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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.
When saving files out of Illustrator, you can choose from a wealth of different formats and probably one of the most popular formats that are in use is PDF. Now it's important to realize that PDF is kind of like a wrapper technology. It's simply a file that can contain information inside of it and that information can really be many, many different types of file formats or with different settings. Now specifically with our topic here in this training title, we have the ability to put either a live transparency into a PDF file or we can put flattened transparency into a PDF file.
It's pretty much our choice. So what I want to cover in this movie is how to save a PDF file and how to determine what kind of information goes into that PDF file. So I'm working with this file here. It's called label.ai and I'm going to go to the File menu here and choose Save As. Next for the Format here, I'm going to choose to save this file as an Adobe PDF file. I'll click Save and that brings up the Save Adobe PDF options dialog box. Now there are many settings in PDF itself like Compression, Marks and Bleeds, Outputs, so on and so forth, but I want to talk about two things specifically that are related to transparency.
First of all, there is compatibility. There are many different versions of Acrobat that are out there or more specifically there are different versions of the PDF language. For example, if I go to this pop-up menu, we can see there's Acrobat 4, Acrobat 5, Acrobat 6, 7, and also 8. These are different versions that Adobe has published. Now the actual PDF language that's used by Acrobat goes by a different versioning system. For example, in Acrobat 4, Adobe published a PDF language version 1.3.
With Acrobat 5, Adobe published PDF 1.4. In fact the way that I always remember this is that I add up the two numbers. So, for example, PDF 1.3, one plus three equals four, that means that that PDF language version is attributed to Acrobat 4. Whereas if I think about PDF 1.5, one plus five is six, so that means that that was the language that was used when Acrobat 6 came out. However, from a perspective of transparency, it's important to realize that Acrobat 5 or PDF language spec 1.4 was the first version that supported transparency.
In other words that means that Acrobat 4 did not support transparency. So if I would have saved my file with a compatibility of version PDF 1.3, that would mean that if my file contains transparency, that information would get flattened into that PDF file. In other words in your mind, you should think of Acrobat 4 PDF 1.3 as EPS or PostScript. In other words, it's a line in the sand between this version and all other versions that come afterwards. Acrobat 5, Acrobat 6, Acrobat 7, and Acrobat 8 all support native transparency, meaning that if I save a file with this level of compatibility, it means that if I do have transparency in my file, that transparency lives on when I create the PDF.
That means if I open now the PDF file inside of Acrobat, that transparency is still alive. It has not been flattened yet and if I need to make last minute changes, I can do so because my file has not been broken up into those atomic regions. However, if I save my file with Acrobat 4 compatibility that means that my file now is flattened and even if I get to Acrobat, it's too late. That file already has all those settings baked into place. It's not a bad thing to note, by the way. If you flattened your file, it just means that when you get the file to Acrobat, if your printer, for example, gets that file, they can choose to reflatten your file using different settings because your files is already flattened.
In fact, in the next movie when we talk about some PDF/X, we will talk about when it is most beneficial for you to actually create a PDF that has flattened transparency inside of it or not. Now let's say I do choose to actually save my file using the Acrobat 4 format, which would now mean that my file contains flattened transparency. What settings does Illustrator use in order to perform that flattening? Well, the answer is that I would now go to the Advanced setting right over here and here I have that preset and I can choose which preset I want Illustrator to use when it flattens the information that now gets put into this PDF file.
It's just important to realize that if I were to choose compatibility of Acrobat 5, this setting is now grade out because there is now no way for me to flatten the transparency because that version of Acrobat does support live and unflattened transparency. So if you want to think about it, PDF gives you the best of both worlds. You can choose to save in a standardized format and you can choose whether or not that format contains live transparency or flattened transparency. Now which one should you choose and at what time? Well that's something that we will talk about in the next movie when we talk about something called PDF/X.
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