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Adobe Illustrator has long been a popular vector–based drawing program, but for many the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals, author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland shows users how to get in to the Illustrator mindset and overcome this learning curve. He covers the application's key features in a new way, making it simple and easy to master Illustrator. Deke teaches viewers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text, and the Pen tool. He also explains how to export and print. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this training can help make sense of it. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this final exercise of the chapter, I'm going to show you the final Print option inside of Illustrator. It goes by the name Document Raster Effects Settings. Doesn't that sound friendly? I am looking at the skateboard and the surfboard because they have the most clearly delineated drop shadows behind them. I'm going to go ahead and zoom in on the skateboard here. Notice as I zoom in that we are starting to see the drop shadow more and more chunky, you may notice. So the drop shadow is actually declining into this mosaic pattern and that's because it is made of pixels. Reason being because you can't create a soft effect with vectors.
So any of these effects here. If you go to the Effects menu, choose Stylize and any of these middle four, Drop Shadow, Feather, Inner Glow, and Outer Glow, they are all fuzzy effects. Also fuzzy are the Blur effects: Gaussian Blur, Radial Blur, and Smart Blur. All of those will create fuzzy edges that can only be represented by Illustrator or really any other application as pixels. So the question becomes, do they really need to be this choppy? We can really see the difference between one pixel and its neighbor, which means we are not going to have a nice smooth drop shadow effect, which is of course what we want.
Well, we can confirm that this is a problem by going to the File menu and choosing the Print command. I already showed this to you, but I'm going to show it to you again. Right there in that Graphics section, it's telling me that the Document Raster Effects Resolution is 72 pixels per inch. All right, so that's confirmed and then when we go to Summary, it even gives me a warning. So the question is, is that a problem? If it is a problem, let me change it. Let me fix it, but it doesn't. It just tells you, "okay, this is where you want to go in order to change that settings." So that's what we are going to do.
I'm going to cancel out of here. Go up to the Effect menu, choose Document Raster Effects Settings, there it is, right there. Then inside of this dialog box, you want to go with a different resolution. Now you can go with the custom resolution. You can go your own way, if you want to, but one of these three should do it for you. The best is Medium because it really strikes a happy medium between not enough pixels and too many pixels. That's going to seem too low. It's going to seem like you need 300 pixels per inch in order to get the job done, but think about it for a minute.
More resolution gives you sharper results. Sharpness doesn't even make sense inside of a drop shadow. Why do you need sharpness inside of a drop shadow? You just need nice, smooth transitions. 300 pixels per inch is pretty much overkill. It's going to give you, most likely, about 4 pixels per every halftone dot, which helps out a lot. It helps really to define the contours of that halftone dot, if you are working inside of a continuous toned photograph, but inside of a blobby drop shadow, it's really an overkill. So it's up to you, but it's going to slow down everything. I'll show you in just a second. I'll go with the Medium for starters. Let's try that and then you want the background to be transparent. That's fine. All the other settings are just fine as is. You don't need to make any changes. They will take care of themselves.
So just change Resolution to Medium, 150 ppi, click OK and watch this drop shadow. When I click OK, it's going to get rendered more smoothly. Now we still have this edge going too white. That's an Illustrator thing. That's something that's going to happen because these are linear drop shadows. They are not the, kind of, Gaussian drop shadows that you get inside of Photoshop. So drop shadows against a white background will have a tendency to have something of an edge associated with them, but we have a much smoother drop shadow as a result of that change. You can still see pixels. You might still see them on your screen. If I were to zoom in, we'd see them here.
If that bugs you, you can change it still. You can go back up to the Effect menu, choose Document Raster Effects Settings and then change the Resolution to High, 300 ppi, but if you do that, watch what happens. You are going to get a progress bar and then it's going to give you a nice smooth result, but you just got a progress bar. Every time you make a manipulation to any of the paths that have drop shadows, or other soft effects applied to them, or anything that overlaps one of those paths, then you are going to get that progress bar again saying, "oh! Wait a second. I got to render out your artwork for you." You don't want that. So go ahead and undo that modification by pressing Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac.
Now let's go ahead and zoom out. Let's see what Illustrator thinks of our modification. We will go up to the File menu and choose the Print command right there. Now if I go over to the Graphics option, it's going to tell me, "Hey, your Document Raster Effects Resolution is 150 ppi." Why couldn't I change it here? Well, you couldn't, but I can tell you that you did change it. That's nice and then back here in Summary, notice my warning went away. So Illustrator's happy. Illustrator is thinking you did it. Now you just have some stuff that requires flattening. Well, that's good. That means I'm taking full advantage of Illustrator's wide range of dynamic effects. I want to see that, otherwise I'm just drawing path outlines inside the software. The document contains overprinting. That is not a problem. That's actually a best practice.
So having made these changes, I would now go ahead and click on the Print button in order to send the job on it's way or just to save what I have done so far, I would click on Done. Actually, I didn't do anything inside the Print dialog box. So I can just click Cancel. My most recent change was applied using this command. It is a savable setting, however. I do have a little asterisk next to the ai, telling me that I have made a change. So if I want to update my document, I'll go to the File menu and choose the Save command. All right, fair enough. That is it for printing, my friends. Every single nook and cranny explored, I do believe. In the next chapter, we will explore the realm of exporting graphics for use in other applications and on the web.
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