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Illustrator offers a wealth of special effects that you can apply to artwork and many of those are Raster-based. You can find these in the Effect menu, and in addition to the Illustrator effects, you will find a whole range of Photoshop effects. Some of these are commonly used. For example, the Gaussian Blur effect. However, it's important to realize that these Raster-based effects are tied to a specific resolution. That resolution is found here in the Document Raster Effects Settings. When you create new documents using the Print Profile in Illustrator, your Document Raster Effects Settings are set to a default of 300 pixels per inch, as you see here.
When you create new document using the Web Profile, for example, those documents are set to use the Document Raster Effects Settings of 72 pixels per inch. However, in previous versions of Illustrator, you can run into a problem if you change your resolution after you have already applied effects. For example, you may have some art that was created in a Print document that has a Gaussian Blur Effect applied to it and when you Copy and Paste that artwork into a Web document, the Gaussian Blur suddenly changes in appearance. That happens because these Raster Effects Settings are different in each of those documents.
Well, now in Illustrator CS5, Adobe has enhanced most of these Raster Effects to be more intelligent about the resolution, meaning that the general appearance of the effect will remain the same even if you change its resolution. Let me give you an example. Right now, I am going to leave this set to 300 pixels per inch as a default setting inside of of a Print document. So, I'll click OK. I am going to focus in on this part of the artwork of the here, and maybe I want to create some kind of nice, little soft design element behind this flower right here. So, I'll use my regular Ellipse tool here, and I am going to draw a simple circle behind this shape.
I'll give it a nice, lets say, a blue fill, and I'll get rid of the stroke on it. Now I am ready to apply an effect to it. So, I'm going to go ahead now, in the Effect menu. I am going to choose Blur > Gaussian Blur, and I'll choose a Radius of about 40 pixels and click OK. I'll send it to the back, so now I have a nice, interesting effect there behind the flower. However, what happens now if I change the resolution of my document. I'm going to go now to the Effect menu, I am going to choose Document Raster Effect Settings, and I will change the Resolution to 72 pixel per inch. This would be the same thing as if I were Copying and Pasting this element into a document that has a Resolution set to 72 ppi as well.
But notice what happens here. When I click OK, there is virtually no change at all in the appearance of this effect. It's now set to a low resolution, but Illustrator figured out the math behind the scenes and basically made it so that the effect appears unchanged. One of the real benefits of this, though, is that even if you are working in a print-based workflow, when using these Raster-based effects, for example, like Gaussian Blur, this allows you to modify your Resolution Settings to a low resolution when you start designing your work and then dial up, or increase the resolution right before you are ready to send the file out for print. Because higher resolution files take longer to process, this means that while you are designing and printing proofs, you'll get really fast performance, but you can switch to a higher resolution at the end of your workflow without any consequences.
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