8-Point Star Flower

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8-Point Flower is the first of several pattern packs I’ll be releasing over the next few weeks. (If you like these, please let me know!) It’s inspired by Islamic geometric patterns (which are pretty fascinating/incredible, I might add).  The zip file contains: 6 PNGs (2 transparent versions not shown); Adobe Illustrator CS5 (.ai) files – single block or large pattern; and a Photoshop CS5 (.psd) file. Older versions of Illustrator or Photoshop should open the files. Best of all: It’s free and it’s licensed under a CC-BY-SA 3.0 license.

Grab Pattern Pack 01

Using data sets and variables in Photoshop

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This week I’ve decided to post something a little different.

Working with data in Photoshop (CS3+) is probably not something you’ve thought much about. In fact, I’ve only ever run into one case where using datasets and variables in Photoshop made sense to me, but once you know how to use them, you’re bound to find more and more reasons to use them.

This approach is a timesaver regardless of the amount of data you might have, but if you’ve only got a few lines of data to work with, creating each PSD by hand might save time compared to this method.

Practical Applications:

  • Mailing labels
  • Custom postcards, flyers, etc.
  • Creating ordered price or number-based images
  • And so on…

First, we need some data to work with. For this example, I’ve created a simple list of names and addresses in Google Docs. The first cell of each column is important. We’ll use these names when we define variables to work with in Photoshop later on. Once my spreadsheet is ready, I export the file as a CSV.

Figure 1. Example of demo data as seen in Google

Figure 1. Example of demo data as seen in Google

Your CSV should end up looking something like this.

Figure 2. Your CSV should end up looking something like this.

Once we have our data, we’ll need to create something in Photoshop that can take advantage of it. With a list of names and addresses we could create custom envelopes, postcards, name badges, you name it. For this example, we’re going to keep it simple and create a Galactic Empire email signature graphic/mailing label sort of thingy:

datasetimg3

In the above screenshot you can see I’ve created a pretty basic PSD with the Galactic Empire Logo (Layer 1), five text layers and a plain white background layer. Now comes the fun part. Go to Image > Variables > Define. Select Name from the Layer dropdown.

Select Name from the Layer dropdown

Select Name from the Layer dropdown

We need to make sure that each column of data we have in our spreadsheet coincides with a variable. Select a Layer from the layer dropdown (such as Name). Then check the checkbox next to Text Replacement and set the name to Name, so it’ll match the column name from our spreadsheet. Continue doing this for each column/layer until finished.

Next, we need to create our Data Set.

Next, we need to create our Data Set.

Click the import button and it’ll open an Import Data Set window.

Next, we need to create our Data Set.

Figure 6. Select the CSV file you created.

Select the CSV file you’ve created. Make sure the checkboxes are checked. You’ll also want to make sure that you’ve already created your variable associations and the names match your column headings in the CSV. If they don’t match you WILL get errors.

Figure 7.

Figure 7.

You’ll now be able to select from the various Data Sets you’ve created and your PSD will get updated with the results. Once you click OK, save your document.

Now we’re turn each Data Set into its own PSD. Do this by going to File > Export > Data Sets as Files.

Figure 8.

Figure 8. Export data sets as files.

Select a folder for output. Set your naming convention. Click OK. In a matter of seconds you’ll have PSDs for every single data set.

Once you have a folder full of PSDs, your best bet would be to create an action that Saves for Web and then run a batch process that applies the action to each file. I’ll cover that in my next post.

Original posted on the OnWired blog: http://onwired.com/901/

Weightloss

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Officially I’m down 17.2 lbs overall, but I didn’t weigh-in this past weekend. (I’m certain I’ve gained since last weigh-in.) I’ve started making excuses for myself. I haven’t been active. I’ve been feeling pretty defeated. WeightWatchers works, but I haven’t kept track of my Points, and I’ve allowed myself to cheat far too often. When you’re losing a pound here and pound there without really trying, it’s easy to trick yourself into thinking “this one bad snack/meal/whatever” is okay this one time. The problem is that one time turns into several if you let it.

I’ve got a lot more weight to lose. So much so that I’m starting to consider seriously trying to get on The Biggest Loser or gastric bypass surgery. I refuse to give up. That’d be the easy way. I’ve got a long way to go and I’ve only just begun. I need to push myself harder. I need to be more realistic about what I can and cannot eat.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

15 Days Down

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It’s been 15 days since I started my “hiatus” from Facebook and Twitter. It hasn’t gone quite as I had hoped. I still find myself reading Twitter from time to time and I’ve played some games on Facebook, but overall my usage of both sites is significantly down. I feel like I’m missing out on lots by not keeping up with either site, but I still feel like this is something I need to continue on with.

Strange Encounter

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Last night, around 11:30pm, I was on the way home from picking Kim and my niece up from the Daughtry concert. We stopped at a Burger King to get something to drink and eat for the two of them. While in the drive-thru I was approached by an older woman who asked if we could help her get gas. She was shaking; said she was from Waynesboro and was using her brother’s van because she had to take him to the hospital today. She continuned to tell me that her purse was in her car in her brother’s driveway in Waynesboro. It sounded sketchy, as most requests for money usually do, but I helped her out anyway. Why? Well, I’d like to think that if I was ever in her position, assuming she was telling the truth (and I feel like she was), someone would be willing to help me out as well. I told her to drive across the street to a gas station and I’d buy some gas for her. I paid for enough fuel for her to easily get back to Waynesboro. Shook her hand. Wished her luck. And went back on my way home.

I hope she made it to hers. I hope she’ll pay it forward.

Support 5by5.tv

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5by5 kicks ass!The 5by5 network has created the premiere network of podcasts for geeks, designers and developers. Their broadcasts are free, but now you can support the shows by becoming a supporter. If you’re not familiar with 5by5, my personal favorite is The Big Web Show hosted by Dan Benjamin & Jeffrey Zeldman. But, to be honest, you can’t go wrong with any of their shows.

Enabling Extensions for Safari 5

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Safari 5 was released yesterday, and it finally allows third-party extensions. The inability to extend the browser was one of the things that kept me going back to Firefox, and forced others to switch to Chrome.

So about those Extensions… They ability to add them isn’t turned on by default. (Probably because your average user doesn’t even know what extensions are, what they can do, etc.) But it’s easy enough to turn on:

  1. Open up your Safari Prefences and click on Advanced.
  2. Select the checkbox next to ‘Show Develop menu in menu bar’.
  3. From the newly appeared Develop menu, select ‘Enable Extensions’.
  4. A great place to find extensions is http://safariextensions.tumblr.com/ – It’s not an official resource, but I’m sure that’ll come in time.
  5. Install extensions. Enjoy!

(I’d love to see Chris Pederick’s Web Developer extension – which is available for both Firefox and Chrome – ported over to Safari 5!)

Hunt the iPad

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OnWired HQ infiltrated. Enemy agent escaped with iPad. Your objective: locate agent and recover device. First operative to complete mission will receive iPad. Intel on enemy agent’s whereabouts to be distributed via Twitter. Follow @onwired to be kept apprised. The search has begun. If you’ve figured something out, share what you know.