Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Variables - part 2

The Wanted Poster, an age old concept. The basic look and feel of it hasn't changed in over a hundred years. The Wanted Poster serves a vital function, getting the word out about people who are of interest to law enforcement.

Variables allows us to use data to drive graphics and the creative process. Data ... the who, what, where ... combines with the overall design of the poster. The data may change but the underlying template remains the same. Thus, the Wanted Poster serves as the perfect example of using Variables, using data-driven graphics in law enforcement. Let's take a closer look.

The general steps are as follows:
  1. Create the basic graphic that will serve as your template. Use layers to separate the elements that will change, such as the text layers for name and offense, as well as the mug shot.
  2. Define the Variables. Tell Photoshop which elements will change.
  3. Create or import the data. You can create the data sets within the template. However, as you will be bringing in crime alert data from another program, it is more than likely that you will import them from a text file.
  4. Preview. Test your graphic and text linking. Make sure all Variables have been correctly assigned and the image/text swapping works as you intended.
  5. Export. Create the final graphics by exporting them with the data.
Does all of this seem complicated? It's not. Next, we'll take a look at each step in detail. I think that you'll see just how cool this little known function can be.

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