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Exporting transparency from Illustrator

From: Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced

Video: Exporting transparency from Illustrator

So one of the most common questions I get is, "Will this stuff print?" and the thing is this: When you're sending out a job to a commercial printer, you want it to be PostScript friendly, and PostScript RIPs--which are the Raster Image Processors, the pieces of hardware that interpret the PostScript and set into the image setter, or the plate maker--they don't support any of this stuff. The RIP doesn't support Transparency; it doesn't support Blend modes and so forth. But the soft RIP built into the computer which is PDF does. So 99% of the time when you are printing directly from Illustrator you should have no problems. Where I've found that problem sometimes occurs is when you are going to take the document and place it inside of another program such as Adobe InDesign, which is a page layout program.

Exporting transparency from Illustrator

So one of the most common questions I get is, "Will this stuff print?" and the thing is this: When you're sending out a job to a commercial printer, you want it to be PostScript friendly, and PostScript RIPs--which are the Raster Image Processors, the pieces of hardware that interpret the PostScript and set into the image setter, or the plate maker--they don't support any of this stuff. The RIP doesn't support Transparency; it doesn't support Blend modes and so forth. But the soft RIP built into the computer which is PDF does. So 99% of the time when you are printing directly from Illustrator you should have no problems. Where I've found that problem sometimes occurs is when you are going to take the document and place it inside of another program such as Adobe InDesign, which is a page layout program.

And in those cases I have run into situations where Blend modes don't print properly, Opacity doesn't work properly and where Gradients might not even print properly. Now it's still rare but it happens frequently enough, let's say about 2% or 3% of the time, that it's not a bad idea to protect yourself and create a bulletproof file. And there are all kinds of options available to you inside of Illustrator. If you go to the Window menu, you can choose Flattener Preview which brings up this panel and if you expand it, it's got just a ton of very complex options that allow you to essentially determine how vectors are going to be converted to raster art.

But I find rather than muddling through that, the easiest thing to do is just export a TIFF file, and here is how that works. Go up to the File menu and choose the Export command. If you loaded dekeKeys I have given you a keyboard shortcut of mash your fist X. So Ctrl+Shift+Alt+X or Cmd+Shift+Option+X on the Mac, and I have already created this guy right there, Rasterized lightbulb.tif. And by the way, you want to make sure to set your Save As Type option to TIFF not AutoCAD Drawing as by default. And the reason we use TIFF instead of for example, JPEG, is because TIFF offers lossless compression.

So you are going to get the best file possible. And in my case I have already saved the file out in advance, so as soon as I click the Save button Illustrator is going to ask me if I want to replace it, I will just say Yes for now, so we can get to the next dialog box. You probably want to leave your Color Model set to CMYK. You can set it to RGB if you are planning on creating Web art let's say, or printing to an Inkjet printer, but if you're preparing an image for commercial output you want to leave it set to CMYK. The Resolution by default is going to be set to High--300 ppi--which is just fine.

That's going to work out beautifully. You can go higher than that if you want to. You can choose Other and dial in your own value which could be as high as you like. However, it's going to take longer to render and most likely the PostScript printer is going to down sample it to 300 pixels per inch anyway. Anti-aliasing: if your document doesn't contain any text, you should leave it set to Art Optimized. If it contains small text, then you might want to go with Type Optimized so that Illustrator takes advantage of the hinting, which is useful generally for type sizes that are 12 points and under.

In my case I am not going to worry about it, I'm just going to set it to Art Optimized. You want LZW Compression to be turned on. That's going to result in a smaller file that is lossless compression. It's not going to create any problems and you definitely want to Embed an ICC profile and then you click OK. In my case, I am going to click Cancel because I have already created the file in advance for you. Now I am going to go to the File menu and choose Browse in Bridge in order to switch to Adobe Bridge as you can see here, and I will double-click on Rasterize lightbulb.tif in order to open it in Photoshop. And it looks great, right? Everything is rendering just perfectly.

We don't have any problems. Nothing is disappearing on this. All of the Blend modes and Transparency settings and Dynamic effects are being respected; they are all rendering great. The problem is, what's with this white at the top? And a little bit of white at the bottom? Well the culprit is this star. You can see if you look very closely here that the top of the star shape exceeds the artboard, and so Illustrator was rendering that out as well. We can solve this problem because we don't want to send this anywhere. We can solve this problem by turning on a checkbox that is turned off by default.

It shouldn't be, I don't think, but it is, so I will go ahead and switch back to Illustrator and here is the option. You go up to the File menu; you still choose the Export command just as before. You still want the File type to be TIFF; the rest of my advice still holds. The only difference is you want to turn on this checkbox right there, Use Artboards, and it does not stick. So just because you turn it on now doesn't mean it's going to be on tomorrow. Every time you bring up this dialog box, you are going to want to turn on Use Artboards again. Presumably you want to export all your artboards, but if you want to dial in a Range, you most certainly can.

I only have one artboard, so I would just click Save and run through the other steps. But instead I am going to click Cancel and show you what that looks like. By going back to the File menu and choosing Browse in Bridge and it's this file right here, Green light artboard-01. Illustrator automatically adds the 01 or if there is more artboards, 02, 03 and so forth. And you can see now that Illustrator has managed to create a file that's cropped to the artboard exactly as designed, and so again it looks great. Everything is working out perfectly.

Let's see one more scenario. I will go ahead and switch back to Illustrator and I will switch to this file right here called White Outlines. And the thing is sometimes you will run into situations where you see stuff on screen and you are curious, "Is this how it's going to print?" For example, can you make out those seams right there at the shoulders and at the hip? If I zoom in on the artwork, they continue to appear which generally indicates--if you don't see things fading in and out at different zoom levels--that generally indicates that that's a genuine problem and I could look into the culprit here.

For example I will click on this hip shape right there in order to select it and my selection edges are hidden. If I press Ctrl+H or Cmd+H you can barely see these yellow selection edges. Anyway I will press Ctrl+H or Cmd+H again to hide them; we don't want them to be visible as we are trying to figure this out. Now I will switch over to the Appearance panel and I had just naturally assumed that the stroke was the culprit because Illustrator is trying to draw a mini stroke back here, but if you turn the stroke off, then that doesn't solve the problem. We do have these little edges still around the shape, but it's not the stroke's fault.

So go ahead and turn it back on. The problem is this guy right here, this fill that's set to 50% Screen. It's a gradient and if I turn it off, notice the seams goes away, turn it on, the seam comes back. The thing is transparent and if I press the G key to switch to the Gradient tool, you can see that it starts opaque way down here and ends transparent at this point. So there is no way it should be affecting this region. So naturally what you would do right is print the document, but I'd like you to get out of the habit of printing unnecessarily to test problems, because you're probably not printing to a PostScript device.

And so unless you have got PostScript locally, you are not going to know how things are going to render from your commercial printer. Instead what you want to do is go ahead and export the file to TIFF. So I went to the File menu, chose the Export command, went ahead and turned on Use Artboards of course, clicked the Save button and switched the Resolution to Other and cranked it up to 600 ppi. Now I am not going to save that out in front of you because the progress bar would be on screen for quite a few moments because it takes a while for Illustrator to render out these files.

I have done it in advance. So I will just click on the Cancel button, go back to the File menu, choose Browse in Bridge again and then double-click on this guy, Gradient monster-01. Because I turned on the artboards--and we end up with this version of the file, and sure enough as I zoom in-- we do not have any seams either at the hip or at the shoulders. And if I go ahead and scroll over to the face here and zoom in to 100% I can see that everything is looking absolutely pixel perfect, down to every single Transparency and Blend mode setting that I've applied to countless gradients inside of this file, being intact. And not only that, the Knockout group has survived nicely as well.

So the moral of the story is, when in doubt, go ahead and export the file as a flat TIFF image, that way the pixels are all baked. The vectors are gone. There's nothing for the PostScript RIP to interpret. And then my recommendation is that you go ahead and send that file--for example this one right here--to whomever is going to lay out the artwork into InDesign or what-have-you. And not to be pedantic but I've laid out hundreds of manuscripts and I have created more than 80 of my own books as well and I can tell you from experience, this works out beautifully and the artwork ends up printing super sharp and super smooth.

And that's the most reliable way to prepare even complex artwork for commercial reproduction inside Illustrator.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced
Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced

118 video lessons · 14811 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
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  1. 43m 9s
    1. Welcome to One-on-One
      2m 9s
    2. Introducing my custom keyboard shortcuts
      6m 52s
    3. Installing my dekeKeys shortcuts on Windows
      4m 46s
    4. Installing my dekeKeys shortcuts on the Mac
      4m 18s
    5. Remapping your Macintosh OS shortcuts
      3m 10s
    6. Adjusting a few key Preferences settings
      8m 13s
    7. Understanding the color-managed workflow
      6m 51s
    8. Establishing the optimal Color Settings
      6m 50s
  2. 1h 11m
    1. Illustrator's oldest dynamic functions
      1m 28s
    2. Creating a multicolor blend
      7m 12s
    3. Establishing a clipping mask
      5m 40s
    4. Reinstating the colors of a clipping path
      8m 1s
    5. Editing individual blended paths
      4m 44s
    6. Adjusting the number of steps in a blend
      7m 15s
    7. Fixing problems with the Blend tool
      4m 2s
    8. Blending different levels of opacity
      4m 45s
    9. Editing the spine of a blend
      5m 3s
    10. Adding a custom spine to any blend
      5m 5s
    11. Advanced blending and masking techniques
      6m 18s
    12. Blending between entire groups
      3m 2s
    13. Adjusting the speed of a blend
      3m 21s
    14. Rotating objects in 3D space
      5m 36s
  3. 1h 0m
    1. Illustrator's logo-making features
      1m 8s
    2. Customizing a single character of type
      5m 25s
    3. Combining a letterform with a path outline
      7m 48s
    4. Creating logo type along an open path
      5m 3s
    5. Creating logo type around a closed circle
      3m 57s
    6. Vertical alignment, orientation, and spacing
      4m 55s
    7. Warping logo type around a circle
      6m 56s
    8. Creating a classic neon type effect
      5m 39s
    9. Adding random neon brightness fluctuations
      5m 19s
    10. Creating neon "block outs" between letters
      7m 44s
    11. Adding neon blur and bokeh in Photoshop
      6m 16s
  4. 46m 19s
    1. Generating colors using harmony rules
      1m 31s
    2. Introducing the Color Guide panel
      5m 16s
    3. The 23 color harmony rules, diagrammed
      8m 16s
    4. Mixing and matching color harmonies
      5m 59s
    5. Color groups and custom harmony rules
      6m 18s
    6. Working in the Edit Colors dialog box
      7m 4s
    7. Expanding on an existing harmony rule
      6m 51s
    8. Constraining colors to a predefined library
      5m 4s
  5. 32m 44s
    1. Changing lots of colors all at once
      1m 2s
    2. Introducing the Recolor Artwork command
      4m 58s
    3. Recoloring with the help of swatch groups
      4m 35s
    4. Changing the color-assignment order
      6m 44s
    5. Reducing the number of colors in your art
      5m 7s
    6. Applying tints and shades of a single swatch
      5m 37s
    7. Recoloring artwork that contains gradients
      4m 41s
  6. 1h 15m
    1. Painting with path outlines
      1m 24s
    2. Introducing the Brushes panel
      4m 25s
    3. Applying and editing a calligraphic brush
      7m 34s
    4. Applying and scaling an art brush
      6m 12s
    5. Applying and editing a scatter brush
      5m 31s
    6. Formatting and scaling brushed text
      5m 45s
    7. Designing a custom art brush
      7m 35s
    8. Creating (or replacing) an art brush
      6m 42s
    9. Refining a brush to fit ends and corners
      4m 11s
    10. Expanding, filling, and stroking a brush
      7m 4s
    11. Type on a path vs. text as an art brush
      7m 3s
    12. Distorting text with the Width tool
      8m 49s
    13. Infusing your artwork with a tile pattern
      3m 13s
  7. 58m 24s
    1. The many forms of transparency
      1m 38s
    2. Creating translucency with the Opacity value
      4m 21s
    3. Darken, Multiply, and Color Burn
      6m 15s
    4. Lighten, Screen, and Color Dodge
      5m 8s
    5. Overlay, Soft Light, Hard Light, Difference, and Exclusion
      4m 59s
    6. Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity
      5m 12s
    7. Combining the effects of multiple blend modes
      6m 42s
    8. Isolating blending and Knockout Group
      7m 37s
    9. Combining blend modes with dynamic effects
      7m 25s
    10. Exporting transparency from Illustrator
      9m 7s
  8. 1h 39m
    1. The Layers panel for dynamic attributes
      1m 4s
    2. Applying attributes in the Appearance panel
      6m 15s
    3. Creating depth using translucent strokes
      5m 37s
    4. Adding, layering, and offsetting strokes
      6m 12s
    5. Duplicating entire groups of attributes
      7m 55s
    6. Turning stacked strokes into editable paths
      5m 43s
    7. Simplifying a multi-stroke effect
      6m 31s
    8. Applying the Convert to Shape effect
      7m 47s
    9. Adding aligned patterns and shadows
      8m 16s
    10. Drawing with arrowheads and angled strokes
      8m 49s
    11. Employing overlapping gradient strokes
      8m 25s
    12. Drawing circular stroke elements
      10m 13s
    13. Outlining an entire multi-stroke effect
      8m 39s
    14. Creating seamless wood grain in Photoshop
      8m 11s
  9. 1h 12m
    1. The best features in Illustrator
      1m 38s
    2. Repeating a series of transformations
      6m 18s
    3. Adjusting and updating a dynamic effect
      6m 37s
    4. Applying a stroke to an entire layer
      6m 24s
    5. Improving the performance of drop shadows
      5m 40s
    6. Applying a single effect multiple times
      6m 10s
    7. Creating an intricate Spirograph pattern
      7m 10s
    8. Adding scalloped edges with Pucker & Bloat
      4m 40s
    9. Applying a dynamic Pathfinder to a layer
      3m 56s
    10. Creating beveled ornaments
      6m 50s
    11. Creating a sculptural type effect
      5m 59s
    12. Subtracting editable text from a path
      7m 6s
    13. Editing text inside a dynamic effect
      4m 25s
  10. 27m 40s
    1. Never remember anything again, ever
      1m 41s
    2. The pixel-based Effect Gallery
      3m 53s
    3. Copying effects from one layer to another
      4m 44s
    4. Introducing the Graphic Styles panel
      4m 11s
    5. Correcting previews in the Effect Gallery
      4m 36s
    6. Adjusting the resolution of your effects
      4m 0s
    7. Combining and saving graphic styles
      4m 35s
  11. 1h 13m
    1. Two powerful graphics programs combine forces
      1m 5s
    2. Creating a perfectly centered star shape
      6m 52s
    3. Precisely scaling concentric circles
      7m 47s
    4. Adding reflective highlights with the Flare tool
      6m 23s
    5. Two ways to rasterize vector art for Photoshop
      7m 37s
    6. Importing vector art as a Smart Object
      6m 47s
    7. Creating a lens flare effect in Photoshop
      7m 56s
    8. Photographic texture and brushed highlights
      6m 26s
    9. Modifying a vector Smart Object in Illustrator
      6m 33s
    10. Converting Illustrator paths to shape layers
      6m 27s
    11. Assign layer effects to native shape layers
      5m 55s
    12. Completing a work of photorealistic art
      3m 46s
  12. 1m 5s
    1. Until next time
      1m 5s

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