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Web designers often use a method called slicing to turn a single image into multiple pieces. Sometimes, the designer may slice up an entire page, and more often, designers may use slices to specify buttons in, say, a Navigation bar or a User Interface element. However, using this Slices feature in Illustrator is also a great way to export just individual pieces of an overall design in a very efficient manner. This workflow is even easier to achieve now in Illustrator CS5. For example, on this document, I've already created some slices.
If I go to the View menu, I can choose Show Slices, and you can see that I've already created some slices for these buttons here. Normally, in Illustrator, to export these slices, you'd go to the File menu. You choose Save for Web & Devices and here I'd be able to optimize and save my slices. But this can be quite tedious, especially if all I want to do is just export one or two slices. So, I'll click Cancel to return to my document. In the Toolbar, I'm actually going to choose the Slice Select tool. It's grouped together with the Slice tool, which is used to create slices.
But I already have my slices created. I just want to select a few of them. So, I'll choose the Slice Select tool, and then I'll go ahead, and I'll click on one of these slices. I can now use a new feature inside of Illustrator CS5, which is found in the File menu, and it's called Save Selected Slices. By choosing this option, I can directly export just that one slice. I don't need the HTML, so I can choose to export just the image itself. What this allows me to do is just work on an overall design inside of Illustrator. Maybe I have several artboards inside of Illustrator each having different elements that I might use in an overall Web design.
As I need to export individual elements, I'll just select those slices and export the files that I need. Combined with a new feature to create crisp and smooth graphics inside of Illustrator, this really makes my Web design workflow that much more efficient.
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