One of the many things I love about my career in graphic and web design is that there is always something new to learn. The encouragement of professional development at Comprise is something for which I’m incredibly appreciative. We like to say that “we do the hard stuff,” and staying ahead of the curve when it comes to graphic design is part of that process.
What is CreativePro Week?
CreativePro Week is a five-day conference with 50 different speakers discussing tips and tricks for Adobe Creative Cloud programs (specifically InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator) plus presentation tips for PowerPoint. Due to COVID-19, this event was conducted virtually in 2020 and 2021, and this was the first year its organizers provided a hybrid model (in person and online). I had the pleasure of attending virtually, and these are my top takeaways for creative professionals.
Technology can make our lives easier. Tedious tasks become automated with a click of a button. Why not take advantage of that? I learned about two things that can expedite the design process: 1) Recording actions in Photoshop and 2) GREP scripts in InDesign.
Recording Actions in Photoshop
Sometimes designers are presented with menial tasks like editing a large group of photos, ranging anywhere from five to 50 images. While some designers will put on their favorite podcast or playlist and get the work done, image by image, others — like industrial engineer Allen F. Morgenstern — opt to “work smarter, not harder.” This is where recording actions in Photoshop comes into play.
Whether you are cropping all the photos to be the same size and/or turning PNGs into JPGs, Photoshop actions can make this process so much faster! Simply record the action that you would like to make on the group of images with one image via the Actions panel, save that action and run it through the library. The glory of sitting back and watching all the cropping, fixing, exporting, etc. happen with a push of a button rather than repeating the same steps over and over is extremely satisfying and saves us significant amounts of time!
Click this link to learn more about Photoshop actions.
GREP Scripts in InDesign
What is a GREP script? GREP stands for Global Regular Expression Print. It’s a Linux command-line tool used to search for characters in a document.
Designers are often tasked with cleaning up messy or disorganized documents. Whether these docs are two or 200 pages, using a GREP script can dramatically speed up this process. Say there are double spaces after each period in a document. Instead of manually removing them, use a GREP script! GREP scripts can also be utilized for much more complex edits, including finding/replacing multiple digits, adding hard returns or commas, bolding specific text, changing em dash width, etc. — the list goes on. I’ll be the first to admit that these are confusing at first glance, but GREP scripts are incredibly helpful once you understand how they work. Check out this GREP script example to standardize phone numbers.
If you are looking to make a mass edit in InDesign, there is likely a script that already exists to complete the edit much more quickly and efficiently than if you were to manually make these edits. Most of these scripts are available online for free (there often is a donation option for the developer) or only cost a small fee.
As designers, learning how to do tedious tasks more efficiently is so gratifying and an excellent use of the resources at our fingertips. Thanks to the informative speakers and sessions at CreativePro Week, I’m now looking forward to knocking out some of the more monotonous to-do’s on my plate by leveraging these tactics to automate the edits.
PowerPoint Add-In (BrightSlide)
Although Microsoft is not my — or our company’s — preferred technology company (we’re an iWork organization), I often have to dabble in PowerPoint presentations for a variety of clients. Maybe my biggest “aha” moment of CreativePro Week 2022 was learning about BrightSlide. This third-party PowerPoint add-in alleviates so many of the pain points I experience when creating decks.
Now that I have the BrightSlide add-in installed, it’s so much easier to create a grid, copy and paste text formatting, align and distribute spacing amongst objects, swap positions of content, and so much more! The industry standard shortcuts designers, illustrators, production artists, photographers, artists and publishers were missing from PowerPoint are now available with this free add-in (available for Mac and PC).
Typography Geek Moment
One of my favorite books I read during art school was Ellen Lupton’s “Thinking With Type.” I had a “fangirl” moment during her session, “Typography: Little Tricks for Big Improvements.” During this session, she gave us the inside scoop about the upcoming edition of her book, reviewed general typographic design principles, grids and alignment, and even provided us with her curated list of Adobe fonts!
Whether the discussion surrounds improved opportunities for automation, the increasing popularity of third-party tools or the value of typography, I am looking forward to the continuous development of the Adobe Creative Cloud products and love integrating tools that make my job easier. I have a new InDesign workspace and newly downloaded Adobe products I have never used before, and I am continuing to absorb all of the educational information the speakers shared during CreativePro Week. Hopefully, I can attend next year in person!