Tag Archives: Photoshop

The joy of text … or fun with fonts

Alice cover image

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland cover image from my version.

I love typefaces, typography and typesetting and generally playing about with how words look. I spent many years as a non-fiction editor, but I always liked to typeset the books I was working on when I could. When I was at Scholastic Children’s books I worked on highly intergrated illustrated non-fiction mainly, such as Horrible Science, Horrible Geography and Horrible Histories, and we had found it was easier if the editors did the layout, because they knew the text, and the designers did the initial spec, detailing and the covers, of course. It was my favourite part of the job, and as I got more senior and had to give some of it up it was something I really missed. Since I’ve been freelance my work so far has been mainly on the typesetting and digital conversion side of things – so hurrah!

A few weeks back I made a couple of sample ebooks using InDesign CC2014 to test out its fabby new fixed-format export, and while I was researching that, I came across a brilliant InDesign script called Wordalizer (thanks, InDesign Secrets!). It makes word clouds like this:

spread from Alice in Wonderland

Or like this:

spread from Alice in Wonderland

Now I love a word cloud! Wordalizer can use words on the clipboard, scan the open InDesign file, or you can type words in manually. I made the clouds in these images by copying a chapter of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to the clipboard. You can tweak the list it generates, delete and add words – it will also accept short phrases and give an indication of the weighting of each word. Then you can assign up to four fonts, choose the colour scheme, word orientation, cloud shape, etc. Once the cloud is generated it is completely customisable. Each word is a separate outline object and can be coloured, stroked, deleted, resized, moved, rotated to taste. Or you can go back into the script and tweak to your heart’s content there – you can even recolour without changing the cloud itself. You can also export as an eps, jpg or png and take it into Illustrator or Photoshop if you want. Hours of fun for a type fan like me!

I’ve wanted to make a version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for a while, but I’m certainly not an illustrator, so I’ve used the Alice word clouds I generated as illustrations for my version. I did very little to these clouds once they were generated as I wanted to see what Wordalizer was capable of. More tweaking to be done to the book, but I’m pretty happy with the way it’s going. I’ve converted it to fixed-format ePub, and it’s set up in a Blurb template so I might get it printed too.

spread from Alice in Wonderland

spread from Alice in Wonderland

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Five things I didn’t know about Photoshop last week

This weekend I studied a course on www.lynda.com called Photoshop for Designers: color by Nigel French. I love Lynda.com courses and can’t recommend them highly enough.

So five things I learned from the course, or came across as a result, that I didn’t have an inkling about already.

1. You can set up soft proofing so you see as colour-blind people would see. Apparently colour-blindness affects more people than you would think.

showing soft proofing for colour blind

Soft proof. Colour in the navigator

This more useful for more graphic work, seeing where there is enough colour contrast, but interesting none the less.

2. Match colour. This is where you can map colours of one image on to another.

Match colour before


Match colour after

Hey presto!

3. HUD colour picker. If you want to pick a colour as you go – ctrl alt  cmd click will bring up the colour picker. If you want to jump from one slider to the other press the space bar. Groovy!

4. Locking transparency. This is just a scribble, but if you lock a layer’s transparency, you can only effect pixels that aren’t transparent (so you can’t colour over the lines).

locking transparency

Locking transparency

5. Getting a hex number from the eyedropper tool.

Right click and the dropdown menu shows copy colour as hex number or html. These are numbers sampled from a rainbow gradient.

hex numbers

A rainbow of hex numbers


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