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Pixel Preview mode and anti-aliasing

From: Illustrator CS5 for Web and Interactive Design

Video: Pixel Preview mode and anti-aliasing

In the last movie, we mentioned how certain digital devices have different resolutions. For example, desktop computer monitors generally fall within the range of about 120 to about 150 pixels per inch, and some of the newer mobile devices like the iPhone 4 sport a resolution of over 300 pixels per inch. Now while those numbers may sound high, they pale in comparison to the resolutions that high-end printers normally work with. For example, high-end image setters sometimes have resolutions of over 2500 pixels per inch or more accurately dots per inch.

Pixel Preview mode and anti-aliasing

In the last movie, we mentioned how certain digital devices have different resolutions. For example, desktop computer monitors generally fall within the range of about 120 to about 150 pixels per inch, and some of the newer mobile devices like the iPhone 4 sport a resolution of over 300 pixels per inch. Now while those numbers may sound high, they pale in comparison to the resolutions that high-end printers normally work with. For example, high-end image setters sometimes have resolutions of over 2500 pixels per inch or more accurately dots per inch.

So if I understand that my artwork is always going to be broken down into the smallest elements, be it pixels or dots, I can see that there is a large disparate number between what I normally get on a computer screen and what I would get on paper. This is especially evident when we start thinking about graphics inside Illustrator, which are all vector-based. In fact, one of the benefits of using Illustrator is that you can zoom in really close to your artwork and you'll always see, nice, clean, smooth, sharp lines. For example, for this Explore California logo I'm going to zoom in really close right up here on the girl riding the bike.

You can see that even though I've zoomed in really close, I still see nice, clean, sharp lines. Now, since the resolution of computer screens is much lower, my eye would be able to detect little jagged edges along curved lines in my artwork. That's because I'd be able to see the actual pixels themselves. But as you can see here on the screen though, I see a nice smooth appearance. That's because computers employ something called anti-aliasing. It's a method of slightly blurring edges of color, so that they appear smooth on a computer screen.

Now, if I were to print this graphic on a high-end printer, I would expect smooth edges, but the reason why this artwork appears smooth here inside of Illustrator is because Illustrator is applying this anti-aliasing to these edges. In fact, if I go now to over here where it says Illustrator and I open up my General Preferences panel -- in Windows by the way I'd find that in the Edit menu -- I can choose an option here called Anti-aliased Artwork. This is on by default, but if I turn it off and I click OK, I can now see that there are jagged edges in the artwork here.

That's because Illustrator is now not applying that anti-aliasing. I'll point out by the way that this has no effect whatsoever on my printed output. This anti-aliased setting that I just turned off only affects the screen setting that I'm seeing right now. The reason why Illustrator even gives me this option to begin with is because in older versions of Illustrator and on older computer hardware, this anti-aliasing would sometimes slow down the redraw of artwork. Although nowadays, I'm just going to press Command+K or Ctrl+K to open up my Preferences panel.

I'm just going to turn that back on, because there's really no difference at all in screen redraw by having that setting turned on. So I'm going to click OK. So I now see the smooth edges again. However, when graphics are actually displayed in a web browser, anti-aliasing is applied there as well and in fact when you use certain features inside of Illustrator, those features are hardwired at 72 pixels per inch. For example, if you go to the File menu here and choose Save for Web & Devices, this is a setting that actually allows you to export images in GIF or JPG format, for example.

Your artwork when exported via Save for Web & Devices will always be 72 pixels per inch. That's probably the case because when Save for Web & Devices was first introduced, that was the general setting used for web graphics, but as we discussed in the previous movie, we know that many digital devices have higher resolutions than that. Still Illustrator will always export this artwork at 72 pixels per inch. I'm going to click Cancel here. But obviously right now my monitor is set to a higher resolution, so the anti- aliasing here looks nice, clean, and sharp.

However, if I'm working with graphics that are only about 72 pixels per inch, the anti-aliasing may reveal a different story. The problem though is that as a web Designer how do I know really what my artwork is going to look like when I export my art for the web. So if I go to the View menu here, I'll see that Illustrator has a Preview mode, something called pixel preview. When you choose this option, Illustrator displays your graphic as it would appear when exported at 72 pixels per inch. It also allows me to clearly see where the anti-aliasing is happening inside of my artwork.

Now, right now I'm zoomed in about 1300%. I'm going to zoom out just a little bit. Let's go back to about 100% right here. This is what my artwork would appear at 100% on the web, but if I zoom in a little bit closer here, you can see even at this view, let's go back to about 600%. You'll notice at 600%, Illustrator kicks in this grid view where I could actually see each individual pixel, and you can see that even though I have a solid line over here around the border of my artwork, at the top over here the line looks nice and crisp. I could also tell by the way that it's exactly four pixels in width.

However, if I look at the line over here on the right side, I can see that the line actually takes up five pixels in width and they are like different shades of gray. It gives a kind of this blurry appearance. We'll talk more about why that happens in another movie, but for now it's important to realize that when we're working with this Pixel Preview mode, we can get a really good idea about how our artwork is going to appear when exported for viewing on the web or on other computer screens. So as we go along and start working with Illustrator and building web graphics, we're going to use this Pixel Preview mode to make sure that we're seeing our artwork in the right way and we're also going to be conscious about anti-aliasing and how that might affect the appearance of our artwork.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS5 for Web and Interactive Design
Illustrator CS5 for Web and Interactive Design

74 video lessons · 23845 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
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  1. 6m 56s
    1. Welcome
      1m 33s
    2. Choosing Illustrator for web and interactive design
      2m 54s
    3. Illustrator and the web design workflow
      2m 7s
    4. Using the exercise files
      22s
  2. 40m 9s
    1. Pixel dimension vs. resolution
      4m 14s
    2. Pixel Preview mode and anti-aliasing
      5m 39s
    3. Taking charge of anti-aliasing
      5m 27s
    4. Choosing the right color management settings
      7m 25s
    5. Setting up important preferences
      6m 22s
    6. Setting up a workspace optimized for web design
      11m 2s
  3. 54m 5s
    1. Using the Web document profile
      3m 39s
    2. Creating custom document profiles
      9m 38s
    3. Using Illustrator's free web templates
      2m 33s
    4. Creating a sitemap or wireframe
      2m 50s
    5. Setting up an entire web site
      9m 33s
    6. Setting up a grid
      10m 37s
    7. Setting up an online ad campaign
      8m 13s
    8. Setting up icons for iOS
      2m 24s
    9. Setting up mobile content with Adobe Device Central
      4m 38s
  4. 32m 22s
    1. Understanding web-safe colors
      11m 50s
    2. Limiting the Color Guide to web-safe colors
      4m 53s
    3. Using Recolor Art to convert art to web-safe colors
      4m 54s
    4. Getting color inspiration from Adobe Kuler
      6m 48s
    5. Using Recolor Artwork to modify colors across a site
      3m 57s
  5. 56m 54s
    1. Using the Save for Web & Devices feature
      6m 44s
    2. Understanding the GIF file format and its settings
      10m 20s
    3. Understanding the JPEG file format and its settings
      7m 39s
    4. Understanding the PNG file format and its settings
      3m 21s
    5. Understanding the WBMP file format and its settings
      1m 18s
    6. Understanding the SWF file format and its settings
      4m 13s
    7. Understanding the SVG file format and its settings
      3m 41s
    8. Adjusting the dimensions of a graphic
      4m 46s
    9. Optimizing files to a specific file size
      4m 5s
    10. Modifying Save for Web & Devices output settings
      6m 51s
    11. Previewing content in Adobe Device Central
      3m 56s
  6. 56m 6s
    1. Setting point type in Illustrator
      4m 11s
    2. Setting area type in Illustrator
      5m 20s
    3. Formatting text quickly with paragraph styles
      14m 39s
    4. Overriding formatting with character styles
      3m 2s
    5. Controlling text anti-aliasing
      4m 50s
    6. Simulating the CSS box model
      11m 14s
    7. Adding cool reflections to text and graphics
      8m 26s
    8. Applying settings quickly with Graphic Styles
      4m 24s
  7. 35m 56s
    1. Understanding the concept of slicing
      3m 22s
    2. Creating slices manually
      4m 26s
    3. Creating slices from guides
      2m 45s
    4. Creating slices from objects
      7m 33s
    5. Understanding the different slice types
      4m 20s
    6. Applying settings to slices
      9m 20s
    7. Creating hotspots with image maps
      4m 10s
  8. 23m 35s
    1. Exporting static SWF files from Illustrator
      3m 35s
    2. Animated SWF: Converting Illustrator layers to SWF frames
      4m 3s
    3. Animated SWF: Using blends to define motion
      8m 35s
    4. Animated SWF: Adding static artwork to an animation
      3m 24s
    5. Animated SWF: Controlling time within an animation
      3m 58s
  9. 17m 13s
    1. Preserving slices and structure with PSD export
      6m 10s
    2. Working with Photoshop Smart Objects
      4m 35s
    3. Sharing color swatches between Illustrator and Photoshop
      2m 52s
    4. Generating an animated GIF file with Photoshop
      3m 36s
  10. 7m 28s
    1. Exporting HTML from Illustrator for use in Dreamweaver
      3m 31s
    2. Exporting CSS and DIVs from an Illustrator layout
      3m 57s
  11. 12m 37s
    1. Moving art between Illustrator and Fireworks
      6m 25s
    2. Using dynamic shapes from Fireworks
      3m 48s
    3. Sharing color swatches between Illustrator and Fireworks
      2m 24s
  12. 16m 7s
    1. Building files for use in Flash Catalyst
      4m 28s
    2. Creating a new Flash Catalyst project from an Illustrator file
      3m 40s
    3. Copying and pasting artwork between Illustrator and Flash Catalyst
      2m 4s
    4. Roundtrip editing between Illustrator and Flash Catalyst
      3m 36s
    5. Creating Flex skins for use in Flash Builder
      2m 19s
  13. 19m 48s
    1. Understanding symbols: The lifeblood of Flash
      4m 58s
    2. Symbols: Understanding 9-slice scaling
      4m 18s
    3. Setting text that will be used in Flash Professional
      3m 5s
    4. Moving artwork between Illustrator and Flash Professional
      7m 27s
  14. 1m 6s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 6s

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