Adobe Creative Cloud Design Tools All-in-One For Dummies (2013)

Book I

Getting Started with Adobe Creative Cloud

Chapter 4: Using Common Extensions and Filters

In This Chapter

image Discovering the real purpose of filters and extensions

image Using common extensions and filters in Adobe Creative Cloud

Extensions, also known as plug-ins, are pieces of software installed or saved on your computer that work as add-ons to existing programs. For example, you may be able to use an extension to integrate with a different program, help add usefulness to a program (such as the ability to create 3D text), change the appearance of an object in your software, or add a 3D effect to a video file. You can use filters to change parts of a document. Even if you haven’t used Photoshop, you’re probably already familiar with some popular Photoshop filters, such as Watercolor and Emboss, used for artistic effects. This chapter shows you common plug-ins, extensions, and filters, as well as how to use them in the Creative Cloud.

Looking at Common Extensions and Filters

Extensions are sometimes used for similar tasks in several programs and are designed to enhance a program’s existing capabilities. Extensions and filters can also dramatically speed up the creative process. At the mere click of a button, you can add to your project an amazing effect that may have taken many hours to accomplish without the plug-in.

Additional filters and plug-ins for the programs are available or linked from the Adobe website. You can also easily find plug-ins for downloading from the web. A search yields many results for these packages. A good place to start is at the Adobe Marketplace & Exchange: You can then download and install a wealth of tools for all Creative Cloud applications.

imageThe Photoshop filter is probably the most common type of add-on you find online. Some filters you have to purchase before downloading and using them; however, some are free.

Installing extensions

You can install extensions in a few different ways. Sometimes you use an executable file: Double-click the file on your hard drive, and it automatically installs the software. This process is a lot like installing any other program on your computer, such as the programs in the Creative Cloud itself.

Sometimes individual files need to be placed in a folder first. In that case, you need to find the Plug-Ins folder on your computer in the Install directory of the program the plug-in or filter works with. For example, if your plug-in works with InDesign on Windows, you have to find the directory C:\Program Files\Adobe\InDesign CC\Plug-Ins. You then copy and paste or move the files you downloaded into this directory on your hard drive. If your plug-in works with Photoshop on the Mac, find this folder on your hard drive: Applications\Adobe Photoshop CC\Plug-Ins. Then copy and paste or move the files into the folder.

You can also take advantage of the Adobe Extension Manager CC application, installed automatically with the default Creative Cloud CC installation. Locate Extension Manager in your Programs (Windows) or Applications (Mac) folder and double-click to launch it. Select the application for which you want to install the extension, click the Install button to locate the extension you want to install, and click the Select button — you’re on your way!

If you're unsure how to install a plug-in, locate instructions for the software that explain how to install the plug-in on your computer. You can find instructions on the manufacturer's website or bundled with the plug-in file in a text file (usually named readme.txt).

Plugging in to InDesign

There are many plug-ins available in InDesign that allow you to extend the feature set that already exists. Here are some of the things you can do with additional plug-ins in InDesign:

check Lay out spreads correctly for a printer.

check Create sophisticated indexes and tables of contents.

check Create advanced cross references within your documents.

check Create page previews and thumbnails of your documents.

Other filters created for InDesign can help import certain content, such as text. Text formatting often gets lost when you import content into InDesign. Filters can help you retain this original formatting when you’re importing text. These plug-ins and filters are just a small sample of what’s available for InDesign. In all likelihood, developers will create many more plug-ins for the software.

Adding on to Photoshop

Photoshop has many preinstalled plug-ins and filters that increase the program’s functionality. You can find additional filters and also plug-ins to add new features that inevitably add interesting effects to your documents. One plug-in, for example, installs a number of filters in Photoshop. By using the filters and plug-ins you find for Photoshop, you can

check Create 3D text, objects, and effects by using several different plug-ins. Effects include more realistic drop shadows, bevels, and embossments than the ones already available in Photoshop.

check Use special masking tools to create amazing selections of difficult items such as fur and hair.

check Use one of thousands of special effects (made by many companies) to enhance and modify images.

check Add a frame from a library to place around favorite images.

This list describes only some of the tasks you can perform using the available Photoshop plug-ins, which commonly comprise a set of numerous bundled filters.

Many plug-ins have custom interfaces you can use to specify settings, including sliders, text fields, and buttons and usually a thumbnail preview of how the filter is affecting the image. These interfaces vary greatly in style and number of features but are usually fairly intuitive and easy to use.

Using Illustrator plug-ins

You can find many tools to extend the capabilities of Illustrator. Plug-ins are available that enable you to take 3D illustration further than standard 3D features allow. You can create forms from drawings and also turn 3D files into line drawings. Other plug-ins, ranging from simple to quite complex, let you

check Organize font sets.

check Add common symbols, such as road signage, to use in documents. Symbols are organized into libraries that you can use directly in the Illustrator workspace.

check Import computer-aided design (CAD) files into documents.

check Create interactive documents.

check Handle patterns geared toward creating textures and backgrounds.

You can enhance Illustrator capabilities after you download and install a few plug-ins. Simple projects become much more interesting or complex when you merely enter a value and click a button.

imageA fun item to download and install into Illustrator is a custom brush. You can then have a wider array of brushes to work with when you create drawings and illustrations. Styles, usually obtained for free, are also available for you to install in Illustrator. You can even download and install custom brushes for Photoshop.

Adding capabilities to Acrobat

Several Acrobat plug-ins help speed and diversify project workflow. Some available plug-ins are designed to help you

check Add new stamps to documents.

check Add features such as page numbering and watermarks.

check Streamline productivity by offering solutions for batch processing.

check Convert file formats to diversify the kinds of documents you can create in Acrobat.

check Work with and fix — quickly and efficiently — the Portable Document Format (PDF) in prepress.

Many plug-ins available for Acrobat enable you to batch-process (all at one time) the pages in a document. Many plug-ins for Acrobat help save lots of time when you’re creating PDF files. Plug-ins are usually designed to be easy to use and can thus save you from having to perform a tedious and repetitive task.

Plug-ins for Acrobat are available from the Adobe website and from numerous third-party websites.

Extending Dreamweaver

Dreamweaver offers you a quick and easy way to make web pages, but you can add more tools to Dreamweaver to diversify the types of tasks the program can do. These extensions (essentially, plug-ins) also speed the process of creating websites. Some available Dreamweaver plug-ins let you

check Add e-commerce modules to a website automatically.

check Create professional vertical and horizontal menus by using Dynamic HTML (DHTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

check Add a calendar pop-up.

check Add PayPal to your website.

Using Filters and Plug-Ins

You can install plug-ins and filters in your Creative Cloud programs. For example, a filter can enhance an existing photo in an exciting way. After you install into Photoshop or Illustrator a plug-in that includes a bunch of additional filters, check out what the filter can do to your photos.

Install some filters for Photoshop (or Illustrator or any other program in the Creative Cloud). After you complete the installation and restart your computer, if necessary, open Photoshop and locate the Filter menu option. (New filters are available on this menu.)

To use a filter or plug-in after installing it, follow these steps:

1. Open a file in the appropriate program so that you can try your new filter or plug-in.

For example, if you downloaded a Photoshop plug-in that added a new filter, open an interesting photo that you want to apply an effect to in Photoshop. Choose a photo that has many colors or a lot of contrast to work with.

2. Choose a filter from the Filter menu.

Select a filter that you installed from the Filter menu. You may also find that a plug-in created a new menu item in the program — in that case, use the new menu item to apply the effect.

3. Modify the filter’s (or plug-in’s) settings, if necessary, and click OK to apply the effect.

Sometimes you see a thumbnail preview to assess how the filter changes the image. For some filters and plug-ins, you even use a custom interface to manipulate the document. You can then change the settings accordingly until you’re happy with the modifications to be applied.

4. Look at the image or document after you choose and apply the filter or plug-in.

Your image or file is updated immediately. If you’re unhappy with the results, you can either undo your changes by choosing Edit⇒Undo or reapply the filter or plug-in.

imageThough filters add a great deal of interest and variety to documents, you can easily suffer from filter overload when using them. You can use filters in many different ways among the Creative Cloud applications, and some ways (and even the filters themselves) are considered better than others. Experiment freely with filters — just make sure that you don’t use too many on one part of an image when you’re creating a final project. For example, if you bevel and emboss a particular letter in a few different ways, that character can become illegible. Similarly, adding a huge drop shadow can distract the eye from other parts of the text.

imageKnow what you intend to accomplish with your document before you start creating it. If you set out to create a project with a particular design in mind, you can sometimes achieve better results. Try drawing your ideas on paper first, writing down notes about the effect you want to achieve, and thinking about the plug-ins you want to use to create it. Use one filter at a time, and make sure that you like the results before moving on. The alternative is to continue adding filters to achieve a particular result when you aren’t quite sure which effect you’re after or how to create it.