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Yeah, But Will It Print?

Hi, dekeOlytes. So over at, there's a free InDesign FX movie every other week from master effecter Mike Rankin. Mike's techniques are very cool, and made from 100% pure InDesign (so they're extra healthy). Thing is, a few people have been asking if Mike's effects will actually survive the printing process. And this week Mike shares this free video that explains why---as long as you're diligent---the answer is yes. I thought I'd share the movie (above) and the post (below) where Mike considered the intricacies and shared his five tips for getting good print results: Read more » 

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History of Illustrator a la Mordy

DekeItarians, you know how it is. You have a system that works. You have deadlines villainously looming over you. And you know there might be a better way to do certain tasks, but you don't even have the context to know what questions you need to ask, let alone time and mental bandwidth to ask those questions. 

Over at, our good friend Mordy Golding has a series designed specifically for seasoned users of Adobe Illustrator---Illustrator Insider Training. The latest episode of the series is called Drawing without the Pen Tool, and this particular entry is close to my heart, due to my well-documented bouts of penophobia. The idea of the series is to provide Illustrator veterans a chance to refresh their insider knowledge and workflow habits, without having to start from scratch.  Read more » 

Maybe it's the failed grad student in me, but one of my favorite parts of Mordy's approach to helping rethink Illustrator is to provide each course of the series with a movie that explains historical developments of the software. (I like these movies so much I made sure they were all free to everybody; you can catch the latest one above; links to the others appear after the jump.) This historical context, besides solidifying your graphic software geek education, can really help identify where the learning gaps may have occurred for long-time users of the program. By providing an understanding of where key paradigm shifts might have happened in color, transparency, or drawing tools, Mordy paves the way for you to get back up to speed while maintaining all your hard-won experience and creativity. (You've earned those gray hairs!)
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The (3D) Shape of Type to Come, In Adobe Photoshop

In this article, we're going to take flat 2D letters and extrude them into a 3-dimensional form using Photoshop Extended's Repoussé command. Then, we'll use that form to cast shadows and create reflections via the 3D panel. Finally, we'll adjust the lighting to soften and direct the shadows while creating dramatic highlights. (Note that these features are only available in Photoshop CS5 Extended, not the standard edition.)

Making 3D Type in Photoshop

Today's article comes from Deke's Techniques episodes 016, 017, and 018 (first presented as Deke's Techniques 010: "Making 3D Type with Repoussé") produced by the vanguard online training company, lynda.comRead more » 

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Bonfire of the Letterforms

Type designers understand that text is fundamentally a collection of graphic shapes. And any graphic designer who builds on that idea by exploiting those shapes effectively---either in 2D or 3D---can create more powerful designs. 

In this article, we'll create a believable illusion of type on fire, first by transforming ordinary text into glowing, molten embers, and then by adding real flames.

type on fire

Here's a summary of how to build this amazing effect:

  • Start by applying four layer effects to a smart object
  • This includes applying the Ripple filter two different ways
  • Add the rarely used Bas Relief filter to make the letters look crispy
  • Add a few photos of real flames
  • Use a combination of masking and blend modes to create the final result

By encasing the text in a Smart Object, you ensure that the type remains editable. In other words, you'll actually be able to change the text at will without getting your fingers burned.

Today's tip comes from Deke's Techniques 008 and 009 from the Online Training Library. For a free video demo of the first few steps, see Deke's Techniques 005: "Creating a Molten Letter Effect." (Note that the numbering of these videos is different on this site from those at, because some videos are free and others are not. But this article is free to all members of dekeOnline.) Read more » 

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The Ingenious Chartwell Font for Making Graphs in InDesign

Have you ever been disappointed by InDesign's lack of charting features (and really, how hard is it to be disappointed by something that's non-existent)? Over at, Anne-Marie Concepción has a solution in this week's free InDesign Secrets episode. (Note: InDesign Secrets is David Blatner and Anne-Marie's bi-weekly series that gives you a free movie on some InDesign insight every week---think Deke's Techniques but with InDesign and slightly more sanity.)
The Chartwell font (yes, it's a font, I know!) from the inventive mastermind at TK type makes ingenious use of ligatures in order to turn simple text numbers into bars, lines, and pies.
In the movie, Anne-Marie shows you how to start by typing the mathematical equation that represents your chart numbers. You'll turn off InDesign's ligatures at first (seriously, part of the delight comes from having ligatures off, seeing normal text, then watching the magic happen when you turn them back on), then you simply apply variations on the Chartwell font and turn those numbers into corresponding charts when you turn ligatures back on. I'm pretty sure it's magic. It's definitely fun.
So, for example, let's say I started with this percentage breakdown, typed into InDesign, set in Chartwell with ligatures turned off, and each of the different values styled in a different color: 
Looks like normal friendly text, right? But, if I set the Chartwell option to the Pies font style (it's like setting a regular font to Italic or Bold) and turn the Ligatures on, the result is an automatic transformation into a pie chart that's set to those percentages:
Tip: In the video Anne-Marie explains how to turn your pie chart into the ring chart on the right by adding an alphabetical character to the equation. For the ring on the right, I added a +A to the equation, which is halfway on the a-Z continuum.
If I change the font family to Bars, the result is a bar graph:
Read more » 
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