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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 exercise, I'm going to provide you with a little bit of background information, and I mean that quite literally. We are going to be talking about the area behind the filled and stroked objects inside of your illustration, and how you can view that no man's land of uncovered real estate as a Transparency Grid, or you can simulate a paper color other than page white. I have gone ahead and switched over to this illustration called Ton-po shapes. This is basically the end of our project, where we are going to be inside of this chapter. So I have all these terracotta browns going with these various different Line Weights around our various different objects. We are going to be starting with the objects on this Paths layer right there.
The problem is we don't really know what's transparent and what's opaque at this point. In other words, if I wanted to figure out whether this outer circle right here had a white fill or no fill at all, I would have to click on it and look to see what the fill was. That red slash right there tells me that there is no fill at all associated with this circle. We will be talking more about the None attribute in the next exercise. But I would like to be able to just see what's filled and what's stroked at a glance. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to switch back to the Calendar layer for a moment and then turn off Paths. So we are seeing the finish version of the Calendar. I'll go up to the View menu and I'll choose Show Transparency Grid. Everywhere where there is transparency, it's now going to appear as a checkerboard pattern.
Now, why is this useful? Well, when we are printing this artwork, its going to print against a white surface; assuming that we are printing to a white piece of paper, so the Transparency Grid really doesn't serve us any purpose whatsoever. We don't need to know, for example, if I click over here on the Paths layer and turn off the Calendar layer, we don't really need to know that all of these objects are transparent, because the white of the paper will show through just as well as if we had filled the object with white. However, what if we are taking this artwork into a different application, such as InDesign or Flash, or even rasterizing the artwork inside of Photoshop, then we need to know how this artwork is going to be interacting with other elements, such as text and graphics on the page or in the document or inside of a layer composition. So it's really useful to know where that transparency is located, and the Transparency Grid lets you know exactly that.
Now, I'm going to switch back to The Big Circle for a moment. Notice that this grid that we are seeing right now is made up of alternating medium and light blue squares. That is not the default behavior. If I go back over to The Big Circle.ai, if I were to turn on its Transparency Grid, like so, then it's going to show up as gray and white. That is the default Transparency Grid. So my point here is that each illustration can have its own custom Transparency Grid that sets off the artwork quite nicely. For example, if I switch back to Calendar here inside the Layers palette and then turn Paths off, we have a nice degree of contrast between the terracotta fill colors here, theses muted browns and the complementary blue squares.
So how do you go about doing that? How do you setup your own Transparency Grid? Well, you go up here to the Control palette and click on the Document Setup button. You can also choose Document Setup by the way from the File menu. Notice our Transparency Grid colors right there. Now, I could say gosh, you know what, I want to work with one of my Presets that's shipped with Illustrator, such as Light; that's the default one, or Medium, which I think is even better. So you could go that route. Or you can go ahead and click on the Swatches in order to set up your own colors, like so. So I'll go ahead and make this a little bit of a cooler blue, a little bit -- perhaps lighter as well, click OK. Then I don't want that much Contrast going on because it's distracting, so I click on this darker color and select something that's just a little bit darker, probably like so, and then click OK. That looks pretty good. I actually might lighten that up just a little bit more. All right. Click OK. So that's the way to go. Click OK in order to make that modification.
Now, the nice thing -- the interesting thing anyway about this is it does gets saved along with the file, and if you decide you don't like the Transparency Grid that you come up with; which I really don't, then you go to the Edit menu and choose Undo Document Setup. You can undo the document grid, and of course that would be Ctrl+Z on a PC or Command+Z on the Mac. Now, what if you are printing on a paper color other than white, how do you go about simulating that? Well, this is kind of an odd function, but you would go up to Document Setup once again, and you would turn on Simulate Colored Paper right there. But notice it doesn't have a Swatch associated with this. it's like, well, what is the color of that paper? It's the first transparency color, right there. That's why I'm grouping these two topics together, because they go together here in Illustrator anyway.
So click on that color, and let's say we are really printing to sort of a light green. I would go ahead and click on the rough Hue and Saturation value that I'm going to use. Then maybe I would go ahead and lighten the paper a little bit. Just trying to basically, vaguely match it. It's not going to really matter when you print the illustration. We are just trying to simulate the appearance of our objects on screen. Then I'll click OK, and then you click OK again. You don't worry about the other color, the secondary color there. Click OK. Now notice that we still have that Transparency Grid. So basically those settings we just applied don't seem to have worked. Well, that's because the Transparency Gird is still on. We need to go up to the View menu and turn it off. So as soon as you choose Hide Transparency Grid, then you go to the Simulated Paper Color.
So I have to say these are some very useful features that are very strange. The implementation leaves something to be desired I think. But that's how you work with the Transparency Grid. All it's doing is its just controlling the view of your artwork on screen, it is not affecting anything about how its going to print, it's just trying to preview the way it's going to print, here inside Illustrator.
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