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Adobe Illustrator has long been the most popular and viable vector-drawing program on the market but, for many, the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials , author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland teaches the key features of Illustrator in a way that anyone can understand. He also goes beyond that, showing users how to get into the Illustrator "mindset" to make mastering Illustrator simple and easy. The training covers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text and gradients, and color management and printing features. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this time it is going to make sense. Exercise files accompany the training.
All right now for our second exercise of wacky, exciting Preference settings. I don't need to go to the Next panel of settings, I don't think. So there's no reason to click the Next button. Instead I'm going to click this down pointing arrowhead to bring up the pop-up menu that shows you the many other panels of options that are available to you. I'd like you to switch to Units & Display Performance just so that you can see that all of my options, all my unit options are set to points and I just want you to acknowledge that so that if you decide to go your own way and use for example, millimeters as your general unit of measurement, then you know that you and I won't quite agree and you'll have to make special compensation. I leave that to you my friend. Next let's go ahead and switch to Plug-ins & Scratch Disks.
And this is important to those of you who have multiple hard drives installed in your systems. I'm not talking about removable hard drives, none of that stuff. These have to be internal hard drives in order to take advantage of them. So you're probably working with a tower machine as opposed to a laptop. I am. I've got two hard drives installed in this system and so I'm going to set my Primary Scratch Disk, I'll explain what that is in a moment, to be my D drive, my lesser used drive, not the System drive. And then I'm going to set my Secondary drive to C, so that I'm taking advantage of both of the drives notice that these changes will not take effect until the next time I launch Illustrator, that's fine.
Next time I quit the program and restart it, then I will have my new scratch disks. Now here's why scratch disks are important. Illustrator is performing some very intense computations at times especially when we get into the more advanced stuff, the live affects, anything that has the word live in it is computationally intensive. And at those times Illustrator may suck up all of the RAM in your machine, or all the RAM that's been allocated to it and it's running out of space and instead of crashing, which is its other option, it needs to find a place to put the stuff that it's dealing with and it puts this off on your hard drive or creates the scratch disk files on the hard drive.
Now, the more room on your hard drive that you give to Illustrator, the more reliably the program will behave. So if you've got a couple of drives to open up, then give your lesser used drive, which would be your D drive or your extra drive on the Mac, to the primary location and give your system drive, or your C drive to secondary. What's next? Let's move on to User Interface. I just want you to see, you can dial down the Brightness of your User Interface if you like. Notice how the User Interface items on the right and left side of the screens have gone very dark, which is great if you like to keep everything dark and you want to be able to focus on the brightness of your illustration.
However, the way, now I've been working in Illustrator for so long, I really like to see stuff brightened up at the sides just so that I can find options very easily. So I leave it set to Light as it is by default. You can also auto collapse your icon panel. So if you bring up a palette by clicking on an icon, it will stay up on screen, even while you're doing different things here inside the Illustration window. If you want it to auto-collapse as soon as you leave the palette then you can turn on this checkbox. Again, I'm going to leave it off according to the default setting.
Now let's go to Appearance of Black. This is another one of those settings that's messed up by default in my estimation. There's two kinds of black essentially. There is regular old 100% black, which is 100% K and nothing else. You're not adding cyan, magenta, or yellow to the black and that's called a plain black and notice that it looks a little lighter than the rich block. The rich black is a combination of 100% K, along with some other supporting colors, like you might have 50 % cyan and 50% magenta and 50% yellow. That's just a standard rich black, and they are going to print differently than each other if you go to pre-press.
If you go to commercial output they're going to look different. So you would like to see them differently on screen, wouldn't you? Well by default Illustrator has on screen display all blacks as rich blacks, even if they're weak blacks, even if they are just plain blacks, make them rich black, in order to deceive the user and mess you up, so that you have a big surprise when you go to print. That's a horrible, horrible idea. So let's go ahead and change On Screen to Display All Blacks Accurately. Very important word, accurately, that's actually something we'd like I would think.
Now printing and exporting, that's specifically for outputting your illustrations to an inkjet printer. Notice down at the bottom in the Description area it's saying on RGB and grayscale devices outputting all Blacks as Rich Black will show both pure blacks and rich blacks. Now it's implying that there is such a thing as an RGB output device, and there are film recorders, but otherwise what it really means when it says RGB devices, it's talking about your inkjet printer, which is not an RGB device. It's just that it calculates colors in RGB space. Anyway if you would like to, for inkjet purposes if you would like to get rich blacks all over the place then leave it set the way it is. If you're trying to use your inkjet printer to prove, to serve as a kind of soft proof of what you're ultimately going to get from a pre-press device, from commercial output, then you would want to go ahead and set this to Output All Blacks Accurately as well. I'm going to leave it set to Rich Black cause I don't really work that way, I just use inkjets for pretty pictures.
So anyway on screen though, definitely Display All Blacks Accurately, and we'll come back to that in a later exercise. I'll make that point crystal clear when we discuss the difference between plain blacks and rich blacks and why rich blacks are so much better and how you dial them in and how you make the best use of them. For now though you are done with the Preferences. See, you're not asleep for 20 years. You're not in a coma. We got through it, that's nice. Just go ahead and click OK in order to accept your modifications. Now, if you want to be ultra careful, you would go to the File menu and you would choose the Exit command or press Control+Q. On the Macintosh side, you would go to the Illustrator menu and choose the Quit command or press Command+Q because it's when you quit Illustrator that you record your Preferences because if we don't and we end up crashing, then we might lose our Preference settings and have to reset them. So to be just ultra careful, quit Illustrator and then restart the program and then rejoin me in exercise 3.
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