MyMac Design for Non-Designers Series
MacDesign out of the box
Book Review

MacDesign out of the box,
by Jim Elferdink

Inside Mac Press/Pearson Education
ISBN 0-321-37574-2
252 pages
US $29.99 CAN $41.99 UK £21.99

Part of the purpose of the MyMac Design for Non-Designers is to show that Apple’s consumer applications, particularly iLife applications, provide enough tools for basic and some advance level design work. Just as I started this series, I discovered that Andrew Shalat’s book, MacDesign out of the box would soon be published. It’s a book that is exactly in line with what I’m writing about this series.

In his book, Shalat proves that there’s enough tools inside any freshly bought Mac computer to accomplish all kinds of design and multimedia work. If you want to design a business card, a flier, a small website, or produce a short movie or song, the applications that come with any Mac computer can enable you to do so.

Shalat’s approach is to introduce to you to how you can use AppleWorks, TextEdit, or iWork applications, Pages and Keynote, to produce basically the same designs but with different applications. The second half of the book introduces you to how to integrate Apple’s famous iMovie and GarageBand for additional multimedia productions. Personally, I would not have included the latter applications, and instead fattened up the design technique coverage in using the former applications.

Nevertheless, the tone and approach of this book is very accessible and easy to follow. Honestly, if you have iLife 4, 5, or 6, you won’t have to buy any additional applications to get started with the exercises in this book. If you have Apple’s iLife software suite and TextEdit, but not AppleWorks or iWorks programs, you could still make use of this book. You won’t even need a digital camera to do the iMovie exercises.

When you first flip through the pages of this book, you may wonder where does Shalat get all the neat graphics for the designs. Well they’re nothing less than OS X’s desktop images or wallpaper. Control click on your desktop and select Change Desktop Background. If you don’t know already, you’ll get a bunch of useful background designs that you can not only use for your desktop, but also use for creating a quick flier, website, or business card. Shalat shows how Apple’s other well-known applications also have template designs that will get you started.

As designer and writer for the last 25 years, Shalat integrates the how-to parts of his book with his philosophy about how to approach to good design. In nutshell, he calls it “Andrews Rules of Thumb: 1. Consider our message 2. Consider our target audience 3. Organize and prioritize all design elements to express that message and reach that audience.”

With this design theory in mind, you can learn how to use Keynote to make a Flash file for your website, how to storyboard with iPhoto, and how to lay down some background music in GarageBand. We’re talking multimedia production for under $100.

But you may be saying, “I don’t have website to upload to.” No problem, Shalat shows you how to practice some Mac-based web development using a trial version of .Mac in which you can create a personal website.

Of course, this book was published before iLife 6, so Shalat is probably writing a new edition now with more iLife tools to choose from.

But if you need a comprehensive, easy to read, book to help you get started with some design basics for your business, organization, club, or personal communication, MacDesign out of the box is a good introduction. rating: 4 out of 5


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