Guest Blog: Designer Extraordinaire Dave Clayton

HOW DO I DO THAT IN INDESIGN? I WROTE A BOOK! Part 2 – It’s Available Now!

Hi there, it’s an honour to be back on Scott’s blog again. When I think back to my first appearance nine years ago, an iPhone shot by Scott of Glyn Dewis and myself on the London Underground just after meeting Scott (and also me meeting Glyn for the first time) and now nine years on, talking about the release of my new book, written for Scott’s series of “How Do I Do That In…” series, I do seriously have to pinch myself. I’ve been using InDesign since its ‘birth’ 20 years ago, so to become an author on the subject is an achievement I am incredibly proud of.

I wrote a blog post (Part 1) about the book back in May 2019 right here.

At that point I was still in writing mode. No one really prepares you for writing a book. A 260+ page book. A 260+ page book to continue a series by an author with over 5 million book sales. No pressure, right?! But those authors that I do know such as Glyn Dewis, Alan Hess and Scott, himself, just said “write what you know and use your own voice”. I had read most of Scott’s books in the past, I always loved the chapter intros he did. He even made a book of intros – it’s a freebie perk on KelbyOne.

I quickly found myself writing in the way I was advised, I imagined I was next to a buddy that needed my help and I wanted to explain the best or quickest way to get a job or task done. This book is not the technical bible. As with most Adobe apps, there are many ways to achieve the same result, some quicker than others. My job is to show you one to get you moving, you’ll learn more as you use InDesign more and there’s plenty of resources around including a very large book at Rocky Nook called The InDesign Compendium.

Another thing about writing a book is the difference between idea and exectution. Idea is exactly that, “I have a great idea for a book about <insert idea>”. Is your idea book sized? Is it of interest to only you or a much wider audience? We actually spoke to Scott Cowlin and Ted Waitt of Rocky Nook about this on our (mine and Glyn’s) podcast He Shoots, He Draws.

I was lucky, this was a successful series and a much (secretly) loved Adobe application that many struggle with. All I had to do was piece together the puzzle of working through InDesign and encourage new users, and experienced, to quickly find that “pah, how do I do that again?” answer. It also made me go through many features I hadn’t used as often, plus I got to create all the assets to include in the screenshots. The fun side of that was including photos and images of my friends and family. I’m going to see how many friends get the book and spot themselves! Me writing this book is the combination of many parts, and those parts are the people and experiences I have been fortunate enough to have in my life. I said in my previous blog post that I have had the best moments of my design career in the past 10 years. I am 54 as I write this. Oh, and my big brother Alan just turned 65 – so, happy birthday bruv

Becoming an author is like being Spiderman (stay with this very tenuous attempt for me to pretend I am Spiderman), with great power comes great responsibility. And by that it means you become a voice of authority and quite possibly the expectation to know everything and have your phone and email blowing up with “I need help” requests. The reason I say this is because I don’t believe that to be completely true. We may reach a point in our lives where we have a lot of knowledge and experience but I tell you this, if you ever think you know everything, you don’t. 

I finished this book and last month at Adobe Max I sat in two InDesign classes. The first by the wonderful and very talented Hoodzpah Design, a Californian design company run by Jen and Amy Hood (Check their cool book out here). Although many designers tend to show off their Illustrator and Photoshop work, many will have produced large proportions of their content with InDesign (and if not, why not? Come on designers, embrace the ‘Id’). Amy and Jen said to me before they started “ah man, you’re the expert, I hope what we show is good” – I quickly denied that. And to prove the point, I was only 10 minutes into their presentation and I was making notes like a crazy man.

It’s not about knowing ‘everything,’ it’s also about knowing how to be creative, how to design an efficient workflow, how to use the best parts of the app to keep moving. The creative side is the part I am so passionate about and Jen and Amy’s presentation completely amplified that.

The second class was by my good friend Bart Van de Wiele, Bart walked us through more advanced areas and techniques, many I have yet to use but were so useful and time saving. At that point I could see my place in the InDesign food chain and I was content with that. I want you to be able to use my book to get more confident with InDesign, get creative with your work, produce more content with the right tool and evangelise its usefulness and power to others.

Once you get to grips with InDesign you will learn more than is in the book, you will learn the hidden tools of InDesign, you’ll even dabble with the mighty GREP, a super power in InDesign for power users. But at least you’ll be using it. No more clicking on the little ID icon in your dock, watching InDesign open, looking at the empty workspace and then saying to yourself “ah, not today” – like I do with After Effects!

I have loved teaching InDesign at Photoshop World, it’s been a blast, I love teaching and writing about anything design related. It’s important to learn the tools and learn how to be creative. I have seen many an instructor show how apps work and it’s sound like the teacher from Ferris Bueller saying Bueller, Bueller….Buellerin that very dull, uninteresting tone. I think all photographers should learn the basics of InDesign. 

I did a presentation at The Professional Imaging Show in Holland this year called “Why A Graphic Designer Is A Photographers best Friend (and vice versa)”. It was all about photographers and designers working together more. I really do believe that learning a skill such as InDesign will help you shoot like a designer. You’ll be able to visualise how flyers, booklets, postcards etc are put together and it’ll make your brain think about how to shoot for suitable images rather than just go and do the job – take a portrait and go home.

When you, as a photographer, can talk to your client about how the images will be used and be able to talk about layouts and type you’ll quickly find that the work stays with you. If you are already a designer then why aren’t you using InDesign – if you have the Creative Cloud obviously – because using the right tool for the job will make you a more desirable designer, in my opinion. 

I was recently interviewed at Adobe Max along with many other creatives by Adventures InDesign podcast. When asked what my favourite app was I was the only person to say InDesign. In a world surrounded by print, signage, labels, products, even digital, InDesign is at the forefront of the products being used to make those things. Go and pick up your favourite photography book. I would say there’s a 90% chance it was made in InDesign or a professional publishing product such as Quark or Affinity Publisher even. 

So to end this article, I urge you to open up InDesign, look on the Adobe website to see what it’s used for, watch the InDesign classes on KelbyOne, read the InDesign design articles I wrote in Photoshop User magazine archive, sit in a couple of InDesign classes at your next design conference, talk to designers for advice and learn to love my favourite app. And if you still need more help….I know a guy who wrote a really cool book called ‘How Do I Do That In InDesign’

It’s available AMAZON (UK) and AMAZON (US) or at RockyNook.

You can see more from Dave at, and keep up with him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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