All posts by Elisabetta Bruno

Elisabetta Bruno is both an active volunteer Forum Host for the About Desktop Publishing and About Graphics Software forums and a frequent contributor of tutorials and FAQs to the About Desktop Publishing site. Her tutorials have been referenced or used in several web sites other than the About Desktop Publishing site. She is the author of several Desktop Publishing tutorials covering InDesign, QuarkXPress, Photoshop and pre-press. Studying Graphic Design in Italy before moving to England for several years, Elisabetta eventually got into designing full-time and has been a designer for a few years. She also has experience in copywriting, typesetting and is a skilled Italian translator.

Apple Launches iPhone

The iPhone

If mobile phones are becoming mp3 players, THE mp3 player has become a mobile phone

Let’s face it. Mobile phones have got little left of their “phone side.” You can use them to play games, watch TV, listen to music or watch music videos, and a lot more. You might think that the next thing will be mobile phones that make coffee. While that’s the dream of many designers, that hasn’t happened yet. However Apple thought of evolving their iPod into the iPhone. You can still ask Jobs to add a coffee function if you will.

Aside from having the functions of an iPod and a mobile phone, the iPhone also has an email client, Safari, integrated Yahoo! and Google search, Google Maps, Widgets and even Mac OS X! And like any new mobile phone today, it can also take photos. Everything is at your finger tips thanks to the multi-touch technology that lets you browse through sites, photos and the other functions of the iPhone.

iPhone uses quad-band GSM, the global standard for wireless communications. It also supports Cingular’s EDGE network, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR, which links to Apple’s new compact Bluetooth headset.

While Jobs has always had “a thing” for innovation, Apple is entering a tough market, which I would consider almost saturated. There are a lot of mobile devices from a lot of other companies that are constantly pushing their limits to put all they can into people’s hands–literally. Motorola and Nokia are the two biggest rivals in a war where mobiles are becoming slimmer and slimmer. Finding an agreement with either company to offer them Apple’s technology or merge with them on the mobile phone side of things might have been a better option.

Finding the Right Visuals and Graphics for a Design

Have you ever opened a magazine, read an article and wondered, “How did the designer think of THAT design element?”

This is a question I have asked myself so many times that I lost count. Then I again I haven’t been counting. As a designer you need to know how to visually communicate a message, that’s the essence of your job. Yet sometimes you see an article about cows and you see a bell or a stylized face of a cow used as a bullet. Or you are doing a car catalogue and you notice that the page numbers have the same elements of the logo of the car. Sometimes you manage to think at those things in a snap, while other times you just have a design block. What do you do in that situation?

If your job is based on a full marketing research, you will probably know what people think of when you say “drink” or when you say “soccer.” Thus you start using design elements that are related to those subjects to get your audience to dive into the article they are reading. Other times you just don’t have that marketing research and it isn’t required that you do one. You still have to communicate your message effectively, you have to pound in the head of your reader that you are talking about soccer and the various design elements serve that purpose. The article alone isn’t enough. The design elements around that article have to clearly tell that it’s all about football. Yet you still have a design block. You really don’t know what to associate to soccer.

Internet search engines and SEO techniques are often a good tool.

“How?—you say—I already have an article about soccer, I don’t need more information about it. And my magazine isn’t going to appear on Google’s top entries, it’s a printed product! I really think you didn’t drink enough coffee, want me to make some more?”

While I thank you for your offer, I am pretty much convinced you can’t beat Italian coffee, so I’ll have to decline. Think about it. With SEO you discover the keywords people use to find out about to a certain subject and you get to know what they are interested in. This will help you approach something with the eyes of your readers. After all in a marketing research you find out what people need and want, and tools like Overture do that in seconds.

OK, now you know what people need and want, you know how to word your phrases to strike them in their soccer supporter hearts, but still that doesn’t tell you how to find good visuals. Yet it does. Now you know what words to type in Google Images, or Yahoo! or whatever you are using, and you will get a lot of pictures and graphics showing you exactly what people think when you say soccer, world cup, football, etc. While you should not use those images without permission, you now have lots of ideas for your design elements. You can use the same keywords in stock photography sites and find images you can actually use too. This simple method does not replace marketing research, but it’s surely helpful to get ideas while you design. Most of you are probably doing that already.

I have used the subject of soccer since it’s very familiar to people. It’s an easy subject to think with, so everyone can follow the article easily, I am sure you agree. However this very simple method can be used in other situations, with other subjects.

Now, how exactly do I know that soccer is familiar to most people?

What is “creep” in Desktop Publishing?

And how do you compensate for it?

Since we are in Halloween mood and creeping “monsters” knock at our doors asking for candies, I thought it was very appropriate to treat a subject such as our own creeping desktop publishing projects. Yet, if I have to tell the truth, I was just visiting one of my favourite sites about DTP and I saw an interesting article about creep and how to compensate it and I thought I should bring it to your attention. Jacci Howard Bear from About Desktop Publishing does a good job in answering a question of one of her forum members about the subject with this very useful article.

As Jacci says in her glossary:

In a saddle stitched booklet the bulk of the paper causes the inner pages to extend or creep further out than the outer pages when folded. When trimmed the inner pages are narrower than the outer pages, counteracting the creep.

Her glossary definition also shows an illustration and delves into further explanations, so I advise you to read it fully.

She then quotes the formula on how to compensate for creep:

Total pages in book, divided by 4 (for each 4 pager), times paper thickness. Take that number, and divide it by the number of flat sheets in your book. This number will be quite small, but will represent the amount that you should adjust each page’s outside margin, as you get closer to the center of the booklet. This works in most cases but using a folded, drilled, dummy of the actual job stock is best.

The full article has more information, which is not only interesting, but quite a must for someone who designs many saddlestitched booklets.

“Do It Yourself” Logos

The best way of “doing yourself” in

I was peacefully surfing the internet, in a moment of cyber relaxation. Suddenly I realize my Firefox has an open tab with some site waiting to be looked at and, wondering whether lack of coffee was getting to my head or my touchpad decided I clicked on some Google link, I clicked on the tab.

There it was—an automated logo creation site! It’s called “Make My Own Logo.”

The idea is that a client fills out a form with their company name and their industry and the logo is created. No creative mind behind it, just a bunch of automated logos, which look like the same logos someone else trying the same site will get. Several designers tried it out just for kicks and they were getting pretty much the same logos as everyone else.

It just doesn’t work that way.

Logos have to be unique and have to be based on marketing studies. They have to represent a company, they have to communicate instantly and have to be simple. They are not clipart. And what about the graphic format? MMOL (whose logo is ugly) says it will be instantly mailed. As a JPEG? As a TIF? What if the logo needs to be bigger? A raster format won’t work.

These are the sites that devalue the graphic design profession. Someone decides to make a few bucks by putting up a totally automated site, where the owner has to only make sure the money goes onto their bank account, and there you have it: a site that is damaging not only the graphic design profession but also the clients using it—they get a service that isn’t worth even the $99 advertised on MMOL. All they get is an amateurish logo, with detailed cliparts that don’t look good when the logos are small and don’t look good when they have to be made big, since the file format emailed will be raster.

It’s important that designers spot these things and make them know as examples of what SHOULD NOT be done. These sites say to clients that spec work is the way to go, that they can just get tons of drafts from designers and then go to their uncle who knows how to use Photoshop and will execute the idea for free, infringing the designer’s rights, as well as making sure they won’t get further help from professionals who could be very valuable to them, and who have the know-how to help them as they deserve.

Freeware Friday: LPS Scripting Utility

Regular Feature: Freeware Friday

A scripting XTension for those sharing QuarkXPress files on a network

Many QuarkXPress users, especially printers as they are most likely to move files through a network, will be familiar with this little but annoying problem. As the developers over at Emerasoft say:

Due to a bug, AppleScripters know that it’s not possible to retrieve the file path of a document (or project) if it has been saved on a shared directory (a directory on a network file server); if you try to get it from an AppleScript, the temporary path (a local path) of the document or the project is returned by QuarkXPressâ„¢.

LPS Scripting Utility solves this. Download it and see.

Freeware Friday: LPS Guides Fixer

Regular Feature: Freeware Friday

Yes, even guides need to be straightened out from time to time… when you use QuarkXPress…

From proud Italian compatriots (now don’t you say I am bias) here’s a little fix to a bug in QuarkXPress 7. From Emerasoft:

Due to a bug, on QuarkXPress documents guides are not shown correctly on left pages (if baseline grid is active).

In this release (developed by our XTension Developer Luca Severini), we “fixed” that bug!!!

If Quark doesn’t fix it someone has to…

Download LPS Guides Fixer Xtension from

Freeware Friday: Photo to Sketch

Regular Feature: Freeware Friday

How many times have you ever wanted to get your friends’ or family members’ photo to look like a drawing?

Whether you do desktop publishing or not, you probably had to deal with graphics at some point, maybe to create a personalized birthday card or just to do something fun. One of the nice things that can be done is to get a photo to look like a sketch, just to give it that taste, that… something to add personality to it. You can of course use progams like Photoshop, but for the occasional user it’s bound to be a little too much both in costs and in learning curve.

When talking about obtaining a sketch from a photo, Photo to Sketch is usually enough for the occasional user with its various options. You can make several types of sketches which simulate pens, pencils, pastels and brushes.

Image from Thinker Software

Download Photo to Sketch from Thinker Software.

Old Habits Die Hard

Why are people still using EPS files for raster graphics?

I have explained in an earlier article when one is to use EPS files and when he is to use TIFF. I can never stress enough the point I made in that article so here I am again.

While many of you might object that the PSD and PDF formats have made the other two somewhat obsolete, the diversity of the programs used in the design industry often requires the use of the first two formats, as they are standard formats as opposed to application specific formats, such as PSD (which stands for Photoshop Document.)

In a recent discussion amongst designers which aimed at solving a problem with EPS files, a total legitimate question popped out, “Why are you using the EPS format for raster graphics?”

Let’s say that in part is Quark’s fault and in part it’s because peope are trying to keep things simple, while also confusing their clients while doing so.

If someone is used to QuarkXPress, the reason why he might be using EPS files is that QuarXPress, unless it has specific Xtensions to read PDF files, can only import EPS and TIFF files. If you wanted to keep text as vector, you had to save as EPS. This is with QuarkXPress 4 which is the most used version prior to version 6. You also had to have an Xtension to import JPG files. QuarkXPress 6 (I think even 5, but I didn’t use 5 much so I don’t remember) is able to import PDFs. However you know how it is, old habits die hard.

The misconception that EPS files print better and therefore should be used also for raster graphics comes from three factors:

  1. The bigger file size
  2. The way vector information is retained, so it seems like it prints better: people can see text comes out better for example or they get told for simplicity reasons that they can resize EPS files without any loss, while in actual fact people should be told they can resize vector graphics without loss and that EPS files should be used for vector and not raster graphics
  3. Specifically for Quark users, the fact that the same image saved both EPS and TIFF shows colours differently once imported in QXP

Printer’s Spread, Definition of

To save on costs and speed up the printing process, books, flyers and so on are printed on parent sheets. Because of this pages cannot be printed on the sheet following the same sequence of the acual page order, that is, page 1 is usually not printed next to page 2, even though the finished book will result in those two pages being next to each other.

Take an old magazine and detach all spreads. If the magazine has 36 pages, you will see that the cover is printed next to the back cover, page 2 is printed next to page 35, page 3 is printead next to page 34 and so on. Once the magazine is folded, cut and stiched, the pages will all fall into place, from page 1 all the way through to page 36.

The act of creating printer spreads and placing them onto parent sheets, with the purpose of creating reader’s spreads at finished product is called imposition. See also the definition of imposition on Wikipedia.