Los Angeles InDesign User Group

From Mundane to Fantastical: Making Your InDesign Documents Say Wow!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Encino Woman's Club, 4924 Paso Robles Avenue, Encino, California 91316

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Original Event Page



By Alvin Takamori


Encino, California


On May 16, 2013, in our ongoing effort to canvass the area and eventually bring a meeting to a place near you, the Los Angeles InDesign User Group convened at the Encino Woman’s Club.





To kick off the meeting, we saw a presentation by Inmagine/123RF. The Inmagine.com website offers a huge library of rights-managed, royalty-free stock photographs at reasonable prices. You can purchase credits toward the use of an image or buy a subscription to download a certain number of images per day over a period of time. The newer 123RF.com website features a collection of videos and audio, plus illustrations and logos. Corporate Plus accounts allow downloads to be managed and shared within a group. If you need images, consider looking at Inmagine and 123RF.


A benefit, courtesy of Inmagine/123RF, was that everyone in attendance received a swag bag full of notepads, Post-its, pencils and information. Thanks to them, we also had a nice refreshment table with sandwiches, salad, fruit and M&Ms.



Stephen Burns


Our key presenter for the evening was the talented Stephen Burns. He is president of the San Diego Photoshop Users Group and has written multiple magazine articles and books about Photoshop. He’s also an Adobe Community Professional and teaches workshops online and privately and produced instructional DVDs.


Stephen is an internationally recognized digital artist. He began by showing us examples of the art that inspires his work from Pollock, Kline, Miro, Rothko and De Kooning. Then he showed us his own work. His dramatic imagery captures some of the feeling of abstract expressionism. He sees the computer as a tool, like a brush. Stephen pointed out that it’s important to know and master your tool, not as an end in itself, but to enable you to use it to express yourself.


For our meeting, Stephen gave himself the modest task of showing us how he creates an image from beginning to end. This time he decided he would make a fantasy, sci-fi scene. He always creates a new image for each presentation, because the artist in him always wants to do something different.


According to Stephen, the key to using Photoshop is being able to create selections and masks. He demonstrates this point throughout the evening. You watch him select elements of photos and combine them into a single image. He masks out or erases areas he doesn’t want and selects areas he wants so he can add them or stretch them, or make color changes, or apply filters and other effects to that specific object or region of the photo.


He started with a landscape photo of a lake with rocks in the foreground. Using Select Color Range and the lasso tool, he selected the sky and deleted it. Then he opened a photograph of a waterfall and copied and pasted it into the lake scene using the Lighten blend mode to integrate it. He then applied a layer mask with the black areas blocking out the parts of the photo he didn’t want. He wanted a bigger waterfall, so he duplicated it, then used the Rubber Stamp tool to alter the shapes that looked noticeably repetitive.


Next, he opened up another photo and selected the buildings to copy and paste into the background of his landscape. He duplicated and scaled the buildings to construct a cityscape. Using the Curve tool to adjust tonal values, he blended the buildings into his original scene. Later, he uses a photograph of Mount Shasta. Selecting the mountain and bringing it into his scene, he scales it to increase the height and applies the Curve tool again. This time he adjusts the graph of each color channel of Mount Shasta in order to match the background color of the original scene.


After that, Stephen utilizes a fifth photograph. This time it’s a scene of a sunset. Copying the sky from that image, he added it to his fantasy scene. A lot of what he does are tricks to blend the elements taken from other photos into a cohesive image. He plays with blend modes to darken or lighten areas. He adds a lot of subtle details like shadows to the buildings to match the light source of the overall image and reflections on the lake. He also created a custom soft brush that generates a smoke-like effect to add haze to parts of the image and fade it into the background.


To complete the scene, Stephen introduced a 3D image of a spaceship. After sizing and positioning it at the angle he wanted, and lighting it to fit the background lighting, he rasterized the 3D image. Using Smart Filter to preserve the original spaceship image, he applied a Motion Blur and masked out areas he wanted to remain sharp. He finished the spacecraft with some extruded Lens Flare to simulate jet propellant.


Stephen added 3D text over his new image and placed it in an InDesign document. There he could use his image as part of a layout and add more text if needed.


Considering the short time Stephen had, the image he created was very impressive. Just as impressive was his ability to communicate what he was doing. His example is great motivation to go out and create our own digital art. Check out his work, his books and DVDs, his tutorials and workshops at www.chromeallusion.com.



Auctions, Raffles and Prizes


A ticket to the How Design Conference in San Francisco was auctioned off, with Jorge Velasquez putting in the highest bid. Gregory Perkins made the longest commute to attend the meeting, which earned him a one-year subscription to InDesign Magazine.


As for the raffle prizes, this month we had a lot of winners earning multiple prizes. The more tickets you buy the more you can win. Here are the lucky ones:


Heidi Okuhara, iDML iPAD App from DTP Tools, three-month subscription to Stock Layouts and one-year access to Adobe Creative Cloud. Beverly Houwing, WidthScribe for Illustrator from Astute Graphics and eDocker Tablet Publisher. Barbara Tetreantt, TypeDNA and Blacklining for InDesign. Dawn Thomas, one-year subscription to InDesign Magazine. Lucy Hawkins, BannerZest Pro from Aquafadas, three-month subscription to Fotolia and PDF2DTP from Markzware. Wayne Deselle, three-month subscription to Fotolia and MotionComposer from Aquafadas.



Thank You


Thanks to all the sponsors, donors of raffle prizes and donors of auction items: Adobe, Aquafadas, Astute Graphics, DTP Tools, eDocker, Fotolia, HOW Magazine, InDesign Magazine, Markzware, Mogo Media, O’Reilly Press, Peachpit Press, Stock Layouts, ThePowerXChange, TypeDNA and UPrinting. And a extra special thank to Inmagine/123RF, the evening's major sponsor.



Next Meeting


The next meeting of the Los Angeles InDesign User Group will take place at the downtown Los Angeles headquarters of the Los Angeles Times and will include both a presentation and a tour. Assistant Managing Editor Michael Whitley will discuss how the Times uses InDesign to develop visual ideas to be fleshed out later with live content in a print pagination system. In particular, he will discuss the Times coverage of the Academy Awards. This meeting will take place July 18, 2013 from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Community Room of the Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.



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