Ever need to temporarily reference another document while working on something – this may be an image, or instructions, or a PDF file. Many times you want it floating right on top of your current document so you can refer to it while you are working, and not have to switch back and forth between applications.
I do this a lot when working in Illustrator, especially working from reference images, but also the occasional email message or PDF file sent by a client.
Writer James Renner found my work via my website and wanted me to illustrate his Star Wars themed parody of the shenanigans. The piece was done in a cartoon style (obviously) reminiscent of MAD Magazine, as I was flexing some serious Mort Drucker, Sam Viviano & Jack Davis idolisation while creating the piece.
Staff writer Renner, along with Editor Frank Lewis were extremely pleased with the final piece, which was created on a super-tight deadline (even after being given a requested week’s bump by Art Director Ron Kretsch due to many existing and pressing projects on my end).
Here’s a quick tip for you Mac OS X users out there: you can move any window behind the currently active window (also known as the window that has “focus”) without activating it/bringing it to the front.
This one’s real simple: hold down the Command (Apple) key, and then click on the background window’s title bar area (as you normally would) and voilÃ – you’re moving the window in the background. You can even grab the scroll bar and move it if you have access to it.
Here’s a cool little idea from the geniuses at CreativeTechs.com: “cheatsheets” for Adobe software that are designed to print on a 3×5 index card, complete with space reserved to punch holes for a binder. Designed with the GTD/Hipster PDA crowd in mind. And they’re free!
This link is to the PDF cheatsheet for the Adobe pen tool, since most (or all) of it’s features work the same across the Creative Suite. A real cool visual reference guide, and just one in a series of cheatsheets for Adobe apps as well as other computer and Mac related info that you just sometimes need at your fingertips.
Looks like they are just starting out with these, so be sure to subcribe to the RSS feed and collect ’em all!
Still using that pencil you found in the couch and an old dictionary as a drawing board? Don’t feel like the biggest computer wiz when it comes to graphics software? There are plenty of inexpensive tools out there that will boost your productivity and enjoyment level when drawing, sketching or just doodling. And you don’t have to spend a ton of money to expand your tool kit in ways that are sure to make your life much easier, giving you more time to draw.
So I was digging around in Illustrator’s Keyboard Shortcut preferences, and discovered some interesting commands available that I was totally unaware of, as well as some commands I had been wishing were available.
Some of these are my own fault for not exploring Illustrator’s menus properly, but others are just locked away in limbo, hidden from all but us intrepid (and geeky) explorers. And some of the commands are available, but with no default keyboard shortcut assigned to them, but they are available for you to add your own.
These are sure to be productivity boosters once you get the muscle-memory flowing for them. I know just coming back here to finish up this post after working in Illustrator I had already forgotten most of these. It’s weird how you get used to working within the limitations of the software even when you know a better way. I am just now getting used to using my fancy-schmancy new “Zoom to Selection” Illustrator plugin after having it installed for over a month and using Illustrator just about every day since then.
Backup. It’s something most computer users – let alone artistic types – never think about, at least not until after it’s too late. Trust me, once it happens to you, it will never be forgotten. Perhaps I can convince you to never have to go through that by recommending you start your backup system now.
All that precious time spent creating, tweaking, and perfecting your masterpiece is well worth a few measly bucks and a bit of effort (which will be automated once it’s all set up) to ensure you don’t lose those hours of hard work.
As I am sure every Illustrator user is aware, you can zoom in and out of your document window using the Navigator palette: either type in a percentage in the lower left, click on the small or large “mountains”, or drag the slider left or right to zoom in or out. However, there is another, easier way to zoom using the Navigator palette…
The set includes keyboard shortcut cards for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator CS, Macromedia Freehand, Cinema 4D and 3D Studio Max. These are CS1 versions, but from what I can gather the shorcuts should be pretty much the same for the newer versions. Not too sure about the Macromedia apps (which are now Adobe apps) as I have never used any of them.
As anyone who has read this blog can tell, I am a huge keyboard shortcut junkie, and you should be one as well. I cannot even begin to emphasize how much knowing these will enhance not only your pleasure on using graphics software (and software in general), but how much of a marked increase in productivity you’ll see.
I cringe in geek pain when I see a fellow Photoshop or Illustrator user laboriously hauling their mouse over to the Tools palette, or even to the menubar for anything but the most arcane of Menu items.