Make a brush from Illustrator artwork

Did you know you can create your own custom brushes in Adobe Illustrator from any artwork object? This makes it easy to scatter copies of an object across an area, or to apply artistic effects without modifying the original object.

Music Note

For example, on the left is a simple, two-piece object drawn in Illustrator. From it, we can make a paintbrush that creates a design like you see on the right:

Scattered music notes

Let’s see how to do this.


Remove the background from a photo or clipart: for print

You may find that you have with a logo or piece of clipart that has a white or solid-color background, and you need to remove the background. For example, you may need to drop the artwork into InDesign over a tinted text box, or to apply it to a colored object that isn’t paper.

In other words, you may need to go from this:

  Cat on bag with white backgroundTo this: Cat on bag with no white background

Adobe Illustrator has a particularly good way to tease the background out of a logo or clipart. You can also use this technique if there is plenty of contrast in a photo for which you want to remove the background.


What is UniCom?

UniCom is a new way to communicate at IU. UniCom provides telephony, email, instant messaging, audio and video conferencing that you can access from almost anywhere. Microsoft Office Communicator and Live Meeting are the main applications you use. Any member of the IU community can join up! To learn more, see the video.

Getting Preceding Zeros to Print in an ID field when Performing a Word Mail Merge

It is very easy to use the Custom dialog box in Microsoft Excel to add preceding zeros to a number, such as a University ID number, for example, to make it 10 digits. However, these zeros may be lost when using this field in a Word mail merge. To solve this problem, here is what you can do:

In Microsoft Word, set up the main document and data source in the normal way, placing the UniversityID field in the Word document. Right click the UniversityID field. Choose “Toggle Field Codes.” Change the {MERGEFIELD UniversityID} to read {MERGEFIELD UniversityID\#”0000000000″}. These 10 zeros indicate that the number must be 10 digits. Right click again and choose “Update Field.” Then click “Preview Results” on the Ribbon.

Now when you perform the mail merge, the zeros should appear in the merged document(s).

(Special thanks to April Law for contributing to this article). 

I’ve got CS4…now what?

With the announcement that IU had acquired free Adobe software for all of it’s employees and students, your first thought was probably “How do I get it?” Now that we’ve all had a couple of months to get the software downloaded and installed, you’re likely thinking now: “What do I do with all of this stuff?”

Adobe is one of the largest software companies in the world, and while most people are familiar with their core apps, like Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash, there are many applications included in the suite that you might not be familiar with. In this post, we’ll take some time to examine all the different applications that you can install with the various Adobe suites. We will focus on the applications in Design Premium CS4 and Production Premium CS4. There are many add-ons and extra technology included in the installers, but we will look only at the applications included.


Replacing a Background with the Pattern Stamp

Let’s take a look at this image:

Feel free to download this image and follow along by clicking this link:


Clearly, this image has been damaged over time. There are many problems we need to fix, but one of the major problems is the background. Besides the man’s left side, he’s actually in pretty good shape. The background is the major problem here. We could use some healing tools to fix each area individually, but there is an easier way to accomplish this. We can use a pattern to replace the entire background with a texture.

We ‘ll use Photoshop’s Pattern Maker to accomplish this. The Pattern Maker can be used to create a simple pattern that will fill the image. But we can also use it to create textures that we can apply with the Pattern Brush.

NOTE: In Photshop CS4, the PatternMaker is no longer included with the standard Photoshop install.  It is now a separate download.

It can be downloaded for free here. To install the files, extract the downloaded files (once as a zip file, and again as an .exe), and move the file:

Photoshop Content\English\Goodies\Optional Plug-ins\Plug-ins 32-bit\Filters\PatternMaker.8BF


C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop CS4\Plug-ins\Automate

And then restart Photoshop.

Surviving Photoshop

Many times when working with Photoshop beginners (and even some experienced users), I find that they sometimes struggle with Photoshop not reacting the way they expect it to. Even if you know exactly what tool or method to use, it can be frustrating and confusing when applying that tool or method doesn’t act as expected. Photoshop is a complex application and a particularly unforgiving one as well. It very rarely gives feedback, and when it does, it ‘s almost always negative. Because of this, it ‘s easy to lose track of what tool is selected, what settings are being used, and which layer you are working on. But with a little detective work, it ‘s fairly simple to track down the problem.

With that in mind, here are the things to check when a tool doesn’t work.

1) The Toolbox

2) The Options Bar

3) The Layers Panel

4) Do I have a selection or transformation active?

Let ‘s look at each one of these individually and see what problems might occur.