Designer tricks under 5 Minutes

This blog is for the non-designer that wants to know a few things to make their reports and presentations visually appealing. The aim is to provide tips that take no longer than 5 minutes to learn how to use.

For instance, when you have to create PowerPoint decks on top of your regular workload it is time consuming to make everything look great. PowerPoint is easy enough to use but can be incredibly frustrating when making widespread changes. Some of these tips also apply to other Office applications like Word. Here are the Top 5 Tips in PowerPoint.

1.  Replace Fonts.

Using the 'Master Template' is the key to having consistent fonts but when you bring in slides from other decks new fonts get introduced. So in order to get rid of fonts that you don't want use the 'Replace Fonts' function. The tool is located under the 'Home' tab in the 'Editing' panel. Click on 'Replace' and you will get the 'Replace Fonts' selection. Then you can replace the incorrect fonts with the correct ones.

2. Use guides.

Make sure text and objects are aligned. This seems like a small detail but is huge for creating a professional look for your presentations. When titles are shifting from one place to another it looks very untidy. The best way to keep objects aligned is to use the 'Auto Layouts' that were created with your master PowerPoint template. But sometimes, you adopt slides from someone else's deck and things go awry. Turn on guides by going to the 'View' tab then 'Show' panel and select the options box at the bottom of the 'Show' panel. That will launch a pop-up menu. Click on 'Display drawing guides on screen' which will allow you to create an invisible line that will help you see where objects should align. Don't worry these dotted guides don't show in slide show mode or in print. Then click on 'Display smart guides when shapes are aligned' which will show an invisible line when one object is aligned to another. Click OK.

To create more than one guide you simply click on a existing guide and hold down 'CTRL' while dragging the new guide.

3. Format painter.

Applying the same attributes like drop shadows or fill colours to many objects on many slides can be cumbersome. The 'Format Painter' will alleviate some the pain of doing that by picking up the formatting, like fill colour, and applying it to a different object that you select. The 'Format Painter' is located on the 'Home' tab in the clipboard panel. Select the object you want to pick up the formatting from and then click on the 'Format Painter' icon once. This will set that style so that you can then apply it to another object. For formatting many objects you have to double click the 'Format Painter' icon so that it doesn't release the style. Then you can paint that format to as many objects as you want. When you are done just hit ‘ESC’ and it will go back to the cursor.

4. Animation Painter.

The same idea as the 'Format Painter' in number 3 above. Use this to pick up the style of an animation and apply it to another object. The 'Animation Painter' is located in the 'Animations' tab. Choose the object you would like to pick up the animation from and then apply to another object.  Single click the 'Animation Painter' icon for single use or double click to use the tool multiple times.

5. Screen clipping.

This is the easiest way to bring a screenshot into PowerPoint. No more 'ALT+PrtScr'. Simply have the image you want open and go into your PowerPoint file. Under the 'Insert tab' in the  Images panel click on 'Screenshot'. Then click on 'Screen Clipping'. This will now give you a crosshair that will allow you to select the portion of the image you want. It copies, pastes and crops the image in one step. Now that is efficient.

Note: Be sure to review your slides to ensure that everything looks good. And if your presentation needs a little more assistance reach out to us so we can help.

Improve your workflow in Illustrator

Design Workflow Techniques - Illustrator

March 16, 2018

This blog is for designers. Adobe Illustrator is a phenomenal drawing program for designers. However, it can be tedious to use for more complex designs. So I thought I’d share with you my top tips for better workflow in Illustrator to be more efficient and productive in your work. Here are the Top 5 Tips in Adobe Illustrator.

1. Know your keyboard shortcuts.

If you are still using the mouse to select tools then it is time to graduate to keyboard shortcuts. Using the mouse is slow and therefore not efficient. The best way to remember a shortcut is when you are doing a repetitive task. Learn one shortcut at a time and use it often. In no time at all you will build up your speed. For example selecting all objects on a page is faster by clicking 'Control + A' (PC) or 'Command + A' (Mac) rather than selecting everything with your mouse.

2. Go global.

Design your work to utilize global colour swatches and symbols in Illustrator. Look at your design and see what objects and colours appear most often. Then create symbols for those repeat objects and build swatches for commonly used colours.  For example, a button for a web page can easily be turned into a symbol. When you want to change the style of the button you simply modify the original symbol. All instances of that button will be updated automatically.

Global colours link to a swatch in the swatches palette and include a white triangle in the colour icon. An example of using a global colour would be to set your line colours to a particular grey. If you wanted to adjust the lines to be darker you just need to adjust that global colour instead of all instances of the line.

3. Use actions.

Any task that you repeat often can have an action created. For example, when you need to scale objects to a certain percentage you can record your action. This will allow you to use that same action on other objects even in other documents.

4. Use the Appearance Panel.

This tool is not only great for efficiency but also for creating interesting adjustable effects. For example, if you want to have type that has 3 different kinds of strokes you would be limited with the text tool because it only allows one fill and stroke colour. That would mean you would have to create layered type objects to achieve that look. Instead, use the appearance panel to add multiple stroke colours and effects like opacity.

5. Use the Blend tool or Transform effect.

There are better ways to create patterns from repeated shapes than 'copy+paste+duplicate'. Use either the blend tool or transform effect. The blend tool will fill in the shapes from point A to point B. You can specify how many shapes you want in between. The transform tool also gives you the option of how many times to repeat the shape as well as previewing what it will look like when it is done.

Hopefully you can incorporate these into your workflow and be more efficient in Illustrator.

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