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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.
So here I am still staring at this shockingly, appallingly low resolution image. I've gone ahead and saved it out as Brick-based graffiti.ai. What in the world do we do in order to make this illustration look better? After all, it is ultimately a vector-based piece of artwork. It should be resolution-independent. We shouldn't have any resolution issues. Well as soon as you start heaping on the Photoshop effects, then resolution becomes an issue. If you want to increase the resolution, you go up to the Effect menu and you choose Document Raster Effects Settings and this is a document-wide control that's saved along with the illustration.
So it affects every single raster effect that you apply. Now notice in my case I have this document set up with a Resolution of 72 pixels per inch, and that's why everything is falling apart here. You might think well obviously, we want something higher than that. There is no reason to go with 72 ppi. Well there is. If you're creating a web image, there is not really any reason to go beyond that as long as you're satisfied with what you're seeing at the 100% view and by the way, it's going to be way quicker. As soon as you start increasing the Resolution value, things slow to a crawl.
So you were definitely going to see more longer progress bars. Once we bump it up to Medium, it gets even worse at High. Now the other thing to bear in mind is some of your effects are going to get smaller. For example, these bricks in the background are currently set to 104% and they'll automatically grow to a bigger size to accommodate your new resolution, but they can't grow beyond 200%. So if you take the resolution all the way up to high, you're going to shrink your bricks and that's just the way it works. A lot of the other effects are going to shrink as well.
What I suggest you do, if you're going to work with these raster effects, these Photoshop effects, you go ahead and set them up at a low resolution, so that you can set things up quickly, and then when it's time to render out those effects-- you're pretty confident you've set up the effects you want to apply in other words-- then go ahead and bump the Resolution up to Medium and see how it looks. If you still feel like it needs to go higher, then take it to 300 ppi to High, or you can dial-in your own other resolution such as 200 ppi or something along those lines. I'm also going to turn on Anti-alias, so we get as smooth the transitions as possible.
I'll click on OK in order to apply that effect. Now what's going to happen is Illustrator has to sit here and recalculate every single dynamic effect that you've applied. You may end up seeing something like this where the progress is not responding, which is one of those things where you never know if Illustrator is actually crashed, or if it's just gone dormant on you, because it's so overwhelmed it can't even talk to you properly. In our case, it was just overwhelmed. So the progress bars have gone away, but the spinning circle has not gone away. In fact, I'm still seeing Not Responding up here in the title bar.
But my guess is that everything is okay. Now we get some more progress bars, which is showing me that everything is working properly, and it's done, and we now have this super-smooth piece of artwork. At least the skull is very smooth. The bricks in the background are still a little bit iffy. We've got some rough resolution going. However, we do have smooth effects, and I think that's going to be good enough, quite frankly, between you and me. If you feel like you want to test out 300 ppi, well, by all means go for it. But I'm going to leave the Resolution set to 150 ppi, so I can still get some work done.
Now I do want to take a moment and show you what I was talking about with bricks. This is just a basic example of the fact that virtually every single raster effect you'll apply has some sort of limitation. So I'm going to go ahead and twirl open the background layer there and I'm going to meatball that bottom path, just to make sure it's active. I'll go to the Appearance panel and I'm going to click on the Texturizer effect that's associated with this open fill. So I've twirled-open the fill in other words, and I'll click on Texturizer, and then I want you to notice as soon as this dialog box appears on-screen, that Scaling is now maxed out.
So Illustrator was smart enough to go ahead and automatically increase that Scaling value from 104% to 200%, which is great. But it ended up hitting the ceiling. So if I increase the resolution any farther, I'm going to pack more pixels into a smaller space and that means I'm going to reduce the size of the bricks inside of my illustration. Just something to bear in mind and it's something to bear in mind about every single raster effect, especially those that open up inside the Filter Gallery here. They all have some sort of maximums and your effects will change on-screen when you change the resolution.
Anyway, I'm going to cancel out. This is our high-resolution effect for now. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to mix and match graphic styles to create your own custom combo.
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