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Creative Pipeline: The ACP Blog

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If you've seen the ACP badge in Adobe's forums ACP Badge Tiny.JPGyou'll know that you are in great hands when one of our ACP's answers your product question.  Here's a great article from the recent "Inside Adobe", the company's employee newsletter, sharing more of the ACP story,

 

Your Photoshop workspace suddenly disappears. You can’t figure out how to make a smooth transition between clips in Premiere. Your assets won’t sync. And your frustration makes you seriously consider throwing your computer across the room. Don’t worry — the Adobe Community Professionals are here to help.

 

The Adobe Community Professionals (ACPs) are a group of 300 creative professionals, educators and experts from around the world who volunteer their time to answer customers’ questions on Adobe forums. Members have a variety of unique expertise - some are Photoshop gurus while others are Acrobat wizards – and while they only make up 3.8 percent of the 7,802 people participating on Adobe forums, they contribute to 26 percent of all forum content. ACP Emil Gawin is a motion designer and loves helping customers create animations, “Since Adobe has given so much to me and helped me grow as a motion designer, I want to help others who are starting out with Adobe software to learn it, use it and become passionate about creative work.” To become an ACP, candidates apply online and go through a 4-week trial period to become qualified.

 

 

ACPs don’t stop at the forums. This year, they also led Experience Day sessions, teaching Adobe employees how to use our products. Some have also been TA’s at MAX, where they helped attendees with questions during lab sessions.

 

To acknowledge our gratitude for this awesome group, we host the Community Summit each year – an exclusive event for ACPs that offers networking opportunities and roundtable discussions with product teams. This year, sixty-four members attended. The entire day was “a lift, joy and intellectual stimulation,” ACP Neil Haugen said.

 

Tricia Lawrence, who manages the ACP Program and Community Summit reiterated the importance of the program, "We give these ACPs the highest level of trust to help our customers. They are well equipped to answer customer questions and allow them to move on with their creative project,” she said.

 

For ACPs, seeing a smile on someone’s face — or a smile emoji on someone’s posted reply — makes it all worth it. “Seeing how the correct answer thrills the person who posted the question makes me happy,” ACP Sandee Cohen shared.

 

More Information

 

We have been asking for a new brushes management for a while!
Guess what it is happening in Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 and it is great and exciting!

Make the workflow with brushes easy and organized. No more brushes all over the place with names that do not relate to the project!

 

With the new Brushes and Brushes Preset you can do the following:

 

STREAMLINED BRUSH MANAGEMENT:

  • Organize brush presets into folders—including nested folders.
  • Any brush-enabled tool preset can be converted into a brush preset; all of its attributes—such as opacity, flow, and blending mode—are preserved.
  • In the Brushes panel flyout menu, easily toggle between the different views to see any combination of the brush name, brush stroke preview, and brush tip
  • View more brushes in the same screen space using the zoom slider.
  • Drag and drop brush presets to reorder them conveniently.
  • Collapse or expand folders to see only the brushes you need.
  • Use the Show Additional Preset Info option in the flyout menu to see the associated preset tool (for example, Eraser) and any included colors.

IMPORT BRUSHES AND BRUSH PACKS

 

  • You can import a wide variety of free and purchased brushes—for example, Kyle's Photoshop brush packs—into Photoshop.
  • In the Brushes panel, from the flyout menu, choose Get More Brushes. Alternatively, right-click a brush listed in the Brushes panel and select Get More Brushes from the contextual menu.
  • Download a brush pack. For example, download Kyle's "WaterColor".
  • With Photoshop running, double-click the downloaded ABR file.
  • The brushes you added are now displayed in the Brushes panel.

STROKE SMOOTHING

  • Photoshop can now perform intelligent smoothing on your brush strokes. Enter a value (0-100) for Smoothing in the Options bar when you're working with one of the following tools: Brush, Pencil, Mixer Brush, or Eraser. A value of 0 is the same as legacy smoothing in earlier versions of Photoshop. Higher values apply increasing amounts of intelligent smoothing to your strokes.
  • Stroke smoothing works in several modes. Clicking the gear icon to enable one or more of the following modes:
  • Pulled String Mode: Paints only when the string is taut. Cursor movements within the smoothing radius leave no mark.
  • Stroke Catch Up: Allows the paint to continue catching up with your cursor while you've paused the stroke. Disabling this mode stops paint application as soon as the cursor movement stops.
  • Catch-Up On Stroke End: Completes the stroke from the last paint position to the point where you released the mouse/stylus control.
  • Adjust For Zoom: Prevents jittery strokes by adjusting smoothing. Decreases smoothing when you zoom in the document; increases smoothing when you zoom out.

While using stroke smoothing, you may choose to view the brush leash, which connects the current paint location with the present cursor position. Select Preferences > Cursors > Show Brush Leash While Smoothing. You can also specify a color for the brush leash.

For complete information checkout my Spark Page (includes at the end a glossary on brushes as well).

https://spark.adobe.com/page/H3AdNQ27bVSss/

A list of better placeholders for your web & print projects

Originally appeared at https://alt-web.com/TUTORIALS/?id=no-more-boring-placeholders

 

Behold! The ubiquitous gray placeholder image.  It's not very exciting to be sure but it serves the intended purpose of reserving layout space for future image insertion.

From PlaceHolder.com

 

What if you're craving more from your work in progress but you don't want to waste precious project time creating custom placeholders in a variety of sizes? Well look no further my friends.  Below are some very nice and a few zany alternatives you can use.  Simply copy & paste the sample code with your width & height values.  Best of all, these placeholder images are hosted on secure HTTPS servers so when previewing your work to clients  you need not worry about mixing secure and non-secure content.

Not Secure Browser warning about mixed content

 

For purposes of this demo I used the same width & height (300/200) throughout. You will get different image results based on your width & height values. Some sites offer other interesting options too such as colors, filters and much, much more...   So let's get started with better placeholders.

 

SUBJECTSAMPLE CODEWEBSITE
Dummy Image Generator

 

<img src="https://dummyimage.com/300x200" alt="placeholder">

 

Use hex codes for background & foreground colors:
https://dummyimage.com/300x200/13518f/ffffff

Add custom text:
https://dummyimage.com/300x200/13518f/ffffff&text=Custom+Text

DummyImage.com
Animals

 

 

<img src="https://placeimg.com/300/200/animals" alt="placeholder">

 

Filter: /sepia or /gray
https://placeimg.com/300/200/animals/sepia
https://placeimg.com/300/200/animals/gray

PlaceIMG.com
Architecture

 

 

<img src="https://placeimg.com/300/200/arch" alt="placeholder">

 

Filter: /sepia or /gray
https://placeimg.com/300/200/arch/sepia
https://placeimg.com/300/200/arch/gray

PlaceIMG.com
Nature

 

 

<img src="https://placeimg.com/300/200/nature" alt="placeholder">

 

Filter: /sepia or /gray
https://placeimg.com/300/200/nature/sepia
https://placeimg.com/300/200/nature/gray

PlaceIMG.com
People

 

 

<img src="https://placeimg.com/300/200/people" alt="placeholder">

 

Filter: /sepia or /gray
https://placeimg.com/300/200/people/sepia
https://placeimg.com/300/200/people/gray

PlaceIMG.com
Technology

 

 

<img src="https://placeimg.com/300/200/tech" alt="placeholder">

 

Filter: /sepia or /gray
https://placeimg.com/300/200/tech/sepia
https://placeimg.com/300/200/tech/gray

PlaceIMG.com
Various (1000 + images)

 

<img src="https://unsplash.it/300/200" alt="placeholder">

 

Gray: https://unsplash.it/g/300/200
Random: https://unsplash.it/300/200?random
Blurred: https://unsplash.it/300/200?blur
Specific Image Number: https://unsplash.it/300/200?=299

UnSplash.it
Bill Murray

 

 

<img src="https://www.fillmurray.com/300/200" alt="placholder">

 

Gray: https://www.fillmurray.com/g/300/200

FillMurray.com
Nicholas Cage

 

 

<img src="https://placecage.com/300/200" alt="placholder">

 

Gray: https://placecage.com/g/300/200

 

Crazy: https://placecage.com/c/300/200

PlaceCage.com
Steven Segal

 

 

<img src="https://stevensegallery.com/300/200" alt="placholder">

 

Gray: https://stevensegallery.com/g/300/200

StevenSegallery.com
Bears

 

 

<img src="https://www.placebear.com/300/200" alt="placeholder">

 

Gray: https://www.placebear.com/g/300/200

PlaceBear.com
Zombies

 

 

<img src="https://placezombie.com/300x200" alt="placholder">

 

Gray: https://placezombie.com/g/300x200

 

Maximum size: 1000x1000

PlaceZombie.com
Bacon

 

 

<img src="https://baconmockup.com/300/200" alt="placeholder">

BaconMockup.com

 

Before anyone gets upset with me for NOT mentioning Placekitten.com or Lorempixel.com among others, I intentionally left them off this list because their images are not securely hosted on HTTPS servers. When and if that changes I'll happily revise this article to include them.

So there you have it folks.  A rich assortment of secure placeholders for all your web & print projects.  Enjoy!

 


By Nancy O'Shea, ACP / Web Developer
Web Site: https://alt-web.com

small copy.png

 

Brushes are a great way to enhance your Adobe Illustrator creative work.

You can go a long way with Illustrator's basic tools, draw wit the pen or curvature tool. Use the width tool to change the profile of your stroke and so on.  But with the right set of brushes – and the flexible way in which Illustrator allows them to be used on vector shapes – you can quickly and easily add texture and character to any piece of work. Brushes are also part of your Appearance and as such you can save Graphics Style using brushes.


In this Adobe spark Presentation I go over how to use Adobe Illustrator brushes as well as drawing with the Blob brush tool

 

 

 

Enjoy!

 

https://spark.adobe.com/page/d4XhyajktTb0h/

Legos.jpg

 

From my earliest memories as a child I can remember playing with Legos. When I was very small it was the large Legos where I built tall towers out of the brightly colored blocks until they fell down. As I got older, the Legos got smaller and I can remember building more complicated structures for my Star Wars action figures to have epic battles of good versus evil.

 

I’m currently reading the book InsightOut by Tina Seelig and she points out that in the 1970s legos came without instructions for specific objects but were designed for children to be led by their imagination. In fact in 1974, the following letter was shipped in each box of Legos:

 

To Parents:

 

The urge to create is equally strong in all children. Boys and girls. It’s imagination that counts. Not skill. You build whatever comes into your head, the way you want it. A bed or a truck. A dolls house or a spaceship. A lot of boys like dolls houses. They’re more human than spaceships. A lot of girls prefer spaceships. They’re more exciting than dolls houses. The most important thing is to put the right material in their hands and let them create whatever appeals to them.

 

Now Lego offers pre-packaged boxes of specific designs developed by Lego engineers. This is great for kids to learn how to follow instructions and build a fantastic version of the Death Star or a Volkswagen T1 Camper Van, but it also inhibits kids from exploring the possibilities and using their imagination.

 

Having specific goals and searching for the “right answer” leads to a fixed mindset with limited possibilities. As Tina states in her book, “With a limited imagination, we’re doomed to incremental thinking, doing the same thing as everyone else, with limited variation. I have told my college students for years now, “If you want the same results as everyone else, do what everyone else does, if you want different results you have to do things differently.”

 

In recent years, I have heard Legos used as an analogy for developing flexible frameworks in software development. Many enterprise companies have the desire to develop innovative products. Often, they have established risk adverse cultures and rigid guidelines. Because of this, companies ultimately wind up with products that have a backlog of client requested features that provide only incremental value to users and the market place.

 

To truly be innovative, companies should allow teams to throw the Legos in a big bin and have fun coming up with cool stuff. Sure most of the stuff might not work out, but you never know when one of the products might just be the next billion dollar idea.

Imagine you customer is happy about having a special logo made by you and he is eager to use it. He wants the logo just PNG for his website and his documents. Unfortunately he did not mention which sizes the PNGs should have. He actually expects one file that serves every purpose, because he may not know better. So imagine he gets the PNG in 200px x 200px and suddenly he wants to print it on a business card with a layer of gloss on it. You as a trained designer quickly realize, it is not possible

 

The logo is a mess

 

As a graphic designer I often had the pleasure to re-design logos, because they were just not right, needed a bit of tuning or the zeitgeist has moved forward. What I often see are logos which aren’t ready, meaning not ready to give away to the customer for use. Not even the vector version was done.

There are white spaces in between vectors, the curves and nodes have a strange sense of symmetry, the vector information is to complicated, less nodes could be better

I have seen logos, ready to be used for print design, where the font was not vectorized. In this situation you always have to ask for the font, if you don’t have it already, because you need to have it installed in order to work on the logo, or even being able to use it on a medium.

 

Bildschirmfoto 2017-08-13 um 20.09.07.pngBildschirmfoto 2017-08-13 um 20.09.42.pngBildschirmfoto 2017-08-13 um 20.52.58.png

 

A logo ready to use

 

I’m going to show you what you can do to make the logo for your customer ready to use.

 

Asking the right questions

 

First of all, ask you customer on which media he wants to use the logo?

Print: Paper, t shirt, stamps, business cards and advertisement as big as a house?

In this case you will need to design a logo that is pure vector. You need to scale the logo from the smallest readable size to a size of a house. Also your logo should work in black and white. And I mean not grayscale. Because if you customer wants a stamp, or he wants the logo to be send with fax (old technology still in use), you need to create a logo with pure black and pure white. A stamp maker will take the black space and will carve out the white space. If a stamp color is applied to the stamp it will only be applied to the space which is defined as black in your logo template.

 

Bildschirmfoto 2017-08-13 um 20.10.14 Kopie.pngBildschirmfoto 2017-08-13 um 21.41.24.png

 

Create your logo in black and white.

 

The black and white logo has a more trendy advantage: People love to put brands they like on tshirts and other materials. You can do it with a direct print, sure, but you can also use flex and flock print which needs vector information. A flex and flock print is not really a print. A machine cuts out a piece of flex and flock along the vector line. Imagine you cut a piece of paper on a line you have sketched. This is how it works.

 

Bildschirmfoto 2017-08-13 um 21.39.28.png

Create outlines for print effects and an outline for cutting purposes

 

If you customer wishes to have a print with print effects, you need to create an outline vector graphic from the logo. If you customer wants to create a sticker from the logo, you may need an outline that has some space from the image to the edge of the sticker.

 

Bildschirmfoto 2017-08-13 um 21.46.01.pngBildschirmfoto 2017-08-13 um 21.46.57.png

Make sure your logo is correct

I know customers don’t pay much, or at least don’t want to. But you can make them clear that your work will be quality work. So take your time and work on the curves until they fit together and no white space sticks out. Make sure that the curves have the right form and no node is too much.

 

Bildschirmfoto 2017-08-13 um 21.06.11.png

 

A set of Logos

Depending on what you have agreed on in your contract you can create a set of the following files of the logo:

PDF with vector information of all logos, color, black/white, inverted-black/white, absolutely vectorized. No font included here.

AI file, can contain the “open data” just in case somebody wants to check the font again.

SVG for web purposes, no font included here. Some fonts exclude the free use if font-implementation on the web.

PNG, please ask the customer what sizes he needs. If he doesn’t know. Create three in different sizes and let him know that you are available for export-services.

Create ready to use files for prints, stamps, stickers according to the customer’s wishes.

I also like to create the files with and without spaces which I usually define in a corporate design.

What does the Twitter logo have in common with the Parthenon and Da Vinci’s Last Supper? They are all designed using the Golden Ratio. Also the Golden Ratio is found in almost every aspect of nature.

 

The Golden Ratio can help you create natural looking compositions that are pleasing to the eye. In this blog I want to show you a simple way to create a flexible Golden Ratio grid you can use to improve your designs.

 

What is the Golden Ratio?

Trying to put it short and simple, the Golden Ratio is a special number approximately equal to 1,618. It is found when dividing a line into two parts so that the longer part (a) divided by the smaller part (b) is equal to the whole length (a+b) divided by the longer part (a).

Schermafbeelding 2017-08-14 om 12.46.59.png

a+b is to a

as a is to b.

 

You can find the same proportion in the Fibonacci sequence. In the Fibonacci sequence each number is the sum of the previous two numbers.

Fibonacci nummers.png

 

The numbers of this sequence are: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, ... etc.

The ratio of two numbers becomes increasingly closer to the Golden Ratio (1,618..) when the numbers get higher. For instance 21:13=1,615. Comes pretty close to the golden number. 144:89=1,617 and comes even closer.

 

Create a Golden Ratio grid

We will use the Fibonacci sequence to make the Golden Ratio grid in a Golden Rectangle. The grid is very flexible, you can apply the proportions in different ways. You can use it to organize the main content and the sidebar in a website or the column layout in a brochure design, for instance.

 

The grid is made in Photoshop, but you can apply the same procedure in Illustrator or InDesign

 

  • In Photoshop, make a new document (File > New).
  • Use two Fibonacci numbers for the Width and Height: Width 987 px and Height 610 px. This is a Golden Rectangle.
  • Set the Ruler Units to pixels in Preferences > Units & Rulers.
  • Now from the vertical ruler, drag a vertical guide to 610 px. Zoom in to see the exact number in the ruler!

Schermafbeelding 2017-08-14 om 15.16.51.png

Here you see the result after making the guide and giving the two parts a different color.

Schermafbeelding 2017-08-11 om 11.21.54.png

Why 610 px? Well, look at the Fibonacci sequence. The canvas width is 987 px. The previous number is 610 and the number before that is 377. This means the yellow part is 610 px and the turquoise part is 377 px. 610 + 377 = 987.

 

You have now divided the canvas according to the golden ratio!

 

No need to stop here! You can make a new division with the smaller number in the Fibonacci sequence: drag a horizontal ruler to 377 px.

Schermafbeelding 2017-08-11 om 11.46.31.png

And so on. You can make any composition you want, using the Fibonacci numbers.

Schermafbeelding 2017-08-11 om 12.09.00.png

 

Use the grid in other Document sizes

You can apply the grid in other designs with different sizes. Let’s say you want to use the Photoshop grid in a new document called ‘New Design’.

 

  • First, in the grid document, make a new layer (Layer > New).
  • With the Brush tool, draw a line over the guides.

Making the other layers invisible, it looks something like this:

Schermafbeelding 2017-08-14 om 15.47.49.png

Now you can copy, paste and resize the grid.

  • Make sure ‘New Design’ is opened in Photoshop.
  • Go back to the grid document.
  • In the Layer panel, duplicate the layer with the lines. A new window pops up.

Schermafbeelding 2017-08-11 om 16.58.56.png

  • In Document, choose the 'New Design' file.

 

Now go the 'New Design' file and you’ll see the grid appears in a new layer. You can adjust the size of the grid by dragging the corner handles. Press Shift as you drag a corner handle to scale proportionately.

Schermafbeelding 2017-08-11 om 17.11.04.png

I hope you enjoy using the Golden Ratio in your designs as much as I do!

 

 

Introduction of the problem

I've been scanning a lot of old family photos recently. One of the issues that I've had to deal with is that it was not uncommon for printers to use a textured or highly textured paper with some sort of pattern to provide some level of depth to the image. Admittedly, this did provide a nice appearance to the image, but if you are trying to scan that image for archival purposes, the texture can prove to be very problematic. If the surface had a flat (non-glossy) surface, you'd see small shadows in the region of the texture. If the surface were glossy, you'd see sharp reflections from the texture.

 

Below are two samples of each. On the left is an image with texture. Because this is subtle when seen on the web, I've placed a closeup within the image. On the right is a glossy image that has a lot of highly textured points sticking out to provide  depth. In this example I've held the image in the light in a way that fully exacerbates the problem as the reflected light overwhelms the image.

two-image-issues.jpg

With the flat textured image like the one on the left above, there are two potential approaches: digital and mechanical. The digital approach relies upon FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) applications. There used to be a variety of these applications out there but they are either fairly complicated to use (such as this software) or are no longer available. PC users may have better luck finding this kind of software. Because FFT requires a regular repeating pattern in the image, the software approach will not help the image on the right because there is no regular repeating pattern of artifacts.

 

One common  suggestion is to use a Gaussian blur to remove the textured lines (as in the above image on the left) by blurring the image. I recommend against this because it also blurs the image as well. If you have a good sharp image, why blur it unnecessarily?

Another suggestion is to scan twice but rotate the second scan by 180 degrees. The images are stacked (into layers) above each other and the user needs to reduce Opacity until there is a happy medium between seeing the shadow and not seeing the shadow.

An alternate approach is to do multiple scans but not just twice. Here's the deal: the texture you see from the scanner occurs because the light is not directly adjacent to the sensor and this creates shadow. Any variations on the orientation of the image will cause the shadow to change its position. You can align the scansas layers and then average them out. And here the more the merrier. With the image on the left above, four scans (at 90 degrees rotation each) gave good results. For the image on the right right above, four scans (at 90 degree rotation) was good but eight (at 45 degrees each scan) was much better.

 

For my scanning I was using the Epson Perfection V700 Photo scanner. For my software I was mostly using SilverFast 8 (by LaserSoft Imaging). Because this is a fairly monotonous process, it's easy to lose track of your progress. As such, I found that placing a Post-it note on the back of the image with an arrow pointing toward the top of the image and a circular arrow pointing the way I'm rotating the image helped considerably. (You can laugh, but if you're tired, this is really really handy.) You can see my system in the image below.

scanning-process.jpg

When performing the scans, what you need to do is to:

  1. Prescan, make all of the cropping, adjustments, and any alterations you choose to make on the first scan. Then scan the image.
  2. Next open the scanner and rotate the image 45 or 90 degrees (as you so choose) [Read below for methods of capturing rotation with your scanning software.]
  3. Close the scanner lid, do a Prescan to locate the image, then move and/or rotate your cropping rectangle, close the lid and scan.
  4. Repeat as necessary for the four or eight images you desire.

 

The thing here is that you do not want to make any subsequent adjustments to the quality of the scan; leave the adjustments alone.

It's important to note that some scanning software allows you to rotate your crop rectangle while others cannot. Because of this I'll explain the process first for scanning software that can rotate the crop rectangle, and an alternate proceedure for  scanning software that cannot rotate the crop rectangle. The end result will be no different.

 

If your scanning software can rotate the crop region:

Here I used Silverfast 8 scanning software which allows rotation of the crop region.

 

This is fairly straightforward: you place your image on the scanning bed at the angle you want, then do  a prescan to see the image and the crop region. With Silverfast you have four half-circles on all sides (see the image below), if you mouse down on these you can rotate the crop region. In each corner you can resize the crop region to fit your image, and if you place the mouse along a side, you can resize along that side. One annoyance is that the rotation axis is located at the middle of the image, which means that if you align the crop region with a corner of the image,  the crop-corner is no longer near the image-corner once you rotate the image. Because of this you  have to move the crop region to accommodate this movement.

 

One  problem that you may encounter is  if your image is too tall (or wide). Your manual rotation of the crop region will stop if the opposite corners  are wider than the scanner. The only option you have here is to shorten the rectangle, rotate, and then resize the rectangle as necessary. But I do encourage you to only change length OR width, not both.

Rotating-issue.jpg

I also encourage you to name/number the scans as you do them. Once you load these images into Bridge, you cannot tell which one is which, as shown below. For the rest of the process it really will not make a difference, but if you miss one, this will help you determine which one you missed.

as-seen-in-bridge.jpg

At this point  use Adobe Bridge's rotation tools to bring all of the images to an upright position.

 

If your scanning software cannot rotate the crop region:

Here I used Epson Scan (v. 3.9.4) scanning software, because it does not allow  rotation of the crop region.

Obviously this only affects your process if you chose to add 45 degree rotations of your image. Since you cannot rotate the images, you are left with crops that contact the corners of the image as shown below. Fortunately this is fairly straightforward to resolve.

epson-no-rotate.jpg

All you need to do is one extra step: bring the image into Photoshop and select the Crop Tool. As shown on the left, along the Options bar you can see the "Straighten" option. Select that and then drag across one of the straight edges (as shown below in the middle). PS will understand that this is either a horizontal or vertical axis and rotate the image accordingly. Finally, as shown in the third image, you'll need to set the formal crop lines against the image. Tap the Enter key when finished, Save it, and you're done with that image.

straighten-crop.jpg

This is obviously only necessary if you need to scan at 45 degrees and is not necessary at all if you are only doing 4 rotated scans.

 

Finishing the process, two options:

 

Method #1: Open all four (or eight) images into Photoshop.

First Open all (four or eight) of the files. Then, from the File menu, go into scripts and select "Load Files into Stacks" as shown below

scripts-from-menu.png

When this opens, select "Add Open Files"

add-open-files.png

Finally check both boxes below.

check-all-boxes.png

Now, go to the Layer menu and choose Smart Objects -> Stack mode -> (and select either) Mean or Median. [Note that these are commonly used when taking a photo in a public place when you don't want all of the people in the final photo: You need to take many, many shots of thefountain (let's say) . As people  wander around, not everyone will be in every photo in the same place. Median will remove all the people from the photo.] In this case, however, because the shadows are not in every photo (or at least not in the same place), they (like the people around the fountain) will be cancelled out from the final photo.

median-mean.png

Method #2:  if you have Dr. Brown's Services:

From Bridge you can select all 4 or 8 of the images and select Dr. Brown's Services and then Dr. Brown's Stack-A-Matic.

[Dr. Brown's Services can be downloaded here and installed in Adobe Bridge.]

getting-brown-stackomatic.png

Once at  this window, be sure to check the boxes shown and click OK:

Stackomatic.png

Now go to the Layers menu and choose Smart Objects -> Stack mode -> (and select either) Mean or Median as you did in the first example.

 

The Result

So where does this get you?

 

From the  first photo at the top of this blog on the left above, you can see a detail on the left side, below. You can see the result after  processing in that same detail on the right.

rose-b&amp;a.jpg

For the other image, again in the detail on the left below is the first scan (this is not as bad as the first image I showed because this is from a single scan without holding the photograph to reflect the light, but it's still   unacceptable). On the right is the result of going through this process. Very acceptable.

sparkles.jpg

The good news is that these textured photos are not as common as all the rest of your images. Out of over 700 images, I've only encountered 4. However, if you're going through the process of capturing your family's history, anything you can do to get the best possible image is worth the time and effort. I hope after reading this article you can recognize the vlaue of following this somewhat lengthy process.

 

I'd like to add a big thanks to Cristen Gillespie for helping me proof this blog. Cristen provided wonderful help.

In Part 1 we talked about how to take hundreds or thousands of slides and quickly turn them into digital images. This was done by photographing the slides with a good camera and a macro lens. While you will not get as good a result as a proper scanning of the slides, you will process your slides significantly faster than if you scanned. The goal here is speed and if your setup is done properly, and you understand how to work with Lightroom, you can get OK to pretty good results.

The problem with slides is that unless you can clearly see them, it's hard to see them well enough to know which images you want to keep or toss, like, or even cherish. Simply holding them up to a light is a very limited approach. By processing the images as presented below, you will quickly convert the photos of your slides into very viable digital images. However, speed is the operative word here.

I'm presenting a lot of information below, some of which may not be relevant to you depending on your Lightroom knowledge and experience. If you're already pretty good at Lightroom, there's a lot to skim. If you're new to Lightroom, there's information below that will help you process your slides as well as any image you encounter in Lightroom. Plus, it's always easier to learn an application while doing a project that uses that application. As such, this hopefully will be a functionally useful educational experience.

Also, as I stated in Part 1, I've processed over 5000 images at this point. I've tried a variety of approaches to speed up this process and the following techniques work for me. One of the advantages of Lightroom is how many ways there are to do the same thing. I find that I use many or all of some of these approaches to get the job done. That said, I'm sure there techniques that I'm not using because either I'm not aware of them or  they do not work for me. As always, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary).

Because of my approach here, this article on how to process your photographs of your slides is also a primer on how to use Lightroom. Lightroom is a wonderful application but very confusing to use because what you are looking at can change from one moment to another depending on what mode you're in or what you've clicked on recently. Because of this I will spend a few moments at appropriate times to make sure that what you are looking at on YOUR computer is what I'm showing on my screenshots.

In this article we'll discuss:

  • A global view of what you're doing here
  • Some tips on tethering your camera to Lightroom
  • What you can and cannot correct on these images
  • Tips on selecting and de-selecting images in Lightroom
  • Cropping a lot of slides uniformly using Auto Sync
  • Some techniques to self-review your slides
  • Removing and/or Deleting images
  • Using "Previous" to duplicate a slides adjustments
  • Using "Copy and Paste" to duplicate a slides adjustments
  • Using "Sync" to duplicate a slides adjustments
  • Using "Painter" to duplicate a slides adjustments
  • Fine-tuning adjustments on your slides
  • Digital Dust Removal
  • A variety of ways to Keyword your images
  • Fixing misspelled keywords
  • Face Detection

To Begin

As stated, photographing your slides is a great  opportunity to not only see your images, but to play Keep & Toss with your slides. If you have photos of nondescript mountains or nondescript people, they may have meant something at the time they were taken but now maybe not so much. You may chose to delete the photos of these slides from your hard drives or at least the image from your Lightroom collection. Because of the ability to better see your slides on your screen, what you do with these images is up to you. I will guide you on how to make these images as good as possible but you do not need to do ANYTHING from what I suggest. Just getting them into Lightroom might be sufficient. However, I found that since I can now see these images I might as well make the ones I like as good looking as possible. In addition, if there's any image that you particularly like, you can always pull out the original slide and do a proper scanning of the slide.

Just about everything that we'll be doing with Lightroom in this writing can be done with just about any version of Lightroom—you do not need the latest version. There are a few  techniques that can only be done with the newer releases but these are not critical to the objective: converting vast quantities of slides into a digital format.

Part of processing the images can start as early as when you are setting up the tethering your camera and computer together. This set up  can let you identify where the images will be placed in your catalog as well as start out with some keywords. [If you are not using tethering, you can do bulk Keywording during import from your camera's card as described in the Keywording section.] You can set your keywords to match the images' range you are processing. That is, if you've taken all of the images in one state (e.g., Florida), than that state can be placed in the keyword field. If in a specific location (e.g., Epcot), than I suggest you place both Florida and Epcot in the keyword list. Also note that I entered the slide box (or whatever location would suffice) that contained the slides. Again, this will help you find the slides at any future date.

lightroom-tethered.png

You'll note that I do not have much of any custom names (for the slides) at this point. I've tried various approaches to changing the name of the slides as I processed the images but l gave up as it was  tortuous—too much stopping and starting. If you really wish to provide custom names to the images after they've been photographed, there is a MUCH easier way: when looking in the images in Library mode select all of the images that will share a name. Then from the Library menu select Rename Photos... Select option "Custom Name - Sequence" from the dropdown menu, provide the custom name, verify the Start Number, and tap OK and you're done. However, I honestly never found a strong advantage of customizing the names and often left the images with whatever name they received. Simply, Keywording is much more powerful and efficient than  naming  the images.

rename-photos.png

As stated, the goal is to process the images as efficiently as one can. If there are individual images you wish to enhance, you can always spend time with them in Lightroom one at a time. However, any time you can alter and fix more than one image at a time, the better. Lightroom helps this considerably by providing many ways to alter many images at a time.

What you can/can't correct on these images.

These images were first slides, not digital images. Therefore, there is no lens information to take advantage of Adobe's lens corrections. And part of this is you cannot expect to get any help from the new Transform Options of selecting the "Vertical," "Horizontal," or other options to remove the perspective of an building. Fortunately, if you use the "Guided" option  you can fix a distorted building, but most of the time I don't bother unless the image has some real issues and I want to take the time to fix the problem.)

Even though you've taken these as raw images (hopefully), any option to change their white balance by selecting sunlight, shade, tungsten, etc. from the White Balance dropdown menu are doomed before you start. Despite that, you can get close to fixing the White Balance by clicking on something gray-ish in the image with the White Balance Tool (or press "w"). More on this later

white-balance-tool.png

Another critical option that's not available is any grain correction—Photoshop and Lightroom do not know how to get rid of photographic film grain, that's a film issue, not a digital issue. If you have an image with noticeable photographic grain and you wish to fix that, your best option is to use a high-end scanning software such as SilverFast by LaserSoft Imaging. I've a sample of the benefits of this feature in the beginning of Part 1.

If you've taken your images as raw images, you will have excellent success with the Highlight and Shadow sliders. Likewise, you can control the white and black regions on the histogram with either the White and Black Sliders or by going up to the histogram, mousing down in one of the five regions (as you mouse-over each region will slightly lighten up) and dragging left or right as shown below.

black-n-white.png

Fortunately, one of the tools that IS available to enhancing the slides is the "Dehaze" tool. Unfortunately this also is a fairly new tool and is not available in earlier versions of Lightroom.

Some basic info on selecting images in Lightroom

So that you know what I'm looking at (and referring to), when I'm looking at image in the Library mode, I'm seeing the following view. Note, to get this you need to tap the Loupe View (e) seen just below the left side, below the image. I tend to not use the Grid view much (press the icon to the left of the Loupe View). However, there is one area where I do use Grid view and this will be brought up at a later time while I discuss Keywording.

Lightroom-loup.png

Also note that the tools provided in this region can change by your choices. This is done on the far right of the tool region. If an item is checked, it will show. Also be aware that if you switch to the Grid view, the various tools change and the selections below also change. Fortunately what you chose is sticky so set it once and you are done. But again, the options for Grid and Loupe are different, it's just that once set each view's options will be sticky for that view. Anyhow, if I'm showing tools that you do not see, that's why.

tool-control.png

Lastly, if you do not see this Tool region, press the "t" key and make it show or hide as you chose. Similarly, if you do not see the image thumbnails across the bottom, if you look at the bottom you see a small "up" pointing arrowhead as shown below. [Note: the contrast is dismal but it is there.] If the thumbnails are not showing and you mouse-over this arrowhead, the thumbnails will show, if you click on the arrowhead, the thumbnails will show and remain.

thumb-switch.png

The goal in this article is to process many images as fast as possible, it's important to know how to select a single image, many sequential images and/or many non-sequential images. You might already know this material but if you are weak on these details, it will bring you up to speed on processes that will be discussed later. All of the following is done on the thumbnails that line the bottom of the screen.

Tips on Selecting and De-selecting images

If you click ON the image, that image will be selected.

clicking on an image to select.png

If you click above or below an image, you can also select an image. Let's call this "off-image clicking."

clicking off the image to select.png

If you click on one image and then Shift click on an image many images away, all of the continuous row of images (from beginning of the selection to end) will be selected.

And if you click on one image and Control/Command-click on any other images (regardless of order) they will be selected even if discontinuous.

Command-Control clicking to select.png

Now, notice above how one of the photos in the image above is a lighter gray than the others? THAT image will show up in the big Loupe view above. If you click ON any of the selected images (not off-image), then that image will be displayed in the Loupe view. This means that if you have more than one image selected but wish to change the view of which specific image is showing, you can. If you click off-image (on any of the images), that image will be selected and all of the other images will be deselected.

If you  press "Command/Control-a," all of the images will be selected. If you wish to deselect the images, you can either click any off-image clicking (and only that one image will be selected). Alternatively if you press Shift-Option-Command/Control-d,  all images will  be de-selected.

As you process your images, your ability to select and deselect the images is critical and the above tips will become 2nd nature in no time.

Processing the images: cropping off the slide's cardboard

As you recall in Part 1, I was very insistent upon making sure that each image was properly registered to a specific consistent location as you took the photos. The better you did this, the easier this next section will be.

Our first task is to crop the image so that none of the slide's cardboard is displayed. First, click on the Develop tab, or press Command/Control-Option-2 so that you are in the Develop tab (and not in Library mode).

The first bulk processing technique to demonstrate is "Auto-sync." I start here because this is one of the most powerful and consequently, one of the most dangerous adjustment tool in Lightroom. It's also a good place to start because it's a handy place to crop all of the images at once to remove the slide's cardboard. [Note: the way Lightroom works you cannot make any permanent changes to an image. Thus, if you crop an image in Lightroom and for whatever reason did a bad crop, you can always go back to the original image and nothing has been permanently damaged.]

Tap "Command/Control-a" to select all of the images. If you look at the bottom right of the screen you'll see a button called "Sync..." (More info on how to use Sync… a bit later.) On the left side of this you'll see a switch that's on the bottom. Tap that and it will flip to the top and now the button will say "Auto Sync." [Note, if you see nothing, than no images is selected and if the button says "Previous, that means you only have one photo selected.]

auto-sync.png

Now tap the "r" key (for cRop), select Crop from the Tools menu, or tap the Crop icon on the left of the tools (see below)

crop-icon.png

You'll now see  crop lines on the image. The default crop lines are on the image's edges.

crop-lines.jpg

Now you need to start bringing the crop down to the image. Because this image has a bit of rotation, there's no need to try to get accurate yet. So grab a corner handle and bring it down to the image, and then repeat with the other handle on the opposite corner.

crop-one-corner.jpg

Now, if you mouse-over a corner, outside of the cropped region (see the bottom right in the image below), the cursor will turn into a double-arrow. Click on the arrow and drag up and down—this lets you rotate the image. To complete the cropping process, make any fine-tune adjustments for the sides of the crop to line up with the images' edges. Now click the Crop tool once again (or press "r" again) and everyone of your images will have been cropped all at once. Done!

crop-rotate.jpg

While you still have all of the images selected and you're still in Auto Sync, it's a good idea to move the Highlight slider to the left and the Shadow slider to the right. If nothing else this is why you took the images in raw mode, NOT JPEG. Your ability to make as much of an enhancement to each image as you can at this point is due to the extra information contained in raw images. The exact setting is not really critical here, just close to the settings shown below will be fine. This is just a starting point for any subsequent adjustments.

highlight-shadow.png

Now, before you do ANYTHING else, press Shift-Option-Command/Control-d key to deselect all of the images  (or click off-image on any  one image to deselect all but that one image) and be sure that  Auto Sync is turned off. It's important to get into the habit of this if you use Auto-Sync because if you start to make images adjustments with Auto-sync on, those adjustments will take place on ALL of your images, even the ones you just did a moment before. (And thereby undoing any fine-tuning you just did on any previous image(s)).

Initial Reviewing your Slides

Now that you can easily see your cropped images in full view in the Loupe view. Now is a great time to make sure that all images are properly cropped, which one's need to be rotated to Portrait view, and do a quick review of which images you want to spend time on and which images need to be tossed out.

The probable reality is, as you took photos of your slides, you  inadvertently bump your setup and suddenly all subsequent images from that "whoops" point are not properly cropped as the previous images were. No fear.  Select the first slide you notice this issue and then move over to the last slide and Shift-click on that last photo. Now go back to the first slide of this set, set "Sync..." to "Auto Sync," adjust the crop on that image. Next, be sure Auto Sync is off and deselect the images and continue. Every time you notice that things are off, do this semi-global adjustment and continue. Eventually you'll reach the end of the images and all alignment adjustments have been made.

As you look through your slides to make sure they are cropped, it is also a good time to quickly go through your slides to remove and/or delete photos that are just not worth saving. (If they are not worth saving, there's no need to spend any time correcting and/or enhancing the images.) As you progress through your images, you will find the occasional image that says nothing, means nothing, and/or isn't well taken in the first place. Time to play Keep & Toss.

You can either delete the images as you look though your images or you can mark your image so that you can "Find" the images with that marking (see next paragraph) and delete all at once. Whichever one appeals to you is fine.

In addition to deleting the images as you find them, you can be a bit more methodical and identify which images are either particularly good and/or particularly bad. This can be done by selecting an image and tapping the "P" or "X" key as you go through your images. If you look at the images below, in the upper left-hand corner you can see the white flag ("flagged") or black flag (rejected) icon identifying your choice.

flag-reject.png

Besides using the Flag and Reject, you can also use Ratings (*) and Labels (colors) to do the same thing, Flag and Rejecting are just two more ways to identify images.

The one advantage to flagging the good and bad images this way is that you've already identified which images deserve special attention. This might save you time later on.

To delete an image, select one image, several continuous images, or discontinuous images. Then, either tap the "Delete" key, go to the Photo menu and select "Remove Photo," or right click (as shown below on the left) and select "Remove Photo(s)" (if you select have two or more photos, this becomes plural). If you do any of these things, a new window pops up (shown below on the right) verifying if you want the images Removed from the catalog (but will still remain on your computer), or "Delete from Disk" which places the images in your computer's Trash Can where, if weak in heart, you can retrieve them again so long as you've not emptied your computer's trash can.

keep-n-toss.png

As stated, as you pan through your images it  is a great time to  find the portrait images you rotated to the landscape view to photograph. Here's something that's very cool: Lightroom remembers an images original orientation when making subsequent cropping operations. By this, let's say that the crops on the images were done in a side-to-side orientation. However, now that the slide has been rotated to a portrait position. If you select multiple images and make a side-to-side adjustment, all of the images that you rotated to portrait will automatically adjust in a top-to-bottom orientation. In other words, you do not need to do anything special to them after rotation, it all just works.

By the way, the process of rotating the slides is to either go to the Photo menu and select "Rotate CCW" (Command/Control-[ ) or "Rotate CW (Command/Control-] )." Because I always rotate the slide CCW when processing the slides, I always do Command/Control-] to right them again. This can also be done from the Tool menu from the Library view but the key-command is available in any mode so I tend to use that approach.

Next group process: Previous

Now we will begin to do actual image correction. This approach "Previous," and the next correction ("Copy and Paste"), are for speeding up corrections one at a time.

"Previous" is particularly good if you have multiple images that appear to need very similar correction. It doesn't make any difference if the images are near each other or not.

Below you see an image that has a color-cast and the image has had some color degradation.

previous-image1.jpg

I went ahead and adjust this image as well as I could in a fast fashion. (It's not a great image so I didn't spend much time on it.)

previous-image2.jpg

Now, I clicked on the next image

previous-image3.jpg

And simply tapped the Previous button

previous-image4.jpg

All Lightroom did here was to take the settings of the previous image and place them on the selected image. The advantage here is that this is real simple: you  adjust one image and then click on any image that appears similar. (You can always go back and  fine-tune any subsequent image as necessary.) So, as you look across the images in the thumbnail strip on the bottom, you can tap Previous as you continue processing. The disadvantages include that you cannot save multiple "Previous" settings (e.g., Previous A, Previous B, etc.), nor can you select multiple images and tap "Previous." In addition, if there were any corrections that were very specific (e.g., some rotation) on the initial image, those corrections will  be transferred to any other image you tap "Previous" whether the subsequent images need that adjustment or not.

Next bulk process: "Copy" & "Paste."

Copy & Paste is similar to Previous but is best when you want to Paste "almost" every attribute you corrected. To use this set of tools, it  requires an extra step before the Paste button.

copy-paste1.png

You'll notice that the Copy button has an ellipse and that means that this will bring up a dialog box.

copy-paste2.png

When this window comes up you can accept all of the boxes being checked or un-checked (lower left in the image above). As needed, you can check or recheck the options you  want maintained. Notice, for example, that you can turn off  rotational dynamics so they do not affect subsequent images.

To use this, you first select an image and make all of the adjustments you wish to make, then press Copy… Be sure that all of the attributes you wish to paste are selected. Then select an image and press  the Paste button. All of the settings you copied will be pasted onto the new  image. The advantage here is let's say that you had selected an image and made a bunch of corrections, including rotation. Assuming that you have other images that have the same problems but do not need rotation, by using Paste instead of Previous, you can pass on all of the adjustments but not rotation.

Once you've copied the alterations you've made, you can then select new image and then press Copy and repeat until you've adjusted all of the images with similar issues. What you cannot do with Paste is to select a number of images and then tap the Paste button—it doesn't work. That's when you need to use the "Sync…" feature described next.

The biggest limitation of Copy & Paste is that like Previous, you can only do it one image at-a-time.

Next bulk process: Sync…

The last option for bulk processing is the "Sync…" button (last seen when we were talking about "Auto Sync").

As before, if you select one image, this button says "Previous." If you select more than one image, the button now says "Sync…" The way to use this is to select a number of images, either continuous or discontinuous. Now click ON one of the images (not off-image because that will deselect your collection), that will be your master image for this process. Make any and all of the adjustments you want. Now tap the "Sync…" button. Up pops almost the same window as shown above. However, the button above that says "Copy"  now says "Synchronize." Press the Synchronize button and you are done. This is safer than Auto Sync because you actively have to press the Sync… button each time you wish to alter a bunch of images. Sync is much faster than Copy and Paste for bulk operations because you do not have to select and then Paste on each image. Rather, you can select two or hundreds of images and boom, your done!

Fine-Tuning Adjustments on your slides

After making any bulk adjustments, you'll invariably need to do some fine-tuning on those same images. This is because it's extremely unlikely that the group of images you bulk-adjusted were exactly the same. What the bulk adjustments did was to get a group of images close to being finished, now you can finish them. Making the fine-tuning adjustments on photographs of slides is not much different from making adjustments of regular digital images but with some limitations.

As stated, depending on the age of your slides, who the manufacturer was and/or the product type, and how they were stored, the amount of degradation may be nothing or significant. It's also a sad truth that the degradation is not going to be completely consistent from one image to the next (but there will likely be groups of images that are similarly, but not uniformly degraded).

Probably the most common issue/problem is white balance caused by fading of one or more of the emulsion colors. Fortunately, using Lightroom's White Balance eyedropper (and if something in the image is probably gray), you can sneak fairly close to what the correct temperature and tint should be.

At the top of the Basic panel, next to the Temperature and Tint controls for White Balance, is an eyedropper. You can either tap on that with your mouse or press the "w" key (for "White Balance").

white-bal1.jpg

Now, click on something in the image that you think is probably gray. As you can see on the left image below, I've chosen the sign. I have no idea if this is true gray but it's probably good enough to get close to what a balanced White Balance should be. On the right in the image below is the instant result of clicking that eye dropper on the sign.

white-bal2.jpg

[Note: how does the White Balance Tool work? As you probably know, gray is an equal mix of red, blue, and green but the trick is that there must be the exact same amount of red, blue, and green. When you click on something that is (or might be) gray, Lightroom will adjust the colors in the image so that if they were not the same before, they are now. (A mid-gray is a better choice than light or dark gray.) In the image above I had nothing else better to click on so I opted to use the sign.

Occasionally there's not enough information in "white" for Lightroom to make a correction as shown in the image below. Here, the white of the jonquils was too light  and I could not get sufficient information for Lightroom to work with and could not use this technique to white balance the image. (Note: if you make the image temporarily darker, this approach will still will not work.) Your only recourse here is to "eyeball" it. While challenging to do when you first start trying to white balance by eye,  the good news is that the more you do the faster it gets.]

white-bal3.jpg

To finish up this image I noticed a tad of blue in the upper left corner meaning that even if this was Great Britain, it wasn't a completely overcast day. So I dropped the Exposure a tad, bumped up the Contrast a tad, dropped the Highlights as much as I could and pushed the Clarity up a bit. Below is the "before" these adjustments and below that is the "after" these adjustments.

inhance.jpg

[Let me repeat, if this was a JPEG, the final results would not have been as good. A raw image contains significantly more information than a JPEG.]

There will be times when the emulsions have faded to such a degree that doing a simple White Balance as above will not work. If this is so you'll probably have to manually tease the Temperature and Tint controls or in extreme condition, open the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance Panel and see if you can control the problem from here.

Below is a great example where regular white balance completely failed but making adjustments in Saturation solved the problem. In Image #1, you can see the problem. I'm in a train station and the cement floor and walls appear moss-green. They probably are not this color. So in Image #2, I try to white balance the image off of the wall and this was a failure; you can see how in the distance everything is now bluish purple. The problem is probably the light source from the ceiling is giving the area a color-cast.

So in Image #3 I go to the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance Panel and select Saturation. If you look in the right hand panel, you can see that I've circled the Targeted Adjustment Tool. If you click on that and go to a region that has color in the image, you can click and drag up and down on the image and that will increase (up) or decrease (down) the saturation. Using this approach you can see that it did a good job in removing the errant green from the cement. Obviously this will not work all the time but since cement shouldn't be green in most circumstances, here it worked fine.

desaturate.jpg

If the colors are really really bad due to the degradation of the film, I'll strongly consider converting the image into a Black & White image. If that fails, it's a true tosser.

However, just keep in mind that anything you do to help the image is better than the image sitting in a box continually getting worse and worse. If the image is the only known image of Aunt Maude, you do what you can and be happy that you caught the image before it was completely totally gone.

Dust Removal

Despite dusting every slide prior to taking its photo, there will be an occasional bit of dust on the slides that will show up in the photograph. Fortunately the dust is as easy to remove in Lightroom as is sensor dust  from a digital image. In image #1 below you can see the small spec of dust. [Note: The big difference between dust on a slide as opposed to dust on your sensor is that the dust on your slide will probably be sharper then sensor dust which will be fuzzy and out of focus.]

To remove the dust from the image, select the "Spot Removal" tool shown in #2 (or press the "q" key) (you can vary the size of the tool's active circle by pressing the "[" or "]" keys to encompass just the speck), and click. You will see two circles with  one having an arrow pointing to the original circle. This indicates where the new fill for the spot you clicked on will come from as shown in #3. [Note: if you think there's another region in the photo that would provide a better replacement to Lightroom's initial selection, just drag this second circle to that spot. For example, if the dust is on the edge of a cloud and Lightroom selected the middle of a cloud, move the second circle to the edge of a cloud somewhere else.] Image #4 shows the results of this spot removal. If you have a hair or a long thin item you wish to remove, rather than "click" with the Spot Removal tool, simply click and drag over the errant item. Otherwise the process is just the same.]

dust-removal.png

Keywording

Like the many approaches to moving image enhancements from one image to others, there are many ways to apply keywords to one or many images.

Again, if you haven't been looking at these images in years and years and you want to see specific images in the future, you need to find them. So the last piece of the puzzle is to keyword the images.

Important: you must be in the Library tab to do Keywording. You can either click on the Library tab, press Option-Command/Control-1, or go to Window (menu) and select Library and then continue with your Keywording.

One of the advantages of Lightroom is that you can easily set keywords for single images as well as do global Keywording (apply keywords to a bunch of images at one time) and wherever you can do add Keywording, you should.

When I photograph a new set of slides into Lightroom, the Keywords I always automatically enter include: the box # (the metal or cardboard box containing the slides (you do number or mark them, don't you?)), the country, and the date (slides always have the date of processing pressed into the  slide's cardboard). This date will invariably NOT be the day you took the images but it's  close enough if you do not know the date otherwise. If all of the group of slides are from one state or one city, I'll enter that in at this time as well.

The very first image in this article shows where and how to automatically place keywords if you are tethering your camera to your computer. If you did not tether and will be importing the images from the camera's card. you can alternatively automatically enter the default keywords by setting up to import the images and before you tap the Import button, from the right hand side select the "Apply During Import" Panel. From there you can also set automatic Settings, Metadata, and Keywords.

import.png

At this point you need to refer back to any notes you have from your storage box or whatever else you have and go through your slides in groups to narrow down the slides to your keywords.

As you enter Keywords, you may have a group of photos that will all receive the same Keyword. You could enter the Keywords as a one-at-a-time process but that's a big time waster. Rather, you want to  select a block of images and set any keywords at once whenever possible.

If you are at the first image of a set, you then need to find the last image of that set to make the group of them all selected. But, while searching for the last image of the set you've very likely will have misplaced that first one.

One way out of this problem is to mark the first image to make it easy to find. The way that I like to do this is to place a color label on the first image. After selecting that image, if you go up to the Photo menu, and select "Set Color Label," then select a color. You can also tap any of the 6 to 9 keys and get a color. Alternatively you can right-click on the image and find "Set Color Label" and set the color.

keywording2.png

Note that the color is neither profound nor in your face. As shown below, if the image is selected, there is a thin (color) border around the image and if the image is not selected there is a (color) tint to the region around the image. Not significant, but it is something to look for as you look for that first or last image to select.

colored-thumb.png

If you want to set the color so it's easier to see, you can change this by going into the View menu and select "View Options…" toward the bottom of the menu (or select Command/Control-j). Then select the Grid View (the results will show up in either view). As you can see, go to "Tint grid cells with label colors" The default is 20%, I've found that for my purposes here I like 40% or 50%. This makes it much easier to see the first in a set of images I wish to mark with specific keywords.

setting-label-color.png

So, you've colored the first image, gave it a color label, found the last image, select it and backtrack to find that first image. Now you can Shift-click on the first image and they are all now selected.

Syncing Keywords

Syncing keywords is a great way to tag a number of images at the same time. The screenshot below shows the right side of Lightroom's window in Library mode and shows the Keywording Panel. You can enter multiple Keywords (place a comma between each keyword). Once you have all of your words entered as you want, and you are ready to import, press the import button.

keywording1.png

Be aware that Lightroom tries to speed things up by doing a variety of automatic entries. For example, if you just entered the keyword piano, on the next image, when you click your cursor into this field, it will have "piano" ready to go. In addition, if you type "p," Lightroom will show that word and any other previously created keywords. So, it could display a list showing "painter," "piano,"Piccadilly." If the next letter you type is "i" than it will just show "piano" and "Piccadilly." As you continue to type, fewer options will present themselves and if the word is a new keyword, Lightroom will stop guessing waiting foryou to finish. That new word will now be a new word in the Keyword list.

Also note that  there is a field just below the one shown highlighted above where you can also enter keywords. (It is hard to see that it exists because the contrast for Lightroom's fields are not very good.) The advantage of this one is if you tap the Enter key after each submission, Lightroom automatically enters a comma, ready for the next word. You can also enter multiple keywords in this field as long as you place a comma between each keyword.

keywording1b.png

Assuming you have multiple images selected, after you've entered in the Keyword(s) you want, notice that there are now two buttons on the bottom available to click on on the bottom as shown below.

keywording2b.png

On the right is one called "Sync Settings" which does the same thing as when you are in Develop mode (and let's you sync the image enhancements from the primary selected image). The "Sync" on the left which provides a whole new window shown below. The very last row in this window is for keywords. This should display all of the keywords that were entered for the primary selected image. If you want, you can enter more keywords here. The good thing here is that if there are images with unique keywords (e.g., someone's name), when you Sync the unique Keyword will not be removed. Lightroom respects these unique Keywords and leaves them alone.

At this point, be sure the check box on the left is checked, and then press "Synchronize" and those keywords are now entered for all the selected images.

keywording3.png

By the way, if you have a group of images selected and any of them have an asterisk "*" following the keyword, that means that one or more (but not all) of the images selected have that Keyword. As shown below, not all of the selected images have the "Farmer's Market" keyword, but all of the selected images have 1984 April, Box 5, and Great Britain as keywords.

subset.png

Let me show you one last way to set keywords: the Painter (aka the Spray Can). To use this you must be in the Grid view in the Library mode.

grid-view.png

Using Painter is kind of a mash-up of "Previous,"  "Copy & Paste," and Sync" for enhancing the images but cooler.

Using Painter is a four-part process. Below I've found a set of images (between and including the images with the red label) that were taken in Sherwood Forest and I want to add "Nottingham" to their keywords.

painter1.png

Notice in Tool region there's an image of a spray paint can. If you click on this you can see the word "Paint" and a dropdown menu. From here you can see the range of stuff you can "paint" with the Painter tool. Select Keywords.

painter2.png

Next type in the word you wish to paint, I added "Nottingham." If you want to add more than one keyword, simply place a comma after each word (e.g., "England, Nottingham, Sherwood Forest")

painter3.png

Now bring your cursor (shaped like the spray paint can and seen in the top-left image) up to one of the images you wish to add "Nottingham" to the Keyword list. It's important to place your cursor ON the image, not  off the image.

painter4.png

From here you can either simply click and/or drag on/across the images you wish to add the keyword to. This will not affect any keywords that are already assigned to the images, it only adds to the images. Also, notice the image below showing a white line around all of the images where the Painter successfully sprayed. If you inadvertently clicked or dragged over an image that should not have this keyword, simply press the Option key and re-click on that image and that (those) image(s) keywords will be removed.

painter5.png

Fixing misspellings

If you ever misspell or mistype a keyword, not too worry. Go to the Keyword List in the right hand Panel in Library view and find the misspelled word. Than right-click on that keyword and select "Edit Keyword Tag…" This brings up a new window where you can fix the word, click the "Save" button, and every reference to that keyword will be updated. Quick and slick.

spelling-fix.png

Face Detection

Especially if you have  photos of friends or family, turn on Face Detection. this is done by going up to your name in the upper left corner, clicking, and dropping down to the bottom of that menu as shown below.

Please note that this will index (and look for) faces in your entire catalog, not just any specific folder. And, if you've created a large number of photos before starting this, it will take some time for all of the images to be indexed.

face-detect1.png

Face Detection is very good for identifying full face or mostly full face images in your photos. Profiles and back of heads are not good for automatic face detection (but that doesn't prevent you from identifying who these heads are).

If you want Lightroom to point out potential faces and if you've already selected Face Detection (above), in the tool region above the thumbnails you can see a face, click on this. and Lightroom will point out what Lightroom considers a face. This is shown in the image below where Lightroom says "Draw Face Region." I should point out that in the beginning Lightroom can be howelingly wrong in determining what's a face or even the sex of people, but as you teach it faces Lightroom not only gets better at determining what in an image is a face but also becomes very good at recognizing who's who.

Also note the face image to the right of Survey View (circled in green) below, this gives you "People" (or tap "o"). If you click on that, you will get a grid of all of the faces that Lightroom thinks it sees. From there you can easily run though these images and identify who's who. AS you progress though this, Lightroom will get better and better. And for the images that are clearly not faces or people you do not care to know, simply tap the Delete key and not have to deal with them again.

The difference between having a region drawn around faces (with Draw Face Region) is that you can see the whole image and can therefore see the images in context. If you select to view the People option, all you see are faces in a grid fashion and will not have the rest of the image to put the face in context.

recognize faces.png

The advantages of facial recognition is pretty obvious: let's say your parents are having their 40th anniversary and you wish to prepare a book of their anniversaries though the years. Do a search on their name(s) and bingo, after some selection, you've got  your gift.

Using keywords to find images

Although this has nothing to do with setting keywords, let me point out one of the easy ways to use keywords.  Just below the keyword entry region mentioned above, look for the listing "Keyword List." In this section you will see every keyword you've assigned in alphabetical order. If the list is long you can search for specific keywords in the  field at the top. [Note: I truncated this list at the purple line to show a sample and the top of the list.]

If you mouse-over the keywords, you'll see an arrow pointing to the right on the right side of that keyword. If you click on that arrow, every image that has that keyword will be there immediately. In addition, you'll see a check mark on the left side letting you know that you're seeing all of the these images. You'll also note a shaded check mark just below that for California. This lets you know that for this example Calico Ghost Town  are images that are also part of the images in California.

keywording4.png

In summary

If you've read this far, you win an ice cream cone. The amount of actual process listed above is not all that much, but I've shown a considerable amount of extra attention to what's happening within Lightroom to help as much as possible. Lightroom is a fantastic program with the one annoying aspect that items you just finished observing are now gone or different because you just tapped on something in the window. It's kind of like when you put your keys down a moment ago and now your keys are gone for good (or so it seems).

I hope you enjoy obtaining access to your slides as much as I have. It's been great seeing friends, family, and places I've been but haven't seen in many a year. It's also been very interesting to see how I've developed (or not) as a photographer in the 40+ years I've been taking photos.

This blog is divided into two parts. Part 1 is acquiring  and digitizing your slides. Part 2 talks about processing the images in Lightroom to enhance the images in a fast and efficient manner and to provide keywords so that you can find the image(s) you want in an efficient manner.

I started using  slides as my primary photography format around 1977. My Minolta 201 and my three lenses went to many countries and all around the United States. I photographed our family trips, my kids growing up, and my wife's and my many adventures. All told I have about 10,000 slides (really). But its been many years since I've seen these slides. They were  in  slide boxes and placed in the closet and the trouble of setting up the projector and screen, pulling out the slides that I wanted, mounting them into the projector to view, etc., etc. was too much work. Simply, it was as if I had never taken the photos in the first place.

I should point out that of all of the photographic mediums available, slides provide the least dynamic range. I didn't realize that when I started taking slides and I know that my photographic knowledge at the time was sufficiently limited such that if someone had told me that bit of information I wouldn't have known the significance. But that was then, this is now, and I still want to see what I photographed so many years ago.

I do own a very nice scanner and it can scan up to a dozen slides one-at-a-time sequentially but this still can take a lot of time. If you want the BEST quality images  you need to do all of the adjustments with the scanning software at the time of the scan rather than later in Photoshop. If you also squeeze the largest resolution of the image (which adds to the scan time), it can take about 5 minutes per scan. With some 10,000 slides, I'd be dead before I finished.

So how good are the images when photographed?

Below are two examples of the same image. On the left is the photo version of the slide on the right is the scanned version. Besides the obvious differences such as color variations, the real limitation of the photographed version can be seen is in the facial closeup below the following image.

image-compare.jpg

Here is a close up of the young woman facing us, again the photographed image is on the left. The biggest limitation of photographing your slides is that there is no way that Lightroom or Photoshop can properly deal with image grain. Digital noise, yes but not grain. However, scanning software can deal with this. For the record, I used Silverfast 8 (by Lasersoft Imaging) software on this slide and its quality is self-evident.

image-compare2.jpg

If your original images are mostly grain-free, you will find that the photographed images are remarkably good, but even with some grain, they are not bad as the above image testifies.

Why digitize your images

There are many reasons, probably the most important is that you've probably not seen your images in many many years. It's time to see them but there's as many reasons as there are slides.

As I pondered my options on how to do this, I had read about people photographing their slides with a macro lens but never saw a specific approach. After much research, a lot of experimentation (and solving problems as they came up), I developed an approach that lets me photograph about 30 slides in 5 minutes. In addition, with  the power of Lightroom, I can process the slides from between a 20 seconds per slide (including adding keywords)  up to 2 minutes  per slide depending on how much time the slide deserves.

My goal here is speed: my primary objective is that I want to  see my slides. If there are slides that I want the best quality for their digital format, I can always do a proper scan at a later time.

Interestingly enough, there is another benefit to digitizing your images: slides  lose their quality over time. There's no doubt that the degree of degradation and the speed of this degradation depends upon the type of film used, how the slides were stored and cared for, and how old they are (to list a few of the potential reasons). Sometimes it's the luck of the draw if a group of slides has degraded over time, sometimes a whole group of slides will be pretty good yet within will be several bad ones. In addition, some film types were worse than others and were known for degradation In addition, every purchased set of slides I ever bought degraded badly. [You know, you go to some vacation spot and at the gift shop they sell a packet of slides, professionally made, and you figure, "Hey, I can't take slides inside and these professionally made slides of (say) Hampton Court will be better than what I can do." Well,  after time has taken its toll, not so much.]

Below on the left is an image of a  slide I took at Penn State Penitentiary and on the right a purchased slide from Hampton Court (Great Brittan). In both cases, these slides that looked fine at the time are now effectively gone.

slides-r-gone.jpg

So, in short, what this blog is all about is capturing your slides so that you have them digitized and locked in. You can always select slides that appeal to you and rescan them later to the highest quality. You can photograph these slides, look at them, shrug your shoulders and delete them all. But at a minimum you've seen them. Plus, you can now do a much better job of Keep & Toss on the images and/or the slides.

One of the side pleasures I've found as I look at these slides is how much my photography has improved and I also see where I did things correctly—even if it was inadvertent at the time!

The following is what worked for me, you obviously can vary the following as your needs and judgment feel is best. But I've photographed over 5000 slides at this point and I've already made most of the mistakes that one can do so I'm talking  experience.

Preparing your slides

I'd like to say that my life is as organized as my slides and the way that I've kept them, but alas, no. For some reason I've always kept my slides well organized so that I could find things when I wanted/needed them. I'm too cheap to have purchased all of the carousels that I would have needed so from the very beginning I've stored my slides in   steel Logan boxes that can hold up to 900 about slides. These boxes have 30 tabbed bins which, as you'll read, become a benefit as well. These boxes include a sheet of paper to identify what's in each bin. As I went through my slides I'd place some kind of identifying name, numbered them, and added an arrow to show what end was up. All of this identification helped immensely when it came to adding keywords. I would also take a marking pen and draw lines down slides with similar content to help see where one group started and stopped. Who knew how handy this would be years and years later.

slide-box.jpg

If you haven't done all of this prep-work, I suggest sitting down during a sports game or some other mild distraction and do as much of this as you feel necessary before you begin. It will help in later steps.

Here's the equipment I used:

Some of the items in this list are not critical, others are. Again, this is what I used and perhaps you will find other items that fit your budget and/or lifestyle better.

  1.    A DSLR camera. Pretty much any kind can work here. Sorry, no phone camera or a point-and-shoot can do this.
  2.    A Macro lens, about 100mm is a good size for this type of work. The benefit here is that if you've been needing an excuse to get one, here's your excuse. I have to admit that I'm having a ball with my lens, I use it all the time in my regular photography.
  3.    A light source: What I wanted was some light source that wouldn't create a color-cast. That is, if the light source had a tungsten filament, all of the images would have a yellowish cast that would have to be dealt with. What I ended up with is "The LED Light Box" by Porta-trace. [Model #1012-1 LED] This was not cheap but it provided full even lighting with no color cast.
  4.    A Tripod. You need to affix your camera down so that it will not move, jiggle, or slide around. As one friend told me "don't buy a $20 tripod for your $1000 camera."
  5.    Painter's Blue Tape: you need to tape your light box down onto the table and you need to tape your tripod to the table that the light box is on. What's critical to this process is that every thing is ridged so that each time you place a slide down, it's registered in one place. This will become more evident and critical as you go into Part 2, Lightroom.
  6.    Dust Broom: a dust broom for slides to get the dust off. No matter how you've had them stored, the slides have dust on them and you want to get the dust off.

    slide-broom.jpg

  7.    Slide Cleaner: If there are heavy fingerprints or other subsistences on your slides, you need something heavy duty to clean this off AND not damage the slide. At my favorite camera store I was recommended to use PEC-12 and PEC PADs for cleaning. They do a good job but you must use this in fresh air.

    slide-pec.jpg

  8.    A long USB cable. If you chose to tether your camera to your computer, you will need a USB cable long enough to do that. My USB-3 cable is 8.5 feet long. Note: if your camera or computer does not have USB 3, depending on the storage size of your camera's images, it might not be worth tethering your camera. In addition, some cameras have built in wifi and there are 3rd party wifi options available as well.
  9.    Remote control shutter for your camera. This is not essential if your camera is tethered to your computer as Lightroom's tether controls have a shutter on your computer to press your camera's shutter. (I tie a loop on the remote shutter's cord that I let hang from one of my tripod's head's arm to make it easier to reach and grab.)

Lastly, you need to make a slide-register to place the slides on the light box. (I initially used the cardboard from a USPS Priority Mail box). If there's one negative about the light box mentioned above is that you can see some wires underneath part of the surface of the translucent cover to the light. For most purposes this is completely irrelevant but for our purpose it's not good. Locate a region where the light is not interrupted (there's lots so this is not really an issue). Now cut a rectangular hole about 1.25 x 1.5 at this location. This hole is larger than the image part of the slide but smaller than the slide itself.

Finally you need to place two extra pieces of this cardboard, offset to the rectangular hole so that the slide image can be seen through this hole. These two pieces of cardboard need to be 90°, dead on. This whole cardboard creation needs to be tapped directly onto the light box The reason for the large cardboard base is to cover the light from the light box as you only want the light projected from behind the slide.

frame-setter.png

One problem I had at the beginning was occasional dust  in that hole. So I took the trouble of making the whole thing again out of sheet plastic with blue tape covering over the clear plastic. This did not solve the problem: it turns out that most of the dust came from the slide's cardboard.

Now, as stated, everything needs to be place together so that once set up, NOTHING moves. Below is an image of how I did my set up. Note that I used a coffee table to do this: this was for convenience as my desk is, well, busy. Also note that the tripod is firmly attached to the table, the light box is firmly attached to the table, and the slide-holder is firmly attached to the light box All of this is done with blue tape. The bad thing about blue tape is that it tears easy so you do have to be careful. The good thing about blue tape is that it doesn't leave a residue. [Note: the photo below makes the blue tape appear very translucent. It is not, that's just an aberration of the photograph.

the_camera_setup.jpg

Prepping the slides for photography

I like to do the photography in small groups. That is, I found that each bin in the slide box is a good block to work with. I pull out this block of slides and place them on my desk. I should note that when I place the slides into each bin, they are numbered from back to front. This was originally done so I could remove them from the box and place them in my slide projector which displayed them in order back to font. This also turned out to be a fortuitous event because what I do is to lift the top slide (which is the last one of the group), dust the slide, and place it down on the desk. I then take the next slide, dust it, and place it on top of the previous slide. Thus, once complete, the slides are now in order top to bottom. In addition, if you have any slides in the portrait position, you must rotate them so they are in same orientation as the landscape slides. This must be done because the hole in the slide mount is set for landscape viewing. When I get to processing the slides in Lightroom in Part 2, you will see that this works out VERY well. [Note: do not think that it's wise to make the hole big enough to capture both landscape and portrait because that will end up taking more time when it comes to cropping the cardboard away from the image in Part 2.]

rotating-slides.jpg

If you are tethering, plug one end of a USB cable into your camera, the other end into either a Powered USB port or the computer. Once the camera is turned on, you can go to Lightroom, File Menu, select "Tethered Capture," and select "Start Tethered Capture..." (A window will pop up that I will discuss in Part 2.)

One note on tethering: even if the images are directly going to your computer, the images are also being placed on your camera's storage card. As such, you may need to check and make sure you've room to continue taking photos. If you do not tether, you can save your images on your camera and Import the images later. The one big advantage of tethering is that you can quickly see if you have an issue and deal with the problem. Such issue's might include something simple such as forgetting to photograph the number of the box bin or something critical such as something in your setup slipped and you're only photographing half of the slide. If the images are only collected to your camera's card, you may miss something critical and need to redo some number of your photos.

Now part of this whole process is that you will have all of your slides photographed so you can easily see them but the other part of this is that you can easily FIND them. Probably one of the biggest mistakes I made early on is to not make each bin in the slide box easily findable. Once I realized how valuable this is, I created a simple solution, embarrassingly simple: I prepared a sheet of paper with the numbers 1 – 30 printed on the sheet. I cut it in two to make it easier to maneuver on the light box and before each bin was photographed, I took a picture of that number. Then when looking over the images in Lightroom, it was VERY easy to find where the slide was in the box and since the box number is part of the keywords, I know which box.

slide-box-numbering.jpg

The Photography

Finally, after procuring all of the equipment, prepping all of the slides, dusting and/or cleaning the slides, ordering and aligning the slides you can start photographing the slides.

Aim your camera at the slides and that your light box is tipped a bit so that the camera is not pointing absolutely straight down. I found that sometimes the orientation within the camera would flip from portrait to landscape and back when the lens was straight down. With the camera pointing "mostly" down, this never happened again. By eye, it's not difficult to set your camera to be in as good a perpendicular alignment as needed. If necessary, grab something perpendicular (such as a piece of paper) to hold against the light box and the lens to compare and adjust as needed. Dead on accuracy is nice, but not really critical. Nonetheless, once I had this set up correctly, whenever I broke the system down until the next time I needed it, I did not adjust the tripod head's angle—I just left that alone.

Set your f-stop at the sweet spot for your lens and set your camera on aperture priority. For my light box, I found that I got better images if I set the camera to shoot one full f-stop faster than default. I also set my ISO as low as could be, in my case that was 100 ISO. You will probably need to experiment with this to determine what works best for your setup.

As one who does a LOT of HDR photography, I tried a variety of ways to get the nuances and bring out the best of the dark and light regions of the slides. Disappointingly, all I got for my effort was to take more time and get no better an image. The best thing you can do to get the best quality of an image is to take raw images of your slides, do not take JPEGs of your slides. If a good quality image is not your goal, than by all means, go take JPEGs. But if you want to bring out the most of your images, take raw images.

Surprisingly, I  got the best results by letting my camera do the focusing. The one problem with this is that you also need to use a fairly small region in the image to set the focusing point. If it's too wide your camera might focus on the cardboard of the slide, not the image. One of the problems with this approach is if the region where the camera is trying to focus has nothing to focus on (e.g., the sky or water), you can't focus. Just be aware of the problem and be prepared to change the focusing location in the image as needed.

Set the image so that you  photograph will include some of the cardboard of the slide, do NOT try to perfectly get just the image. If the image is a bit tilted, again, not a big problem, this can easily be fixed in Lightroom.

photoed-slide.jpg

So, once you got everything set, hold the stack of images in your hand, place the first slide in the register spot, take the picture, remove the slide and place on the table, take the next slide, etc. etc. etc. After each bin was photographed, I would dust the slide slot in the light box, put away that block of slides, pull out the next group, and photograph the next bin number. Then repeat.

Let me add that if you've kept the slides in their package box, you might also chose to do them one-box-at-a-time.

slides-in-box.jpg

As far as how many bins or boxes you should do before starting the processing, again that's up to you.

I also suggest that you do one whole trip and then process those slides. This will make adding keywords a lot easier. As far as how many images I do before I called it time to take a break, that would vary anywhere from half a box to a whole box. In other words, do what works for you.

One strong suggestion for however you do this: I  found that perching on a stool was great for my legs and back.

Now onto Part 2 where I talk about processing hundreds of images at a time in Lightroom.

Intro

Seven years ago I started blogging about Captivate (with version 4 - 5). Most subjects on my blog are more advanced, you'll find lot of  use cases for advanced and shared actions. Meanwhile I also have spent thousands of hours on the Captivate forums and in social media,  answering questions and helping to solve issues. Moreover I am busy as a Consultant and as a Trainer (for Captivate and other Adobe applications), both through live and online classes, and one-to-one. Based on the combination of those 'Captivate' experiences with my former career as college professor, I decided to write this article to line up the three most important Challenges for any Captivate developer, especially for newbies.  It doesn't matter whether you are developing software simulations, soft skills training, responsive or normal projects, if you master these Captivate features you'll feel more comfortable and save a lot of time. (secretly expected Bonus: less questions on the forums  ).

Imagine standing before this natural stone porch, in the middle of the most amazing desert in the world (Sahara). You got that Captivate license, but how to start, where to go?

Stumbling block 1: Timeline

Why?

Captivate's Timeline is without any doubt  the first stumbling blocks for Captivate newbies. This strong conclusion is based on the many problems popping up in forums and social media, on my experiences with consultancy and while offering basic training. Captivate’s Timeline is not ‘normal if you compare with  video or animation applications. It shows all objects present on the stage from the start on, not when they are scheduled., Timeline is per slide, not for the whole project. Lot of reasons to be confused. Pausing the timeline by a command or by an interactive object is THE key to building interactivity in a Captivate course which is the main reason why you will have  chosen for an eLearning authoring tool instead of a video capturing tool. Understanding the Timeline and being able to control it should be the first priority of any Captivate learning (and training) process.

 

 

How do you stop this touareg caravan, walking hundreds of miles ?

Resources for Timeline

Nothing can replace a live (or virtual) training to roll away this stumbling block, but recently I published a sequence of 5 articles on my blog and in the eLearning Community to clarify this subject. Here are the links, not in the 'logical' sequence which I used for publishing, but ranked by importance:

    Pausing the Timeline, why and how?
     
Captivate Timeline(s) in cptx-file demystified
     
Introduction
     
Color codes and shortcut keys
     
Captivate Timeline in cpvc (Video Demo)

Stumbling block 2: Quiz

Why?

Captivate quiz and score slides have pretty strict rules. A lot of functionality is built in the quizzing and score master slides, using embedded objects. The two-step Submit process, the priority of the embedded objects in the z-order, cause a lot of problems for starting Captivate users. That explains why every blog post I ever wrote about Quizzing is very popular. Most of them, even after many years, are still visited daily. The stumbling block here is for the default Quiz slides, not for custom Quiz slides are created using standard objects, widgets, variables and advanced/shared actions. Those custom question slides are challenging for intermediate/advanced users (watch out for a later blog post for those users). Drag&Drop slides, used as Question slides can be included in the starter's 'stumbling block' because they probably make a quiz more engaging for the learner.

What a relief when the car transporting our cook and all the food caught up with us after a long quest of several days! Finished that monotonous diet of dried dates.

Resources for Quiz

Some of these blog posts do need an update due to new features in most recent version(s). However  most of the information is still valid

Question Question Slides - part 1     with the new Review buttons in Captivate 9 the confusion Next-Skip is gone
Question Question Slides - part 2

Knowledge Check Slides

Drag&Drop tips
Drag&Drop Captivate 9 - InBuilt states

Creative with Quizzing system variables
Fluid Boxes and Quiz slides

Stumbling block 3: Themes

Why?

It is one of the most hidden gems in Captivate: design of any project can be streamlined by using a custom Theme. A theme includes all object styles, master slides, skin and defaults for software simulations. Everything is based on a (custom) Theme colors palette, which can even be applied to most Learning Interactions. Creating or editing a theme before starting any project may seem a waste of time, but I guarantee that it will save a lot of time in the process. Small changes to the design, so often asked for by clients, are done in minutes. In many circumstances a well-designed theme makes a more limiting template superfluous.

 

The Architects/engineers of the Inca town Macchu Picchu knew very well how to prepare the 'design' of their city. Sorry for my adding the acronym TQT (Timeline, Quiz, Theme)  and scribbling my name to the 'room with three windows'.

 

Resources for Themes

Here are some links to get you started with Themes and Theme colors:

What's in a Theme/Template?

Theme Colors

 

Conclusion

This is my personal view on the challenges for Captivate starting users. I am not pointing to any step-by-step work flow which may seem astonishing. My focus is on what is causing most frustrations for the so-called 'newbies', whatever their experience with other applications. As a college professor I used Flipped classes long time before the word was invented: do not spend valuable training time by explaining processes that can easily be found somewhere (videos). Students do not need a trainer for step-by-step work flows, they can lean to master them by self-study. Spend class time by taking away obstructions that are slowing down the learning process. To reach that goal I was looking for an appropriate tool and was lucky to find... Adobe Captivate!

Lilybiri

Gems in Adobe Captivate 2017

Posted by Lilybiri Jun 28, 2017

Intro

The latest version of Captivate (10), now labeled Captivate 2017 has been released. If you did visit my blog in the past, you know that I prefer to wait a while before posting my first impressions. My focus is also more on the non-hype features added in this release, I call them the ‘hidden’ gems. Some are mentioned in the documentation, some are not. You can read here about the result of a fortnight of exploration.

1. Retina screen – software recordings

Captivate 9 was the first release which could be used on retina screens. However to record a Video Demo or a Software simulation you did have to edit the AdobeCaptivate.ini file. It was a solution, but bit cumbersome. After the capture process you had to edit that same file again to be able to use Captivate on that screen.

In Captivate 2017 this is no longer necessary, thanks to the Adobe team!

Tip: : if your OS is Win10, check the Display setting before recording (both Video Demo/Software Simulation). The OS tends to set the display setting to a percentage higher than 100%. You’ll have to reset it to 100% before the recording to avoid problems.

2. Advanced Actions enhancements

The Advanced Actions dialog box has been refurbished, and many will have emphasized that it is now easier to combine standard with conditional actions. Personally I don’t find that so important because the condition ‘IF 1 is equal to 1’ worked as well, but much more has changed. I will post an article later explaining the changes in the dialog box more in depth.

2.1 Enhancements to Decisions

The existing functionality for multiple decisions in former versions has been preserved: adding decisions, moving decisions, duplicating decisions. The buttons got another look as you can see on this screenhot. There has been added two extra time savers,  if you have a lot of decisions in one advanced action:

    • A dropdown list showing all decisions, and allowing you to navigate and select  a decision (Section 3, to the right)
    • A control panel to scroll to the next, previous decision, and to the Last and First decision (Section 2, to the right).

2.2 New commands

I am very happy that the commands ‘Go to Next State’ and ‘Go to Previous State’ (one of my first feature requests when multistate objects appeared) are now available in the list with commands in the Advanced Actions. In Captivate 9 there were only available as simple actions (Actions Tab dropdown list). This improves efficiency quite a lot, as you will be able to discover in the example movie (see below).

2.3 While loop

It has taken a ‘while’ but finally we have a looping functionality in Advanced actions. It is no longer needed to switch immediately to JavaScript. In combination with the command ‘Delay Next Actions…. ‘ a lot becomes easier in advanced or shared actions. Just one example: create a countdown animation by combining a counter variable, a while loop, an effect and the Delay command. While loops can be combined with standard and conditional decisions as well.

Example interactive course

With a Flash enabled browser, you can watch the course live on http://blog.lilybiri.com/captivate-2017-s-gems. The example has two slides:

  • First slide shows a countdown animation and a progress bar. That slide is using the new While loop. Click the Start button to see the animation. A Reset button appears at the end of the animation. Here is a screenshot of the triggered advanced action (Preview):

  • Second slide is using the "Go to Next State" command (new)both for text items and images (sticky character). Use the Continue button. Again, a Reset button will appear when all states have been viewed. Look at the Preview of the triggered action:

You can download the published HTML5 version from this link.  Unzip the folder, and launch the index.html file.

 

3. Typekit integration

Finally we have access to the Typekit Library (I’m used to it using CC applications)! In the example movie I used two fonts which I already acquired with a CC subscription (Fira Sans and Rosario), but Typekit also has a free license. You have to check it out, time to get away from those limited set of websafe fonts. When publishing with Typekit fonts, you’ll need to add a domain name. For testing purposes you can choose for ‘Local host’. If you are collaborating on a project, you’ll have to be sure that the collaborators have a Typekit license as well. In that case when opening a Captivate project, Tk fonts will be synchronized on their system.

4. Responsive projects – two work flows

A lot of articles and tutorials have been published already to acclaim the use of Fluid boxes in responsive projects. However I am also happy that the ‘old’ way with Breakpoint views is still available as well. If you upgrade a responsive project from a previous version (8 or 9), it will automatically show in the Breakpoint view mode, since the development has happened in that mode. After two weeks with Fluid Boxes in CP2017 I don’t have enough experience yet to judge their full power. My first impression is that the kind of project will indicate (dictate?)  the choice of the development work flow:

1. Fluid Boxes mode development will be a big timesaver for text-heavy projects. No need to check all text container styles for font sizes in all breakpoint views, no need to adapt the margins, leading to have text fitting in a text container on any mobile device. The continuous slider to see the changes for all possible browser resolutions is great!
The design of a responsive theme with fluid boxes needs however a different set of mind: how to set up the grid with Fluid boxes in content master slides.
The minus point of working with Fluid boxes is that you lose some control. My teacher’s experiences learned me that you cannot use the same layout on a smartphone as you use for a laptop or even a tablet screen. That will make using Fluid boxes not appropriate for all courses. If you are a die hard designer, maybe you will not like the way that objects will be handled when the browser resolution changes?
Objects in a Fluid box are essentially in a 2D space: you cannot have overlapping objects. That is the reason why the Help explains that Zoom objects, Highlight Boxes and Click boxes are not allowed in a FB. Object groups,  line object and mouse objects are excluded as well. However you can use them in a static Fluid box.
 

2.   Breakpoint mode development is a lot more work, but gives you more control for layout differences between devices and for design. You can have overlapping objects, use object groups and with the exception of the Rollovers, Likert question slides,  you have almost no limitations.

Tip: to switch to Breakpoint view development use this option in the Project menu

To be able to change a normal (blank) project to a responsive project is a much asked for, very useful addition. The reverse is not yet possible (responsive to non-responsive).

After some more experience with using Fluid Boxes, my opinion could change of course. Anyway I am persuaded already that the customisation of a theme withFluid boxes is more important than ever. If you wonder why, maybe have a look at this article: ‘Exploring Themes and Templates

More?

This personal view on some new features/enhancements in version 2017 (10 under the hood) is based on a limited time of exploration. It is not a complete list. In a future blog post (or showcase) I will give more details about using the While loop, creation  of the example movie, use of fluid boxes in quizzing master slides. As promised, the overwhelming number of buttons and features in the new Advanced Actions dialog box will be the subject of another tutorial. Looking forward to your comments.

Do you have questions, use cases that you cannot figure out if they are possible? Fire away…

 

 

rNeilphotog

Copyright © R. Neil Haugen 2016 All Rights Reserved

“Armenian manuscript ornamentation not only occupies a large place in the nation's fine
artistic culture but is also an important contribution in the treasury of international art.”

from "Ornaments of Armenian Manuscripts" Publishing House "Sovetakan Grogh" Yerevan 1978

 

 

I’d like to share with you how new technologies are allowing us to investigate Armenian manuscripts more deeply. We are discovering that the vector reconstruction of Armenian Ornaments can help serve Armenian Ornaments for many generations as we can use the vector images in printing, for web and mobile apps. The vector reconstruction can help us bring back the original colors that have been lost through the ages. That why we have started a new Project “Aragil” (Aragil in Armenian means “Stork” which is a symbol of kindness).

 

We have found  that Adobe Illustrator CC is the most valuable tool for vector reconstruction of Armenian Ornaments. There are many other vector graphic application but Adobe Illustrator CC with all other Creative Cloud app's is the one that allows to use different methods for their vector reconstruction. Also with new image technologies and intelligent scan - that have been invested with Adobe Scan now, we can obtain high quality images from old manuscripts and transfer them to vector images for further reconstruction.

 

We reveal the following 3 methods.

  1. Using Pen Tool, Curvature Tool and Live Paint Tool for tracing and coloring ornaments
  2. Using Pencil Tool, Brush Tool, Blob Brush Tool for painting ornaments
  3. Using Shape Builder Tool for building ornaments.

Zard.jpg

 

Each of these methods can be used for the reconstruction of unique ornaments that fit to it. Some of the ornaments have symmetrical structure. For symmetrical symbols we use the 1st method.

 

But most ornaments are not symmetrical and for these kind of ornaments we use the 2nd method of reconstruction that allows to use brushes for painting with high smoothing of curves and also we use blending and transparency for achieving natural colors.

 

The 3rd method can be used to build the ornaments with high geometrical presentations. Obtaining less anchor points and close shapes increases the productivity of work.

 

For separating and catching color for each ornament we also use the “Create Object Mosaic” function in Adobe Illustrator CC that allow us to obtain all colors that must be used during our work.

 

There are many books and web sites where we can find how to rebuild vector images of Armenian ornaments, but most of them are wireframes and don't include colors. We find out that colonized vector reconstruction of Armenian Ornaments is a unique project.

 

Our team just started with this project but as you can see on our project website https://augam.myportfolio.com we have encouraging results.

As a fine artist and a designer visuals are very important to me. Using Adobe Spark enables me to create visual

stories on any device without any knowledge of animation, transitions or HTML.

I use Adobe Page in my classroom to deliver a tutorials. At my design studio to tell a story or create an

immediate portfolio. I am able to create and deliver engaging presentations and share creative ideas across

different devices and social media simply with a link.

 

In the following link I am sharing an extraordinary story about Charlotte Salomon. An artist that was born in

Berlin in 1917 and died in Auschwitz in 1943. Her story is unique. She did not survive the war but her art did.

“Life or Theatre” is a unique achievement of art and literature. No one who enters into Charlotte Salomon’s

world will ever forget it. The survival of Charlotte’s art transcends her own death in the gas chamber.

 

Here is Charlotte Salomon story:

 

Charlotte_Salomon small.jpg

 

Charlotte Salomon

 

Here is a link to Adobe Spark insiders Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/groups/adobesparkinsiders/