Adobe Bridge, Creative Cloud’s productivity secret weapon


Adobe Bridge is often overlooked yet it is one of Creative Cloud (and Creative Suite)’s most surprising and powerful tools. If Bridge is still languishing, uninstalled, in your Creative Cloud apps list, here are ten killer features to get you using it…


  • Batch import & store images: Bridge can import images direct from your camera (or card reader) and store them in a location of your choice. It can also rename and make copies simultaneously.


  • Batch Apply metadata: Bridge makes it easy to develop your own metadata preset (containing your choice of key information such as keywords, description, copyright information and contact details) and can apply to batches of files when you need it.

Create MetadatTemplate

  • Run the Camera Raw plugin: Many Photographers swear by Camera Raw’s unparalleled range of adjustment tools. What many people don’t realise is that Camera Raw is actually a plug-in that can be run in either Photoshop OR Bridge. Opening images in the Raw plug-in via Bridge leaves Photoshop free to do other tasks.


  • Browse files used inside InDesign documents: Designers are often frustrated by trying to locate files they imported into older InDesign documents. Bridge can browse the contents of any InDesign file and display the results just like any other search.


  • Create PDF contact sheets: Creating contact sheets is a necessary but time-consuming part of the designer and photographer’s workflow. Bridge’s output workspace can build bespoke contact sheets (with watermarks, file names, grid layouts and coloured backgrounds) and export them to PDF in seconds.


  • Smart searches: Bridge can search intelligently to find keywords, aspect ratios, colour modes, resolution and many other aspects of your files. Better still, it can save searches for rapid re-use later.


  • Place files into other apps: Having located a file within Bridge, it’s easy to drop it (or them) into your desired document by using the Place command.


  • Rating and prioritising: Rate and prioritise files using Bridge’s star ratings and colour coding system, allowing you to filter files according to your priorities. The wording of the labels is also customisable.


  • Filtering:  When browsing any directory (or search result) Bridge can filter by many different criteria including file type, aspect ratio, colour profile, keyword, rating etc making identifying the file you want fast and straightforward.



  • Preview multi-page files: Save hours by browsing the actual pages of InDesign, Illustrator and PDF files, right in Bridge’s preview pane without waiting for the original file and application to open.

BrowsePagesFor more information on using Bridge in your Adobe workflow please get in touch via any of the methods at the top of this page.

Posted in Adobe, Bridge, CC 2014 version, Creative Cloud, Creative Suite, Design, Software | Leave a comment

Postings in Digital Design Review 14 August

Recent nuggets of interest posted to the Digital Design Review include:

Johnny Abrahams’ Op-Art

The excellent Kern Your Enthusiasm series of typographical blog posts

News of David McCandless’ forthcoming new book of data visualizations, Knowledge is Beautiful

Fantastic geometric giffs by Erik Söderberg

An excellent online resource of cheatsheets for a myriad of applications

A free comic app from the British Library

An interview with Chris Ware

Details of the recent 3D update for Adobe Photoshop

News of a reprint of Paul Rand’s classic design book

and much more…

Posted in Adobe, Art, Design, Digital Design Review, Digital publishing, Link round-up, Photoshop, Publications, Publishing, Software, Typography | Leave a comment

10 keyboard efficiency tricks most people don’t know


Even after ten years as a professional trainer I’m still surprised by how many people are unaware of the efficiencies of keyboard shortcuts. They often turn out to be as useful to delegates as the applications I’m teaching. These are some I use on a more or less daily basis, how many do you know?

  1. Scroll down a page in your browser window by hitting spacebar (all browsers, all platforms)
  2. Scroll up a page in your browser window by hitting shift+spacebar (all browsers, all platforms)
  3. Take a screenshot of a selected area: cmd+shift+4, then drag to define the area (Mac only)
  4. Take a screenshot of just a single window; cmd+shift+4 then hold spacebar, click in desired window with camera icon (Mac only)
  5. Send a file or folder to the wastebasket: cmd+backspace (Mac only)
  6. Drag files into subfolders by hovering them over the target folder without releasing the mouse, the folder will open automatically (Mac only)
  7. Switch between open applications by holding cmd+tab (on Windows use alt+tab)
  8. Increase text size in web browser by hitting cmd+ or reduce cmd- (on Windows use ctrl+/ctrl-)
  9. To duplicate a file in the finder hold alt and drag the file (on Windows use ctrl)
  10. To navigate back up to the previous folder level, hold cmd+up arrow (on Windows use alt+up arrow)
Posted in Apple, Computers, OSX, srps, Tip, Windows | Leave a comment

Postings in Digital Design Review 1st August 14

Peacock – by Brian Eno, 1987

Recent goodies posted in the Digital Design Review include:

Secrets of The Guardian‘s responsive redesign

Classic covers of Ladybird books

Sanders Kleinfeld‘s Five trends signalling a bright future for ebooks

InDesign Magazine issue 64, the Music issue

Terry White‘s tips on getting started with Adobe Muse

Terry White‘s tips on getting started with Adobe Lightroom

srps‘ guide to using Lightroom in your production workflow

The Double Negative interviews Jonathan Barnbrook

A stunning new portable projector from Pico

A nice picture by Brian Eno

and lots more…





Posted in Adobe, Digital Design Review, Lightroom, Link round-up, Photoshop, Publications, Software, srps | Leave a comment

How to use Lightroom in your workflow

Many people have discovered Adobe Lightroom as part of their Creative Cloud subscription and are exploring its many powerhouse photographic adjustment features. On several recent occasions I’ve been asked how best to use Lightroom in a production workflow so I thought I’d offer some suggestions here.

Lightroom is an image editing and storage application, unlike Photoshop which is primarily an image adjustment application. In spite of it’s massive range of adjustment features and automation, scripting and batch processing options, Photoshop fundamentally treats every image as a standalone object and retains no information about it once it has been saved and/or closed. Lightroom, on the other hand, stores masses of information (including location, metadata and adjustments) in a text based catalogue file so it’s always available and can be modified at any time. This fundamental difference means that Lightroom  ‘remembers’ everything about an image for its entire lifespan within your workflow.

A typical production workflow based around editing images in Photoshop looks something like this:

Diagram of Standard image workflow with Photoshop

Standard image workflow with Photoshop

In this workflow, images are stored and adjusted manually and often have little in the way of identifying information (metadata) attached to them. This means it can be time consuming to locate them and troublesome to work out what has been done to them prior to deciding if they can or should be used for another project.

This kind of workflow is essentially linear as each image has to be stored and adjusted manually and separately for each different kind of output. Tracking what has been done and where images are located is done with external tools such as spreadsheets or management applications.

In a Lightroom workflow, adjustments can be applied in batches and images can be generated for multiple outputs all while being tracked automatically in Lightroom’s catalogue.

Some approaches to using Lightroom begin with making adjustments in Photoshop, then opening in Lightroom to access Lightroom’s specific set of tools, then exporting again. This can create confusion about what has been done and how many copies of the images are currently in use. By introducing an already adjusted image into a Lightroom catalogue, no record will be stored of any previous adjustments so the history of the file is incomplete. A more efficient workflow might be as follows:

Diagram of  Image workflow using Lightroom and Photoshop

Image workflow using Lightroom and Photoshop


In this approach, Lightroom is the core of the workflow, handling both storage and adjustment functions. In this workflow, no assumption is made about the final output format of the image. All images are converted into Lightroom’s own very large, proprietary colour space, allowing adjustments to be made at the highest quality without the restrictions to quality that print and other output processes impose. In this case, think of Lightroom as working with the master copy of the image. When the image has to be included in a print document or web page, Lightroom can export it straight to the desired file format or hand it off directly to Photoshop (or another image editor) for further adjustments. As these copies are generated (I like to think of them as output files or even children of the original master copy) they can also be added to the Lightroom catalogue. In this way it’s possible to see not only the history of all adjustments made in Lightroom but also record what copies were made and for what purpose. As all adjustment information is stored as text, it’s always possible to see and also change any aspects of the image, something that is not feasible with a manual, Photoshop only workflow.

Used in this way, Lightroom can become a powerful and efficient management tool for your image workflow, working alongside your other image applications and maintaining an audit trail of information about each image. Lightroom is now also available in a tablet edition. It’s free to Creative Cloud subscribers and allows you to take your image workflow on the road with you. Look out for more on Lightroom Mobile in a future post.

For further information about Adobe Lightroom contact

Posted in Adobe, Creative Cloud, Lightroom, Photography, Photoshop, Production, Software | Leave a comment

Recently added to the Digital Design Review

Articles, links and generally interesting stuff recently added to The Digital Design Review:

Adobe Fixel, a new mobile app from Adobe Labs promising to bring some of Photoshop’s Content Aware wizardry to your pics on the go.

A short video introducing Adobe’s app publishing platform,  Digital Publishing Suite and what it can be used for.

A free Aperture to Lightroom migration tool.

Affinity Designer, a free (for a limited time) alternative to Adobe Illustrator.

A new analogue watch with activity tracker from French design studio eliumstudio.

A spectacular new book on dynamic typography from Unit Editions.

It’s Nice That‘s logos and identities of the year so far.

A gallery of album covers by the brilliant French artist, Phillipe Druillet .

Posted in apps, Art, Books, Design, Link round-up, srps, Typography | Leave a comment


Screenshot of Digital_Design_Review


I recently started posting roundups of various publishing, design, tech and other links that I promote via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. I’ve now gathered these into an online magazine via the iPad app, Flipboard. It’s called the Digital_Design_Review, it’s completely free and can be viewed either online or via the Flipboard app.

Aggregating links via Flipboard has proven to be much more immediate and efficient and I can make updates as and when I find something interesting.  The Digital_Design_Review will become my primary way to save and distribute links related to the content on this blog and, this will replace my regular roundup of links.

I will continue to promote interesting topics and links via all the usual methods but you’ll be able to find the whole lot at the Digital_Design_Review.

To whet your appetite, I have recently shared links on:

Adobe’s new Ink and Slide drawing tools

Guido Henkel’s eBook, Zen of eBook formatting

An interview with the great German typographer, Erik Spiekermann

A tutorial on mastering grids in InDesign

And Adobe’s recent announcement about the Creative Cloud Market

I hope you enjoy Digital_Design_Review, please do subscribe if you like it.


Posted in Adobe, Books, Business, Design, Digital publishing, ebooks, Photography, Print, Production, Publishing, Social Media, Software, Tip, Typography | Leave a comment

New features of InDesign CC 2014 pt 3, colour groups, searches & Behance

In the final part of my overview of InDesign CC 2014′s new features, I’ll be demonstrating colour groups, directional search and replace and Behance. Colour groups are created and managed by the Swatches panel (in much the same as style groups are managed by the styles panels), you can use the Swatches panel to generate generate folders into which you can drag and drop specific sets of colours. More interestingly, you can also auto generate colour groups by, firstly, selecting a group of objects then by selecting New Colour Group from the swatches panel menu. InDesign will then offer the choice to gather colours from those objects.

Screenshot of creation of colour group in InDesign

Select a group of objects then select create new colour group from the swatches panel


Colour groups can also be shared with other Adobe applications.

In this example, the artwork has been generated in Illustrator.

Screenshot of saving colour groups from Adobe Illustrator

From Illustrator, select swatches panel then save swatches as ASE

From the swatches panel, select Save swatch library as ASE (Adobe Swatches Exchange) and choose a location.

Screenshot of loading swatches to InDesign

From InDesign swatches panel, select load swatches

Back in InDesign, repeat the process from the Swatches panel except choose Load Swatches. Navigate to the the ASE file and the groups will be replicated as per the original document. Note that some features (such as gradients and patterns) are not saveable in ASE files.

Screenshot of InDesign swatches panel after import of ASE library

InDesign swatches panel after import of ASE library

A small, but significant change has been made to the Find/Change feature.

Screenshot of InDesign Search forwards & backwards option

InDesign Search forwards & backwards option

It is now possible to specify Forward or Backward for your search and replace, making controlling searches much easier.

Lastly a feature for promoting your online portfolio. Adobe has added the creative social network, Behance to Creative Cloud. Now you can upload your artwork to an online portfolio directly from your Adobe applications. First open the document you wish to share.

Screenshot of sharing InDesign page on behance

Choose a document and then File>Share on Behance

Then go to File>Share on Behance. Log in with your Adobe ID. The current page or spread will be converted to an image and uploaded. You can then add tags and comments before submitting.

Screenshot of Behance upload complete

Behance upload complete


Look out for the next part of this series, where I’ll be describing the new features of Photoshop CC 2014.

Posted in Adobe, CC 2014 version, Design, InDesign, Software | Leave a comment

Links to 7 July

Design & typography

Excellent typography manual & accompanying iPad app by Carolina de Bartolo & Erik Spiekermann

Liking the new Wired UK redesign

And this one for Design Observer

Books & publishing

Fantastic archive of Digitized Manuscripts from e-Codices

Interesting graph showing decline of UK print (though not growth of digital) via @arusbridger

The #DigitalPublishing Daily,  roundup of epublishing news.

Mutant Sounds Sampler, weird music stuff from around the web.


Posted in Design, Digital publishing, Link round-up, Production, Publishing, Typography | Leave a comment

New features of InDesign CC 2014 pt 2, fixed format epub

Another hugely useful new feature in the 2014 update of Creative Cloud, especially if you publish ebooks, is the ability to export as fixed format epub. The epub format is incredibly flexible for most types of publications except those with extensive use of photographs or graphics. It’s reflowable nature means that designs which depend on certain elements staying in specific places just become messy and incoherent. It was always possible to generate a fixed version of an epub however it required reasonably advanced HTML editing skills and an HTML editing applications such as Dreamweaver. Now InDesign can deliver it almost automatically.

Screenshot of InDesign print layout

In this sample document we can see a typical print design layout. Traditionally it has been tricky to reproduce the edge to edge bleeds and panoramic spreads achievable in print.

Screenshot of InDesign Panoramic spread

Now all you have to do is select Epub (Fixed layout) from the export panel.

Screenshot of InDesign Export to ePub

In the subsequent dialogue boxes you can tailor the output to your specific requirements. The key option is under the General tab under Spread Control. In this drop down you can specify how to recreate the spreads. Enable Synthetic spreads is recommended to keep the order and arrangement from the original layout.

Screenshot of InDesign epub options

You can also embed Javascript and CSS if you want to extend and control the functions of the epub further. The export process also includes a fairly extensive metadata panel so you can supply the right information to identify your file to ebook stores. Tip, you can pre-populate this panel by filling in the information using the File Info panel.

The fixed format epub is restricted to only the epub3 standard and it’s advisable that you check the epub3 specification and the devices & readers you plan to make the file available on as not all support the same (or indeed all) epub3 standards. Similarly, not all InDesign features are supported in epub so check carefully which elements in your InDesign document will be included or omitted.

In the last output panel you can specify which ereader(s) you want to open the file in. The example here is viewed with Apple’s iBooks which displays the full bleeds and panoramic spreads of the original. While there’s no doubt that this is an impressive effect, I don’t understand the point of replicating print spreads in an electronic publication. Sure you can have impressively wide images but this just emphasises the letterboxing effect required to display the document and the loss of all that screen space that could have been used for a more effective design. Personally, I don’t need my ebooks to pretend to be paper.

Screenshot of fixed format epub in ibooks

ePub creation is a notoriously fiddly business and almost always requires post-export adjustment using HTML, Javascript and/or CSS. The same applies to fixed format epub. The HTML generated by this process is difficult to edit and it’s recommended that any changes are carried out in the InDesign original layout before re-exporting.

Posted in Adobe, Digital publishing, ebooks, ePub, fixed format epub, InDesign, Production, Publishing, Software | Leave a comment