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Controlling pixel resolution

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

Video: Controlling pixel resolution

Throughout this training title, we've been applying a variety of different kinds of effects. Some of those effects are pixel- based effects, or raster-based effects, meaning that they're tied to a specific resolution. Now the reason why I am choosing to talk about this here is because this can be a very important, because normally in Illustrator our minds are so caught up in the fact that vectors are infinitely scalable that we don't always think about resolution. However, the topic is an important one, and there may have been times in the past where you've seen things inside of Illustrator that have confused you.

Controlling pixel resolution

Throughout this training title, we've been applying a variety of different kinds of effects. Some of those effects are pixel- based effects, or raster-based effects, meaning that they're tied to a specific resolution. Now the reason why I am choosing to talk about this here is because this can be a very important, because normally in Illustrator our minds are so caught up in the fact that vectors are infinitely scalable that we don't always think about resolution. However, the topic is an important one, and there may have been times in the past where you've seen things inside of Illustrator that have confused you.

So hopefully this movie will clear all that up, and more importantly, give you some best practices to make sure that you don't run into any issues moving forward. I am going to start by creating a brand- new document here inside of Illustrator, and I'm going to create one using the print-based profile. In the New Document dialog box, I'm going to click on this button here where it says Advanced to reveal these settings. And you can see that over here there is a setting called Raster Effects, which is currently set to High (300 pixels per inch). This means that inside this document any time that I apply any kind of effect that uses rasters--for example, a drop shadow, a glow, or any of the Photoshop effects, like Texturizer for example, or to pixelate things like for example Mezzotint--all those things will use a resolution of 300 pixels per inch in order to generate that effect.

I just want to show you that if you actually choose the web-based profile, you'll see that the Raster Effects uses a 72 pixel of resolution. Obviously, for web documents that's all that you really need. The problem that we sometimes face is that Live Effects are live. Now we already discuss an issue where maybe you want to rotate an effect. You're rotating the object, but since the effect is live the effect reapplies itself after you've rotated it, and you get the wrong dimensions. Well, the same thing can happen also when dealing with effects that are pixel based. So let me give you an example what I mean by that.

I am going to choose now to use the Print profile, which uses a Raster Effect setting of 300 pixels per inch, and I'll click OK. So now I'm working in a document that is set of 300 pixels per inch. I can see that setting, by the way, when I'm inside of Illustrator by going to the Effect menu and choosing this setting here called Document Raster Effects Settings. Notice over here my document is set to 300 pixels per inch, and this is a really important thing to note. Focus on that word Document. That's because inside of my document all effects, any effect that I apply anywhere inside of this document, will always use one setting.

I can't have two different Live Effects in the same document that are actually using two different resolution settings. So this isn't a per-effect setting; it's a per-document setting. So I want to click OK, because those are the settings that I see here. I'm going to create a regular shape right here, just a rectangle. Let me go ahead and fill it with the color, so I'll choose a yellow, of course. Why not? Let's apply an effect to it. So I'm going to go to the Effect menu here. I'll choose, down here near the bottom, Pixelate, and let's do that Mezzotint effect.

I'll choose the Fine Dots option, which is the smallest option you have here right. Click OK. And I see a lovely effect here. Beautiful! Now watch what happens though, when I take this effect and I copy it--Command+C or Ctrl+C. I now put it onto my clipboard. I am going to create a new document, Command+N, but this time I'm going to use a web profile. Remember, the web profile uses a resolution of 72 pixels per inch. I am going to click OK. I'm going to paste, and notice that when I paste, the actual effect that I'm looking at is bigger.

We can actually compare these two side by side. I am going to go over here to the top of my toolbar here, and I'll choose both of my documents to be 2-Up. So I have here this effect on this side. I have this effect on this side. Let's set them both to 100%. Let's set this one here to 100%. I am pressing Command+1 just to get 100%. If I view these side by side, here is my web document, the RGB version of it. Here is the CMYK version, the print version of it. And you can see that they don't look anything the same at all. The one on the right has a much more smaller, or compacted, or I guess you can say a tighter type of texture, whereas one on the left has much more larger pixel elements.

The reason why is because the document on the right, which is my print document, is using a resolution of 3020 pixels per inch to generate that effect. Now when I copy the effect of this document here, to the web document, this entire document has Resolution set to 72 pixels per inch, so all the pixels become bigger. This can happen with many different types of effects. What's more, if you changed the resolution of a document after you've already applied effects, those effects may change in their appearance. Let me go back over here to the print document.

This is the CMYK print document. And let's say I decide now that, you know something, this is printing at 300 pixels per inch, but I don't need 300 pixels per inch, because it's just taking too long to print. I want to kind of turn this thing down to 72 pixels per inch. So I go to the Effect menu. I choose Document Raster effects Settings. I dial the Resolution down to only 72, but when I click OK, I can now see that my entire effect looks completely different. That's because the effect is now using a low resolution to calculate its appearance. I'll share with you another little secret here.

In previous versions of Illustrator-- let's go back to Illustrator CS2 or Illustrator CS or Illustrator 10--those were versions of Illustrator that did not have this concept of a new document profile, meaning when I've created a new document--either created CMYK or RGB, those were my only two choices-- in those days the default setting for resolution for both CMYK and RGB documents were 72. Meaning even if I created a CMYK document and in my mind I intended that document to be use for print, that document was using a resolution of only 72 pixel per inch.

I may open up one of those files now inside of CS5. That file will still have the original 72 dpi setting inside of it, even though I maybe I created a file a year or two ago. Now I'm smart, because I know, hey, Mordy said you have to change your resolution in your files. So in that file that currently has 72, you may go to the Effect menu, change your Document Raster Effects Settings to 300, but in doing so, you'll actually change the appearance of some of the effects that you've applied. Now one of the nice things that Adobe's been doing over the years, and over the past couple of versions, is they have been making these effects more resolution independent.

For example, a common effect that lot of people use is Gaussian Blur. If you go to the Effect menu here and you go to Blur, there is a setting here called Gaussian Blur. In Illustrator CS4 or in Illustrator CS3, if you created a Gaussian Blur in a 300-pixel-per-inch-document and then you copied and pasted it into a 72 dpi document, you would see a change. That blur become much larger. However, now inside of Illustrator CS5, Adobe made the Gaussian Blur feature a little bit more intelligent.

So, the blur actually maintained its appearance even after you've changed resolution. Moving forward, I hope that almost all the settings here inside of Illustrator will become resolution independent, but the ones that you really need to keep an eye out for are any of those that appear over here where it says Photoshop Effects, what I call these below-the-line effects, or what my friend Michael Ninness calls the downstairs effects. These are the upstairs effects, and all of these are resolution independent, even for example the drop shadow. If you apply a drop shadow, go into Stylize, and then choose drop shadow, increasing the resolution setting will make the drop shadow look better when it gets printed on press. But at least you know that if you had it set to 72 before and you change it now to 300, you won't see a change in the actual size of the drop shadow.

Now, if we look at the downstairs effects, as I've said, in Illustrator CS5 Adobe did make the Gaussian Blur setting resolution dependent. However, all the other settings though, are still tied to the original resolution. So just something to keep in mind. When you're creating new documents, you really want to make sure that your resolution is set correctly from the get-go. That will avoid all problems. And if you're working on older files, or you need to copy files from print-based documents to web documents, or vice versa, just pay close attention to the Resolution settings to make sure you're not getting any surprises.

Now, I will show you one potential solution to this problem. For example, let's go back to this print document where I have this nice texture that I've applied using Mezzotint. I need to move this artwork into a web document, but I want it to look the same. So what I could do is I can take this document right here as is, and I could physically rasterize it. I can go to the object menu, and I can choose Rasterize. And I could turn it into a raster image, even for example at 72 pixels per inch. When I do so, now this is an image. It's no longer an object that has an effect.

You can see over here that it's set to Image Pixels. Now if I take this and I copy it and I bring it into this document and I paste it into this document, it maintains its original appearance, because that Live Effect is no longer there. Of course, in doing so, I no longer have the ability to edit that object as a vector. For example, I can't change its color or dimensions and so on and so forth. However, I have been able to maintain its visual appearance. Hopefully, with this knowledge in hand you'll avoid any potential issues when dealing with resolution inside of your Illustrator documents.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials
 
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  1. 8m 22s
    1. Welcome
      1m 15s
    2. Exploring the Illustrator Timeline
      5m 12s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      25s
  2. 16m 27s
    1. Starting off on the right foot
      27s
    2. Knowing the difference between structure and presentation
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding paths and attributes
      4m 56s
    4. Distributing stroke weight along a path
      2m 25s
    5. Bottoms up: Object hierarchy and stacking order
      4m 1s
  3. 51m 9s
    1. The all-important Appearance panel
      37s
    2. Understanding attribute stacking order
      6m 45s
    3. Targeting individual object attributes
      7m 32s
    4. Adding multiple attributes to a single object
      9m 31s
    5. Modifying appearances with Live Effects
      7m 11s
    6. Using multiple strokes to create a border design
      4m 36s
    7. Using multiple strokes to create a map
      5m 52s
    8. Using multiple fills to mix spot colors
      4m 59s
    9. Using multiple fills to create textures
      4m 6s
  4. 46m 2s
    1. Learning to live with appearances
      30s
    2. Basic appearance vs. complex appearance
      4m 27s
    3. Clearing or expanding an appearance
      10m 52s
    4. Controlling the appearance of newly drawn art
      5m 11s
    5. Saving appearances with graphic styles
      6m 54s
    6. Changing artwork by modifying a graphic style
      7m 39s
    7. Uncovering a treasure trove of graphic styles
      5m 1s
    8. Copying appearances with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 28s
  5. 33m 28s
    1. Why do we create groups?
      1m 48s
    2. Applying an effect to a group
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding the difference between targeting and selecting
      4m 44s
    4. Knowing the dangers of ungrouping artwork
      2m 21s
    5. Using Isolation mode to preserve group structure
      6m 59s
    6. Adding a stroke to a group
      6m 13s
    7. Adding a 3D effect to a group
      3m 36s
    8. Extending the concept of groups to type objects
      3m 9s
  6. 46m 34s
    1. Are you a layers person?
      33s
    2. Learning to use the Layers and Objects panel
      9m 27s
    3. Making selections and editing stacking order
      6m 38s
    4. Reading and using the target circles
      8m 43s
    5. Copying artwork and appearances
      5m 37s
    6. Adding effects to layers
      9m 56s
    7. Getting the most out of the Layers panel
      5m 40s
  7. 47m 19s
    1. It's more than just a drop shadow?
      48s
    2. Adding basic texture with Mezzotint
      7m 50s
    3. Generating custom textures with Texturizer
      12m 22s
    4. Adding a stroke to an image with Outline Object
      5m 54s
    5. Aligning text precisely with Outline Object
      6m 31s
    6. Adding callout numbers with Convert to Shape
      4m 36s
    7. Enhancing performance with Rasterize
      2m 30s
    8. Avoiding pitfalls when using effects
      6m 48s
  8. 31m 59s
    1. Asking yourself the "what if?" question
      33s
    2. Outlining artwork with Offset Path and Pathfinder Add
      5m 36s
    3. Adding captions with Convert to Shape and Transform
      7m 1s
    4. Creating a crosshatch effect with Scribble
      5m 44s
    5. Creating buttons with Round Corners and Transform
      13m 5s
  9. 25m 21s
    1. Working with other people's files
      36s
    2. Setting up a workspace that makes sense
      9m 43s
    3. Learning to "read" an Illustrator file
      5m 48s
    4. Controlling pixel resolution
      9m 14s
  10. 1m 2s
    1. Next steps
      1m 2s

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