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Mordy Golding demonstrates how to be more productive, efficient, and creative by taking advantage of Adobe Illustrator to create pixel-perfect web graphics and interactive Flash content. Illustrator CS4 for the Web investigates the pros and cons of pixel- and vector-based web graphics, demonstrates efficient workflows, and explores the creative options available in Illustrator. Mordy also covers design techniques, such as creating typography that works well on screen, adding reflections, and making Flash animations. He discusses new Illustrator CS4 features, including using multiple artboards, bringing art into Dreamweaver, and utilizing Flash Catalyst. Exercise files accompany the course.
When you export your web graphics from Illustrator there are several different file formats that you can choose. And while sometimes you are asked to deliver a specific file format, such as JPEG or GIFF, many times as a designer it's your choice to choose which ones you want to use. So of course the question comes down to when do you save your files as a GIF, or when do you save your file as a JPEG? What about PNG? Well if you go back a couple of years, designers who worked in web design were required to export their files in a variety of different formats and then open them up each inside of a web browser, and see what they look like to find out the best one. Obviously that's a lot of work and it's very time consuming.
And that's precisely the reason why Adobe offers a feature inside of Illustrator called Save for Web. In fact, you may already be familiar with this feature because it also appears inside of Photoshop. So I'll go to the File menu and I'll choose Save for Web & Devices. By looking at the tabs that appear on the top of my screen, I could either view the Original artwork, an Optimized version, a 2-Up version, or a 4-Up version. By choosing the 4-Up version, I have the ability to compare my Original artwork against three other possible formats that I could save my artwork for the web.
In doing so, I take away all the guesswork and I find just the right file format for the job. On a basic level for example, I'll go ahead and I'll use my Slice Select tool to click on this one slice right here. Notice over here it says this is my original. Now I'll go ahead and I'll click on this window and I'll specify that this one should be set to JPEG. I'll come down over here. Click on this one right here, I'll set this one to GIF, but I will reduce the number of colors to around 16 Colors. Finally, I'll come down to this option right over here. And I'll choose the Wireless Bitmap option. Notice that the Save for Web dialog box not only lets me see all these pieces of artwork at once and compare their visual appearance, but I could also see the file sizes that it creates as well.
This JPEG file is 9.5K in size. This GIF file is almost half of that size, at 4.5K, and the Wireless Bitmap format is even smaller. Taking your original artwork and then specifying a certain file format and adjusting its settings is a process that we refer to as optimizing web graphics. And here the name of the game is trying to find the best possible quality for your image from a visual perspective, and at the same time making the smallest file size. In this way, the artwork that you create will download fast, no matter where a person is trying to access it. It's also important to pay attention not just to individual graphics but in the case like here where you have several slices, even though this one image might be just 9K in the JPEG version, you still have to total up all the slices to see how long it would take to download that entire page.
So for a web designer, the Save for Web & Devices dialog box is really your best friend. It not only offers a quick way to export your graphics in the file formats that you require, it also helps you make those tough decisions to find out how to optimize your graphics in the best way.
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