Better by design: The Designer Desktop Manual

Keith White
11 December, 2007
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The Designer’s Desktop Manual is a full-colour 250-page reference manual covering most aspects of design in QuarkXPress, InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, DreamWeaver and Bridge. Without the usual introductory stuff you’re thrown straight into the first of six sections looking at the workspace in the above applications on both Mac and PC. Section two, Type, also kicks off with the differences between the two platforms before a thorough grounding in print basics for hard copy and the web. Color deals with the different characteristics of RGB and CYMK and the holy grail of maintaining colour consistency throughout your workflow. In the Image section you’ll learn about building graphics libraries, working with illustrators and photographers and the basics of digital manipulation. Master pages, grids and columns form the basics of the Layout section before you move on to table construction and web design fundamentals. Finally Production focuses on the myriad considerations in transferring your work accurately from your Mac to the printed page.

Succinct text sections backed with copious well-targeted illustrations in an inspirational layout make this very easy fare to digest. Suitable for wannabes and pros alike.

The Designer’s Toolkit
— 500 Grids & Style Sheets presents its accompanying CD strikingly embedded into the front cover. This title moves design fundamentals right onto your desktop with the promised 500 templates from the CD. Formats include brochures, catalogues, newsletters, newspapers, magazines, flyers, ads, postcards, menus, stationery and web layouts. The final section of the book contains all templates in easily viewable thumbnail format. All print templates come in both US letter and A4 setups. The QuarkXPress templates will open in any version from 6 upwards and the InDesign samples from CS1 (InDesign 3) upwards. The web templates can either be edited directly as code in a text-editing app or as layout in a web design program such as DreamWeaver.

The book begins with advice on how to choose an appropriate grid and style sheet for your task, the basic structure of grid and style sheets for print and the web and how to add in your own text and images to the templates from the CD. The remainder of the book deconstructs examples of each format into its design principles and gives you tips on how you might use it. This is done in quite some fine detail of typesetting, font selection, column grids and spacing. Learning by doing is a sound educational principle and is promoted in this book. It’s fascinating to see the templates come alive when you replace the placeholder text “lorem ipsum …” with your words, and the cheesy pix with your own images.

500 Lighting Hints, Tips and Techniques covers most things photographers honing their art need to know. It doesn’t matter whether you’re snapping with a mobile or a high end digital SLR, the principles are the same. Auto settings work fine in average lighting but creative lighting can accentuate texture, mask imperfections and produce “an unusual or new and exciting view of something quite familiar”. There are numerous colour illustrations throughout the book.

The first section looks at equipment — particularly how cameras operate and the qualities of everyday light. Section two examines the characteristics of light — colour and brightness. Section three works with daylight and covers reflectors, diffusers and fill flash. The next section explores artificial light and includes on-camera flash guns, domestic lights and studio lighting. Section five puts theory into practice with twelve simple projects to teach you lighting basics with minimum equipment. The final section looks at postproduction lighting techniques, using the quite sophisticated light manipulation possible in Photoshop Elements.

The 500 Hints, Tips and Techniques are short paragraphs which keep it sim-ple, arranged in logical sequences to step you through the various aspects of lighting. Many are illustrated in full colour.
If you’re itching to switch your camera from auto to manual this well-crafted book will show you how to present your pictures in the best possible light.

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