Author Archives: Jennifer Moore

10 Popular Plugins and Shareware for Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a leading vector image editing application, made even better because of its plug-in platform, which allows illustrators to customize the program according to their needs. Currently there are plug-ins that fit almost any requirement you might have. The following are 10 very popular plug-ins used by  graphic designers.

1. Art Files made for Mac – This is a collection of files that makes keeping track of documents, linked images and fonts easy, allowing users to “Point and Click” to select objects. This plug-in supports Illustrator versions 8, 9 and 10 for Mac computers.

2.  Artlandia LivePresets -This plug-in works for both Mac and Windows users. It allows you to insert patterns and symbols that can be edited. Any artwork you link updates interactively.

3.  FlexoStepX – This is a quicker way of repeating the steps and fixing mistakes in label packaging artwork.

4. Hot Door Perspective– Allows users to make realistic compositions with oblique,

FoldUP! 3D - Making dimensional design in Illustrator a whole lot easier!

isometric objects placed over an adjustable background grid.

5.  FoldUP! 3D– This plug-in allows an illustrator to test packaging designs digitally, eliminating the need to create a 3 dimensional test prototype.

6.  Live Pen – Gives you interesting typography and calligraphy options. This plugin is only available for Illustrator CS, CS2 and CS3.

7.  LogoSource -This is a collection of tracing and guide tools that help you edit scanned images.

8.  Vector Scribe-This tool helps you create and edit curve handles. It improves on illustrators measuring abilities.

Edit and create vector artwork faster, smarter and dynamically

9. Path Styler Pro – This plug-in uses paths to make beleveled images that don’t need to be softened.

10. Virtual Mirror Vector Studio – These are 8 tools that include shape editing, texturing, and color editing abilities.


So we’ve had a look at a good number of popular plugins used by designers working with Adobe Illustrator. Most importantly though its essential to learn the various Illustrator features  & how they work. Futuretrend’s Adobe Illustrator training courses provides a good option to help you get started in your quest. Just like you have to learn how to change gears, push on the gas pedal, control the steering, switch on the AC & the fan, etc. in a car, you have to invest some time in learning how features work in Illustrator works before you start experimenting with plugins that can add some serious 00mph! to your work.

10 Tips for designing an effective online training course

Designing for an online training course is very different from designing typical web pages. Web sites used for training should ideally have video, audio and a lot of interactivity.
Both participants and trainers must be able to access learning materials, presentations and information from the website, make changes, additions and deletions as needed. The website must be attractive and interesting, yet pages need to remain uncluttered so participants can access needed tools on the web site. learning online
To get the interactivity required for such online training websites, there are times when other 3rd partysoftware applications can be implemented to enhance the user experience.
The following 10 tips can help you plan for the design of your  online training web site.

1. Keep the number of clicks needed to get to your online training materials to a minimum.
Eliminate unneeded folders. Most materials should be at root folder level.

2. Un-clutter pages. Although you may have a need to use several tools for students, you may not need to use all of these tools for every training session.
Remove or high radon use tools to get them out other participants way.

3. Implement some sort of LMS (Learner Management System)  like Blackboard or Moodle.
These software applications allow trainers to place assignments, information or quizzes on the web site, and participants to upload assignments and information for the trainer.

4. Implement other applications that also make your training material interesting.
This can include video, slide show presentations or Prezi presentations. Include podcasts and other training materials that can be used directly from the web site.

5. Consider creating your own video to welcome and greet participants.

6. Include course objectives with each activity and assessment.
Avoid unnecessary written material. Observe how participants approach each activity and how this helps them achieve outcomes from the cours.

7. Make grading easier and remember that not everyone is going to be learning at the same pace.

8. Implement a blocking platform on the web site, as this will allow you to post objectives, announcements, videos, discussions, news, and virtual office hours. Visit your courses frequently, if you don’t like going to your courses, chances are training participants won’t either.

9. Update frequently to keep your participants coming back to your online training courses. Keep material interesting up-to-date and innovative.

10. Give personalized feedback in small short sentences. Participants don’t often want to read pages long feedback material, but a quick feedback sentence or two improves their self-esteem. Not all training websites are created equally and you may want functionality that others don’t require. This of course depends on your training material and courses offered.
It depends on the number of participants taking online training and whether the training is wholly online or a combination of both online and hands on training methods.
The  tips above are only a guideline as to the features you may need.

Review of 3 popular conferencing tools used for Virtual Learning

Conference calling has long been a must have in the corporate environment, and now as the education and training sector wakes up to the massive benefits there is increasing need  for improved call quality, efficiency and cost control. However, choosing a program that fulfils specific requirements allowing for several people to participate at the same time without lags or slow downs, video integration and interaction, ease of use and voice clarity can be challenging.

 As a trainer, teacher or corporate manager you need to communicate with participants and preferably through an inexpensive, easy to use conferencing call software program. Although, this may seem like a simple request, it is not that straight forward as some conference call applications only allow for a small number of participants and even then there can be a dropped call quality when the maximum number of participants join a video call. Certainly factors like, computer equipment and Internet speed also influence the call quality, but choosing the right conference video call application for your needs is a key factor in using the latest video conference call technology efficiently.


If it is true that with age comes wisdom then Skype is a bit of a pioneer in this arena. This service began in 2003 and has continually added features and applications since then. Through Skype a person can video conference with anyone any place within the world. Features include those that allow users to make computer to phone calls very inexpensively, but a few of the newer features include video conferencing capabilities for up to 5 people and a feature that allows users to share documents, white board information and videos, all by sharing the callers computer screen. All of these features range in price from either free to a few pounds a month. Of course, teams that need more features and capabilities like the ability to add up to 5 video callers a day and high capacity screen sharing capabilities should opt for the paid group calling option. 

 Go to Meeting

This conferencing program has a few more integrated features. For instance it allows you to hold meetings with others even if they haven’t signed up for the application, simply by allowing you to send them a direct link to the meeting. There is no need to give any training as to the use of the application. The program allows for keyboard and mouse control sharing, meaning it allows both you and the participants to share and make notes and share computer screen applications. Go to Meeting also allows users to record and playback any online meeting for later reference or distribution to other members of the meeting. But unlike Skype the features are not free. There is either a monthly or annual membership fee, but the program allows you to host meetings of up to 15 participants.

 Adobe Connect

This Adobe application allows you to customise your online meetings with up to 25 participants. It has a high degree of customisation, but is more complex in use, and requires users to be familiar with online training and meeting needs. The pre-configured templates help users conduct different types of training and collaborative activities. As the features are more intensive, the application does come at  a monthly cost. If planning on having meetings of 25 attendees then this may be the option for you, but otherwise a smaller and easier to use application like Go to Meeting may be the solution.

 At Futuretrend we have found skype works pretty well  for our CeMAP Home Study training sessions with tutor support. We have also trialled it with Software Testing classes but restrict this mainly to non-practical concepts and methodology  classes. 

In reality there is no One-Best Internet conferencing software program, as each offers different features. You should make your decision based on your training needs, the number of participants and the screen sharing or white board features you need.

Why you should find time for training (especially when you haven’t got any!)

Often companies and management view training as a secondary need or a luxury instead of an organisational necessity. There seems to be an absurd fear of investing in and then losing a well trained employee. The fear is in making the investment and losing it. Too many times a manager will ask: “What if I train employees and they leave?” But in this day and age, a company should instead be asking “What if I don´t train my employees and they stay?” No longer can any company afford not to offer the latest training techniques for their employees, the business world is just too competitive and ever-changing. By keeping untrained employees over a period of time, you hinder your company, become outdated and are unable to compete in your industry.

Too many managers see training as a feature or a gift instead of a necessity. So, when cut-backs occur it is often the training that gets put out of the way. The problem is: many managers really do feel that “Training negatively affects an employees work efficacy.” Instead of realizing that the newly learned techniques will improve the staff’s overall capability, work habits and work management.

The attitude is usually: “Training is great, so long as there is extra money, and it doesn’t take the staff away from important work tasks.”Unfortunately, those that believe this to be true, usually have a real training, staff and efficiency problem. Businesses that train are prepared for business survival and to outperform others in every aspect of development, production and innovation.

Training is about building an individual’s skill level and improving his/her education in all things related to the industry sector they compete in. Companies that train experience several benefits including:

  • Better Job Recruits-Job candidates are now looking for a work environment that offers more than just money. They want an environment that fosters personal development. A company that offers an effective training program has better job candidate options.

  • Motivation-the more motivated you keep employees the higher job retention you will have. People that work for a company that cares about personal growth are more likely to stay at the company.

  • Productivity-Companies that offer training often have better employee productivity and consequently higher revenues.

But as in all corporate strategy implementation, if TRAINING is not supported from top management, it will be ineffective. All levels of a company´s management must understand the importance of training as a process and know that it is not a single one time learning event. A company that touts the “Corporate University” status must be committed to developing a learning environment.

 An ideal training and learning environment means management will include it in corporate communications, business plans and performance goals. By involving management in the training process, conducting appraisals, updates and goals, personnel will understand that there is a direct correlation between training and career success.

However training is about more than just placing a teacher in a classroom. It is about effective, dynamic and hands on training methods. As an organisation considering training integration, you need to analyze quality training and delivery methods. As the saying goes: I hear-I forget, but if I see and do then I understand. This is what efficient and qualitative training is about. It is not only explanatory but also hands on and team participative, making the process really effective and allowing the participants to use the knowledge they receive in the work environment.