Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Illustrator – reverse the twirl tool

reverse twirl tool in illustrator 1 Illustrator   reverse the twirl tool

Click the Twirl tool and it twirls your path – but how to you twirl the other way?

To reverse the twirl tool in Illustrator so you can twirl clockwise double click the Twirl tool in the tool panel and just set the Twirl Rate to a negative value – so if you love the twirl rate amount but want it to go the other way just add a minus in front of the current value – so go from 40 degrees to -40!

reverse twirl tool in illustrator 2 Illustrator   reverse the twirl tool

Click Ok and then twirl away to your heart’s content.

Easy when you  know how!

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Illustrator for Photoshop Users

Learning Illustrator is different and easier if you already know Photoshop

So, you’re pretty handy with Photoshop but Illustrator is different – isn’t it? It is not easy to understand when you first start and you might be scared off by an interface that looks both familiar and foreign at the same time. I certainly was when I started out. Illustrator was like a foreign language and it took a lot of time to learn it.

But learning Illustrator when you already use Photoshop can be simplified. You see you already know a lot about Illustrator so we can start out with that knowledge and build on it. You need to know what is the same and what is different between the two programs and you need to know what is important and what you can ignore for now.

So, to help you, I created this video. It’s for anyone who knows Photoshop and who wants to learn Illustrator. I will build on your knowledge so we don’t waste time on things you already know but so you learn quickly how Illustrator is different and how to get started with it.

No laborious “how to use the Pen tool” stuff here. Just quick and fun and interesting stuff guaranteed to get you on your way to loving the creative potential of Illustrator.



Helen Bradley

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Create a Perfect (Archimedes) spiral in Illustrator

archimedes spiral in illustrator Create a Perfect (Archimedes) spiral in Illustrator

Create Archimedes spirals with evenly spaced lines in Illustrator

Illustrator’s Spiral tool creates quick and easy spirals but they aren’t Archimedes spirals – the latter have evenly spaced lines. Now it is possible to create an Archimedes spiral in one of a few ways. Here is what I have discovered.

Multiple lines make a spiral (well they did once, they don’t any longer)

Ignore the multiple line solution. There are a few posts on the web that suggest you create a spiral by making a series of parallel lines, move them so they are on a slight angle and then save as an Art Brush. You then use them to stroke a circle and voila! a spiral. Well no. Sorry, it just doesn’t work. It used to work but it doesn’t seem to work in later versions of Illustrator. There is a video here on YouTube that shows some of the problem – for now just ignore what looks to be the simple (if inexplicable) solution.

create sprials in illustrator Create a Perfect (Archimedes) spiral in Illustrator

Deke’s offering

I like Deke McClelland’s stuff if you ignore that he calls some Illustrator tools by made up names like black arrow and white arrow tool (seriously?) but if you can put this technicality aside, see his approach by visiting this tutorial video. It’s a somewhat complex approach but you can use it to create two interlocking spirals or just a single one. Once you’ve done it a few times  it’s pretty easy to do. It also introduces the Polar Grid tool which is interesting and which you may have use for in other circumstances. I just don’t like the middle of this spiral so I prefer some other solution.

deke mcclellands version of an archimedes spiral Create a Perfect (Archimedes) spiral in Illustrator

The best solution – a Spiral Script

Now let’s step into voodoo territory and talk scripting. While it might sound difficult it is so totally ridiculously easy that I can’t recommend it more highly. Better still, once you see how easy it is to run scripts you may be tempted to find and use more of them from time to time.

So, start by visiting this page where you will find the script to use. Copy the script from the box and paste it into a text editor – not Word, but WordPad or Notepad. Save it as a text file and give it a .jsx extension. You can save it anywhere, but if you want to be able to find it easily in 6 month’s time I suggest you save it in the Presets/Scripts folder for your Illustrator installation (ie in the Programs folder in Windows). Then restart Illustrator so it will find it easily.

Regardless of where your script is stored, start a new document and choose File > Script and select your script from the list (if you installed it in Presets/Scripts) or browse to find it. Click it and it runs and creates your spiral. Now I like this one a lot as the middle is awesomely cute and curly. It’s my favorite and once you’ve created the script file and saved it all you need to do to make one in future is to run the script. It is awesomely easy and look at how cute the middle is…

archimedes spiral in illustrator Create a Perfect (Archimedes) spiral in Illustrator

Now that you are a scripting guru – here’s more scripting fun

The script above makes great spirals but I’ve found another script set here that you can explore now that you’re a scripting guru! Well nearly one, anyway.

These scripts are zipped so all you need do is to download and unzip and place the scripts into your Presets/Scripts folder. Then run them. Some will need objects to act on but you will find information on how they work on the script page itself. I suggest you copy it to a document or print it out so you have it for reference.

One of my favorites is the Meatball script which joins two circles into a sort of meatball shape. There is a spiral which makes a nice Archimedes spiral and one called Round Any Corner which lets you select one or more points or an entire shape and round the corners – this gives a different result to the Round Corners Effect so might be of interest to you.

scripts in illustrator round any corner Create a Perfect (Archimedes) spiral in Illustrator

Another script in the zip is one that creates trees automatically for you.

scripts in illustrator make fractal style trees Create a Perfect (Archimedes) spiral in Illustrator

Finally – create a rectangle the size of the artboard

Over at the Adobe forums there is a short script from a user called moluapple which creates a rectangle the size of the artboard. It’s a winner! I use this all the time! I suggest you copy and paste the code from the forum into a text editor and make a script file from it so you have it handy to use anytime you need it. The code below is just a screenshot of the code, I captured it just in case the forum thread ever disappears because this is one awesomely useful script:

scripts in illustrator make a rectangle the size of the artboard Create a Perfect (Archimedes) spiral in Illustrator

So, now it is over to you to enjoy your new ability to download, unzip, locate and run scripts in Illustrator.



Helen Bradley

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Dotted edges in Illustrator

how to make dotted and solid borders in illustrator 2 Dotted edges in Illustrator


Learn to add multiple strokes to a shape in Illustrator

One way I force myself to extend my knowledge of Illustrator is to take an existing illustration and to try to reproduce it. I don’t use these for anything but for learning and improving my skills. It’s a great tool because, when you try to copy someone else’s illustration you have to work out how to do things you may not typically do. You can’t just fluff yourself off and do the same old thing – if you don’t know how to achieve an effect you have to think about the problem and work it out using your existing skills or go research solutions.

Today I’ve been working on shapes that have neat edges and, in particular shapes with solid edges and dots – all in the one shape!

Start by drawing your shape – mine was a speech bubble but you can do it with anything. Then add a fill color and a stroke – this stroke is the thick band around the shape so make it the right size for the edge effect.

Now open the Appearance panel and add a second stroke by choosing the Add New Stroke icon. Make sure this is the top stroke – if not you can drag it up as if it were a layer. In the Appearance panel select a different color for this stroke and size it smaller than the previous one. You can now make it dots by setting up the panel so it looks like this – just note that your gap value should be the same or just larger than the stroke to make dots and that the cap shape is rounded – to get dots!

how to make dotted and solid borders in illustrator 1 Dotted edges in Illustrator


Helen Bradley

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Multicolor Sunburst in Illustrator

multi color sunburst in illustrator opener Multicolor Sunburst in Illustrator

So, you know how to make a sunburst in Illustrator – here’s how to color it

Some time ago I wrote a post and created a YouTube video to show how to make a sunburst in Illustrator. This is one of my most popular posts and the video has been popular too – seems like it really hit a spot with a lot of readers.

Now, today I received an email from a reader asking how to make the sunburst multicolored. Turns out it isn’t as simple as selecting a ray and recoloring it – because when you select one ray you select them all. However, once you know how to break them up, it works just fine.

To do this, follow the instructions to create the circle, add the dashed line, expand it, select the inside anchors and choose Path > Average. This gets the sunburst made.

Now, to break the shape up, select it and choose Object > Live Paint > Make.  Now you can use the Live Paint Bucket tool to color each piece of the sunburst – or not. You see the Live Paint > Make command breaks up the shape (in a way that Object > Expand does not) so you can now select each ray in turn and color it.

multi color sunburst in illustrator 1 Multicolor Sunburst in Illustrator

If you want to see the change happen, watch the Layers palette when you do the Live Paint > Make command – it turns the compound path into a set of individual vector objects – just what you need to have to be able to recolor them. The plus is that once the shape is broken up like this you can recolor it in the usual way by selecting each shape and color it or you can use Live Paint. You get to choose which works best for you.

multi color sunburst in illustrator 2 Multicolor Sunburst in Illustrator

Now, one side effect of this is that the spaces between the rays is filled with color – typically white. So you can’t put a solid color behind the rays and have it show through. There is a solution – open the Layers palette and locate the filled white circle shape at the bottom of the expanded sunburst shapes and delete it. Once it is deleted you can add your own background filed shape behind the sunburst.

multi color sunburst in illustrator 3 Multicolor Sunburst in Illustrator

It’s one of those things that is simple when you know how but not immediately obvious how you do it.

Thanks to the reader who asked the question!


Helen Bradley

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Where to Install Photoshop Brushes on the PC and Mac

where to install Photoshop brushes on the pc and mac 2 Where to Install Photoshop Brushes on the PC and Mac

Curious or confused about where brushes go? Here’s the info you need and how to do it

It’s pretty easy to find the wrong place to install brushes on the PC and the Mac. The Adobe program file folders are more accessible than the user areas where you really should be installing your brushes. So, to help you out, here is where the brushes should go and a couple of tips for showing the hidden and hard to find folders on the PC and the Mac:

In Mac OS X:

Photoshop CS4
~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS4/Presets/Brushes

Photoshop CS5
~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Presets/Brushes

Photoshop CS6
~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS6/Presets/Brushes

Photoshop CC
~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CC/Presets/Brushes

The tilde (~ ) indicates your hidden user library.

You can open it this way:

1 Launch Finder
2 Choose Go > Go to Folder
3 Type ~/Library and click Go
4 This opens the ~/Library folder and you can now navigate to the appropriate folder listed above.

On a Windows PC:

Follow these instructions to install the brushes where they can be found by both 32 and 64 bit versions of Photoshop (this is the prefered method of installing downloaded brushes):

Photoshop CS4
C:\Users\<your name>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS4\Presets\Brushes

Photoshop CS5
C:\Users\<your name>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS5\Presets\Brushes

Photoshop CS6
C:\Users\<your name>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS6\Presets\Brushes

Photoshop CC
C:\Users\<your name>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CC\Presets\Brushes

To locate your c:\users\<your name>\AppData folder, launch Windows Explorer and type this in the address bar :


This automatically opens the AppData folder for you so you can now navigate to the desired folder as detailed above.

where to install Photoshop brushes on the pc and mac Where to Install Photoshop Brushes on the PC and Mac

Helen Bradley

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Another Fractal Tree Creator

fractal trees by anna flagg 4 Another Fractal Tree Creator

Create fractal trees in your browser using this free download

I love Fractal Trees and I love finding new ways to make them. Today I found a handy download for creating some cool trees.

I’ll explain how to find and download it and then how to run and use it.

This program is browser based but you need to download the code for it. You will find that here at

On the bottom right look out for a download Download Zip link – click it and download the zip file. Double click the download and extract the files into a folder.

fractal trees by anna flagg 1 Another Fractal Tree Creator

When you do this, look for the Index.html file in the download. Double click it to open it in your browser. This launches the program which runs now in your browser.

fractal trees by anna flagg 2 Another Fractal Tree Creator

All you need to do is to adjust the sliders and click Preview to preview your tree. You can use the color pickers to set the colors for the trunk, leaves and background.

Experiment with different settings – the Randomness setting will give you some randomness in the tree so each time you click Preview the tree will change even if no other settings are changed.

fractal trees by anna flagg 3 Another Fractal Tree Creator

When you get a tree you like, click Make Image and the tree will open in a new window. You can click the tree, right click and then save it as a .png image – they aren’t transparent though.

fractal trees by anna flagg 5 Another Fractal Tree Creator

Then you can use it anywhere you like – I use mine in collages in Photoshop. They are very small images but they scale up pretty well.

fractal trees 1 Another Fractal Tree Creator

If you are interested in seeing Anna’s images head over to her website to see her page of fractal trees - here is a sampling of what you will find there – awesome!

anna flagg trees Another Fractal Tree Creator

Helen Bradley

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Delete a brush in Photoshop

Photoshop delete brushes 3 Delete a brush in Photoshop

Tidy up, rearrange and delete brushes in Photoshop

A reader just contacted me to ask how to delete a brush in Photoshop. It is an interesting question and one worthy of a post I think!

To do this, choose Edit > Presets > Preset Manager to open the Preset Manager dialog. From the Preset Type drop down list choose Brushes to view your brushes. Now you can click a brush to select it – it’s hard to see but it does get a narrow blue line around it. Click Delete to delete it.

Photoshop delete brushes 1 Delete a brush in Photoshop

Now, something else that is really handy about this dialog is that  you can also move brushes! So drag a brush and you can move it to your chosen place in the panel. So, you can put those brushes you use most often at the top of the Brushes panel where they are nice and handy.

Photoshop delete brushes 2 Delete a brush in Photoshop


Helen Bradley

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Help! My Photoshop Color Picker looks weird

Photoshop Color Picker HSL h channel Help! My Photoshop Color Picker looks weird

How to get the color picker to look the way you want it to look

or How to fix the Color Picker when it looks all funky

Sometimes when you open the color picker in Photoshop it looks one way and other times it looks a different way. It might even seem like there is  no rhyme or reason to how it looks and that it changes without (what it may seem like) no input from you.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth but knowing that won’t solve the problem of why it changes and how to change it back!

To change it, don’t go looking under Preferences for all the Color Picker choices. While some preferences can be found in the Preference area the secret changes are made inside the Color Picker itself.

To see them at work, click to open the Color Picker. What you see here depends on what is clicked in the right of the dialog (when you realize this everything becomes blindingly obvious).

Click H for Hue to see this:

Photoshop Color Picker HSL h channel Help! My Photoshop Color Picker looks weird

And S for Saturation to see this:

Photoshop Color Picker HSL s channel Help! My Photoshop Color Picker looks weird

And B for Brightness to see this:

Photoshop Color Picker HSL b channel Help! My Photoshop Color Picker looks weird

Each of R, G and B make the picker look different:

Photoshop Color Picker RGB r channel Help! My Photoshop Color Picker looks weird

Photoshop Color Picker RGB g channel Help! My Photoshop Color Picker looks weird

Photoshop Color Picker RGB b channel Help! My Photoshop Color Picker looks weird
As does choosing L or a or b:

Photoshop Color Picker Lab L channel Help! My Photoshop Color Picker looks weird

Photoshop Color Picker Lab a channel Help! My Photoshop Color Picker looks weird

Photoshop Color Picker Lab b channel Help! My Photoshop Color Picker looks weird

And each looks different if you have the Only Web Colors dialog checked:

Photoshop Color Picker Web colors Help! My Photoshop Color Picker looks weird

Now you know what affects how the Color Picker looks you can choose the one that makes the most sense to you.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

6 Sites for free Illustrator Gradient Swatches


Free Downloadable Illustrator Gradient Swatches for you to try

While Illustrator comes shipped with a range of gradient swatches you will probably find that there are never enough gradients for your needs. Luckily there are a few good quality freely downloadable gradient swatch sets that you can use to expand your Illustrator toolkit.

While there are a lot of gradient swatches you can download for Photoshop there are not a lot of free options for Illustrator. I’ve scoured the web to find you this collection – they all download and install correctly and they aren’t from spammy sites (some others not included here are from spurious sites – so beware!).


This selection of 48 vector gradients makes a good starter pack. There are some handy black and light colored gradients as well as a lot of green and blue ones too. If you’re looking for a simple collection of gradients to start off with this a good choice.

colorful vector gradients 6 Sites for free Illustrator Gradient Swatches


2. Metallic gradients from Deviant Art

Deviant Art is always a great place to find handy downloadable things. Here we’ve located 140 metal gradients for Illustrator. There are a range of gold, metal gradients as well as copper, bronze, brass, silver, chrome, steel, aluminum and other metallic looks. This is a good starter collection of metallic gradients.

Free download 140 metal gradients Preview e1374107068256 6 Sites for free Illustrator Gradient Swatches


3. Gradients one to seven

This group of gradients in files called (somewhat unimaginatively) to is a selection of handy gradients. While it would be nicer if these gradients were all in one pack that’s not the case so you may want to grab the lot and perhaps assemble them into a single swatch file of your own.

1 7 6 Sites for free Illustrator Gradient Swatches

4. VectorPortal gradients 

4. At you’ll find a series of six gradient packs totalling over 700 gradients. The images for these packs look a little on the small side but don’t let this fool you – each pack ranges in size from 75 – 160 gradients per pack. All six can be downloaded from this site.

vectorportalgradients 6 Sites for free Illustrator Gradient Swatches


5. Web and button style gradients from Faisaljasnak

From Faisaljasnak comes this set of gradients for Illustrator. These gradients range from subtle color shifts to gradients suitable for buttons and other web elements.

faisaljasnak 6 Sites for free Illustrator Gradient Swatches


6. Adobe Exchange hosted gradients

This next group of downloadable gradients is accessible from Adobe’s own Exchange website.

The first in this round up is  Metal Gradients V1.5 .

metal from adobe 6 Sites for free Illustrator Gradient Swatches


This second lot is a small set of 3 metallic gradients:

3 adobe metal gradients 6 Sites for free Illustrator Gradient Swatches


This final set is of another 8 handy metallic gradients:

8 gradients from adobe site 6 Sites for free Illustrator Gradient Swatches

Once you’ve downloaded your swatches visit this post for instructions as to how to install and use the swatches in Illustrator.

Helen Bradley

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

Reinstate a RAW or DNG image in Camera Raw

remove edits from raw dng in lightroom acr adobe camera raw 1 Reinstate a RAW or DNG image in Camera Raw


Remove all the edits you’ve made to a raw or dng image in Adobe Camera Raw

No doubt you’ve encountered the situation where you have a raw file or a dng that you’ve worked on in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom and you one day look at it and think – “what was I thinking?”

You decide you want immediately to remove all the changes you’ve made to the image. Easy? Not really!

If you’re working with a raw image then you can locate the image on disk and alongside it will be its sidecar xmp. Shall I say that again, because to the uninitiated ‘sidecar xmp’ just sounds so cool doesn’t it. What it is is an .xmp file with the same name as the raw file and it contains the edits you made to your image. The sidecar xmp file is used because you cannot write data to a camera raw file so the edits have to go somewhere. They go in this little xmp file as a set of text entries – delete the file and you remove the edits, permanently – in fact just remove the xmp file to another folder where ACR can’t find it and you’re done.

remove edits from raw dng in lightroom acr adobe camera raw 4 Reinstate a RAW or DNG image in Camera Raw

In Lightroom you can wind back edits to an image from the Develop module in the History panel on the left of the screen. Open the panel and select the bottom-most entry to wind back the changes you made to the image.

remove edits from raw dng in lightroom acr adobe camera raw 3 Reinstate a RAW or DNG image in Camera Raw

Unfortunately this won’t work if you made changes in a program that wrote an .xmp file and it won’t work if the changes were made to a dng file, written to that file and then the file was imported into Lightroom.

In that case, go to the Library panel and open Quick Develop and click Reset All – that removes all the edits.

remove edits from raw dng in lightroom acr adobe camera raw 2 Reinstate a RAW or DNG image in Camera Raw

In ACR, go to the small menu in the top right of the edit pane and choose Reset Camera Raw Defaults. This removes the edits and returns the image to its out of camera state (see image at the top of this post)

This is also very handy for teachers who teach using a set of images – if you need to start over editing an image with a new class, this option will help you start over with a clean image.



Helen Bradley

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Lightroom Tip – Adjusting White Balance

Lightroom white balance opener Lightroom Tip   Adjusting White Balance

Adjusting your White Balance in Lightroom

Lightroom has a set of tools that you can use to adjust white balance in your images. To see these at work open an image in the Develop module. At the top of your Basic panel are the white balance adjustment tools.

White Balance Options

The dropdown list will show you some options for adjusting white balance – what is shown here will vary depending on how your images are captured. If you capture in raw then the white balance dropdown list will contain the same options as you have on your camera for setting white balance. If you’re capturing jpg images then there are fewer options – As Shot, Auto and Custom.

Lightroom white balance 1 Lightroom Tip   Adjusting White Balance

On the left are the options for a raw image and on the right those for a jpeg image.

The Temperature and Tint sliders also have different units of measure depending on whether you’re working with jpgs or raw images. For jpg images both the sliders range from +100 to -100. If you’re working on a raw image then the Temperature slider shows degrees Kelvin from 2000 – 50,000 and the Tint slider ranges between + 150 and – 150.

Kelvin is a measurement of the color of light – daylight is around 5,500 degrees Kelvin. Lights we consider to be warm or pink/orange in color including tungsten globes are around 3,000 degrees Kelvin and cool lights which are blue in color such as overcast daylight are around 7,000 degrees Kelvin and higher.

Adjust White Balance

To adjust the white balance in the selected image you can select an option from the White Balance dropdown list to use to fix the image or you can use it as a starting point and then fine tune the result.

You can also manually adjust the Temp slider to add warmth or remove it from the image. Drag the sider to the left to add a blue tint to the image (to cool it down), or to the right to add a yellow tint to it to warm the image.

Use the Tint slider to balance out any excess magenta or green in the image. Drag towards the right to add magenta to the image cancelling out any green tint and drag to the left to add a green tint cancelling out any unwanted magenta.

White Balance Selector

You can also use the White Balance Selector to adjust white balance. You can select the tool by clicking on it or press W.

Lightroom white balance 2 Lightroom Tip   Adjusting White Balance

From the White Balance toolbar under the image you can select options that make the White Balance tool easier to use. I suggest you deselect Auto Dismiss as you can then click on the image in various places to attempt to fix it. If you have Auto Dismiss enabled you’ll only be able to click once before the selector is dismissed so, if that fix isn’t perfect then you’ll need to select the tool again to attempt another fix. This is a cumbersome way to work so I prefer to disable Auto Dismiss and put the tool away only when I am done with it.

If you click the Show Loupe checkbox then you’ll see a 5 by 5 pixel grid beside the mouse cursor. The center point in the grid is the pixel that you are currently targeting and which will be used to adjust the image if you click. This grid makes it easier for you to pick the correct point in the image to adjust to. The scale itself can be increased or decreased using the Scale option on the toolbar.

At the bottom of the loupe itself are the RGB percentage values of the pixel under the cursor. These values tell you if the pixel is neutral or not. If it is neutral then the percentages of R, G and B will all be equal – if they are not equal then there is color in that pixel.

Lightroom white balance 3 Lightroom Tip   Adjusting White Balance

To balance the image using the White Balance selector, click on a pixel that should be neutral grey – not white or black. When you do so, Lightroom will adjust the image so that the selected pixel is a neutral grey and, as a result, all the color in the image will change. At the same time Lightroom adds an entry to the image History for that adjustment. This means that you can wind back the history to return to an earlier white balance fix, if desired.

Lightroom white balance 4 Lightroom Tip   Adjusting White Balance

You should be aware that adjusting image white balance is to an extent a subjective assessment – so there is no one value that is “correct”. There are, instead, a myriad of different results that can be achieved so look for one that is it pleasing to you. In most cases viewers prefer to see some warmth in photos as they are more pleasing to the eye if they are warmer rather than cool.

I find that a good approach to take is to experiment with the white balance selector to see the effect on the image by selecting different pixels to adjust to. Then choose the most aesthetically pleasing result.

Helen Bradley

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Lightroom Tip – Batch Crop & Resize

Lightroom batch crop and resize opener Lightroom Tip   Batch Crop & Resize

Save Time in Lightroom when Resizing and Cropping Large Amounts of Output Images

If you’re working on a large shoot and need to output a lot of images at a fixed size then Lightroom can do the work for you. It isn’t obvious how you can crop all your images to a fixed size and output them at a certain set of pixel dimensions but it is easy to do when you know how. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1

Lightroom batch crop and resize 1 Lightroom Tip   Batch Crop & Resize

First locate the folder with your images in it. I prefer to make virtual copies of my images and put them in a new collection but you can do whatever makes sense to you.

Step 2

Lightroom batch crop and resize 2 Lightroom Tip   Batch Crop & Resize

Select all the images in Grid view in the Library module in Lightroom.

Open the Quick Develop panel on the right and, from the Crop Ratio dropdown list, select the crop ratio that you want to crop to. For example you can crop to fixed ratios such as 1 by 1 or printing sizes such as 5×7, 4×6 and so on.

Here I’ve selected 5×7 and when I do so all the selected images are automatically cropped to this 5 x 7 ratio.

Lightroom is smart enough to understand that some images are portrait orientation and others are landscape. Portrait images are cropped to 5 x 7 and landscape orientation images to 7 x 5.

Lightroom batch crop and resize 2a Lightroom Tip   Batch Crop & Resize

Step 3 (optional)

Lightroom batch crop and resize 3 Lightroom Tip   Batch Crop & Resize

If desired, you can now move to the Develop module and check the crop for all the images. By default, Lightroom will center the crop rectangle on the image and this may not be exactly what you want for some images. However, it is easy to go to the Develop module, click the first image and click on the Crop Overlay Tool so you see the crop marquee in position on the on the image.

Now from the filmstrip you can click on each image in succession to preview it in the crop window and you can easily identify if any of them need an adjustment to the crop rectangle. If they do simply drag on the crop rectangle to reposition it. When you’re done return to the Library view.

Step 4

Lightroom batch crop and resize 4 Lightroom Tip   Batch Crop & Resize
As the images are now all cropped to size, press Ctrl + A to select them and then click Export. Choose a folder to export the images into or click New Folder to create a new folder.

You can now set your desired preferences in the Export dialog.

To control the output size – in pixels wide and tall – of the images easily because you already know the crop ratio. To do this, select the Resize to fit checkbox and choose Long Edge from the dropdown list. Then type a pixel dimension for the long edge. So, for example, to prepare 5 by 7 ratio images for printing at 300 dpi the longest edge will need to be 2,100 pixels (7 x 300) so type 2100 and set the resolution to 300.

Step 5

Lightroom batch crop and resize 5 Lightroom Tip   Batch Crop & Resize

Click Export to export your images and they will be exported to a folder at the chosen size and resolution.

This process allows you to quickly and effectively prepare a batch of images for printing. It manages portrait and landscape images so that you don’t have to separately handle each type. It’s a simple workflow and a fast way to prepare images from a large shoot.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Amazon’s Digital Design Bookstore

amazon digital design books Amazons Digital Design Bookstore


Ok.. so I am slow! A friend just sent me to the Amazon digital design bookstore. Now I love design books and finding them all in the one place is just awesome. So, thanks Marilyn and here for anyone else who hasn’t found it yet is the link to all things wonderful: Amazon Digital Design Bookstore.

Helen Bradley

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Illustrator – Create a Vector Swatch from a Madpattern Template

Learn how to make a vector repeating pattern swatch from a pattern created using a MadPattern template.

The Madpattern Illustrator templates include instructions for saving swatches as bitmap files but most users will want to create vector swatches. How to do this is not either clear or intuitive. This video shows you how to make a vector pattern swatch and how to save and open it so you can use it again in future.

Video covers downloading and opening a MadPattern template. How to create a pattern and then how to save a vector repeating pattern swatch. It also shows how to save the swatch and how to load it to use it again in future. Also covered is how to recolor the pattern and resize it.


Hello, I’m Helen Bradley.

Welcome to this video tutorial.

In this tutorial I’m going to show you how you can create a vector pattern swatch using Mad Pattern templates for creating repeatable patters.

Before we get started making our vector pattern swatch let’s have a look and see what we’re aiming at.

This is a vector pattern swatch that I created earlier using the Mad Pattern templates and all I need to do is to open the swatches library they’re saved into and add it as a fill to a shape such as this one here.

It can be scaled and colored and we’ll see that again in a short period of time.

But for now we need to go and have a look and see where we’re going to get these Mad Pattern templates from.

You’ll find the Mad Pattern templates at

They’re said to be compatible with Illustrator CS4 and 5.

They’re also compatible with 5.

Click here to download them.

On my website at you’ll see that I have a link from my Home page to Mad Pattern template images.

These show you the series of templates that you’re being given and how they repeat.

It’s pretty critical once you get into this to know exactly which one you need to get the repeating style that you want.

We’re actually going to use P3M1 here in just a minute.

Now once you’ve downloaded and extracted the files you can open them in Illustrator.

You can choose File, New from Template but I’m actually just going to open the template itself and this is the P3M1 template.

Now when you open these templates the first thing you’ll want to do is to show your layers palette because that will show you what’s going on.

Every template will have a layer that has the exact same name as the template itself.

It will also have a small amount of information which you can turn off by clicking the Info icon here.

If you read the info it does tell you a little bit of what you need to do to actually start creating the illustration for the template and also it will tell you how you can save this for web and devices.

Now the swatch saved for web and devices is a raster swatch so it won’t be scalable to a really high degree.

It would of course be a document that you could use in Photoshop but if you want a vector swatch then that’s what I’m going to show you how to do.

So we’re going to turn off the Info and we’re going to turn off the template elements and we’re going to click in here in this clipped elements area because that’s where we’re going to create the pattern itself.

I’m just going to zoom in here, make this a lot larger to that we can see the area that we’re going to be working.

I’m going to create a simple heart for my pattern swatch so I’m just going to quickly with the Pen tool draw a heart shape.

I’m not worried too much about how it looks.

I’ve got my handles turned off so I’m just going to make sure I turn them on and let’s just call that good for my heart.

Now I am going to color it so I’m just going to get my color swatches.

I’m going to fill it with a pink color and around the edges I’m just going to make it a navy blue.

Now I’d like my stroke to be a little bit bigger so I’m just going to grab my Appearance panel because I often find that stroke and things are a little bit easier to manage in the Appearance panel.

So we’ll give it a nice wide stroke.

Now before we leave here we can also grab the Ellipse tool and we’ll drag out a couple of circles.

So I’m just going to click on the edge here of this triangle.

So I’m looking for the anchor point.

I’m going to hold Alt and Shift so I can grab and drag a circle.

I’ll just reverse the colors here.

I’ll choose my Move tool, click on the object, choose Edit, Copy and then Edit, Paste in Place.

So that gives me a duplicate of this which then I can move over the very edge of this end of the triangle.

I’m going to do the same thing with Edit, Copy, Edit, Paste in Place and this time I’ll put mine at the very bottom of the triangle.

So this is what we have so far as our pattern.

Oops, let’s just grab that there.

So this is our pattern.

And having created the pattern we’re now in a position where we can go and save it as a vector swatch.

Now to do this we need to understand a couple of things about these Mad Pattern templates and one is that this is the area in which we draw our shape.

But this is an art board and this art board is fairly critical because it tells us how big our pattern repeat is going to be.

So I’m going to click here on this Art Board tool here and I just want to click on Art Board too because I want to select it because I want to read off a little bit of information about it.

To do this I’m going to click Art Board Options and this opens this Art Board Options dialog.

And these are the two measurements I’m interested in.

I want to know the width and the height of this art board and I need to know it exactly.

So this .21 pixels, that’s critical too.

So it’s 300 x 173.21 pixels.

I’m just going to cancel out of here because I just need that information, nothing more.

Now I’m going to select and create a rectangle but I’m just going to click once on the background here because I want to type in those measurements that I just got, 300 x 173.21 pixels and click Ok.

Now this is my shape but as you can see it’s got a blue fill and a pink outline.

We just can’t see that because the shape is not in the area in which the repeat pattern is being created.

If I do move it into that area you can see that it does have that fill and that edge to it.

Now it’s critical that it doesn’t have any of those features so with it selected I’m going to turn off the stroke and I’m going to turn off the fill.

So this is now an empty rectangle.

If you’re familiar with working with repeating patterns in Illustrator CS5, 4 and earlier then you’ll know that you need this unfilled rectangle to actually select and create a repeating pattern.

Now I’ve just opened my clipped elements group here.

I’m just going to drag the path all the way down to behind the background.

I just want to tuck it away for now.

And now what I want to do is to expand this layer P3M1.

Now I can’t expand it right now with this clipping mask and also this dummy path that are here with lock icons on them so I need to go in and unlock these two icons.

And then I’m going to select P3M1, the layer that corresponds with the template name, and click on all of these layers here so that everything is selected.

Now I’ll choose Object, Expand Appearance.

If you don’t see Expand Appearance here, if it’s grayed out, then you’ve done something or left something unselected or selected when it shouldn’t be.

So just exit out of this menu and go back and check that these lock icons are deselected and that you have P3M1 or whatever the layer is that corresponds with the template name selected and that these are all selected here because you absolutely have to have Expand Appearance available.

So I’ve clicked Expand Appearance and now you can see that I’ve got this very interesting sort of pattern of things happening in the background.

That’s exactly as it should be because I did need to expand the appearance of all these shapes.

So now I’m going to go back and reselect here the rectangle shape and then I’m going to select all these other objects as well.

So I’ve got everything selected here that makes up the swatch that I want to save.

And having done that I’m going to go and grab my Move tool and drag from the middle of this rectangle so that I’m dragging and dropping it into the Swatches panel.

And this then becomes my swatch.

So to test it before we leave here I’m going to turn off all these layers.

I’m going to click the topmost layer and I’m going to add a brand new layer so that I can add a filled rectangle over the tops.

I’ve just dragged out a rectangle here.

Now we can’t see it.

But you can now see it has a border and we want to select Fill and we want to drop our pattern fill in there so that we can check to make sure that everything looks perfect.

And I suggest you go one step further and that you actually resize this pattern.

So again, making sure that we have this rectangle selected let’s go to Object, Transform Scale and let’s make sure that we’re not transforming the object ourselves but that we are transforming the pattern.

And now we’re reducing it to 25 percent and we can see that this is a perfect pattern.

It’s repeating exactly the way it should be.

It’s looking absolutely perfect.

And if it looks perfect then you’re right to go.

If it isn’t perfect then just turn off this layer, get rid of this layer and just step back and recreate your pattern.

But we’re ready to go.

Now the problem with this is if I get rid of this document as I’m tempted to do I’m going to lose this pattern swatch and it’s not coming back any time soon.

I would have to recreate it.

So I need to save it.

So I’m going to click the dropdown list here now and chose Save Swatch Library as an Eye.

This is the one you want, the one at the very bottom.

And I’m going to call this heart2 mad pattern because I’ve got a heart1 already there just so that we know that this is the pattern swatch we just created.

I’m going to click Save.

So having done that I can now get rid of this image.

I don’t need it any longer and while I might usually save it in case I want to come back and make alterations to it today I’m just going to trash it.

So I’m just going to close it.

And now let’s go and test our pattern swatch.

I’ll choose File and New because I’m going to create a brand new landscape orientation document.

I’m going to drag out a rectangle on that document and if we go to the swatches palette you’ll see that our swatch has gone.

And that is to be expected.

We have to go and grab it.

We have to go and load it.

So from the swatches palette I’m going to choose Open Swatch Library and we’re going to choose User Defined and then heart2 mad pattern because that’s the one that I just saved.

Here is my pattern swatch.

I’ve got fill selected so I’m just going to click here and the object is now filled with my pattern.

And again we can test this by choosing Object, Transform, Scale.

Now this pattern can be scaled as big or as small as you like because it is a vector pattern.

So I’m just going to scale it here.

Now not only can we scale it we can also recolor it.

So if all you wanted to know was how to create a vector pattern for a Mad Pattern template then you’re off and running now.

But if you want to know how to recolor this hang around and we’re going to have a look at this too.

So to recolor it I’m going back to my swatches here.

I’m going to grab my color swatches and I want to create this color scheme here as a new swatch.

So I’m going to click here for new color group and I want to use the selected artwork and I’ll click Ok.

And so now these are here as global colors.

I’m going to select over that and click here the Edit or Apply Color Group button and this opens this color dialog.

Now I can use this color dialog to make changes for example I can say I don’t like this blue for example and I want to make it a sort of aqua color.

And that will make it aqua.

But I can also click the Edit button here and individually change these colors by dragging on the slider.

So I can drag around and the two colors maintain the same distance from each other but I can make them less saturated or more saturated by just dragging in or out on either of these sliders.

Now I can also unlock the slider here so that they’re now independent of each other.

So I can select whatever colors I want for the fill and for the stroke color on the pattern that is being used to fill this rectangle.

So when I’m done I’ll click Ok and I do want to save the changes and so they’re now saved as a swatch.

So you have all sorts of options here using the Mad Pattern templates and there are some really, really good patterns there.

And we’ll have a look at some more things that you can do with these Mad Pattern templates in upcoming videos.

But for this video I just wanted to make sure that you were able to save your patterns as a vector swatch because that’s going to be critical in being able to resize these patterns to any size and particularly very, very large sizes without losing details in your patterns.

I’m Helen Bradley.

Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial.

Look out on this YouTube channel for more YouTube videos on Illustrator, Photoshop, Lightroom and a whole lot more.

And also visit my website at

Helen Bradley

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