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Mordy Golding demonstrates how to be more productive, efficient, and creative by taking advantage of Adobe Illustrator to create pixel-perfect web graphics and interactive Flash content. Illustrator CS4 for the Web investigates the pros and cons of pixel- and vector-based web graphics, demonstrates efficient workflows, and explores the creative options available in Illustrator. Mordy also covers design techniques, such as creating typography that works well on screen, adding reflections, and making Flash animations. He discusses new Illustrator CS4 features, including using multiple artboards, bringing art into Dreamweaver, and utilizing Flash Catalyst. Exercise files accompany the course.
I know it's not a fun subject, but we've got to talk about it. It's color management, especially considering that web graphics are graphics that are destined to be displayed on another computer screen, you really want to make sure that you've got your colors to be just right so that they appear correctly on other computer screens. Now I think Adobe has done a wonderful job about making sure that other applications are consistent when it comes to color management. In fact, inside of Illustrator if you go over to the Edit menu and you choose Color Settings down here on the bottom, you'll see that there is a little icon here and it says, Synchronized: Your Creative Suite applications are synchronized using the same color settings for consistent color management.
That's really wonderful! What this means is that whether you open up a graphic inside of InDesign or Illustrator, Photoshop, they all will look the same. However, the settings that Adobe chose for all these applications may not be optimized for the kind of work that you do. You'll notice here that by Settings it says North America General Purpose 2, which is really a preset or collection of settings that are predefined by Adobe, and here's basically what it means. Whenever you're working inside of an RGB file, use the sRGB color workspace. When you're working with CMYK files, use the U.S. Web Coated SWOP v2 color space.
Now, if you remember when you create a web profile inside of Illustrator, Illustrator uses RGB. Now in reality most people think of RGB as just one range of colors. But there are different color spaces that exist within RGB. For example, you may be familiar with something called Adobe RGB. In fact, if you click over here, you can actually choose that from the listing. The Adobe RGB color space has a much wider gamut or contains more colors than the sRGB workspace. But the reality is that for web design, you should be using sRGB, which is correct here on this particular example. Why? Because if you go out into the world, most people who do access the web don't necessarily have the greatest monitors.
As graphic designers, you may have wonderful monitors that can display a larger range of colors, but in general, around the world, sRGB, which is a smaller or limited range of colors that exist inside of RGB, is a better workspace to work within. Basically, what you see inside of sRGB will closely match that which what other people will see on their computer monitors. In fact, by default, Illustrator automatically converts all of your artwork to the sRGB color space. Let me show you. I'll click Cancel out of here for a second. We'll come back to this in a minute, and I'll go to the File menu and choose Save for Web & Devices.
Now, here's the way that I'll actually export GIF or JPEG versions of my artwork. If I come all the way here to the right side and I click on this button to open up the flyout menu, I'll see there is a setting here called Covert to sRGB. In fact, there may have already been times when you might notice that when you create some artwork inside of Illustrator, it looks really bright and rich and vibrant inside of Illustrator, but when you export that artwork to a GIF or JPEG file, the colors become muted or it doesn't look as rich as it did before. That's happening because Illustrator is converting to the sRGB workspace on export. I'll click Cancel and come back to the Color Settings that we were looking at before.
So we already know that sRGB is probably the right workspace to work in when creating web graphics. But let's take a look at something over here called Color Management Policies. Right now for RGB, it's set to Preserve Embedded Profiles. Well, what does that mean? What that means is that if I take a photograph and I place it into my document inside of Illustrator, if that photograph already has a color management profile on it, for example, maybe that photograph is inside of the Adobe RGB workspace, Illustrator preserves that embedded profile, meaning that image stays in the much richer workspace of Adobe RGB and does not get converted to the sRGB workspace. So let's go back up here to where it says Settings for a moment.
Notice that if I click on this right now, I have some other options. It has something called, North America Prepress 2 and also North America Web/Internet, Hmm... Well, if we choose North America Prepress 2, you can see that the RGB workspace now switches to Adobe RGB, that much richer environment. And that's because when I am printing, I want to be able to work with the most rich amount of colors as possible. It will also allow me to simulate spot colors in a much richer environment than otherwise. But let's take a look at what happens when I switch now from North America Prepress 2 to North America Web/ Internet. I mean, after all, we are doing web graphics here. When I choose that, it returns to the sRGB workspace, which is correct, but take a look over here. For RGB now it says, Convert to Working Space.
Well, what that means that if I now take a photograph and I place it into Illustrator, Illustrator will automatically take that photograph and kind of dumb it down to fit within the sRGB color workspace. What this means is that I'll always see exactly the way my artwork is going to look like when it's displayed on the web when I am working on it inside of Illustrator. So to review, let's go back over here. The default setting is North American General Purpose 2. In that particular case, I am using sRGB. However, it is going to preserve embedded profiles. So it means I have the ability to see things inside of Illustrator which may not look that way when it's displayed on the web.
If I know that I am always doing web graphics I may get better results by choosing the North America Web/Internet version. That means that now whenever I place artwork into Illustrator, it will always convert it to the working space, which is sRGB. Now, by the way where it says Profile Mismatches now, Illustrator says Ask When Opening. So when I do go ahead and place such a file, I'll get a dialog box and Illustrator will ask me if that's what I want to do. So, overall it's your call. Basically, Adobe created the General Purpose 2 version so that anybody who is doing all different types of work, be it print, or web or anything else for that matter, has just a general color setting that works across all applications.
However, if you're the kind of person who spends most of your time doing web work, you may want to switch to the North America Web/Internet version which will give you better results and make sure that you're always seeing the right things inside of Illustrator, same way that they will appear when that artwork is posted up onto the Internet. Want to know what I do? Well, I just work on so many different projects on a single day that I really can't afford to have my color management settings set to North America Web/Internet. I just do too much print stuff as well. Therefore, when I am creating images that I know are going to be used inside of my web design and I am working on those images inside of Photoshop, I'll actually assign the sRGB color profile to that particular image. This way I always know that I won't see any color shifts when I am working with them inside of Illustrator.
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