To conclude my Letterpress project, I decided to make changes to my prints digitally as I was unhappy with how some of them turned out. The selection prints that I made changes to were my ‘Letterpress Est. 1440’ prints; after they were printed I was immediately unhappy with how they were unaligned. I was trying to show how bespoke Letterpress Printing could be, and although I thought that this was a good quality print, it looked too abstract for what I was trying to do.
I scanned my print into Photoshop, and added a Threshold adjustment layer to get the image black-on-white, from doing so the letters were made a lot easier to move and scale; by using digital methods I could easily manipulate my work, and I have to say that I prefer this print more once it had been aligned. I guess that concluding my project I can really say that although older, more traditional methods of printing can produce really great quality images – it just seems easier and more reliable using digital methods. Maybe this is why the older methods have all slowly stopped being used?
Working on the InDesign documents that we had previously produced, in this tutorial we were taking the basic layout principles to a much more advanced level – as well as altering paragraph and character styles. Firstly, we were shown how to add page numbers and chapter headings to pages; this could all be found under Type>Insert Special Character>Markers. Adding page numbers and chapter headings all had to be done on a Master Page that other pages would take reference from, this way all pages would show this information in a uniform and formatted way.
On a Master Page, section markers (e.g. chapter headings) appear as ‘Section’ (instead of the desired ‘Chapter 1’ for example) and page numbers appear as an ‘A’ (or ‘B’, or any other letter with reference to that Master Page) – it is only when you are to return back to your main document that you see the information that you intended (as shown above).
Not unlike Photoshop, InDesign has an Effects Window that allows the user to blend one item with another; this is done in the same way as Photoshop with effects such as Multiply, Hard Light and Difference appearing in both pieces of software. To evaluate the effectiveness of this feature, I placed a pink rectangle above my rubber duck photo and then blended the two with the Hue effect. Where my rubber duck photo was once yellow and red it was now pink and purple; in a similar way, I placed a green rectangle above the rubber duck photo on the opposite page and blended it in the same way. The Effects Window, although I can’t imagine that it is used much, works really nicely and can add a lot to a photo or text if used correctly.
Finally, we were introduced to Paragraph Styles and Character Styles; these different styles allowed the user to easily alter the styles to change the document – instead of having to highlight every single piece of text in the instance that a client may want an alternative typeface. The user has access to pretty much anything editable about a typeface, from indentation, to leading, to drop caps, to kerning, to ligatures – it is all here in the Paragraph Styles Window. The Character Styles Window on the other hand can be used to give any Paragraph Style new characteristics (e.g. italics) instead of having to create multiple paragraph styles. Thanks Neil!
I’ve never used InDesign before, so the prospect of this tutorial with Neil was an exciting one; like all introductions, our introduction to InDesign was a run through of the basic tools and uses of the programme – starting with how to tackle the New Document window.
Most of the information on the New Document window is self explanatory, for example, altering the page size here will give your document a larger/smaller page. However, it was interesting to learn that ‘Guttering’ is the space given between two columns (most often 4.233mm, representative of a 12pt space), and that not unlike Illustrator, ‘Bleed’ could be added to a document to give the printers (usually) a 3mm margin for error, ‘Slug’ can also be added to a document to give the author space to write notes of reference to the printer (e.g. if something out of the ordinary needs to be kept in mind for a certain page).
The screenshot above is a clear indication of a standard document, and InDesign showing the user guides; black represents page size, purple represents the page margins, red represents the Bleed of the page, and finally the blue guides represent where the Slug of the document is situated.
Our first task was to add a ‘Modular Grid’ (when the columns and rows layout to 1:1) to our document of 3 rows by 3 columns, with a Guttering of 4.233mm (or 12pt). Fitting the guides to the Margins instead of the Page helps to divide the space that we are going to be working in – rather than the page itself.
We were introduced next to the Rectangle Frame tool, a tool used for inserting media into an InDesign document; it was easy to create these frames in line with our documents, because of the Modular Grid that we had previously created. I inserted a picture into one of these frames (CMD+D), an illustration of mine – ‘I Like Birds’; by playing around with the yellow handles on the edge of the frame, it was very straight forward getting nice, rounded edges to the picture. Also, InDesign seems to auto-crop the photo that you insert into the frame, leaving you with two options – moving the image around inside the crop to decide on which part of the photo you want to show, or fitting the photo to the size of the frame with another of InDesign’s tools.
Next for us to have a play around with was the Type Tool; this is very similar to that of InDesign’s sister design software: Photoshop and Illustrator. There are two ways to using the Type Tool, click for freestyle typing or click and drag to create a textbox with boundaries. Unlike Photoshop and Illustrator however, there was option here to ‘Overflow’ into other textboxes; by selecting the first textbox and the one following, InDesign enables you to fill up one textbox and then overflow into another somewhere else on the page. Also, I’m pretty sure that there is no cap on the amount of textboxes linked, so this technique can be used several times across a document/page. To have a play around with this we used the ‘Fill with Placeholder Text’ command in the Type menu, this simply fills up the selected textbox and all overflows with standard, Latin copy.
To finish up, we were all told about the importance of a Master Page – a page within a document that holds the key to all other pages. Anything done on the Master Page is set out as a template for every other page (for example placing a blue rectangle on the Master Page places that rectangle on any page that the user tries to create after doing so, this can only be altered/removed by editing the Master Page once more). I feel that I learned a lot through doing this tutorial, and it was of great benefit to me. Having never used InDesign before, it was nice to try and get to grips with this piece of software that is so critical for a designer to master. I’m sure that I’ll pick it up quickly in the coming weeks when we dive into it some more. Thanks Neil!