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Taking charge of anti-aliasing

From: Illustrator CS5 for Web and Interactive Design

Video: Taking charge of anti-aliasing

Anti-aliasing has its pros and its cons. I mean, first of all we know that we need it in order to make our graphics look nice and clean when viewed on a computer screen, so we don't see jagged edges. But at the same time if we're not careful about anti-aliasing, it can also make our artwork look blurry at times. So we need to strike this even balance. In this example, this file here called explore_logo, notice over here in my View mode I have Pixel Preview turned on, and I'm going to zoom in close so that we can start to see where the anti-aliasing is going wrong.

Taking charge of anti-aliasing

Anti-aliasing has its pros and its cons. I mean, first of all we know that we need it in order to make our graphics look nice and clean when viewed on a computer screen, so we don't see jagged edges. But at the same time if we're not careful about anti-aliasing, it can also make our artwork look blurry at times. So we need to strike this even balance. In this example, this file here called explore_logo, notice over here in my View mode I have Pixel Preview turned on, and I'm going to zoom in close so that we can start to see where the anti-aliasing is going wrong.

If we look over here at the top of the line here, I see nice, crisp, smooth lines. But on this part of the line here, I start to see the blurred edge. When it comes to anti-aliasing the thing that we care most about are the straight lines. Now the curve lines really need anti- aliasing because that's where jagged edges show up the most. However, straight lines should always be clean and crisp. For example, if you look at this part of the bridge here we'll also see that even though some of these lines are straight, we start to see some of these blurry edges and we don't want that.

First, let's understand why this happens at all. If I select this path right here, I can see the path, but the path itself is not lined up perfectly with the grid itself. Now, here's the thing about working with computer graphics. We know that our screen is made up of pixels, which are presented by these little squares here on this grid, but a computer has no way to fill in just half of a pixel. In other words, every little pixel has to be either filled with color or without any color at all. So if my path itself falls somewhere in between these pixels, then based on my stroke weight, I may see these blurry lines.

Of course, the way to avoid this problem is to always make sure that the artwork that you create is aligned perfectly to this grid. But even that can be problematic, because sometimes we create strokes that have various widths, and those widths may also not line up perfectly with this grid. In fact, it's for this very reason why Adobe added a new feature to Illustrator CS5, something called Align to Pixel Grid. This is a feature that automatically aligns the appearance of your artwork and snaps it perfectly to the grid, so that you can avoid these blurry edges wherever there are straight lines or straight edges inside of your artwork.

Now there are several ways that you can use this feature, but let me show you one of them now. I'm asking you to go here to the Window menu and I'm going to choose to open up my Transform panel. As we'll soon see the Transform panel is really important when working with web graphics. Notice over here there is a check box that says Align to Pixel Grid. I'm going to press Command+A to select all of my artwork and take a close look now at the line that appears over here and also the edges on this part of the bridge. I'm going to click on the Align to Pixel Grid setting and you can see that Illustrator automatically snapped that artwork perfectly to the grid.

So I'm just going to press Undo for a second. This is before. We can see the blurry edges on both the bridge over here and on this part of the stroke, but if I redo this, you'll see now how clean and sharp the artwork actually is. This feature is actually fantastic and it ensures that when creating web graphics in Illustrator, you'll always get nice, clean, sharp lines without the blurry edges. Now, of course you can imagine to be somewhat tedious to have to click on this feature every single time that you create artwork inside of Illustrator. Well, let's take a look at some other settings that we have.

If I go to the flyout menu in the Transform panel, we'll see there is a setting here that says Align New Object to Pixel Grid. This means that as I create new artwork inside of my document, that artwork by default automatically snapped to the pixel grid. Going even a step further though, this pixel snapping feature can actually be set by default in all new documents that you create. In fact, I'm going to press Command+N or Ctrl+N to create a new document and you can see over here on the bottom there is an Advanced section. You can click on this to reveal more information and when I choose to create a new document using the Web New Document Profile, which we'll talk about in the next chapter.

You can see that on the bottom there is a setting here that says Align New Objects to Pixel Grid, which is turned on by default. In other words anytime that you create a new document using this Web profile, all of your artwork will automatically snap to this grid. So in reality you don't need to think about this at all. As you create artwork, it will always look nice and clean and sharp. Now there is one other place inside of Illustrator where this feature is available and that's when working with symbols. I'm going to click Cancel here. I'm going to zoom out just a bit over here. Press Command+0 or Ctrl+0 to fit this in my window, and with this artwork selected I'm going to turn it into a symbol.

I'm going to go to my Symbols panel here and create a new symbol, and you can see that in the Symbol Options dialog box there is now a setting here called the Align to Pixel Grid. If I turn this setting on, then no matter where I position this symbol inside of my document or no matter how I scale it, Illustrator will always take the artwork and snap it that aligns perfectly to the pixel grid, so I avoid those blurry edges and horizontal and vertical lines. So if you look at the big picture here, we kind of get the best of both worlds. We get anti-aliasing to make our artwork look nice and clean without the jagged edges on a computer screen, but at the same time Illustrator has got our back.

It makes sure that all of our artwork actually snaps perfectly to the pixel grid, so that our artwork does not look blurry.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS5 for Web and Interactive Design
Illustrator CS5 for Web and Interactive Design

74 video lessons · 24343 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
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  1. 6m 56s
    1. Welcome
      1m 33s
    2. Choosing Illustrator for web and interactive design
      2m 54s
    3. Illustrator and the web design workflow
      2m 7s
    4. Using the exercise files
      22s
  2. 40m 9s
    1. Pixel dimension vs. resolution
      4m 14s
    2. Pixel Preview mode and anti-aliasing
      5m 39s
    3. Taking charge of anti-aliasing
      5m 27s
    4. Choosing the right color management settings
      7m 25s
    5. Setting up important preferences
      6m 22s
    6. Setting up a workspace optimized for web design
      11m 2s
  3. 54m 5s
    1. Using the Web document profile
      3m 39s
    2. Creating custom document profiles
      9m 38s
    3. Using Illustrator's free web templates
      2m 33s
    4. Creating a sitemap or wireframe
      2m 50s
    5. Setting up an entire web site
      9m 33s
    6. Setting up a grid
      10m 37s
    7. Setting up an online ad campaign
      8m 13s
    8. Setting up icons for iOS
      2m 24s
    9. Setting up mobile content with Adobe Device Central
      4m 38s
  4. 32m 22s
    1. Understanding web-safe colors
      11m 50s
    2. Limiting the Color Guide to web-safe colors
      4m 53s
    3. Using Recolor Art to convert art to web-safe colors
      4m 54s
    4. Getting color inspiration from Adobe Kuler
      6m 48s
    5. Using Recolor Artwork to modify colors across a site
      3m 57s
  5. 56m 54s
    1. Using the Save for Web & Devices feature
      6m 44s
    2. Understanding the GIF file format and its settings
      10m 20s
    3. Understanding the JPEG file format and its settings
      7m 39s
    4. Understanding the PNG file format and its settings
      3m 21s
    5. Understanding the WBMP file format and its settings
      1m 18s
    6. Understanding the SWF file format and its settings
      4m 13s
    7. Understanding the SVG file format and its settings
      3m 41s
    8. Adjusting the dimensions of a graphic
      4m 46s
    9. Optimizing files to a specific file size
      4m 5s
    10. Modifying Save for Web & Devices output settings
      6m 51s
    11. Previewing content in Adobe Device Central
      3m 56s
  6. 56m 6s
    1. Setting point type in Illustrator
      4m 11s
    2. Setting area type in Illustrator
      5m 20s
    3. Formatting text quickly with paragraph styles
      14m 39s
    4. Overriding formatting with character styles
      3m 2s
    5. Controlling text anti-aliasing
      4m 50s
    6. Simulating the CSS box model
      11m 14s
    7. Adding cool reflections to text and graphics
      8m 26s
    8. Applying settings quickly with Graphic Styles
      4m 24s
  7. 35m 56s
    1. Understanding the concept of slicing
      3m 22s
    2. Creating slices manually
      4m 26s
    3. Creating slices from guides
      2m 45s
    4. Creating slices from objects
      7m 33s
    5. Understanding the different slice types
      4m 20s
    6. Applying settings to slices
      9m 20s
    7. Creating hotspots with image maps
      4m 10s
  8. 23m 35s
    1. Exporting static SWF files from Illustrator
      3m 35s
    2. Animated SWF: Converting Illustrator layers to SWF frames
      4m 3s
    3. Animated SWF: Using blends to define motion
      8m 35s
    4. Animated SWF: Adding static artwork to an animation
      3m 24s
    5. Animated SWF: Controlling time within an animation
      3m 58s
  9. 17m 13s
    1. Preserving slices and structure with PSD export
      6m 10s
    2. Working with Photoshop Smart Objects
      4m 35s
    3. Sharing color swatches between Illustrator and Photoshop
      2m 52s
    4. Generating an animated GIF file with Photoshop
      3m 36s
  10. 7m 28s
    1. Exporting HTML from Illustrator for use in Dreamweaver
      3m 31s
    2. Exporting CSS and DIVs from an Illustrator layout
      3m 57s
  11. 12m 37s
    1. Moving art between Illustrator and Fireworks
      6m 25s
    2. Using dynamic shapes from Fireworks
      3m 48s
    3. Sharing color swatches between Illustrator and Fireworks
      2m 24s
  12. 16m 7s
    1. Building files for use in Flash Catalyst
      4m 28s
    2. Creating a new Flash Catalyst project from an Illustrator file
      3m 40s
    3. Copying and pasting artwork between Illustrator and Flash Catalyst
      2m 4s
    4. Roundtrip editing between Illustrator and Flash Catalyst
      3m 36s
    5. Creating Flex skins for use in Flash Builder
      2m 19s
  13. 19m 48s
    1. Understanding symbols: The lifeblood of Flash
      4m 58s
    2. Symbols: Understanding 9-slice scaling
      4m 18s
    3. Setting text that will be used in Flash Professional
      3m 5s
    4. Moving artwork between Illustrator and Flash Professional
      7m 27s
  14. 1m 6s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 6s

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