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Tips For Working with Photoshop & Illustrator

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Adobe CS

This article was originally written for Computer Arts magazine, Issue 165. It has been republished here with permission.

Knowing Photoshop is one thing, but knowing how Photoshop can be used across the whole Adobe Creative Suite is another. In this three part series, we will be focusing on the features that will help you become more productive when using Photoshop in conjunction with InDesign, Dreamweaver & Illustrator.

By looking at the features that often get overlooked and by demonstrating how you can use them with the other CS programs, it will make you much more efficient, thus helping you become a better designer.

CMYK “Black”

There are many different possible ink combinations of “black” – the most common “rich black” contains percentages of all 4 inks: 75C, 68M, 67Y 90K which is the default in Photoshop. You should take note that the default black in Illustrator & InDesign is NOT rich black but rather plain black (K=100). You may use rich black for large black areas however do NOT use rich black for smaller text; registration problems can occur. Another neat tip is if your text is large enough that you want to use rich black, but is just small enough that registration may pose a threat, outline your text with .5 or 1 pt of k=100. For more CMYK black tips visit: Rich Black VS Plain Black.

Black

Share Swatches

You can share the solid swatches you create in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign by saving a swatch library for exchange. By doing this, it ensures that your colours are the same across all applications (as long as your colour settings are synchronized). In the Swatches panel, create the swatches you wish to use and then select “Save Swatches For Exchange” from the Swatches panel menu. Now load the swatches in whatever program you wish. You can also create and share colour group swatches by using the Kuler panel or the Kuler website.

Export Layers to Files

You can export and save layers as individual files using a variety of formats, including PSD, BMP, JPEG, PDF, and TIFF which is useful when wanting to export a variety of layers on the fly. A good use for this option is when the majority of your design is vector based and you want to use multiple raster images to aid your composition. To do this all you need to do go to File > Scripts > Export Layers to Files. After you click this, there will be a number of options to choose from such as what type of file you want to export, the quality and location of your exported files. Also see the Layer Comps method.

Export Layers

Use Photoshop Artwork in Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator can both open or place Photoshop files which means you do not need to save or export your Photoshop image to a different file format. If you place an image into an open Illustrator file, you can incorporate the image as if it were any other element in the artwork, or you can maintain a link to the original file. Although you can’t edit a linked image within Illustrator, you can jump back to Photoshop, using the Edit Original command, to revise it. Once saved, any changes you make are reflected in the version in Illustrator.

Smart Objects

Smart Objects are layers that contain image data from raster or vector images and they allow you preserve an image’s source content with all its original characteristics, enabling you to perform nondestructive editing to the layer / object. You can create Smart objects using several methods: by using the Open As Smart Object command; placing a file, pasting data from Illustrator; or converting one or more Photoshop layers to Smart Objects. To edit the smart object all you have to do is choose the Layer > Smart Objects > Edit Contents > Make Your Changes > File > Save and it automatically updates!

Hope you enjoyed these Photoshop & Illustrator tips. Got any more to add?

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