Tips for using InDesign and Photoshop at work: Adam Brightman interview

Adam Brightman

Ahead of the upcoming training courses InDesign and Photoshop for publishers, BookMachine are running a series of interviews with industry professionals to understand how they use the tools at work. The following interview by Katie Dodson is with Adam Brightman, Senior Designer at emcdesign. Since 2010, Adam has worked on some of the most complex creative projects, designing realia and infographics to help contextualise material at emcdesign.

1) How frequently do you use Photoshop/InDesign and when did you start using it regularly?

I use InDesign and Photoshop almost everyday at work. As a book designers, the two programs really complement each other. I started to use Photoshop and InDesign regularly while taking my Degree in Graphic Communication at the University of Northampton. However, it wasn’t until I started working for emc working on large, complicated documents and big courses that I truly learned the potential of what the software is capable of.

2) What methods do you use to keep updated and improve on your skills?

Design is always evolving and naturally the software is too so it’s important to keep up to date with current design trends and skills. I find Pinterest is a great resource for inspiration which often leads to learning new techniques and skills in the process. is a great website for keeping up to date with everything InDesign. Adobe’s new creative cloud service has also become a fantastic resource for keeping updated and learning new skills. Adobe TV has a massive library of videos tutorials and tips for all of their software. Every time a new software update arrives there’s usually a video explaining the new features to try.

3) Would you mind sharing a top trick with us?

There are so many great tricks in InDesign but one of my (often overlooked) favourites is the calculator ability. When working in complicated large documents it’s very important to make sure that you work accurately and consistently. To achieve this, we work mathematically keying in numbers for X and Y positions and also the size of objects. InDesign has a really handy feature where you can use mathematics to work out the correct size for objects. For example, if you have an object with the width of 30mm’s but it needs to be 7mm’s longer you can simply input +7mm onto the end of the 30 and InDesign will calculate the new width for you and apply. It’s a very simple feature but has proven to be incredibly helpful and time saving in complicated projects where I’ve had to mathematically adjust multiple objects to fit a new grid structure. It also works when setting tab spacing too.

4) Could you please share a couple of links to your work?

Sure! You can view our full portfolio at I recommend taking a look at the new GCSE Food book. This was a really exciting project to work on. We had to set text and design realia around over a thousand photos and we created all of the artwork in house. Another project I really enjoyed working on was Keynote. We were commissioned to create a large series of illustrated infographics for a large ELT course. You can view some of my favourites in our portfolio.

5) What advice would you give to anyone wanting to improve how they use Photoshop/InDesign?

The best advice I can give would be to get online and start to run some tutorials. I’ve always found when it comes to design software to really improve you have to venture out and learn a lot of the extra techniques on your own. University courses simply don’t have the time to cover everything. There’s so many great resources online. The tutorials on Adobe TV would be a great place to begin.

6) What do you use Photoshop/InDesign for mainly?

InDesign is always my starting point to a print based project. I use it to build and layout all of the pages. It’s very accurate and easy to make flexible grid structures. It also has a great variety of typographic and styling options.

I then use Photoshop to edit any of the photographic content on the pages. The Photoshop files are placed into the InDesign document and I jump between the two to add life to the pages in InDesign. At emc I use Photoshop for all types of editing. Sometimes it’s as simple as just brightening up a photo but then there’s things much more complex such as extending a background to fill the page and working with masks to cut out layers of elements in one photo. There’s really no end to what you can do in Photoshop.

If you too would like to improve on how you use In Design/Photoshop at work, you can register on these courses by following the links below:



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