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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise I am going to show you how to record a practical action. I'll also show you what to do if something goes wrong. Here I am still working inside Musical review.ai found inside the 30_actions folder, and I've created this new action, Save for Web PNG 8/64 and I am still recording. Now if you decided to stop recording at some point in time, which is just fine, by clicking on that square stop button, then go ahead if you're working along with me and click on the Begin Recording button, to begin recording once again. So that's all you have to do to reactivate that action and get it going.
Now let's say I look at my illustration and I see that my text is selected, and I don't really want to have my text selected, so, I could go up to the Select menu and choose a deselect command or it's perfectly acceptable to use keyboard shortcuts. Even the keyboard shortcuts I've given you. Illustrator will not record the shortcut, it will record the command that the shortcut is playing. So I'm just going to do that, I am going to press Ctrl+Shift+A, Command+Shift+A on a Mac to deselect the text, and now let's say in my peripheral vision, I notice that that operation just got recorded.
So I just threw in a Deselect All, darn it. What do you do about it? Well, here is what you don't do, you don't go out to the Edit menu and choose the Undo Command. Even though that seems like the logical thing, especially because it says Undo Action panel, so maybe it's going to undo the addition of the Deselect All. If you choose that command, watch what happens, don't do this with me, please, just watch. You will go ahead and undo the creation of your action in the first place, that's funny. All right, so we don't want that. Go up to the Edit menu, if you did it along with me just for larfs, then in order reestablish my action I would go ahead and choose Redo Action panel, and notice not only does it restore the action complete with Deselect All, but I'm recording again.
This is amazing, I've gone backward and forward in time. Here's a real solution, if you make a mistake and you record something you didn't mean to, then just go ahead and stop, and this goes for by the way if you meant to record something and Illustrator wasn't paying attention, which happens too. Go ahead and stop the recording. Then grab that step in our case, throw it in the trash and then start recording again, so that's all it takes. All right, now I am going to go up, because here's what I really want to record. I'm going to go up to the File menu and choose Save for Web & Devices, again, I could use the keyboard shortcut, mash your fist as if I wanted to, and that's going to bring up this big Save for Web & Devices dialog box.
Now, notice that the original image is 1.1 MB, and the JPEG version at high compression is going to be 113 K. So that's a big savings, right? We lost 90% of the file size. We only have 10% of the file size left. But I think we could do better than that, and specifically I'm interested in creating an action for PNG after all, PNG 8-bit 64 colors, and I'll show you why. Because if I zoom in on the this text at the bottom of the illustration, you can see that it's kind of starting to fall apart, because of those compression artifacts, and PNG, even though it's going to introduce some dithering, is going to better retain the integrity of that text.
So I am going to go ahead and switch from JPEG to PNG-8, right there, and then I'm going to switch down the colors too, because notice I only lost a little bit in file size. I went from 113 K down to 107 K, that's not enough of a savings. I am going to go ahead and switch those colors down to 64, and we will introduce quite a bit of dithering as you can see, and I've got the Pattern set to Diffusion and the Dither value is all the way up at 100%. So that means that our gradients are going to suffer quite a bit actually, but our text is going to look impeccable, and this is a text heavy document, so I'd rather focus on that.
That's about all I am going to do inside of this dialog box. Now I am going to go ahead and click Save. But before I do, I want to show you something. Let me go into make this dialog box a little narrower, so we can see the Actions panel in the background. Notice it hasn't recorded a darn thing. I've been spending a lot of time inside this dialog box. You could change as many settings back and forth if you want, all Illustrator is going to do is record your final settings. And again, it's not going to record the speed at which you work or any of that. So I will go and click Save. Notice it still has not recorded anything, so I'll go ahead and find my 30_actions folder there in the Exercise Files folder, and I'll go ahead and save the PNG file there, and click the Save button.
And that's the point at which it finally wakes up and says, hey! You did something; I'll go ahead and record it. Let's go ahead and stop actually, because this is the end of this task. But if you twirl open this item here, you will see that it records every single setting that's available inside that dialog box. So whether you touched it or not, Illustrator went ahead and tracked it. It also goes ahead and tracks the location into which you save this file, which as you'll see is a little bit of a pain in the neck, but we'll come to that later. So that's how you record a practical action inside of Illustrator.
In the next exercise I'll show you how to play it back.
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