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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
This is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. This week we're inside Illustrator, and I am going to show you how to precisely align your artwork to the bleed, because there's no way of doing so automatically. Now I'll explain what's going on with the bleed in the screencast, but for now take a look at this artwork here. The black rectangle represents the outline of the artboard, the red rectangle represents the bleed. As soon as I add a background, notice that everything is out of alignment, especially inside this blue circled area.
Now this would probably work just fine, but you might as well get it right. Here let me show you exactly how it works. So, here's the final version of the artwork with a purple background exactly aligned to the bleed, which appears in red. And by the way, all the bleed is it's a guideline that ensures that you have more than enough artwork to extend to the very outside edges of a page. I'm going to start off inside this document which currently has no bleed. To establish a bleed in Illustrator, you go up to the Control panel and click on the Documents Setup button, and presumably you want all the bleed values to be linked together as they are by default.
I am going to go ahead and dial in a Bleed value of 0.25 in. That is a quarter inch and then when I press the Tab key, you can see that all the bleed values changed to 18 points, because I'm working with points. And that's a value that you want to keep in mind, because you'll need to come back to it later. Now click OK, and you can see that the bleed appears in red. Now ideally what you would do if you want to align a rectangular background to that bleed, is you'd go up to the View menu and you choose Smart Guides and or you press Ctrl+U or Command+U on the Mac in order to turn them on, and then you grab the Rectangle tool.
And in my case I am going to go switch to the back layer so that I'm creating the rectangle in the background. And I happened to know that I want the Fill to be the shade of purple right here, and I also want the Stroke to be None. All right! Now I'll drag from this point at which you see the word Intersect in the upper left corner of the bleed, and I'll go ahead and drag down until I see the word Intersect again in the bottom left corner the bleed, and then I'll go ahead and release and I have created a rectangle that's every bit as big as the bleed, however it's not exactly the right size.
If I click on the word Transform up here in the Control panel, I can see that it measures 640 points wide, which is exactly what it needs to be, but it's 851 points tall. That's only one point off, and that's not going to create any problems whatsoever, but let's just say you want a rectangle that's exactly the right size. Well, here is how to achieve that. I'll press Ctrl+U or Command+U on the Mac to turn off the Smart Guides, just so that they don't flash around on screen. And I'll press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of the rectangle.
First of all you press Shift+O which switches you to the Artboard tool and you can also click on the Artboard tool down here near the bottom of the toolbox, and that will show you the dimensions of the artboard right here in the Control panel. On the right-hand side you can see a Width value of 612 points, and a Height value of 414 points. Go ahead and write those values down, and then press the Escape key in order to return to the Rectangle tool. Then just go ahead and click anywhere inside the artwork, and dial those values in. So 612 points wide by 414 points tall, and then you click the OK button in order to create that rectangle.
Now go up to the Control panel once again and switch this Align option to Align to Artboard and then click on any of the horizontal options, Horizontal Align Left will work just fine and then Vertical Align Top, but again you can click on any of the vertical options as well. So, click on those two icons in order to align this guy to the artboard. Now we need to align it to the bleed, and we'll do that by clicking on the word Transform once again. Click at the end of the Width value and you want to add twice the bleed, because we've got a bleed over here in the left-hand side and another bleed on the right-hand side, our bleeds are 18 points, 18 times 2 is 36.
So, I'll just go ahead and enter +36. And then we're going to do the same thing for the Height value. Go ahead and Tab to it, press the Right Arrow key in order to advance to the end and enter +36 and press the Tab key again. Now you have a rectangle that's exactly the right size, it has a Width of 648 points and a Height of 450 points, which is what we need, and it's exactly aligned to the bleed, even if you might see a little bit of discrepancy on screen. I am going to go ahead and lock down the back layer, because notice down here these objects that are at various points, not quite aligned to the very outside of the bleed, and that could end up causing us some problems later down the line.
So I am going to press the A key to switch to my White Arrow tool, and I'll go ahead and marquee these bottom points like so in order to select all those bottom edges. And you want to make it a pretty shallow marquee so you don't end up selecting too many points. Let's say we want to align all these guys exactly to the bleed, then the first step is to once again make sure that Align to Artboard is active up here in the Control panel, and then you want to click this guy, Vertical Align Bottom and that will align all those points to the bottom of the artboard, which is not what we want, we want the bottom of the bleed, which is 18 points down.
So double-click in the White Arrow tool icon in the toolbox or you can just press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac and these are the values you want to dial in, a Horizontal value of 0, because we don't want to move the points back and forth, and you want a Vertical value of +18 in order to move those anchor points 18 points downward. Now go ahead and click OK to accept that change and we have some precisely aligned artwork as you can see here. I'll just go ahead and press the F key couple of times in order to switch to the Full Screen mode.
I'll press Ctrl+0 or Command+0 on the Mac so that we can see all of the artwork to the very outer edges of the bleed. Some simple alignment tricks, but I find them to be very useful when I'm creating artwork that includes the bleed inside Illustrator. If you are a member of the lynda.com Online Training Library, I have a follow-up movie, in which I show you how to import a pixel- based tracing template into Illustrator. Now many of you are probably thinking Deke, that's a really old feature. I already know how to do that.
Here's the trick, how do you import the template so that it's the right resolution so that it looks great at the exact zoom ratio at which you want to trace it. For example, I want to trace my artwork at 300 % and I want that pixel-based tracing template to look super smooth, so that I can get the best results possible. If you're waiting for next week's free video, I am going to show you how to draw a distinctive 2D video game character in Illustrator, so much fun, such a challenge.
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