As an entry-level graphics specialist new to the world of (book) publishing, I had never attended a conference before Adobe’s Creative Suite 3 in Austin, Texas. I spent the night before in a nearby hotel. When I first pulled into the parking lot, I could not help but notice the Starbucks on the corner. I made a mental note to leave early enough to grab a good cup of joe before heading off to the conference. I arrived on time the next morning but did not note what level I parked on. This oversight cost me about 20 minutes of walking at the end of the day. Oh well, live and learn. The continental breakfast they provided while people were registering was much better than the dried out muffins and bagels my hotel had offered earlier that morning. Aside from loads of fresh fruit and breakfast crescents the conference provided juice, coffee, soda, and Red Bull energy drinks. Even though I had just had a huge cup of coffee earlier, I could not resist grabbing a Red Bull. Needless to say, I was wired for the rest of the morning.
While waiting for the presentation to start, I made my way around the sponsor tables. This expo showcased printers and papers from Xerox and Hewlett Packard along with Photoshop plug-ins by On1. The event’s platinum sponsor was lynda.com who offered everyone who registered a free one-month subscription as well as a $100 discount on a year’s subscription to their Online Training Library. As a graphic specialist, I enjoyed the design family presentation the most because it highlighted improvements to Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
Photoshop CS3 has added the quick selection tool which is found in the toolbox with the magic wand and allows a quicker and easier selection of an object than ever before. Also, the ability to manipulate layers once they have filters applied to them is very cool. If you don’t like the effect, instead of backing up in the history palette, just delete the effect inside the layers palette. Photoshop CS3 now offers color sliders for changing a color image to black and white. This allows the designer to fine tune each color to the desired shade of gray.
Illustrator CS3 provides many new features as well. Live paint now lets you scroll through the colors in the swatches palette by pressing the left and right arrow keys. This kind of time saving feature proves very useful to a designer on a deadline. The live color palette provides several preset color harmony groups for designers who need a little help with attractive color schemes. Those who have a theme in mind may create new color groups manually and save them for later use. In my opinion, the biggest time saver in Illustrator CS3 is the introduction of the eraser tool. It is no longer a lengthy process to punch a hole in a shape.
InDesign CS3 features a “quick apply” that can be used to change the content fitting of all the placed images in a document uniformly. When working on a book with hundreds of images or equations it will be useful to fit all content inside their containers in one spot. Also, the palettes are made to appear when the cursor hovers over them and disappear when the cursor is moved away, giving the designer a little more work space. Transparency is now called “effects” and strokes can now be beveled and embossed, as well as all the other options that were previously only available in Photoshop. The final thing that caught my attention about the new InDesign was the new hierarchical numbering and list options available in paragraph styles. This will prove very useful in future textbook publishing and ensure consistency throughout the publication.
Everyone at the conference said that, especially for a first timer, this was a good one to attend. I came away feeling encouraged that the problems I sometimes face in the business arena are problems of designers everywhere. My hope is that by attending more conferences and training seminars in the future I will not only learn new practices but also build a network of designers with whom I can share new ideas and hopefully gain a fresh perspective.