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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of the Illustrator drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
You know just because Illustrator is a vector-based program, it doesn't mean you have to totally ignore pixel-based images. In fact, there are many times when you might want to bring raster images, or bitmaps, into your Illustrator documents. For example, you're creating a jacket cover for a book, and you want to put a photograph of the author into your layout. Well, of course, you can do that inside of Illustrator, and in regards to placing images into your document in Illustrator, there are really two basic concepts you have to become familiar with, something called Placing a Linked Image and something called Placing an Embedded Image.
Let's take a look at both of these. I'm going to start with a regular document here. I used the print profile to create this document, and I'll go to the File menu, and I'll choose Place. I have three different images here. I'm going to choose the bonsai.psd file. Now, Illustrator is able to place a variety of different pixel-based formats, be it GIF files, PNG files, JPEG files, PSD, TIFF, EPS, the list goes on. For the most part, however, I'd like to use PSD files, because I generally open up all my images inside of Photoshop anyway to make sure they're all adjusted and perfect just the way that I need them.
In addition, you can apply things like transparent effects to artwork inside of Photoshop. Well, when you save your file as PSD, that transparency comes through into Illustrator as well. So, if you are working with images and you have both Illustrator and Photoshop, I find it always best to use PSD files. Notice here on the bottom, there is a check box that says Link. This currently means that when I place this image into Illustrator, it's going to become a linked image. That means that the PSD file itself remains outside of my Illustrator file, and my Illustrator document simply references that image.
However, each time that I now open up my Illustrator file, I'm going to need to know where that PSD file is, and I'm going to have to have access to it as well. Otherwise, Illustrator will throw up a dialog box asking me where the PSD image is. After all, Illustrator has no way to display it or print it unless it has that external file. If I were to uncheck this option, Illustrator would now embed that PSD file into my document, meaning Illustrator will actually copy that entire file and include it as part of my Illustrator file.
That means that now I could take my Illustrator file and send it off to somebody else, and they can open that file without needing this separate PSD file. The image itself becomes part of the Illustrator document. Of course, in doing so, my Illustrator file will grow in size, because now it has that image inside of it. As we learn more about working with images inside of Illustrator, there are other pros and cons for when you might want to use linked images or embedded images. But the one thing that I want to leave you with right here is that this check box is sticky, meaning whatever setting that you use, that setting will be available the next time you place an image.
Now, normally on a day-to-day basis, I'm working very quickly, and I often forget when that check box is turned on and off. So, what I like to do is to leave this check box on, even if I know I'm going to be embedding the image later, because as we'll see, once I'm inside my document, I'll able to select any image and tell Illustrator to embed that image later on in the process. So, I'm always safe by just leaving this Link box always turned on. Great! Now, I'm going to cove over here to the Place button, click on it and my image now appears inside of my Illustrator document.
Now, what can you do with an image once it's inside of Illustrator? Can I change it, for example, change some of its pixels, change the color of the sky? The answer is no. It basically is one image here, or one object inside of Illustrator, and I can perform any kind of transformation on it, meaning I can adjust its position, I can apply rotation, scaling or even reflecting or skewing, but I can't change any of the pixels in the image itself. I can even apply Opacity values, for example, to make the image somewhat transparent, but for the most part, it's me taking an image and just placing it directly on to my page here inside of Illustrator, and treating it as a single object.
Now, I mentioned before this difference between linked images and embedded images. Well, if you take a look over here, there is actually a button here called Embed. Whenever I have an image selected, Illustrator does display some options for that image, and we'll learn more about these settings as we continue on this chapter, but this would really be the way to embed an image here inside of Illustrator. If you are not sure whether or not your image is linked or embedded, you can very easily come over here and see that right now this image is a Linked File. If it were embedded, I could see now that Illustrator identifies it as so as well.
One of the real benefits of embedding images inside of Illustrator is that you can include them inside of a symbol. We'll talk about symbols later on in this training title, but for now we have a great understanding of how we can incorporate images or pixel-based content into our Illustrator documents.
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