Not too long ago, MacPhun introduced Aurora HDR software. While it could work well to edit single-exposure images, it really isn’t meant for that purpose. But pretty soon, MacPhun is going to be releasing Luminar, a full, single image editing software that gives you the ability to turn your images from everyday to spectacular using either the most simple tools, or choosing to use some seriously advanced image editing tools.

I was fortunate enough to get a bit of a chance to experiment with Luminar, and although I’m not allowed to disclose much (yet), I thi43452-1-gifnk you’ll be really pleased at it’s ease of use and the breadth of it’s functionality.

Luminar will be released on November 17th, and the purchase price will be $69, but if you sign up to be notified of a preorder (preorders will start on November 2nd), you’ll be able to get the software for a $10 discount ($59). To sign up for a preorder notification, please follow this link

But, why preorder, when you can’t even see what it does?! So, MacPhun has created a Sneek Peek on their blog. To find out more about the ease and functionality of this program (which also works as a Photoshop Plugin), please click this link.

Please note: MacPhun software is MacOS only.


One set of my favorite plugin developers, MacPhun, has released an article on their blog about the expected changes in the upcoming MacOS Sierra. While I’m usually quite hesitant to upgrade my OS (I don’t like buying software upgrades for my existing apps – and what happened with Mavericks and it’s lack of video codecs is inexcusable), some of the revelations about the new Mac native photography apps are intriguing.

I skipped Mountain Lion, I’ve skipped El Capitan – but I might consider Sierra (after a good, long, healthy wait to the .2 update version).

Check out their article at: MacPhun

As my Photoshop students have already learned, brushes can be made using any set of pixels and can be manipulated almost unendingly with the Brush panel. But sometimes, it’s very helpful to have a starting point. provides some beautifully made starting points! The detail and settings of his brushes are unique in their realism and detail in use. They work well with just a mouse, but like any brush, take on their real strengths when using a pen tablet like the Wacom brand of tablets.

Normally, I pass by a lot of the ads I see on Facebook, but a few months ago, I decided to click on one and found an excellent resource.

At, the (very responsive) developer Nicolai has made sets of brushes, ranging from inks to calligraphy, to natural media, and more. He even provides a Photoshop Extension to open a panel in which you can organize your brushes into sets as you like them. Just recently, I used just one of his cloud brushes in a project, and created very realistic clouds. He offers a LOT of freebies, and if you sign up for his email list, you can get even more. He sells sets of them as well. His full set is a VERY reasonable $22.

Remember, all of the brushes are just starting points – Presets – from which you can use the Photoshop Brushes panel to manipulate them, resize them and alter how they work.

You all know, I LOVE Free stuff – and here, there’s a plethora of freebies along with the paid content. I think any Photoshop user will find a great deal of use and enjoyment of these. Plan on seeing some lessons on this within a few weeks.


For the love of Typography   April 2nd, 2016

As most of my design and graphics students know, I’m a bit of a type geek. In almost every class, even if it’s not in our regular syllabus, I try to include at least a brief introduction to Type as Design – or, Typography. 

And, you probably also know how I stress the idea of kerning – the way individual letterforms fit together, as a method of refining your work, adding a cohesive look and confirming that you’ve taken some time and put in some effort at making your type look good, as well as read well.

Today, I found an excellent infographic at Digital, that may help you to make better decisions about how to improve your Headers, your Titles, and all display type. Take a look!

Today, Google announced that their excellent Photoshop Plugin “The Nik Collection” is going to be free to everybody.

This excellent collection includes: Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro and Dfine – professional level controls to refine your images. I’ve been using it for several years (along with some other plugin sets) for efficient control over my effects, sharpening, noise removal and more.

For those of us who use Photoshop on a regular basis, getting this (previously $149) plugin for FREE is a boon!

Check out their post at:

As almost all of my students know, I’m a bit of a type geek. So, imagine how fulfilled my inner geek feels, when I find blog post about Typefaces, Type Structure, Type families, Type anatomy, and Type Classification, the use of Type in Paragraphs, Typographic Terms like kerning and spacing, Page Layout and Type, and so much more!

Although this article is written with a focus on software development, the article is about DESIGN. Knowing what you’re using, and why. As I always say “in design, you can always break the rules, but first you have to know what the rules are!”

I seriously recommend this article to all my design students, my motion graphics students, my still image students, and anyone else who feels that Type is more than just a way to make a word show up.

When I upgraded to Yosemite (I know, El Capitan is newer, but I have some older hardware and software I’d rather not upgrade yet), I had several concerns, not the least of which was whether one of my most-used apps would still run under the new OS.

YouControl was last updated in 2009, and it’s currently abandon-ware (the company closed, there’s no support, and there will be no upgrades).

I’d tried to do a lot of research, and all I read was that when doing a fresh installation, YouControl could no longer connect to the developer’s server, so would not authenticate, so it wouldn’t run.

I’m posting this, in case anybody else has the same concern – instead of doing a fresh installation of the OS, I did an upgrade installation (after thoroughly backing up on 2 different media, of course), running utilities and cleanup, and doing extensive preparation beforehand. I’m here to tell you – it STILL WORKS!

All aspects – hotkeys, multi-clipboard, stock checking, system monitoring… I run the gamut (only thing that died was the weather function, which had died years ago).

So, for those of you who don’t know of this app, I’m sorry for the interruption – nevermind – you can’t get it. But for those of you who have the same concern as I, who can’t find a real answer anywhere – I’m writing this to let you know that if you maintain your installation – YouControl will continue to work. Unfortunately, I can’t speak to it’s use in El Capitan, but I would assume upgrading instead of reinstalling would do the same thing.

Last thing – this should also work with a clean SYSTEM installation, and migration – since YouControl never has tried to check in with the server when I’ve done that in the past.

UPDATE 2/23/16 – it seems I may have spoken too soon. While YouControl DOES work, it’s not very stable. Apparently, the application makes a call to a command that was deprecated after OS 10.8. Since the developer isn’t available to fix the code, the application occasionally mis-identifies the Operating System on the computer (thinks it’s 10.9) and gets confused, causing the need to force quit. I will continue to work on finding a fix, but please do note that this application isn’t as stable as I’d hoped. The worst part is that in order to do even part of what i’ve been doing with this great app, I’ll have to run at least 4 other background applications. Sad.

In a recent article on InDesign Secrets, I can finally find the reason why so many of my InDesign classes have been having font errors when using files from the Adobe courseware. It seems that InDesign – and all of the Adobe programs, for that matter, are no longer installing the fonts that used to come with the programs! I’ve been using Adobe programs for too many  years than I want to count, so of course, I have the fonts installed, but so many of my students are downloading demo software for their classes, and work in an environment with security limitations, so they can’t easily access Adobe’s Typekit (part of the Creative Cloud suite).

In my opinion, this is a terrible move on Adobe’s part, and I can’t quite figure out why they’re choosing to do it. Over the years, I’ve seen Adobe seemingly losing touch with their users in quite a few ways, but in software that’s ABOUT design, I can’t imagine what they’re thinking.

To view the post on, please visit

There’s an earlier article about the issue here:   (which includes a work-around)

And, for a list of the fonts originally installed, and mostly still necessary, please see Adobe’s article here:

As for me, I’ve backed up ALL of my installed fonts into a directory I use for my font management program. I suggest you do the same. If you’d like instructions for doing so, please comment on this post.


27 Useful Design Tips   July 18th, 2015

For my design and typography students, here’s a really nice blog with some tips and ideas to improve your feel for good design, good use of typography, and maybe provide some inspiration.


So, you guys know I’m very neurotic about backing up my files, and I found this service that gives you unlimited space for automatic backups – IN THE CLOUD!

I have dual hard drive backups in my home office, PLUS a separate backup for my startup drive. But living in SoCal, with earthquakes, I’ve always been concerned about earthquake damage hurting my backups, leaving me with nothing.

Recently, I discovered for $50/year, they offer unlimited space for backups, allow the backup of external drives, retain backups for 30 days, and will back up almost everything (system files and Applications won’t get backed up). I have 4 internal drives and several externals. All of my media (photos, videos, and even the files created as temporary files for my video editing), all of my office work files, personal files – and it’s safe and encrypted. All offsite, and all for $50! There isn’t a limit on file size, either – so my largest multi-gig files can be uploaded. It’s not exceptionally speedy, but I can even control the speed of the backups.

I highly recommend checking them out at