Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

A Great Microsoft Office Tutorial Resource

Great find! A list of good quality Microsoft Office tutorial resources

I’ve recently discovered an enormous list of Microsoft Office tutorials that may be worth checking out. Each piece of Office software has several listed tutorials ranging from beginner to advanced difficulty and general to specific usage.

Best of all, each tutorial has a brief summary of its contents so you can quickly decide if its new and interesting information. Hopefully every Office user will find something of use. You can visit the page here.

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

How to photograph reflections

Reflections make for great photos so here’s how to capture them

Reflections occur all around us. When you’re driving, the road behind you is reflected in the car rear vision mirror and your car will be reflected in the chrome on the car next to yours at the stop light.

Other reflections are more obvious and often constructed to be so, for example, the Reflecting Pool at the War Memorial in Canberra reflects the surrounding buildings and beautiful houses are often constructed with lakes in front of them to reflect their beauty.

Capturing these objects and their reflections can lead to some wonderful photos so here I’ll show you want to look out for and how to capture a great shot.

Axe the Polarizer

The first thing to do when shooting reflections is to remove the polarizing filter from your camera. This filter is designed to reduce reflections which, most of the time is a good thing, but not when it’s the reflections themselves you’re interested in.

If you leave the filter on and photograph something reflected in a window, chances are you’ll capture an image of what’s behind the window instead of what is reflected in it.

Ideas for reflections – sunglasses

While a beautiful building reflected in a lake makes for a great shot, there are reflections you’ll come across every day that will often be more interesting because they are not staged or expected.

For example, the lenses in sunglasses will reflect the scene around them. By positioning yourself so you can see something interesting reflected in the lens you can capture a mini scene within the glasses themselves.

Ideas for reflections – rear vision mirror

Car rear vision and side mirrors are great for capturing interesting reflections.

Hold the camera at an angle to the mirror so you don’t capture the camera in the shot (unless you actually want to) and frame the shot in the mirror. You’ll need to frame it very accurately because anything outside what shows in the mirror won’t be captured.

Ideas for reflections – city buildings

If you live in a city there will be reflection opportunities in the buildings around you. For example, capture a busy streetscape in the glass front window of a shop. Look out for an interesting shop to use for this purpose such as a fruiterer or bakery or some shop where what is in the window is as much of interest as what is reflected in it.

When you’re shooting reflections in shop windows, there’s a good chance the final shot will be a mix of reflection and what shows through the glass.

Tall buildings with mirror glass will reflect the buildings around them and the sky too. Look for opportunities where the sun is right and the reflected image an ideal one to compose and capture.


Helen Bradley

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Illustrator-half drop repeat pattern part2

Learn how to make a half drop repeat pattern in Illustrator. In this video I show you  how to use the  Object Transform Move tool to create the pattern.

See all of our video tutorials on our YouTube channel.

Here’s the text from the video:

Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. Today I’m going to show you how to create a half drop repeat pattern in Illustrator. Before we start creating half drop repeating pattern it’s worthwhile having a look at exactly what a half-drop repeat is. On the left here I have a very simple pattern. It’s just a series of stars side by side. And it’s created by just creating a pattern swatch from a single star in the middle of a document. It’s a plain sort of pattern that works well for some uses but it’s not as sophisticated as this one over here. You can see here that the stars take up each other’s space. So if we were to draw a line through the edge of each of the stars you’ll see that we run through the stars themselves. I’m just going to get the line tool. I’m going to concentrate on this star here. And if I draw a line along where that star is you can see that other stars come into its space. And across here horizontally as well other stars work into the space that’s consumed by this star. There’s not a whole box of white around it. These stars are offset from each other. This is a half drop repeat and it’s a sophisticated style of pattern. And we’re going to look at how to create this now. I like to start with a new file that is a known size. So I’m just going to make mine 100 x 100 points. Just a regular square file is fine but you will need to know exactly how big it is because you’re going to need to work out what half of that is soon. So I’ll just click Ok. I’m just going to zoom out a little bit here and move my image into position where I can see it and the tools around it. We’re going to draw a heart with the pen tool just a filled pink heart. It’s not going to have a border on it and it’s going to be a bright pink so that we can see it. So with the pen tool selected I’m going to click and drag, click and drag, create my point down the bottom, click and drag up here and then click to finish. And this is my heart shape. Now I can neaten it up if I like. I’m just going to make this a little bit smaller so that we can create the repeating pattern from it. So I’m pretty happy with that heart shape. I’m just going to move it roughly into the middle of this square. And now we’re going to break it up into the corners. And we do that using the Object Transform Move feature. What we’re going to do here is we’re going to start with minus a half of the dimensions of the original image. Now the original image was 100 points x 100 points. So we’re going to make this 50 x 50, and we’re going in a negative direction. What we’re going to do is effectively put this heart up here, but we want to make a copy of it, not move it. So I’m going to click Copy. I’m going back to select my heart. I’m going to do that again, Object Transform Move. This time I’m going to put it down here. So I’m going to go minus 50 in a horizontal direction but plus 50 in a vertical direction. I’m just going to remove that minus. Let’s click Preview. You can see it’s going to go in exactly the right position, and I’ll click Copy. Do that again, Object Transform Move. This time we’re headed over here which is plus in a horizontal direction and plus in a vertical direction. Everything is measured from this top corner. So when we’re thinking of our heart moving down here we’re headed in a horizontal plus direction, vertical plus direction. I’ll preview it just to make sure it’s going in exactly the right spot and click Copy. We’ve one last transformation, Object Transform Move and we’re going to send it up in this top corner which is positive in a horizontal direction but it’s going negative in a vertical directions. So I’m just going to type a negative sign in here, preview it, make sure it looks all right, which it does, and click Copy. So this is our repeating pattern. And it’s a really nice tight repeat. This is going to look really good. So the next step is to grab the rectangle tool and just click here on the Art Board. And I want a rectangle the exact same size as my art board. So I’m typing in 100 x 100 and then I’m going to tap V for move and move it so it’s over the top of the art board. If I want to check I can read off my transform settings here. And what I’m looking for is that the X and Y values are one-half of the art board size and one-half of the rectangle size. So everything is in position, now I’m just going to take the fill off this rectangle or square shape. So it now has no fill and no stroke. It’s still selected which is what it should be, so I’m going to click Object Arrange Send to Back. So this shape needs to be at the very back. If we go into our layers we’ll see that it is just there. You can see its path is at the very back of everything. And it needs to be there. Now I’m going to press Ctrl or Command A, and that selects everything. I could also choose Select All but the key stroke is a little bit easier. I’m going to click on this. Let’s just go and Ctrl or Command A again just to make sure that I didn’t do the wrong thing there. And I’m going to drag and drop it into the swatches panel. And what I have now is a sophisticated half drop repeating pattern. To use it I’m going to need to save this swatch because otherwise I’m going to lose it. So I’m going to click the fly out menu for the Swatches pallet, choose Save Swatch Library as AI so it’s saved as an AI file, and I’m going to call this heart. We better call it heart three because it looks like there’s some other hearts before, and click Save. Now we can get rid of this particular pattern if we want to. I’m going to create a new art board, a new file, File New, and I’m just going to create a regular letter size landscape document. Let’s just get this in position so we can see it. I’m going to put a rectangle over the top of this document. And the rectangle can be filled with things such as orange color. It can also be filled with our pattern. But you can see that the pattern is not in the swatch. So we have to go and get the pattern before we can use it. Luckily it’s saved to disk as a file. Click the fly out menu, open swatch library, user-defined and then we’ll go and get heart three which is up here. And here is our heart swatch. You can see it here. And now if I click on this my shape my rectangle is now filled with my repeating pattern. This is a tighter repeat than we had in the other image but it’s a half drop repeating pattern. Now if we look at this and say well whatever we wanted to use this for whether it be fabric design or the background of some sort of project if we thought that we didn’t have enough hearts, we want the heart smaller we can do so, Object Transform Scale. And what we’re going to do here is scale the pattern but not the rectangle. We want the rectangle the same size as the art board. So we’re not going to transform objects but we are going to Transform Patterns. And I’m going to take this down to 50 percent, and let’s preview that. So that would give us more hearts, and if we went down even smaller we’d get more hearts. If we thought that our hearts weren’t big enough then we could go up to say 150 percent and then they would be bigger. And we could go up from here. So if you want more or less hearts inside your rectangle you’ll come into Object Transform Scale, you’ll turn off Transform Objects because you don’t want to make the rectangle any difference in size but you do want to transform the pattern inside the rectangle. So there you have creating a half-drop repeating pattern in Illustrator. Now this is going to work in a lot of versions of Illustrator. These tools have been around for a long time. There is a new feature in Illustrator CS6 which is what I’m using here. It makes it even easier to create repeating patterns And I’ll have a look at that in another video.

Helen Bradley

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Publisher – Making Signs

Whether you need to make an open sign for your business or one to help find a lost pet, the basic premise is the same. You have a message you want to get across to your audience and you need to do this in the best and most effective way.

Signs pose difficulties not always present in other documents – you don’t have a lot of room to get the information across and often the sign will be placed where there is lots of other signage competing for attention.

Before you start
Before you make your sign, determine what you want to say and what information is most important for your audience to see. For example, for an Open sign, the word OPEN is critical and it will work without any other words very well. For a lost pet sign, the word Lost is important as it distinguishes the sign from others about pet grooming services, kennels etc.

Size of letters are important – a sign to be viewed from 3 yards/metres distance will need to have letters around 2.5cm/1 inch in height and you can add an extra 2.5cm/1 inch for every extra 3 metres/yards away your audience will be. The font size equivalent for letters 2.5cm/1 inch in height is around 72 points.

Colour is vital and it’s important that your sign be visible. The best colour combinations are high contrast ones such as black on yellow and white on black. Bad combinations are green on red or red on green – they’re indistinguishable to colour blind people and hard to read for the rest of us.

If you must use low contrast colours such as pale blue on white, add a black border around each letter to distinguish it from its surroundings.

When choosing fonts for your signs, stick to plain readable fonts and steer clear of script and other fancy typefaces. Fonts like Times New Roman and Arial and Verdana are good as they are clean and easy to read.

Capture interest
When you’re using photos to capture attention and to inform, make sure they are high quality and cropped to show the pet clearly. When typing information, group it logically so it’s easy to read. Include the details a person will need to have to contact you.

In the situation where immediate contact is crucial, creating tear off strips across the foot of the page is a good idea – a person can simply tear off the information they need and take it with them. However, make sure you also put the information on the sign as a person will need to have this available if the tear off strips are already removed.

Here’s how to create a sign with tear off strips.

Step 1
Start a new blank print publication. Choose File, Page Setup and set up full page printing and Letter or A4 paper size depending on the paper you will use. Choose Arrange, Layout Guides and adjust the margins to match your printers margins – the defaults are generally too big. Choose Arrange, Ruler Guides, Format Ruler Guides, vertical and add them at equal intervals across the page. Add one horizontal ruler across the bottom of the page.

Step 2
Create a text box and, in it, type the contact details for the tear off strip. Rotate the text by right clicking the shape, choose Format Text box, Text Box tab and check the ‘Rotate text within AutoShape by 90 degrees’ checkbox. Click the Colors and Lines tab and add a line to the top and right of the box. Drag the box into position and size it to fit. Hold Control as you drag a duplicate of the box to make the second box. Continue to complete all the boxes.

Step 3
Complete the rest of your sign by adding a large text message to attract a viewer’s eye. Add other explanatory text – make sure to include your phone number or contact details in the main notice in case all the tear off strips are removed. Focus on the important details someone will need to know. Add an image if desired to help attract attention.

Helen Bradley

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

DIY Visual Basic audio player

I’ve been programming with Basic for years, more than I ever want to admit to.

Recently I’ve been using Visual Basic Express edition, 2005 & 2008. I’ve made a heap of wonderful projects to show how to use the language to do things from creating status bar programs to a sketch application and a music player.

Over the next few months I plan to add some of these projects to my web site. For now, the first of these is up – a simple audio player created in VBE2005.

You can find it here, there is a second part which will be added very soon. It adds more functionality to this player application.

Helen Bradley

Friday, February 16th, 2007

Shameless Self Promotion

Ok, so it’s not exactly a tip of the day, but I already did today’s so I feel it’s justified.

I have lots of cool Photoshop tutorials around my site, check these out:

Photoshop Brushes tutorial
Learn how to create your own Photoshop Brushes

How to use Adjustment Layers
Make photoediting a simple and undoable process using Adjustment layers

Photoshop Gradients
Fix images and create colorful effects using Photoshop Gradients

Straighten an image in Photoshop, Elements and Paintshop Pro
Straighten your images with this simple to follow tutorial that covers the popular photoediting programs

Photoshop Shapes -New!
Helen Bradley explains how to use Photoshop Shapes to edit your photos and create fun shape overlays.

Create and use Photoshop Masks
Masks aren’t as hard as you think they are and this tutorial makes them simple to use.

Create seamless patterns in Photoshop
Whether you need them for the web or for a background for an Excel worksheet, here’s how to create great seamless patterns and we’ve included a mini tutorial on TV scan lines.

Color match photos in Photoshop
Even if your photos were taken in totally different lighting

Color Swatches in Photoshop
Create your own custom color swatches and use them in your photo editing work.

Ok, so that’s done, now back to the tips..

Helen Bradley