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Adobe Illustrator has long been a popular vector–based drawing program, but for many the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals, author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland shows users how to get in to the Illustrator mindset and overcome this learning curve. He covers the application's key features in a new way, making it simple and easy to master Illustrator. Deke teaches viewers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text, and the Pen tool. He also explains how to export and print. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this training can help make sense of it. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise I'm going to introduce you to my recommended color settings here inside of Illustrator. In the next exercise I'll show you how to apply those recommended color settings to all of the Adobe applications, all the applications in the Creative Suite, that is to say from the Bridge. This goes to the notion of color management. Adobe just rocks. A few years ago they came up with this thing called the Adobe Color Engine, so that they could maintain consistent color between all of their various applications. Prior to that, all the applications displayed color differently.
If I were to grab the rectangle tool, for example, draw a big rectangle and let's say I'll go over here and I'll fill it with a shade of purple or something along those lines, like this violet right here. And then I were to go to the Edit menu and copy it, and then I were to switch over to Photoshop and paste it, In the old days, this big violet rectangle would either look sort of more purplish, that is more magenta, or would end up looking blue. That would frequently happen, it would just turn blue in a different program and that's because in the old days, all the programs generated color differently.
Thanks to the Adobe Color Engine, they now all generate to color the same. So you are assuming that you set up your color consistently between the gaps, you are guaranteed that you are going to see that exact same shade of violet. In fact, in all the Creative Suite applications support the Adobe Color Engine. You are also going to get better color when you print your illustration. Thanks to this Adobe Color Engine. So, it's already setup fine by default, as it turns out, if you don't do anything to it, it's running well and all the applications are synchronized. However, it's not setup as good as it could be. You could be getting better color out of Illustrator, if you just follow these simple steps.
First of all, let's get rid of that big violet rectangle. That's kind of mucking up there, and I'm going to go ahead and hide that palette for now. Then I want you to go up to the Edit menu and I want you to choose the Color Settings command or you can press Ctrl+ Shift+K, that's Command+Shift+K on the Mac, and it brings up this fairly large Color Settings dialog box right here. I want you to make it larger still, by turning on Advanced Mode. It's going to actually redraw the dialog box. And now let's just kind of work through these options in order, starting with RGB.
By default RGB is set to SRGB, which is a great color space for consumers. The idea is you are just mom and pop, you got a computer, your monitor is 6-years-old, it doesn't really display a big wide range of RGB colors in the first place and your printing to, whatever Intel printer, you send your image, you open a photographic image in program X and you hint Print, the SRGB image is conveyed to the printer. The printer knows it's packed for SRGB and goes ahead and performs his conversion to its inks on a fly automatically.
The problem is that SRGB is a pretty rinky-dink space. It's kind of a worst-case scenario, RGB space. Presumably, you have professional aspirations. You at least want your work to look as professional as possible. So, you don't want to be working within a rinky-dink space. It's basically what comes down to. You want a richer array of RGB colors available to you, which is why you would work with this space instead. Adobe RGB. There is one caveat: don't worry about Apple RGP. This is not a Mac, PC thing. Adobe RGB is cross platform and it's better than Apple RGB. It uses a darker gamma. There are a few other reasons it has higher saturation colors and a bigger dynamic range than Apple RGB. Then this is-- we've got right here Pro Photo RGB. This is my caveat.
If your primary mission in life is not being a graphic artist. In other words, you are not primarily using Illustrator and using Photoshop on it's side, you are primarily using Photoshop and using Illustrator on the side and you are working with 16 bit per channel images and you can check out my Photoshop CS4, 1on1 series, in order to find out about those. But you are using high bit depth images, in that case, then you would want to work with ProPhoto RGB, but only if you are working with very, very intense high bit depth images. If you are working with 8 bit per channel images, which is most standard way to work, then Adobe RGB is your better bet. And, if you are primarily an Illustrator user or an InDesign user, what have you, before your Photoshop user, this is the better way to go as well All right so I'm going to select Adobe RGB because when in doubt, that's the best space. Next is CMYK all right, CMYK is a totally printer specific space and you only need to worry about it if you are commercially reproducing your illustrations. So in other words you are sending them out to a commercial print house in order to print out few thousand copies or something along those lines.
Then you would want to communicate with your commercial printer you want to talk to him presumably they can give you some specifications, only if you can't you just basically can't find out any information, would you want to stick with U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 its a decent default space but still there is no way of knowing whether it's going to work with your commercial print house unless you communicate with them. So that's going to be dependent upon your commercial printer talk to them. Let's move down here to Color Management Policies we definitely want RGB is set to Preserve Embedded Profiles. So that we are preserving all embed profiles when we are brining RGB images into Illustrator and that kind of thing. More important is what we are going to do with CMYK here, and it really depends how you work.
If you are doing a lot of linking if you are linking one illustration into another illustration, so in other words you are kind of using Illustrator as a copying application then you might want to stick with Preserved Numbers Ignore Linked Profiles and it will just go ahead and preserve that CMYK data inside the file. But what I prefer to do is set this to Preserve Embedded Profiles. So that under all circumstances we are working from the profile information that's included inside of the illustration. I'm going to set it to this but you can leave it set to this as well if you are doing a lot of linking.
All right I'm going to choose this command and again when in doubt this is the better way to work. And all three these check boxes need to be off, otherwise Illustrator is going to be griping at you all of the time when it runs into profile mismatches. You don't want that. Engine, definitely Adobe ACE because otherwise your only other choice is a platform specific color engine; you are going to see something different Mac here. You don't want that. You want Adobe's Color Engine, so that you get cross- platform support. By the way it's better than the Microsoft ICM, it's just the better designed color engine.
Then Intent. Relative Color Metric is fine if you're mostly a vector person. If you spend most of your time in Illustrator and/or InDesign, those kinds of applications. If you spend your most of your time by the way inside of a web application or Photoshop then Perceptual is the best way to go. And here is the idea when using Relative Color Metric and Illustrator has to perform a profile modifications and it has to covert an illustration from one profile to another profile then its going to basically just try to find the nearest colors. Its going to see oh here is the shade of red we need to find a near shade of red inside of another color space and its going to do its best just to do a match, a direct match, but you might have problems in your photographic transitions.
So if you are working with photographs you might see sharp transitions in cloud regions and sky regions anywhere where there is a gradient essentially. And if that's your bigger concern is how do your gradients look, how do your soft transitions look, how do your photographs look, how do your web graphics look? Then Perceptual is your better bet. So I'm going to go with the Perceptual because that tends to be the larger audience here so I'm going to go ahead and switch it to Perceptual but once again if you are only vector Relative Color Metric is your better bet and also if you are specking CMYK colors and you have client who is very fussy about those Relative Color Metric is you better bet as well. But gradients Perceptual.
All right, and then Use Black Point Compensation leave that turned on these are my recommend settings. Again the when- in-doubt settings, I already gave you a few caveats here and there. You can either follow my advice or ignore it, but now what you do. Now you will save off to your changes you click on Save and you are going to go into this Settings folder here don't change that. Just go ahead, and name this what I call it and I have been calling it this for years is Best Workflow. So that's what I recommended you call this well as Best Workflow or if you are not so sure its best you can call it 1on1 workflow or something along those lines.
I am just going to call Best Workflow, click Save and that's it my friends oh by the way I'll tell you one more thing in case you don't like my descriptions of these various options notice that here in the Description field, if you hover over one of these guys you will get a description of it. So you can read Adobe descriptions if you like. All right then I'm going to click OK and we have now set up Illustrator to best Display color. I do want to make one more point though I'm going to go up to the Edit menu and I'm going to choose Color Settings once again, and notice that this little guy is use to say synchronized is now broken. All the applications were synchronized with each other. Now I have broken these synchronizations, so that whole purple rectangle thing, what I copied here in Illustrator and pasted in the Photoshop, that's now broken.
Now I'll get a different color out of Photoshop because Photoshop now expect the same way. If you working with multiple programs inside the Creative Suite, you need to synchronize all the programs from the Bridge and I'm going to show you how to do that in the next exercise.
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