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In this installment of Illustrator Insider Training, Mordy Golding shows experienced Illustrator users how to create transparency effects and ensure reliable printing results. This course reviews the history of vector transparency and covers features such as knockout groups, opacity masks, and transparency flattening. Mordy also shows how to establish a safe workflow when placing Illustrator graphics containing transparency in PostScript, PDF, and InDesign files. A free worksheet is included with the course.
For the majority of the work that you do inside of Illustrator, you're probably okay with using the built-in flattener settings that Illustrator has. Meaning, the Medium Resolution setting, which is your default setting, can be used for almost all of your proofing tasks. If you need to print high quality output or if you're a printer and you want to be able to send high quality output to your RIP, you can probably use the High Resolution setting. However, it's certainly possible that you become familiar enough with these flattener settings to create your own presets. If you are a prepress operator, you might know your hardware, its limitations, and maybe what its strengths are and you could maybe build based on some testing a custom profile for the flattener settings that work best for your device.
Likewise, as I'll show you, you might want to create a real quick-and-dirty type of proofing preset that will allow you to print really, really heavy or complex files in a short amount of time. Let's see how to do that. I am actually going to start by creating a new document, because in order to define these presets you actually need to have a document opened. It doesn't make a difference what the document is. But then you go over here to the Edit menu, scroll down over here to where it says Transparency Flattener Presets, and you can see now that I have the Transparency Flattener Presets dialog box here.
Illustrator comes with a Low, Medium, and High Resolution settings, which I can't change, but I could use those as a base to create my own. So for example, I can click on one of them and then click New. This brings up my Transparency Flattener Preset options because it can help create a new one. So for example let's say I wanted to create a proofing type of preset that I can use for very, very complex files. So for example, I am going to create one here called Proofing. I am going to change my Raster/Vector Balance slider down to right now 25, because this way I am allowing Illustrator to rasterize just as much of it as it wants to and what I might do is if I know that I usually print to an inkjet printer, I might choose to keep my Line Art and Text Resolution set to 300 pixels per inch and my Gradient and Mesh Resolution set to 150.
So that would look pretty decent on just about any inkjet printer. I can probably go down to around 250 pixels per inch if I wanted to with probably almost no visual difference in the output. But for now I am going to leave it this way. I want to keep my Clip Complex Regions on because while I am allowing Illustrator to rasterize more content, I want to keep it within the bounds of a vector mask so I don't see those big blocky stitching problems. So I'll click OK and now I've created my own preset. Now, when I print my documents inside of Illustrator, which I'll show you in just a moment, I have the ability to choose that preset.
Now, if I am a prepress operator or a printer and I want actually to have other designers who work for me actually use my flattener settings, I can choose to export these values. Then when a user goes ahead and gets that file, it's just a simple text file. It's actually just a pretty straightforward file that you can just email to anybody else. They can then click on the Import button and choose to import that preset into their version of Illustrator and you can do this across teams at the same company or colleagues or so on and so forth. Now, I also here have the ability to delete or edit existing ones as well.
For now though I'm going to click OK. I am just going to show you that on a day-to-day basis when I want to use those presets, I can press Command+P or Ctrl+P to bring up my Print dialog box. If I go to the Advanced section of the Print dialog box, here I can choose from my different presets including the one that I just created called Proofing. So that's a way that you can create your own flattener presets, and you can share them as well, and you could use these if you want to go above and beyond the Low, Medium, and High Resolution flattener presets that Illustrator already ships with by default.
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