Photoshop CS6 at your fingertips

Being a designer means working to deadlines – which means time is always of the essence. Working quickly and efficiently within Photoshop is essential and there comes a point when your poor mouse just can’t scurry around the screen fast enough to keep up.

Adobe have always included keyboard shortcuts to reduce the little guy’s workload, but one issue with these is that they have been tweaked and moved around over the years, and it can be a little irritating to have to go against muscle memory, established over countless hours of working, to learn the new shortcut for something you have always used. My fingers still seem to be reminiscing about the good ol’ days of Photoshop 7: holding down cmd+Z to start the ‘undo’ time machine. I still forget to press shift every time!

Another, less trivial drawback has been that shortcuts have never taken into account that a tool as incredibly diverse as Photoshop allows (nay, encourages) us to pursue our desired results in a plethora of different ways. We all have our favorite tools and no two users work exactly the same way – so why do we all have to use the same shortcuts? If I constantly use smart objects, then I’m going to want my keyboard to be littered with ergonomically friendly shortcuts for adding and editing them. Someone else may never use smart objects and would make better use of those same convenient keys for, say, zooming controls.

Well, CS6′s answer to the problems with shortcuts was to give us another shortcut:

cmd+opt+shift+K

(ctrl+alt+shift+K in Windows)

…which opens the new keyboard shortcuts customization menu:

Photoshop CS6 Keyboard Shortcuts Customization Menu

This new feature for CS6 allows you to optimize your shortcuts for exactly the way you like to work. You can overwrite default shortcuts that you may have a grudge against, bring back retro shortcuts that your fingers still try to use, or you can introduce entirely new ones to save yourself even more time.

Through this menu you are able to edit shortcuts for menu commands, tools, and palette menus. More than one key command can be assigned to one action, and Photoshop will tell you if you have any conflicting commands and show you the duplicates so you can fix them.

One very useful feature, especially if you often use Photoshop on multiple computers, is the ability to save your configurations and export them as a handy .kys file. Being able to save means that our preferences can now survive version updates and the obsessives amongst us can now gradually build our dream set of optimal shortcuts (some dreams are cooler than others) and keep them forever!

Turns out LESS really is more

 

Today I will briefly go over a new means to style your webpage. You most likely have some experience or familiarity with CSS, but for those who do not, CSS (cascading style sheets) is the web standard for giving design to your page. The problem I have found with CSS in the past has been that it is very much so static, meaning that everything you want your CSS to do with your elements of the page you have to write out specifically. I want my styles to be dynamic, I want elements to be styled differently under different circumstances, and I don’t want to have to type the same thing over and over again just because I have elements that require similar styling. With LESS, this is no longer a problem. What LESS is essentially is a language to program you CSS instead of writing static stylesheets. LESS follows similar syntax as CSS but allows for things such as variables and functions, making your styles take shape according to output (desktop, mobile, etc.) or other conditions and also allows for reusable code and styles. Even better on the reusable code, you can import other LESS stylesheets into your styles. Why would you want to do something like that? Well what this will let you do is build a series of functions and styles that you know you will be using in pretty much every web project so you dont have to rewrite the styles at all. For those of you who are programmers, it’s the same a building libraries. Also, since the language is so similar to CSS, you will be able to take advantage of some of your code hints in Dreamweaver or the IDE of your choosing.

LESS is very easy to use. By only importing the less.js javascript file and a slight change on your typical linking of stylesheets, you can bring in your LESS styles.

3 Exciting New Classes At Ascend Training!

With scads of new technology that CS5 has introduced and enabled, Ascend Training has expanded it’s class offerings with three new additions to our regular schedule!

Adobe InDesign CS5 Interactive Level 1: InDesign Documents for Web and Distribution–This 2 day class is geared towards current InDesign users who are looking to make the leap from print to interactivity. Learn how InDesign has evolved and can now create many interactive functions previously exclusive to Flash. You’ll also learn how InDesign and Flash can work hand in hand through new export functions in CS5.

Adobe Flash CS5 for Android: Building and Deploying Android Apps–Want to take your ActionScript skills to the next level? The newest update for Flash CS5 will allow users to develop Droid Apps. If you want to learn more about this exciting new technology and the potential it holds, check out this 5-day class! Also, take a peek at this related class topic: Adobe AIR.

HTML 5: Designing Websites with HTML 5–After 10 long years of waiting for a major HTML release, here it is, HTML 5. In this 2-day class students will be introduced to the newest HTML tags and image controls. Be on the forefront of this cutting edge technology that incorporates CSS3, CANVAS, and JavaScript.

The Creative Suite Conference Sneak Peek, November 4th

Ascend Training has teamed up with Mogo Media for this year’s InDesign Conference November 2nd-4th. We are both excited to bring participants the opportunity to get a sneak peek into next fall’s Creative Suite Conference. The last day of the InDesign Conference, we will be offering a Sneak Peek Track where attendees will gain exposure to a variety of topics: Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop, and HTML 5 to name a few. Those not signed up can still participate and purchase a 1-day pass for $99. For more information, please click on the link below!

The End is Near, Part II

Time is quickly running out for Ascend Training’s regularly scheduled CS4 classes. Our last CS4 hands-on training will be:

Dreamweaver CS4 Level 1, Chicago, Aug 30 – Sep 1, Deerfield, Oct 11 – 13

Ascend Training is happy to put CS4 classes on our regular schedule for groups of 3 or more people. We will also be happy to provide our CS4 curriculum for our on-site training. Any of our students taking CS4 classes are still eligible for 8 months worth of free retakes in the CS5 version of the class. Those retaking a class in CS5 who have originally taken CS4 classes will also have the option of buying the book used in the new class.

iPhone Application Development: IT’S BACK!

Ascend Training is happy to announce the return of our iPhone Application Development class! iPhone, iPod, iPad Application Development (5 days, $2490) has just been added to our catalog of classes. Ascend Training is proud to have Gene Backlin, author of Professional iOS 4 Application Development: Building Applications for the iPhone and iPad, teaching this exciting new topic. The class will be exclusively taught at our Chicago location (410 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 433) on the following dates: November 29-December 3 and February 7-11.

Please contact our IT Administrator, Jeremy Chambers, about prerequisites for the class.

Fall Into Savings: InDesign Promotion

We have a promotion on all of our hands-on InDesign classes. You must register by October 15th, but you may take the class at any time. Please contact us if you would like a custom discount code to register.

Our Adobe Authorized In-Depth classes always include a free 8 month retake policy that includes the new version, and the guarantee of 10 students or less. We offer the following InDesign CS5 Classes:

Adobe InDesign CS5 Level 1: Fundamentals to Intermediate
Adobe InDesign CS5 Level 1: *Accelerated Pace* for Current InDesign Users for Former Quark Users
Adobe InDesign CS5 Level 2: Advanced Master Class
Adobe InDesign & XML: XML for Designers

By Popular Demand…HTML Email Marketing

Wow! Ascend Training would like to thank everyone that attended last night’s HTML Email Marketing Event. Because of you it was a roaring success! Not only will we be repeating this event in Deerfield (date to be determined), but we have also added a new class to our offerings.

Description of class:

This 2 day class is aimed at those with little or no HTML experience who want to create effective email marketing campaigns. The class will cover how to use HTML to create email layouts and forms, import graphics, and generate cascading style sheets (CSS). Most importantly, the class will cover how to avoid being tagged as a “spammer”. Students leave with the comprehensive skill-set they need to return to the office and start their own e-marketing campaigns.

Creating HTML Emails: Building and Broadcasting Successful Email Campaigns, will be offered for a limited time at a special promotional rate. Regularly $895, you can register for this exciting new class for $635 (offer expires September 10, 2010).

For class details and dates, please visit our website.

Building and Broadcasting Successful Email Campaigns

The End is Near for CS4 Classes

Sadly, it is time for Ascend to say goodbye to CS4 classes on our regular schedule. It’s time to make room for our exciting new CS5 classes! As a final homage to CS4, we are offering $100 off of every CS4 class. For your convenience, here is a list of classes and dates. Please contact us directly for pricing and a custom code. All of our class pricing includes 8 months of free retakes (including the ability to retake the class in the CS5 version) and a guarantee of 10 students or less. CS4 classes will be scheduled by request for groups of 3 or more after these dates.

Classroom, Hands-On

After Effects CS4 Level 1, Chicago, Nov 1 -3
After Effects CS4 Level 2, Chicago, Aug 4 – 6 and Sep 20 – 22
Dreamweaver CS4 Level 1, Chicago, Aug 30 – Sep 1, Deerfield, Oct 11 – 13
Flash CS4 Level 1, Chicago, Aug 23 – 25 and Oct 4 – 6, Deerfield, Sep 8 – 10
Flash CS4 Level 2, Chicago, Aug 30 – Sep 1
Illustrator CS4 Level 2, Deerfield, Aug 26 – 27

Online, Live, Instructor Led

InDesign CS4 Level 1, Online, Aug 30 – 31
InDesign CS4 Level 2, Online, Nov 11 – 12
Photoshop CS4 Level 1, Online, Sep 20 – 21