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Art Licensing by artist Joan Beiriger: I'm happy to share art licensing info but please
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Discover the Magic of Adobe Bridge

Maybe you are aware of Adobe Bridge software and most likely own it BUT do you use it? If you don't, I recommend that you start immediately. Bridge is a great tool for accessing all of Adobe's software, for finding and organizing all types of files, and much more. It is included with most Adobe software including Photoshop (PS), Illustrator (Ai) and Creative Suite (CS) so you already have it if you own version 2 and above.

So what is so great about Bridge? To see, watch "Adobe Bridge Tutorial - Why use Bridge?" Bridge can be used to access all of Creative Suites software, find files, batch rename files, organize files such as assigning colored labels or star ratings, and edit metadata, keywords and IPTC* information embedded in the file. It can also create pdf contact sheets and flash slideshows with version 4 and above. Below are links to video tutorials on how to use some of these features.

"Batch renaming with Bridge CS4" This method can also be used with Bridge CS2 and above.

"Photoshop Tutorial: How to batch resize / save as jpg (In-Depth) Beginner" Batch resize can be done in PS without Bridge but there is an advantage by organizing files in Bridge before switching to PS to do the batch resizing.

"Learn Adobe Bridge CS4 - Working with metadata and keywords" Using metadata and keywords in files is a useful way to organize files. However, I do not recommend publishing files on the web with this type of embedded information. Web crawlers can easily use this information to upload these files into public domain art sites. The more difficult you make copyright infringers to find your art, the less chance your art will be stolen.

"Create A Flash Picture Gallery With Adobe Bridge CS4"

"Amazing hidden features in Adobe Bridge CS5 and CS4"

*IPTC is a scheme for metadata standards developed in the early 1990s by The International Press Telecommunications Council for photographs. It contains information of the creator, contact information, file description, keywords, and copyright. Note: It is advisable to embed at least the creator, and copyright information in all art files to protect against copyright infringement. Go to File/File Info of the opened document in PS and Ai to enter the data or use Bridge to append the information. See item 4 (below) for a description on using metadata templates to quickly append information to files.

The following are reasons why I find Adobe Bridge indispensable.

1. I have thousands of art files and nearly forty thousand digital photographs that I have taken for reference. Some files are stored on my computer internal drive and some are stored on various external hard drives. Managing and naming all those files is a horrendous task and I must admit I haven't always done a stellar job. Thus, locating the files that I need can sometimes be difficult. With Bridge, I can select a likely folder on any of my drives and thumbnail images of the files and folders appears in a window. Then by selecting an image (or multiple ones by holding down the shift key) the image(s) is enlarged in another window. That way I can see at a glance whether the file is the correct one. If it is, I simply double click on the thumbnail and it opens in the software that it was created in.

The above Bridge example shows 24 thumbnail images of the files that is in one of my folders (grey background window), an enlarged image of a selected file (window at right), and format, size, mode, etc. information about that file (listed in window under the enlarged image).

2. Open a file/document in Photoshop (or Illustrator) and then use Bridge to find previously created documents of icons and designs. Without opening the document(s), drag it (them) into the opened PS document to enhance the existing art or into a new document to create patterns. Not having to open files sure saves a lot of time. Hint: If you wish to save icon/design PS documents with a transparent background, do not show the background layer while in PS and save it as PGN instead of jpg.

3. When I am sending art to clients, I want to make sure that the files are the correct document type (jpg, pdf, PS, Ai, etc.), have an embedded color profile and copyright information, the correct color mode (RGB, CMYK), resolution, file dimensions, etc. In Bridge it is easy to click on the thumbnail image and see that information without opening the file. If the copyright information needs to be added, it can be done in Bridge. And if other information in a file needs to be edited, it can be opened and corrected in the software that it was created by double clicking on the thumbnail image.

4. As mentioned previously, it is advisable to embed metadata copyright information into art files to help protect art from copyright infringement. When art is created in PS or Ai, information can be entered by going to File / File info . . . / Description menu but it is boring to enter the same information in every file and easy to forget to do it. A trouble free way to embed important metadata information in files is to use Bridge and create metadata templates to quickly apply the information to one file or multiple files at a time.

To create a metadata template in Bridge, go to Tools, open Create Metadata Template . . . and enter a name of the template and any information you wish in the IPTC Core window. Make sure that you select the box next to the entered information so that it will be saved. Note: There is a lot of information that can be embedded into files. However, I embed only the information that I consider the most important such as Creator, Creator Job Title, Creator Country, Copyright Notice, and change the default Copyright Status from Unknown to Copyrighted. In the Copyright Notice I put: © (artist name) - All rights reserved except those specifically granted herein. Contact (artist name) at (artist e-mail address) to inquire about any reproduction of this image.

To apply the metadata template to a file, click on the thumbnail image or select multiple images by holding down the shift key. Then go to Tools / Append Metadata / name of the metadata template.

With all of the functions that Bridge has, it is no wonder why I love it. If you haven't yet used Bridge, try it and you too may find out that it is indispensable when managing and creating your art collections.

I welcome any comments or suggestions. Please write them in the comment section below.


  1. Wow! Thank you for this post! I've been wondering what to do with Bridge. I'll definitely be using it now.

  2. Wow is right! Who knew? I've also been wondering about what Bridge was all about, but never really took the time to dig deeper. I will now, so thank you for this information!

  3. Joan: thanks for this recent post! I've been using bridge, but wanted to start using the metadata info. (I'm behind in my copyright registrations). So, it's perfect timing. Do you ever use the collections folders or smart collections folders?

  4. Hi Marcia,
    No I haven't used the collection folders but organizing art into collection folders probably would be a good way to submit art for copyright applications.

  5. Hi again Joan. One more question about the copyright addition to the metadata...I can't figure out how to change the default copyright status. When I try to create my template the copyright info. disappears on me! Can you clarify how to change the default?

  6. Marci, You need to click on the square box to the left of each row of data that you want to insert and then click on save at the bottom of the window.

  7. Thanks so much for this info, Joan! I, too have Bridge and haven't utilized it... anything for convenience!!