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In Illustrator CS5 Web and Interactive Design, Mordy Golding shows how to create pixel-perfect graphics for use in web sites, video compositions, and mobile apps. This course covers a wide range of workflows, from creating online ad campaigns, web sites, icons, to taking art from Illustrator to Flash Professional. Sharing tips, tricks, and creative techniques along the way, Mordy provides insight and instruction for taking projects from initial concept straight through to production. Exercise files accompany the course.
While Illustrator is a great tool to use for designing web pages, it's also a fantastic application to use when designing individual web graphics and that can be for things like, for example, an add campaign. Now in this document that I have opened right now is called the explorer_adds.ai. You'll notice that I have graphics all over the screen. This is actually one of things that I really love about working with Illustrator, because you can be so free and so creative by just throwing a whole bunch of graphics on the screen. As you can see over here, I have some banners that I've created. I have one that's over here and I have one that's over here as well.
I've actually put these on to different layers. I have a general art on one layer, which is just art that's kind of here because I might need it or I have been experimenting with things. Then I have another layer, which is a 460x60 banner, and I intend this to actually be some kind of an animated banner, so I'm building up the different parts of the banner that I might need. So I have three different versions you can say of that banner and I also have a banner 300x250 that appears right over here. Now the question really is, how do I export this artwork out of Illustrator? And the answer is that I use slices to do that.
If I go to over here to the View menu, I'm going to choose over here this setting here called Show Slices, and you can see that I have slices set up for each of these banners that are here. One of the really nice things about working with slices in this way is that we can apply certain settings to slices in advance, and then as we are working we can quickly export or create the graphics that we need without having to worry about different artboards. Here is one of the things about multiple artboards in Illustrator. Even though you have the ability to have up to 100 artboards in a single document, and those artboards can all be different sizes, only one of those artboards can be active at any one time.
So when you use the Save for Web & Devices feature to export it to GIF or JPG or PNG, for example, you can only do that for one artboard at a time. But if you want to export multiple artboards, it's difficult to do that. You can't do that through Save for Web. However, as I'll show you right now, there're some really great ways that you can think about your workflow when using slices in this way. Now first of all I can really throw graphics anywhere on my page and turn them into slices. How you do that? Well, if I have some art over here, I can simply select that artwork. I can go to choose Object > Slice > Make, and that will turn that into a slice.
It takes the boundaries of that object. We know that we have the pixel snapping that goes on inside of Illustrator, so I can easily make sure that the artwork is going to be at the size that I need by using the Transform panel, which we have right over here, and I can create slices of an exact dimension. I'm going to hit Undo, because I already have some slices for the artwork that's here. The next step that I would do is that once I have the slices, once I've created my artwork, I can go to the File menu and choose Save for Web & Devices. Now this brings up the entire page.
Let me actually choose the 2-Up view here for a second, and you can see if I take the Hand tool over here, I can actually scroll around and see all the artwork that appears inside of this document. But I'm going to now go ahead here and switch to my Slice Select tool, which lets me click on a particular slice and just select that one slice. Here I could change the settings for that slice. In fact, if I hold down the Shift key, I can now basically select these three slices and change the settings for these slices right here. Here I can set it to GIF, for example, make it interlaced.
If I click on this slice down over here, you'll see that I have now chosen to actually export this slice as a JPG file. So there're many times when you are working with graphics where you have some artwork and some art gets exported using one file format. You've a different file format or different requirements for other art, yet they can all now live within the same overall document, so I can easily work with them and design with them as well. And here's another great benefit. I'm going to take let's say this slice straight over here and double-click on it. That brings up the slice options dialog box and here you can see I can give that slice a name.
Now by default, Illustrator just gives its own names to slices, but you don't have to do that. You can actually come here. It's very easy to simply apply the specified name for this piece of art. I'm calling it Specials, and I'm calling it by the Month. This is actually for Monthly Specials for August 2010. Then I will simply click OK. You'll notice if I double-click on any of these slices, this one is called specials_082010-a. This one has the same name but with a b at the end of it, and this one over here has a c at the end of it. One of the great things about working with slices is that you can name the slices.
While you can certainly name the artboards inside of Illustrator, those names don't translate when you actually export your files. However, when you work with slices, they do in a very convenient way. So once you actually go through the Save for Web dialog box here, and you not only assign names to all of your slices, but you also choose which file formats that these slices should be exported in, instead of clicking the Save button you would now click on the Done button. That means I'm done setting all the settings inside of the slices. You see now I can go back to my document here inside of Illustrator and I can start to make changes, zoom in on certain areas.
Let's say my client decides to change the price the last minute to 370 instead of 350. I can make these changes and now if I want to export this artwork, I can come to this tool here inside of Illustrator. It's called the Slice Select tool, and I can click on the artwork right here and what I've just done is selected just this one slice. Now I can go to the File menu and choose Save Selected Slices. I'm going to go ahead now and throw this on my desktop, and before I actually click the Save button I want to make sure that two settings are here.
First of all, where it says Slices, the default setting is normally going to be All Slices. I don't want to export all the slices; I just want to export this one that I'm working on right now. So I'm going to choose export just my Selected Slices. In addition, I want to make one change to the way that Illustrator actually exports these files. So I'm going to go to where it says Settings and instead of choosing Default Settings, I'm going to choose Other. I'm now going to click on this pop-up menu here and go towards where it says Saving Files, and notice over here where it says Optimize Files.
There's a setting that says Put Images in Folder. You see by default Illustrator always exports all of its slices in a single images folder. Well, I don't want Illustrator to do that. That may be beneficial when I think about slices as an overall table inside of an HTML page. But I just want to think about this as one regular image. So I'm going to uncheck this option, and then I'm going to my click OK. Notice over here where it says Format, I'm only exporting images. I don't care about HTML for that matter, and even though it says explorer_adds.gif over here as the name, that's going to be overridden by the actual slice name itself.
So when I click on Save, notice now if I go to my desktop and I click over here, you can see that the specials_ 082010_a.gif file has now been saved. So I've already programmed into Illustrator the fact that that slice should always be exported as a GIF and always be exported with that name. This is really a great way to work, because once you set it up, you can continue to make changes to your artwork and not have to worry about going through them again. So, for example, I'm just going to go ahead now and delete this one file.
Let's come back here to Illustrator. I'm going to kind of zoom out just the bit and say I want to quickly export these pieces of art right here. I'm going to use my Slice Select tool to select this slice, hold down my Shift key, and select this slice, this one, and this one as well. Now I'll choose File > Save Selected Slices. I simply click Save because all my settings are already done, and now if I switch to my Finder, you can see that now I have four files that have exported, and they all have the right name. Three of them have been exported as a GIF file. One of them has been saved as a JPG file.
So everything is already there for me. It's a fantastic way to work when you have so many different types of files and formats to work with. This is especially evident when creating things like ad campaigns or individual web graphics. So instead of worrying about setting up multiple artboards, just set up one big document, throw all your artwork on the page, set up slices the way that you need it, using the Transform panel you can get all your slices and objects to be just the size that you need, and then use the new Save Selected Slices to quickly export your artwork as you need it.
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