Adobe Studio Exchange: Gems for the Designer

It never fails. After six or so hours of Photoshop or InDesign training, the students - usually newspaper designers - start putting away their outlines and pens. Knowing the end is near, they zip up their backpacks and computer cases in preparation for the inevitable rush out the door. Then, with moments to spare, I mention Adobe Studio Exchange. Adobe Studio Exchange is a website where designers can get all kinds of free software to enhance InDesign, Photoshop and other Adobe applications.

I can hear the backpacks and computer cases unzipping. I see the pens and pads coming out. You see, everyone wants free stuff, especially free stuff that increases output and makes production more fun. That�s where Adobe Studio Exchange comes in.

Filled with actions, shapes, filters, plug-ins, scripts and more for Adobe applications, Adobe Studio Exchange is like hitting the pagination lottery. Not everything in this area of Adobe�s website is free, but most of it is. Today, I took a few hours to try some of these free goodies for myself. Here�s what I found:

Photo Sphere, a free Photoshop action by Robert Anselmi, takes a picture and, through the magic of special effects, makes it look like a spherical Christmas ornament. This would be a great tool for creating ads with mugshots for the holiday season.

Puzzle Effects, another free Photoshop action by Panos Efstathiadis, is a lot of fun. It allows the user to take any photo and turn it into a jigsaw puzzle. Users can even designate the number of pieces in the puzzle. I chose 30.

My favorite Photoshop download wasn�t an action, however, it was a group of shapes. Eric Nanstiel�s United States Shape adds shapes of all fifty states in the Custom Shape palette of Photoshop. I used it to modify a photo of some friends to the shape of New York. It works by creating paths in the shape of states. I converted the path to a selection, which I placed on a layer; then used Photoshop�s emboss layer effect to make the image jump off the page.

Photoshop users aren�t the only ones in store for a little fun. InDesign users will love the hundreds of scripts and plug-ins available to them. For instance, Calendar Maker is a script designed to create a calendar instantly. After giving a few options such as number of months, font and page size, Calendar Maker goes to work. I use it to create calendars, which I convert to EPS files using InDesign�s export command. I can then place them in other documents and resize them to my liking.

InDesign Photoshop Actions, by Richard Ronnback, adds actions to InDesign�s bag of tricks. This is really a script that loads your Photoshop actions into InDesign. After selecting this script, the user is prompted to choose a script from the list of those available in Photoshop. While the user is in InDesign, the picture magically goes through the designated action in Photoshop, with all changes appearing on the InDesign version of the photo. I tried several actions in InDesign and all worked flawlessly.

PieGraph is a new InDesign script by Mariusz Sobolewski. Like all the other scripts we�ve discussed, it is free. PieGraph assists InDesign users in creating pie graphs. Basically, you draw a circle on an InDesign page, then click on PieGraph in the Scripts palette. Next InDesign asks for the number pie slices, along with a percentage or numerical designation for each slice. Initially, I filled my slices with different colors. Then, for fun, I filled each slice with a different photo. In no time I had created pie graphs that would work well in infographics or as standalone illustrations.

You can get to Adobe Studio Exchange by working your way through Adobe�s home page. A more direct route is available at .

I�d be interested in hearing from you to learn which gems you�ve discovered at Adobe Studio Exchange.
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Members Opinions:
September 02, 2005 at 12:00am
I've been a member of Adobe Studio since it started.
There are many many shapes available. Almost anything you can imagine.

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