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Starting a document

From: Up and Running with Illustrator

Video: Starting a document

In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to start a new document in Illustrator. When you first launch the program or when you have no document open, you should see this central welcome screen. If you don't, go up to the Help menu and choose the Welcome Screen command. Notice that the Welcome Screen is divided in two parts, over here on the left-hand side you see a list of recently opened documents. To open anyone of those documents just click on its name. Now your list of recently opened documents will vary from mine of course, and you may not see any if this is the first time you've ever run Illustrator, then all you'll see is this Open button you would click on it in order to open a file on disk.

Starting a document

In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to start a new document in Illustrator. When you first launch the program or when you have no document open, you should see this central welcome screen. If you don't, go up to the Help menu and choose the Welcome Screen command. Notice that the Welcome Screen is divided in two parts, over here on the left-hand side you see a list of recently opened documents. To open anyone of those documents just click on its name. Now your list of recently opened documents will vary from mine of course, and you may not see any if this is the first time you've ever run Illustrator, then all you'll see is this Open button you would click on it in order to open a file on disk.

However, we're creating a new file, so we'll be working with these options over here under right-hand side of the welcome screen. Notice that each one of these options allows you to create a different type of document, so you can create a document for Print, a document for Flash Catalyst, for the Web, and so forth. The main difference between these documents is the color model that is a Print Document that's going to be set up in CMYK that is cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink, which is the commercial print standard. A Web Document or other screen documents is going to be set up in RGB that is red, green, blue, but don't get too hung up on that, because you can always repurpose a document.

You can start and print you can send it to the web and so forth, but if I did click on Print Document that would bring up the new dialog box. If you want to bypass a dialog box and just get started then you press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and then go ahead and click on one of these options and that will automatically create that file. Now I'm working in the States, so Illustrator automatically creates a letter-size page that is 8.5 x 11. Your other option is to define exactly what your new document looks like.

By going up to the File menu and choosing the New command or pressing Ctrl+N or Command+N on a Mac and that will bring up the New Document dialog box. Incidentally, this is the same dialog box you would see had you just clicked on print document or one of the others. Notice that I have this New Document Profile option, if I click on it I have access to those very same options I saw a moment ago, there is Print, there is Web, down here at the bottom is Flash Catalyst, and so forth. I'm going to stick with Print for now.

You can dial in a number of Artboards. This is the number of pages inside of your document, but Illustrator calls its pages artboards for two reasons, first of all, they're entirely separate of each other. Secondly, they can be any shape or size, so each artboard can be independent, and these artboards aren't really designed to house multipage documents, although you can use them that way if you want, rather they are designed to hold different assets for a single project. I'm going to go ahead and dial in 6 artboards, and next you can define exactly how those artboards are laid out inside the larger pasteboard.

So I can Grid them by Row or Column. You can see how those look by trying out those options. You can set them in a single Row or a single Column as well, and that doesn't change at all how the document prints, it just determines how the document appears on screen. If you click on this option, you'll number your artboards in the opposite order. So in other words, the artboard number 1 will appear on the right artboard number 2 will appear to left of it and so forth, but I'm going to stick with the default Grid by Row. And I'm going to go ahead and increase my Spacing value, let's say to about 30 points, just to give myself a little bit of extra wiggle room.

Now you're probably familiar with Points from your work with type, because type tends to be measured in Points inside of any application. However, a Point is 170 second of an inch and that is Illustrator's default unit of measure. Let's say I want to set the Width of my page even though I'm very familiar with Points, I'd be hard-pressed to tell you that 612 points is 8.5 inches wide. Let's say you want to define the size of your artboards in inches or some other unit of measure, why then just dial that in? For example, I want to my artboards to measure 6 inches Wide, so I'll type in 6in, and then press the Tab key and the Illustrator automatically goes ahead and converts my inches into points.

I could do the same thing with some other unit of measure. For example, I could dial in 200mm for 200mm or CM for centimeters that type of thing press the Tab key and Illustrator will convert that measurement. I'm going to back up by pressing Shift+Tab and I'm going to dial in 8" Double quote is another way of entering inches inside the program, and soon as I press Tab, of course, illustrator converts that measurement. If you plan to print beyond the edge of your document, so you want what's known as the full Bleed, then you want to go ahead and dial in some Bleed values.

Most printers work with the Bleed value of 1p6, which is a quarter inch. That's 1 pica is 6 Points, by the way. As soon as I press the Tab key, Illustrator converts that measurement to 18 Points, same exact thing. Talk to your commercial printer to find out exactly what their Bleed measurements are. I'm going to reset that value to 0, because I don't need a Bleed for this document. Notice that all of my Bleed values are linked together, because this chain icon is turned on. And that's it, now if I click the OK button, I'll go ahead and create that six artboard document as you see here.

And that's how you start a new document, either from the Welcome Screen, or using the New Command under the file menu, here inside Illustrator.

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Up and Running with Illustrator

26 video lessons · 20321 viewers

Deke McClelland
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