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In this installment of Illustrator Insider Training, Mordy Golding shows experienced Illustrator users how to create transparency effects and ensure reliable printing results. This course reviews the history of vector transparency and covers features such as knockout groups, opacity masks, and transparency flattening. Mordy also shows how to establish a safe workflow when placing Illustrator graphics containing transparency in PostScript, PDF, and InDesign files. A free worksheet is included with the course.
If your workflow includes working with Illustrator and also InDesign and you're taking artwork from Illustrator and you are placing it into InDesign, the file format of choice should be using a native Illustrator file. In other words, don't save your file as an EPS file, but save it as a native Illustrator file. And the reason why is because a native Illustrator file contains unflattened transparency or what we like to call live transparency. Now InDesign has the ability to process files with transparency and then when you print out of InDesign, you can then flatten your file at that later stage.
In fact, the preferred workflow whenever you're working with transparency is to delay that flattening process as late as possible in the workflow. So by taking native live information from Illustrator and bringing it into InDesign, you were keeping that transparency in an unflattened state, until you need to print it later on from InDesign. Let's exactly see how that works. In my exercise Files here in Chapter 5, I have a file here called floral.ai and floral.eps. They are the exact same image.
However, they have been saved both as an Illustrator file and also as an EPS file using that High Resolution flattener setting. Now I am going to switch over here to InDesign for a moment and what I am going to do is I am going to create a new document. We don't need Facing Pages here. I am just going to click OK, take the default settings, and I am going to use my regular Rectangle tool here to draw some kind of a colored background. I want to see what's going to happen when I place this artwork onto a colored background. Then I'll choose maybe just yellow as the solid color there. It's nice and bright. Now I'll deselect that artwork. I have nothing selected right now.
I'll choose File > Place and inside of that chapter 05 folder in my Exercise Files, I will place this file called floral.ai, but I'll also hold down the Shift key and choose the floral.eps file. In InDesign, you can actually place multiple files at once. So I am going to choose Open and I am going to click once over here and click once over here. I don't want to click in the yellow area because I don't want InDesign to think that I want to place this art into that yellow frame. So I now have two pieces of artwork and what I am going to do is I am going to turn on the High-Quality Preview setting.
I am just going to right-click on any blank area on my screen. I am going to choose Display Performance and choose High Quality Display. That's going to display my Illustrator artwork inside of InDesign, the same way as I would see if I were back inside of Illustrator. Now take a look over here, if I kind of drag both these elements here onto the artboard. You can see that even though I had this on the background here, and I'll press W to activate the Preview setting and hide my frames, that the EPS version which is the version that's down here. that one has a white background here, whereas this one which is the native Illustrator file has the drop shadow blend beautifully into the yellow background.
The reason why that happens is because again in the native Illustrator file, I havea live transparency. That drop shadow has not been rasterized yet into a flattened state, whereas here in this case in EPS that now has just a rectangular white background inside of that file. So there is no way for me to kind of have this image here blend into any kind of a nice background. Whereas in InDesign, I can now have this drop shadow kind of blend into any background that I choose. And again the main thing here is that I've delayed that flattening process.
I've brought files from Illustrator into InDesign without invoking that flattening process. So what does this mean? It means when I now print out of InDesign, I could choose a flattener setting and that will determine how this artwork inside the Illustrator file gets flattened as well. Taking this a step further, if I were to actually now create a PDF out of InDesign, I could create a PDF that does not contain any flattened transparency inside of it, meaning transfer this live transparency even one further step in the workflow, so that I don't flatten it until I actually get to Acrobat.
We'll talk more about PDF files a little bit later in this chapter, but it's important to realize that if you're working with InDesign, it's always going to be more beneficial for you to save your files out of Illustrator in the native AI format, instead of using EPS.
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