Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Variables part 3 - the set up

Probably the most important thing to remember in using Variables, or data-driven graphics in your workflow is the set-up.

Here's the key: each item that will change needs to be on a separate layer. Those items that do not change can be put on a single layer, if you wish. Here's a sample look at setting up your file.

Background layer (remember - variables can't be defined on a background layer):
  • the poster's header and footer. Those items that are in common across the entire department. This can include the headline (if it doesn't change), department logos, contact information and so forth.
  • the poster's guides, boxes, and other layout aids
Image layers (each item gets its own layer):
  • The suspect, or person of interest's photo
  • Additional photos for tattoos, scars, etc.
  • warning graphics - such as "armed and dangerous", "in-custody," "released" and so forth
  • any other graphic that changes or may change for each poster
Text Layers (each item gets its own layer):
  • Each unique bit of information should get its own layer
  • If the font or style changes, create a new layer
With all of these pieces laid out on your page, you've now created your template. Save the file as a PSD. With the PSD file in hand, we can begin to assign the variable information.

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