Sunday, February 22, 2015

Using PatternMaker Lines to Recreate Striped Knitted Fabric

I have a beautiful striped blue dress that I love to wear in the spring and summer. It's knitted fabric, which makes it stretchy and comfortable. But it's also a rather thick fabric (due to the knitting technique used). It doesn't wrinkle and it's very flattering. I recently took a closer look at the fabric to see if I could determine how it was made and if I could recreate the look of the fabric in InDesign using Teacup PatternMaker.
Blue Dress Fabric
Blue Dress Fabric: Close Up
The first thing I noticed about the fabric was that was knitted in stripes:
1. White
2. Black
3. Two-tone: Black and White
4. Blue

The second thing I noticed about the fabric was that it was jacquard knitting.  Jacquard knitting is a complex type of multi-color knitting whereby the floats created by the color switches will be confined to the inside of the finished project. What that means to the person wearing the fabric is that the interior of the fabric doesn't snag when you wear or wash it. You'll see this technique used in those fancy knitted ski sweaters that cost a couple hundred dollars each. The cheap sweaters don't employ this technique because it's more complicated to produce. That's not going to affect how I recreate the pattern using PatternMaker; I just thought it was something interesting to note.

The third thing I noticed about the fabric was that it was pin tucked, resting in subtle horizontal ridges along the width of the fabric. It makes each stripe puff up a little bit, so that even if the fabric was all in a single color, subtle horizontal ridges would still exist.

Believe it or not, we can create this pattern using only 5 objects! So let's recreate this pattern using PatternMaker!

1. Make a large rectangle and fill it with black lines using the following settings.
Black PatternMaker Lines
2. Set your ruler increments to Points. Now, keep in mind that the units used in PatternMaker are the same as whatever unit of measurement you have for the current document you're working in. I find PatternMaker much easier to use if I am working in points. To quickly change your unit of measurement, Ctrl+Click in the top left corner of you ruler guides. Then choose Points.

3. Change your Cursor Key preference to 1 pt. Since we'll be reusing (and nudging) the black lines for the rest of the design, it's important to set the cursor key preference so that when we nudge, we'll get the exact alignment of the lines.
Change Cursor Key Preference
4. Add the Blue Lines: Select the Black Lines, then copy and paste in place. In PatternMaker, change the Pattern Stroke color to blue and then Shift+Up Arrow once. This will move the blue lines up 10 points. Because the line distance is exactly 20 points, that will put the blue lines exactly halfway in between the black lines.
Black and Blue Lines
5. Add the White Line Placeholder: Since you already have the black lines pattern on your clipboard, simply Paste in Place again. Change the Pattern stroke color to magenta so you can see the pattern while you're aligning it. Press the up arrow five times.
Use Magenta to Align the Lines
6. Duplicate the Magenta lines. Copy the magenta lines and and Paste in Place. Then Shift + Up Arrow once. These lines will be the placeholder for the white background two-tone lines we'll be creating next.
Duplicate the Magenta Lines
7. Rename your layers. If you look in the Layers panel, you'll see something similar to this. Those names come from how PatternMaker works. For every pattern you make, PatternMaker creates and embeds an EPS file into your InDesign document. Those embedded EPS filenames are what then get displayed in the Layers panel. But when all your patterns are created using the same type of shape (Lines, Triangles, Crosses, Dots, Waves, etc.), the names in the Layers panel aren't very helpful.
Auto-Generated Confusing Layer Names
So to make it easier to use the Layers panel to select the different frames, change the names in the Layers panel according to your colors, like so:
Understandable Layer Names
To change the names of your layers, click on the layer name, pause, then click again (a slow double click). The name will then highlight in blue and become and editable text field.

8. Change the magenta to white: In the Layers panel, Shift + Click on the little squares next to the two White layers. Then change the pattern stroke color to white.
9. Make the dashed line for the two tone. Select the top white lines pattern, then copy and paste in place. Change the line color to black and choose Dashes, Random Dashes, 4 pt Dash length and 4 pt Gap Length. The Random Dash is important because without it, the pattern will look like it has vertical stripes in it. Be sure to change the name of the layer in the Layers panel.
Dashed Line for two-tone stripe
Be Sure to Change to Layer Name
10. Add bevel and emboss to simulate the pintuck. Use the the settings below.
Bevel and Emboss Settings for Pintuck
Completed Blue Dress Fabric Pattern

Blue Dress Fabric
While this recreation is not an exact replicate of the original blue dress fabric, it is an interesting study in what can be done with PatternMaker and just a few objects. PatternMaker is a free download and come with 3 free patterns: Crosses, Lines, and Scallops. An additional pattern pack can be purchased as a subscription for $49/year.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

PePcon Swag Collection

I have been attending the Print and ePublishing conference since it's inaugural year in 2010. Along the way, I have accumulated conference swag from the conference as it traveled across the county each year.

The first PePcon brought simple swag, including this light-up flash drive.

Flash Drive, Seattle 2010
At PePcon #1, I also opted to purchase a conference T-shirt.
PePcon T-shirt, Seattle 2010
One interesting piece of memorabilia isn't actually PePcon swag, but I'm including it in this list because I got it at PePcon. And I am the only PePcon attendee who has one. Russell Viers spoke at PePcon in 2010 (as he does every year) and he was wearing a custom mechanic shirt featuring his ACE logos on the arm. After his session, during the break, I commented to him that I liked his shirt. Without missing a beat, he said, "You want it? I got a bunch of them made up." I was a little taken aback, but I said yes anyway. And so now I have a Russell shirt.

Custom Adobe Mechanic shirt from Russell Viers 

Adobe Patches
Subsequent PePcons frequently featured a variety of kitchen gadgets, such as a jar opener, a fridge magnet, and a pan scraper.

PePcon 2011 and subsequent all featured a drinking vessel of some sort. The first conference logo was in Trajan.

2011, Seattle

2011, Seattle
2012 brought new branding. Very nice!

2012, San Francisco
2013, Austin
2014, Chicago
I also got a lovely 18" long polystyrene ruler with six different units of measurement, including agates and ciceros! 
2013, Austin

Five of my items are speaker gifts. The first four years of PePcon, I spoke at Ignite! InDesign (which is a type of open mic night, where brave souls get 5 minutes to speak with slides auto-advancing every 15 seconds behind them). Sometimes the Ignite speakers get their own special swag. Other times, it's the same as what the main session speakers get.

2010: Magnet (Ignite speakers only)
2011: Speaker bag (same as main session speakers)
2012: Umbrella (Ignite speakers only)
2012: Umbrella (Ignite speakers only)
2013: "Where the Weird Things Are" T-shirt (same as main session speakers)
In 2014, they finally let me speak on the Big Stage! The official conference speakers get a few extra goodies in their conference bag, and this fleece beanie was one of them.

2014, Fleece Beanie
 Also acquired in 2014 was a name badge with the special red SPEAKER ribbon on the bottom!
2014 Attendee (and SPEAKER) badge
All the swag comes in a conference bag. I only have one of them left.

Some of the swag from PePcon isn't tangible goods, but rather software and plugins. Often, the various InDesign software developers who exhibit at the conference will offer some sort of coupon code if you visit their table. 2010 PePcon was where I got my first copy of TeaCup PatternMaker, which launched me into several years of blogging about making patterns in InDesign.

This list doesn't even include all the notepads, pens, styluses, and other similar goodies that show up in the bags every year. Some vendors also offer their own logo'd swag at their tables, such as insulated drinking cups and iPad stands.

I do hope you'll join me at PePcon. Also note that David and Anne-Marie, the wonderful people behind PePcon, are now putting on other conferences as well, including The InDesign Conference and The Photoshop Conference (which in 2015 will be held concurrently and at the same location as The InDesign Conference).

See you at PePcon!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Use Powerpoint to Make Patterned Stamps for Engineering Drawings

This is the second of my 2-part series about how to make patterned stamps for engineering drawings. The first article was how to accomplish the same task using Illustrator:  Using Illustrator to Make Patterned Stamps for Engineering Drawings. This series was prompted by an excellent question from my neighbor, a nuclear engineer:
"I am marking up a drawing and created an octagon shape. I wanted to fill it in with a pattern – where can I find patterns? I thought I used this before but can’t seem to find it.
I decided to make some custom stamps for him using Adobe Illustrator, but I wanted a way for him to be able to make his own stamps to suit his particular needs.

For a short period of time many years ago, I worked at an engineering firm in the marketing department. Part of my job was to create powerpoint presentations. I actually had to recreate many of the graphics I had made in Illustrator, using the drawing tools available to me in powerpoint. The drawing experience was not as elegant as using Illustrator, but it proved valuable because I learned that, in a pinch, powerpoint has some decent drawing tools available. There are a good sized collection of basic shapes to choose from. These screenshots are from Office for Mac 2011, but I imagine all versions of powerpoint have these shapes as well.

Powerpoint Basic Shapes
Go to: Insert > Basic Shapes > Octagon. Now you can draw the octagon on your page. I only needed a small octagon, so mine doesn't take up much room. Now, keep in mind that powerpoint will let you draw the octagon in whatever proportion you desire, so if you want to draw a perfectly symmetrical octagon, hold down the Shift key as you drag. That will constrain the proportions.

An Octagon as a basic Shape in a Powerpoint document
Next we need to edit the color and pattern of the shape. Go to Fill Effects and click on the paint bucket icon. This will let you edit all sorts of things about the shape, not just the Fill (as one might presume by the name "Fill Effects").

Powerpoint Fill Effects
First change the fill color from blue to a pattern. Go to Fill > Pattern tab.

Fill Patterns
Next change the line (stroke) color from blue to black.

Line Color
 Finally, remove the drop shadow by unchecking "Shadow."

Now your slide should look something like this:

Patterned Octagon on a Powerpoint Slide

Next, you'll need to create a PDF. Your method may be slightly different (since I am on a mac), but here is how I make a PDF from powerpoint: Go to File > Print and from the PDF button in the lower right, choose "Save as PDF." Save the PDF in a convenient place and be sure to remember what you named it.

Save as PDF
Next, go into Acrobat (not Adobe Reader) and open the PDF you just made. Now we're going to crop the page. If you're not in the printing or design industry, there is a good chance you never knew Acrobat could edit page size. It's a little secrets among printers and designers that Acrobat is capable of editing PDFs in ways that Office users could only dream of. So next go to Tools > Print Production.

Tools > Print Production
Now, if you don't have Print Production in your list of tools, fear not. Just click on the little "Icon in the top right corner of the Tools panel. It will display a drop down of all the different tools available. Now choose "Set Page Boxes."

Set Page Boxes
That will bring up this screen. Now, if you happen to know the exact amount you should crop, or if you want to set your page to a particular known size, this dialog box is great for that. But for your purposes today, it's not very useful. You see, I don't know where exactly my octagon is placed on the page, and I don't know exactly how big it is. What I really what is a way to just draw a box around the octagon and crop to that. So Press Cancel.

Set Page Boxes UI
Next, press C. That will change your cursor from a hand into crosshairs. This is a hidden feature of Acrobat XI. Years ago, I think that the Crop tool was a separate tool, and you could use it without having to go into a dialog box first. Fortunately for me, the shortcut for the Crop tool is the same as it is in Photoshop. So zoom in close to the Octagon (Cmd/Ctrl +) and draw a marquee around your octagon.
Crop Boundaries
Now press Enter/Return. That will bring up the Set Pages dialog box, but this time, the fields will be pre-populated!

Set Page Boxes with fields Pre-populated
Now see how the PDF page size has changed? Note: hover over the lower left corner of the gray area in Acrobat and it will temporally display the page size.

Now your patterned octagon is reay for use as a custom stamp. Go to Using Illustrator to Make Patterned Stamps for Engineering Drawings and start with Step 7: Create a Custom Stamp.