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Optimizing transparent graphics

From: Illustrator for Web Design

Video: Optimizing transparent graphics

When it comes to optimizing transparent graphics, we have two basic choices to choose from: we have a GIF and a PNG. In most cases, you could probably get away with a GIF, but in some cases when you need that complex transparency, or what we call true alpha transparency, you want to go with a PNG. In the case of a logo, like the one you see here on the screen, I would recommend going with a PNG, simply because logos are your calling card on the Internet and they need to be at their best, especially if they have transparent pieces, like this one here has transparency in here between the arm and a lot of transparency around the outside.

Optimizing transparent graphics

When it comes to optimizing transparent graphics, we have two basic choices to choose from: we have a GIF and a PNG. In most cases, you could probably get away with a GIF, but in some cases when you need that complex transparency, or what we call true alpha transparency, you want to go with a PNG. In the case of a logo, like the one you see here on the screen, I would recommend going with a PNG, simply because logos are your calling card on the Internet and they need to be at their best, especially if they have transparent pieces, like this one here has transparency in here between the arm and a lot of transparency around the outside.

It's not just a square or a circle. So, we need to optimize this in such a way that we get good clean transparency all the way around while still maintaining good color fidelity and all that stuff. So, let's go to the File menu and choose Save for Web, and this is going to open up. Yours may open up looking like this, and if it does, just uncheck Clip to Artboard right there, and that will snap it down to where it's supposed to be. So, let's take a look at this as a GIF first. Let's do the GIF 128. When I do that, you are going to see that it looks okay.

There is a little bit of pixelation going on in some of these smaller areas where the colors seem to run together. Remember, GIFs are good for large, broad areas of color, not these little subtle areas that run into each other. So, we need to be careful with that. You might get some dithering and some banding issues, especially if you are using gradients. So we took a look at the GIF. Now let's take a look at the PNG. I am going to go first to the PNG 24. When I click on the PNG 24, it looks much cleaner to me. It might be hard for you to see onscreen, but it does look much cleaner to me. The lines look a little shaper, colors are differentiated well.

I really like the way it looks with the PNG 24. Let's check out PNG 8, which is essentially a GIF. I still see a little bit of degradation around the edges and things like that. I don't like the choppiness. So I am going to switch it back to PNG 24. Remember, in Photoshop and Illustrator both, PNG 24 is essentially a PNG 32, which means that it has 8 bits per channel and also supports alpha transparency as well. That's why we get that nice clean transparency all the way around it. Let me show you an example of why you would use a PNG 24 over a GIF or a PNG 8 that makes a little bit more sense.

I am going to hit Cancel right now, and I am going to select this robot. And with it selected, I am going to go up to the Effect menu and I am going to chose Stylize > Drop Shadow. I'll turn on the drop shadow, and I am going to set my Opacity to about 60%. X Offset, let's change that to about 3, Y Offset to about 3, Blur Radius to about 5. The color could be black or dark grey-- it doesn't matter--and hit OK. So now here is my object that's got that subtle drop shadow applied to it.

I want to export this out for the web, and I want that drop shadow to look pretty good. So in order to do that, I need to go to File > Save for Web. And so when I select JPEG, right off the bat, you see this is not going to work because the background is white. I want the background to be transparent. Let's change this to a GIF. I do see the transparent areas, but look when I zoom in on this. You see the white band that goes all the way around the outside of it? That's because GIFs and PNG-8 both use something called binary transparency. They do not use alpha transparency. So there is no alpha channel telling it how to actually create this transparency.

It knows it's there, but it just doesn't work well. So what I need to do is change this to PNG 24. Watch what happens when I change it. I get true transparency, with that subtle gradient in the background for the drop shadow. Everything looks nice, clean and crisp around the edges. If I zoom out to its true size, it looks even better. I'll change this to a PNG-8 just so you can see that it is exactly like a GIF. So we don't need to use that. PNG-24, definitely the way to go.

So again, remember, anytime you have a lot of gradients or drop shadows, blurs, any areas of transparency that need to be really extra sharp, try using the PNG-24 versus a GIF. If you have small areas of transparency where the precision is not really required, you can probably save it out as a GIF. But my suggestion would be to come in here and actually play around with the presets. If it looks fine with one versus the other, then go with that. The main thing you need to pay attention to is how big the file is going to be and the overall look of the file over here in the window.

Once you are ready to go, just hit Save. And I can save this out on my desktop as bot_logo, and I'll hit Save, and there we go. Now, anytime I want to use that inside of one of my web site designs, I can do so and it's a nice crisp and clean PNG transparent graphic.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator for Web Design
Illustrator for Web Design

67 video lessons · 24915 viewers

Justin Seeley
Author

 
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  1. 1m 13s
    1. Welcome
      50s
    2. Using the exercise files
      23s
  2. 43m 51s
    1. Designing for screens
      1m 57s
    2. Decoding screen size and resolution
      2m 40s
    3. Exploring the Illustrator to HTML workflow
      3m 42s
    4. Setting up Illustrator for web work
      6m 55s
    5. Creating a new document for web
      6m 25s
    6. Creating a new document for mobile
      3m 31s
    7. Using artboards for responsive layouts
      7m 42s
    8. Creating email newsletter documents
      4m 31s
    9. Working with Pixel Preview and anti-aliasing
      6m 28s
  3. 25m 28s
    1. Adjusting color settings
      6m 47s
    2. Understanding web color
      3m 47s
    3. Creating a color palette
      5m 4s
    4. Creating custom swatches
      4m 50s
    5. Working with fills and strokes
      5m 0s
  4. 13m 15s
    1. Exploring the Layers panel
      5m 21s
    2. Renaming and grouping layers
      7m 54s
  5. 24m 5s
    1. Drawing simple shapes
      4m 16s
    2. Working with Pathfinder
      5m 4s
    3. Using the Shape Builder tool
      4m 33s
    4. Creating symbols
      6m 24s
    5. Editing and replacing symbols
      3m 48s
  6. 20m 22s
    1. Planning your project
      2m 56s
    2. Using guides and rulers
      5m 56s
    3. Developing a layout with shapes
      6m 21s
    4. Using a grid system
      5m 9s
  7. 25m 53s
    1. Exploring the rules of typography
      4m 1s
    2. Using text as text vs. using text as an image
      3m 37s
    3. Understanding web-safe fonts
      1m 46s
    4. Creating and using paragraph styles
      5m 16s
    5. Creating and using character styles
      3m 2s
    6. Simulating the CSS box model
      8m 11s
  8. 21m 17s
    1. Understanding object appearance
      4m 43s
    2. Applying and editing live effects
      3m 34s
    3. Creating and using drop shadows
      3m 13s
    4. Creating more flexible rounded rectangles
      3m 17s
    5. Saving appearance as graphic styles
      6m 30s
  9. 35m 57s
    1. Starting with a wireframe
      5m 23s
    2. Adding master elements
      6m 45s
    3. Creating navigation buttons
      13m 34s
    4. Working with photographs
      5m 50s
    5. Simulating pages with artboards
      4m 25s
  10. 54m 45s
    1. Creating video placeholders
      10m 33s
    2. Creating buttons
      13m 1s
    3. Creating form fields
      8m 15s
    4. Creating radio boxes and checkboxes
      5m 11s
    5. Creating progress bars
      10m 12s
    6. Creating tabbed interfaces
      7m 33s
  11. 35m 28s
    1. Understanding slicing
      3m 26s
    2. Slicing up a mockup
      3m 6s
    3. Understanding web file formats
      5m 33s
    4. Exploring the Save for Web dialog
      3m 50s
    5. Optimizing photographs
      4m 29s
    6. Optimizing transparent graphics
      4m 43s
    7. Saving Retina display graphics
      3m 46s
    8. Exporting SVG graphics
      6m 35s
  12. 9m 29s
    1. Understanding image sprites
      3m 4s
    2. Creating a sprite grid
      4m 36s
    3. Optimizing sprites for the web
      1m 49s
  13. 15m 29s
    1. Placing Illustrator Smart Objects
      3m 22s
    2. Sharing color swatches between apps
      2m 9s
    3. Exporting Illustrator artwork as a PSD
      3m 49s
    4. Importing artwork into Fireworks
      2m 41s
    5. Exporting HTML from Illustrator
      3m 28s
  14. 1m 19s
    1. Taking the next step
      1m 1s
    2. Goodbye
      18s

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