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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 final exercise, I'm going to throw a few last minute tips and tricks at you for working inside of the Bridge that are specifically geared toward organizing digital illustrations. I say that because a lot of the Bridge is about digital imagery. That is, a day shoot. You go out there with a digital camera, you come back, you are reviewing your 200, 300, 400 images. You are giving them star ratings. You are prioritizing them. You are accepting some, rejecting others; it's that kind of thing. That's far less important when you are reviewing illustrations, for most folks anyway.
If you are the graphic artist, if you are putting the illustrations together or the designs together if you prefer, then it's unlikely you are going to say hey, this one is a five star illustration and this one is a one star illustration, because you did them all, you like them all. You put a lot of time and effort into them. The situation where you might want to star rating things is if you are an Art Director and you are getting assets from a bunch of different people, a bunch of different contractors, and you are trying to decide which ones you like and which ones you don't like, then it becomes a star rating game.
The easiest way to assign star ratings is to go ahead and select a thumbnail in the Content panel, and then notice you have got these five little dots underneath the thumbnail. Then just click on one of them. In this case I get a three star illustration, for example. Then I'll click over on this guy and I say well, he is a five star illustration or something along those lines. Then if you don't want the star rating, if you want to remove it, you just go ahead and click on this little ghost buster's icon; its very tiny right there, but that will go ahead and remove that star rating from the mix. You can also filter items by star ratings, using this little star guy right there. So you could just show the ones that are two stars or more, that sort of thing.
Now, in terms of customizing the interface, I want you to go up to the Edit menu, and I want you to choose the Preferences command or you could press Ctrl+K, that's Command+K on the Mac, and of course Preferences is available from the Bridge menu. I am going to go over here to General, and notice that you have separate controls for adjusting the Image Backdrop, so that you can see the illustrations in our case against the very dark background or a very light background, depending on how you want to work. I usually like to work against a pretty dark background actually.
Then you can also change the Interface Brightness. So currently the interface is quite bright, but you could dim it up, and if you dim it far enough, you are going to get white type against the dark background instead of dark type or black type against the light background. So those are your options there, so you can set that up however you prefer, completely up to you. Now, notice this guy. I like this option. Ctrl-click Opens the Loupe When Previewing or Reviewing, and that's going to be Command-click on the Mac. If I click OK now, notice that I no longer automatically get the magnifying glass when I'm working with this illustration here inside the Preview panel. I have to actually press and hold the Ctrl key and click to get the loupe. That would be a Command-click for the loupe on the Mac.
By the way, I don't know if I showed you this, but you can actually zoom the loupe if you want to. I'm using the Scroll Wheel to do it. You could also press the Plus key to zoom in and the Minus key to zoom out. I'm going to go ahead and hide it. I really love that, because that way you are not accidentally bringing up the loupe at any given time, which I have found to be something of a pain in the neck with Bridge CS3. All right. I'm going to go over to the Edit menu and choose Preferences again. That would be Bridge > Preferences on the Mac. Let's go ahead and switch to Thumbnails. All these items will preview in the background, so you can get a sense of what things are going to look like.
You can show Additional Metadata underneath the thumbnails. Currently we are just using the file name, but I could see the date created if I turn on Date Created; you can see it right there. I can see the Dimensions, which can be kind of useful for illustrations, even more useful, I think; I'll turn that off as Size, so that you can see the size of the illustration on disk, which is nice. Then I'm going to click OK for a moment so you can see this. If you decide you just want to see the thumbnails by themselves. Let's say I have made the Contents panel pretty big so I can see all these thumbnails, and I want to see the thumbnails without all the garbage underneath it, then I would just press Ctrl+T or Command+T on the Mac. To bring that information back up, it's Ctrl+T or Command+T again. Think T for thumbnail of course.
You know what, why don't we do this from the keyboard, Ctrl+K, Command+K on the Mac, to bring up the Preview dialog box. The only other item I want to show you is this guy right here, Cache. My recommendations have varied over time where keeping track of the Cache is concerned. I will tell you what the cache is. Basically, the Bridge is doing things and the biggest thing it's doing is it's trying to keep track of these thumbnails. It's giving you this big old previews or the small previews or however big a preview its giving you, and it actually goes ahead and saves those, so it doesn't have to continually regenerate those previews over and over again. They get saved to a centralized cache, which is in this location right here, C:\Users\your username\ blah, blah, blah; it's a little different on the Mac of course. You can specify different location for the cache if you want to.
You can also ask to Automatically Export Cache To Folders When Possible, which is a pretty darn good idea. If you are, for example, generating CDs and DVDs and you want that cache to be there, and you are all using Bridge CS4, so you want to be able to save time for everybody, and you want people to see your sort orders, for example, or if you are working on a network volume, and so you are trading information with other people. What they see in their Bridge and what you see in your Bridge needs to be the same. Then you want to go ahead and automatically Export Cache.
Problem with Automatically Export Cache, I use to say do it all the time, no matter what, the problem is where I have gotten fatigued by this is each version of the Bridge seems to not support the cache files from the previous version, and that means you can end up with this folder that has like ten cache files inside of it, from the first Bridge and then the second Bridge; which was CS3, and then a third Bridge here, which is CS4. So unless you really have a reason to do it, I just say turn it off and just let it deal with it itself. The good news is you have got a cache size. So rather than letting the caches completely take over your system; in the old days you could end up with 2 gigabytes, 3 gigabytes of cache on your hard drive that you didn't even know about, and that's just crippling when you are working on a laptop, because your laptop, hard drive is only so big.
That now you can say okay, only cache 10 ,000 files, or you can cache more files if you want to; if you are working on a tower and you have got a ton of hard drive space and that kind of thing, then you can go nuts. But I would keep it low if you are working on a laptop. This is actually a pretty low value, but you can take it lower still if you want to. You can Compact the Cache if you are running into problems. You can click on that and it's going to compress the cache files, or you can just get rid of the darn thing. If you are running out of hard drive space and you go, what the heck, I wonder if it's a cache. Give this a try, Purge that Cache, and see if you don't recover a lot of hard drive space. You very well might. Especially if you have been working with the program for more than a year.
All right. I'm going to go ahead and cancel out of here, because I didn't actually do anything. The one other additional item that I want to show you; if you are running into problems where you are not seeing your thumbnails properly, or they are not previewing properly, or something is just going haywire, here is a top secret command that you should know about, very important command. Go up to tools, go down here to Cache, and go to this guy right there, Purge Cache For Folder, and whatever is the name of the folder you are working in. That will Purge all of those cache files, and it will regenerate them. Now, that will take a moment, but that is going to get rid of all of the bad stuff.
So you are basically breathing out the bad air, taking in the good. It's regenerating all of these thumbnails, and it's going to give you the proper results. Go ahead and choose Cache, Purge Cache, out with the bad air, in with the good, and we have properly generated thumbnails now, and we will see actually properly generated previews as well. Everything is going to be generated anew, and everything should be in good shape. That is your tour of opening and organizing illustrations in Illustrator and Bridge CS4.
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