great.

About the author

  • Donald WuDONALD WUContributor

    Born in Hong Kong, Donald grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area after moving there as a child. Years of drawing doodles in school along with a love of comic books led him to study illustration at the California College of the Arts. While at school, Donald was introduced to many different mediums ranging from watercolors to acrylics. Although Donald started his career using traditional mediums, Donald has since made the transition to digital medium. Donald continues to reside and "doodle" in the San Francisco Bay Area.

PSA – Facebook Messenger App has Scary Terms of Service

Okay I know this subject doesn’t really concern becoming or being an artist but nevertheless Facebook has become integral in to being an artist these days. From communicating with potential clients to just talking with other artists I find myself on it almost every day. It’s actually one of the ways our team at Once Upon a Sketch stays in contact. We have a Group discussion where we keep everyone up-to-date and when we are just communicating person-to-person we use Facebook messaging. Which brings me to why I’m writing this post. Like most of you I probably use Facebook mostly on my phone and just a little while ago the Facebook app required me to install a additional app called Facebook Messenger if I wanted to continue messaging. Some people might say well Facebook just spent $19 billion to buy a company called What’s App. Facebook must just want to get their moneys worth. This statement may be true but there seems to be a lot more going on if you dig into the terms of service accompanying this application. You may have already read about this somewhere else on the Internet but it needs to be reiterated since Facebook has now made this application required to use their messaging service. Here are a few of the permissions you will be giving up if you use the new Facebook messaging app. These are word for word from the Facebook messaging app terms of service.

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“Allows the app to read data about your contacts stored on your phone, including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed, or communicated in other ways with specific individuals.”
 
“Allows the app to access the phone features of the device. This permission allows the app to determine the phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call.”
 
“Allows the app to get a list of accounts known by the phone. This may include any accounts created by applications you have installed.”
 
“Allows the app to call phone numbers without your intervention. This may result in unexpected charges or calls. Malicious apps may cost you money by making calls without your confirmation.”
 
“Allows the app to record audio with microphone. This permission allows the app to record audio at any time without your confirmation.”
 
“Allows the app to take pictures and videos with the camera. This permission allows the app to use the camera at any time without your confirmation.”
 

The list continues but this is just a handful of the choice quotes from the terms of service floating around the Internet these days. It’s worth pointing out that while these terms sound awful a lot of the permissions wording is taken straight from Android’s terms. FaceBook maybe just following the Android wording, just a bit of speculation to give Facebook some credit. Also, Apple iOS only asks for these permissions when a user tries to access one of these functions such as microphone access only being requested when a video/voice call happens. It still sounds like pretty scary permissions to give any app or company in my opinion. Especially a company who makes their money by learning everything they can about their users.

I had a friend over for dinner just the other day and she had unknowingly downloaded this app when her regular Facebook app prompted her to. I’m sure she blindly agreed to the terms of service like everyone does and didn’t even think about what she had agreed to. It so easy to do. It feels like you can’t do anything on the Internet these days without agreeing to something. So if your one of the one billion people who have downloaded this app please be careful. It may be nice to use a free application that lets you stay in contact with your friends but please remember the things you’re giving up by using it.

Source – Huffington Post

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud 2014 Update Part 2 – Software

Last year Adobe did away with their popular Creative Suite traditional software sales model and change there model to a subscription service. Well it’s been about a year and now Adobe is updating their Creative Cloud offerings for 2014. When Creative Cloud was first released Adobe promised a trickle of releases to their software throughout the year. Well on June 18 2014 Adobe open the floodgates and dropped a ton of new releases on the creative community. On Monday (July 14 2014) we discussed all of Adobe’s new mobile offerings. Well, today we are going to be taking a look at their updates to their Desktop software for 2014. We are only going to focus on software that relates to illustrators, so sorry all of you After Effects, Dreamweaver, and Muse fans. Let’s get into it.

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The first update is to their naming structure. Instead of just calling the entire service Creative Cloud they are now adding a year to each update. This year’s update is Adobe Creative Cloud 2014. While we’re talking about small incremental additions to the CC service Adobe has also announced the Creative Cloud Market. Think stock image library. On the Creative Cloud blog they called it “a collection of high-quality, curated assets for creatives by creatives. Now you can access a remarkable selection of vector graphics, icons, patterns, UI Kits, for-placement images, and more from your Creative Cloud Desktop app—all part of your subscription to Creative Cloud.” In my opinion it’s an interesting idea but we’ll have to see how the library grows with time but if you’re already paying for the CC service it can’t hurt to check it out.

Now on to the design software. All of the revisions to Adobe software lineup have added improvements to the design work flow and a performance boosts. All the new updates to Adobe Creative Cloud are available to existing CC subscribers for free and individual Creative Cloud memberships start at $49.99 per month for new customers, $29.99 per month if you own a previous version of the Adobe creative suite CS3 or higher (for the first year), and $19.99 for students. Your subscription profile has also been improved with better syncing between desktop apps and mobile apps as well as including stored files, photos, fonts, and preferences allowing your files to be seamlessly shared between applications. Adobe says of these new features “The new CC desktop apps, mobile apps, and hardware are tightly integrated through Creative Cloud services. This integration helps liberate the creative process by enabling users to access and manage everything that makes up their creative profile — their files, photos, fonts, colors, community and more — from wherever they work.” So what updates have been made to the software?

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Adobe Photoshop CC 2014 – This new version of Photoshop seems to be more of an incremental update as opposed to the big release of last year. Photoshop is now on it’s 15th iteration so it’s more feature polish less innovation but altogether it seems like a welcome update. Whats new for 2014? Most of these additions will help out photographers not as much illustrators but let’s go through them anyway because some of them are pretty cool.

The stand out to me is a new feature called Focus Mask. Photoshop will now help you start a mask by automatically selecting the in-focus areas of your image. Focus Mask works great with portraits and other images that have shallow depth of field. Next Adobe adds to their filters with 2 new Blur motion effects. Use Path Blur to add blur along any path and Spin Blur to create circular or elliptical blurs that will help add a sense of motion to your images. Photoshop has also added improvements to content aware fill. They’ve also added a feature to Photoshop that InDesign has had for a while called Smart Guides. Smart Guides is a handy tool that shows you the positioning between elements in relationship to each other.

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Adobe Illustrator CC 2014 – What does Illustrator CC 2014 have to offer for your monthly subscription Fee? Like Photoshop the additions to the new illustrator seem to be just more refinement. Adobe has cleaned up how the Pen Tool works so now as you draw your a line it will give you a preview of how the final shape will look before you commit. Another welcome addition is how Typekit helps your workflow with missing fonts. Now when you open a file that doesn’t have a font installed Illustrator will reach out to Typekit, download the font and install it on your computer making it available for all other applications. Lastly and maybe most importantly, they’ve added Live Shapes to Illustrator. You can now quickly modify rectangle corners, with independent control over each corner’s radius. You can scale and rotate rectangles, and Illustrator remembers your work— so you can quickly return to your original shape.

Adobe InDesign CC 2014 – What’s new? Honestly it doesn’t seem like very much over its predecessor but what they have done is improved the EPUB export features and honestly this one might be the most exciting for children’s book illustrators. Adobe’s site says about this new feature “Make interactive EPUB books with live text—such as children’s books, cookbooks, travel books, and textbooks—that are rich with illustrations, photos, audio, or animations. Layout and design remain fixed no matter the screen size.” They’ve added a few other minor additions like better tabs, and color groups but the EPUB of enhancements are, by far, the standout for me.

There you have it all the new additions to Creative Cloud 2014. If you didn’t read our first article about their new mobile offerings you can check it out here. If there’s anything you saw from Adobe that you thought stood out and we didn’t cover it please let us know about it in the comments.

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud 2014 Update Part 1 – Mobile

In 2013 Adobe released their Creative Cloud service switching from a traditional software sales model to a subscription based service. This switch did away with the much beloved Creative Suite software bundle which included Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, and many more applications.  At first consumers were unsure of this change to their favorite creative products but Adobe has stuck to their guns and on June 18th 2014 released a large update to their software-as-a-service offerings as well as a few surprises. On Wednesday (July 16, 2014) we will be going over the desktop software revisions but today we have a quick rundown of all the Mobile software updates Adobe has released.

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First off and most interestingly Adobe has released hardware. The company that’s most known for their software has just released a new line of products to help your creative endeavors. Adobe Ink is a new digital pen that connects to Creative Cloud. Adobe’s fine-tipped, pressure sensitive pen is a three-sided hydro-formed aluminum stylus for iPad version 4+ or better running iOS 7. They described it as “lightweight and balanced for a comfortable grip.” The second piece of hardware is a digital ruler that works in tandem with Ink. Adobe Slide was created to enable precision sketches and lines. Again to use Slide you’ll need an iPad version 4+ that’s running the latest version of Apples mobile software, iOS7. Slide works by setting the digital ruler down on the iPad then the ruler marks will appear on screen. As you draw with Ink your digital lines will snap to guides giving you a perfect line. Ink and Slide come as a pair for $199.99. It’s seems like a steep price for something that is not integral to the creative process at this point but Michael Gough, Adobe’s experience design lead, disagrees saying “Sooner or later, the mouse and keyboard aren’t going to be enough,” and ”We’re trying to prepare ourselves.” It seems like with these new products Adobe is making a future play for when artists no longer use laptops and desktop computers and only do their work on tablets. Only time will tell. What makes this pair better then other styluses? It pairs with Creative Cloud so all your settings will be saved allowing you to start working on one iPad and switch to another and continue seamlessly between the two. The nice part is you don’t need to pay for a creative cloud subscription to use the pairing options. As of now Adobe Ink and slide only work with two Adobe iPad apps (Adobe Sketch and Adobe Line) but I’m sure more support is coming. If you’d like to read someone’s thoughts that have had hands on with these products check out this article from The Verge.

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Speaking of software that these products work with, lets switch gears to the five new mobile applications. On a blog post on Adobe site they say “These are incredibly powerful apps that start to bring the functionality you get from desktop apps, to mobile.” How is Adobe going to accomplish this? Well, these new apps will have the ability to upload some of the more processor intensive functions to Adobe servers and do the hard work there. Let’s take a look at these five new free apps from Adobe (these descriptions all come directly from Apple’s app store.)

Adobe Sketch – Adobe Sketch brings inspiration, drawing, and your creative community together in one place. Capture your ideas as sketches and share them on Behance for instant feedback. Sketch gives you the freedom to find inspiration, explore ideas, and get feedback from trusted peers—wherever you are.
Grab Adobe Sketch from the app store here

Adobe Line – A modern approach to drawing and drafting, Line lets you draw straight lines, geometric shapes, perspective views, and more. Adobe Line reimagines traditional drawing tools like rulers, T-squares and shape templates for the mobile world.
Grab Adobe Line from the app store here

Adobe Photoshop Mix – Combine the power of Adobe Photoshop software with the convenience of mobile for a creative, easy-to-use photo editing experience on your iPad (see recommended devices below). Non-destructive photo enhancements, selections, the ability to cut out and mix images, and more; plus a Creative Cloud connected workflow for even more creative possibilities.
Grab Adobe Photoshop Mix from the app store here

Adobe Creative Cloud – Adobe Creative Cloud for iPhone and iPad: Your work, your inspiration, your creativity, with you wherever you go. Part of your free membership, this app connects your mobile devices to the Creative Cloud and unlocks new tools in your favorite apps. It also allows you to browse and preview your PSD, AI and other design files stored in the cloud.
Grab Adobe Creative Cloud from the app store here

Adobe Kuler – Adobe Kuler is a fun and simple way to capture inspiring color combinations wherever you see them. Simply point the iPhone camera at something colorful and Kuler will instantly extract a series of colors.You can share your themes with friends through Facebook, Twitter or email. You can also share the image that inspired the theme. And Adobe Creative Cloud members will find their Kuler themes instantly available in the Kuler panel in Adobe Illustrator CC or Adobe Ideas. You can also sync your color themes to the Kuler website where you can download the swatches for use in other Adobe products.
Grab Adobe Kuler from the app store here

There you have it, the rundown of Adobes 2014 products and mobile offerings. Check back for part 2 on Wednesday (July 16, 2014) where we look at the updates to their desktop software.

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

What is Adobe Configurator?

Did you know Adobe makes a program that lets you make your own custom panels/palettes for Photoshop and in design? Well not many people do, so lets talk a little bit about Adobe Configurator. Adobe Labs offers the free utility for Mac or PC and give it a try, but if you’d like to learn more continue reading.

AdobeConfigurator001

If you want to make a panel with all your favorite drawing tools like the brush tool, gradient tool, smudge tool, eyedropper tool and, a few of your favorite actions you totally can with absolutely no knowledge of coding. The above image was created in about five minutes and has all the Photoshop tools and commands I frequently use. It was super easy to create a custom panel and export to Photoshop CS6 or Creative Cloud (InDesign only supports CS6). Configurator made it easy to drag and drop tools, menu items, scripts, actions and other objects you might want quick access to in your own panel design.

How do you make your own panels/palettes? Honestly I’m still learning the software myself so I thought I would share a YouTube video from people with a bit more knowledge then I. The video below is from the previous version of Configurator but I think the fundamentals are the same.

 

Source: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/configurator/

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

Photoshop Fireworks for the Fourth


For the Fourth of July I thought it would be fun to show you how to create some fireworks in Photoshop. There’s a ton of different ways to make fireworks but here’s a few tricks and filters you can use to create some quick digital fireworks. Watch the above video for the entire process of how I created the fireworks you see below. Have a happy and safe Fourth.

4thfirework001

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

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