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This course is the third in a four-part series devoted to mastering the premiere graphics creation application, Adobe Illustrator, version CS6. Industry pro Deke McClelland takes a project-based learning approach to the key features in Illustrator, including Recolor Artwork, transparency, masks, blend modes, strokes and fills, and dynamic effects. The course also covers techniques for creating custom gradients, designing logos, generating photorealistic neon text, and wrapping type around objects. Plus, Deke shows how to call up the most essential features by organizing your workspace and employing time-saving keyboard shortcuts, how to manage the color settings, and how to adjust a few settings to make the program work even better.
In this movie we'll assign a Drop Shadow to the shell and I'll also show you how to improve the performance of the Drop Shadow and other Blur effects by adjusting the document-wide Raster Effects Settings. So first thing we need to do is click on that central triangle to select the entire nautilus and then here inside the Appearance panel, you can just click on Layer in order to target the layer. So, it is the same as meatballing the layer inside the Layers panel. Then go up to the Effect menu choose Stylize and choose Drop Shadow. Or, if you loaded dekeKeys, you can press Ctrl+Alt+E or Cmd+Option+E on the Mac.
And I'm going to reduce my values a little bit here. I'll set both the X and Y offset values to 8 and I will set the Blur value to 8 as well. And then turn on the Preview checkbox in the order to see the effect, and you can see it's taking forever to apply--to the point that it's almost sort of shutting down the software here--at this weird bar at the top of my screen; now it's disappeared. So it's very time consuming to apply a blurry effect such the Drop Shadow to a complex dynamic effects sequence, here inside Illustrator. And where I had to go with an even higher Blur value, then I would get even slower results.
I'll go and click OK in order to apply that effect. The culprit--the reason that this is taking so long--is because by default when you create a print document in Illustrator, you crank up the Raster Effects Settings to 300 pixels per inch, which just isn't the least bit necessary. So I'm going go up to the Effect menu and choose Document Raster Effects Settings and notice we are working in CMYK and the Resolution is 300 ppi. Now, why that matters is because whenever you blur something in Illustrator, it ultimately translates to Pixels.
So a Drop Shadow is composed of pixels even inside the vector-based environment of Illustrator. Now you might think, "Well then, you should keep that cranked up as high as possible, because we want this to print smoothly," but when you're talking about blurry stuff, you're not really seeing the resolution. So I will show you what I mean. I'm going to go ahead and take this Resolution value down to Medium, which is 150 ppi. And then I'll click OK in order to apply that new resolution to the document. And notice it just recalculated the Drop Shadow and it did it that quickly; that progress bar just flew by that time.
And now what I'm going to do is Marquee around the Drop Shadow. Don't believe the effect that you're seeing on screen right now, because that's not really it. Go ahead and zoom in and notice I have got a little stroke problem right there, so that could use some fixing, but I'm not seeing any pixels so far. I'm zoomed in 600% and it's not till about 1200% that I can make out pixels in the Drop Shadow. And then at about, say 2400, I imagine that you're able to see them here inside the video pretty well.
But I have to zoom that far in to start seeing the pixels. You can even go lower resolution if you want to, by returning to the Effect menu choosing Document Raster Effects Settings--which only affects this document, by the way--and then change the resolution to something like 72 ppi and then click OK. And now we start to see bigger pixels so it becomes more obvious. But notice it does not affect anything that's a vector inside of your Illustration. So we can still make out that bad corner for example.
But if I press Ctrl+1 or Cmd+1 on the Mac to go ahead and zoom out to 100%, I still see that corner problem a little bit, but I'm not seeing those pixels at all in the Drop Shadow, even at 72 ppi. Well, what you want to do is test it in print and decide if you're satisfied with that or not. You might not want to go as low as 72 ppi frankly, but you definitely don't have to go as high as 300 ppi, if all you have going in the way of pixel information--stuff that's going to be converted to pixels on the fly--is things like Shadows and Blurs and Feather Effects and Glows.
A resolution of Medium is just fine for that and it's definitely what I recommend. So I'll go and switch my Resolution to Medium, click OK in order to accept the results and now I could even go with a bigger Drop Shadow. So I'll click on the word Drop Shadow there inside the Appearance panel and I'll dial in Offset values of 12, as well as a Blur value of 12. Turn on the Preview checkbox and notice how much faster that progress bar flew by. All right, now I am going to go ahead and click OK.
And I'll press Ctrl+0 or Cmd+0 on the Mac in order to zoom out from my document, maybe zoom back into about 50% here, so we can see the shadow halfway decently. And notice, we will see a little bit of jagged edge, when you're zoomed out from the document. You are always going to see that; that has nothing to do with Raster Effects Setting. That is rather just a preview function inside of Illustrator. The only one you can really believe where these kinds of effects are concerned is 100% and farther in. For example, here we are at 200% and everything is looking fairly smooth.
We have some areas of square behavior going on. But again, I would put that down to screen display more than anything else, because here at 300% everything looks great again. So anyway, as I say, what I would recommend you do is go ahead and print a few documents and see what you think. But I want you to know that it's there. So the next time you run into very sluggish Drop Shadows or Glows or Blur effects inside of Illustrator, you know that you can go up to the Effect menu and adjust your Document Raster Effects Settings to a lower resolution, such as 150 ppi.
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