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Illustrator Insider Training: Seeing Through Transparency
Illustration by John Hersey

Transparency living in a world of PostScript


From:

Illustrator Insider Training: Seeing Through Transparency

with Mordy Golding

Video: Transparency living in a world of PostScript

By far the most common question that I get about transparency triggered by the initial fear around its use when it was first introduced is, will it print? A brief look at the underlying technology will help us understand this question and also provides some key concepts that we'll be applying throughout this course. Now the majority of output devices used by print professionals use a technology called PostScript, a computer language that describes graphics. Companies like Xerox, Canon, Agfa, Heidelberg, etcetera, either license this PostScript language directly from Adobe or they license a PostScript clone, which is basically a cheaper copy of Adobe's technology.
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  1. 7m 4s
    1. Welcome
      1m 6s
    2. The history of vector transparency
      4m 2s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      26s
  2. 6m 21s
    1. Transparency living in a world of PostScript
      2m 56s
    2. Transparency...it's everywhere
      2m 13s
    3. Transparency across Adobe applications
      1m 12s
  3. 42m 20s
    1. Deconstructing the Transparency panel
      7m 48s
    2. Adding transparency to gradients
      4m 59s
    3. Using the Isolate Blending setting
      5m 20s
    4. Understanding how overprints and knockouts work
      6m 26s
    5. Using the Knockout Group setting
      6m 47s
    6. Using the Knockout Group setting without a group
      6m 2s
    7. Understanding the Opacity & Mask Define Knockout Shape setting
      4m 58s
  4. 36m 26s
    1. What is an opacity mask?
      3m 37s
    2. Learning from channels in Photoshop
      7m 20s
    3. Creating an opacity mask
      6m 44s
    4. Editing an opacity mask
      5m 31s
    5. Using a gradient as an opacity mask
      4m 44s
    6. Using image pixels as an opacity mask
      4m 4s
    7. Using a complex appearance as an opacity mask
      4m 26s
  5. 53m 30s
    1. Understanding transparency flattening
      5m 58s
    2. Learning the two rules of flattening
      8m 1s
    3. Understanding the concept of complex regions
      7m 47s
    4. Exploring the Transparency Flattener options
      11m 44s
    5. The relationship between flattening and stacking order
      8m 22s
    6. Using the Flattener Preview panel
      8m 3s
    7. Creating and sharing flattener presets
      3m 35s
  6. 24m 37s
    1. Working with PostScript (EPS) files
      7m 22s
    2. Placing Illustrator files into InDesign layouts
      3m 59s
    3. Copying graphics from Illustrator
      2m 41s
    4. Saving PDF files
      4m 41s
    5. Using the PDF/X standards
      4m 36s
    6. Printing files from Illustrator
      1m 18s
  7. 34s
    1. Next steps
      34s

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Illustrator Insider Training: Seeing Through Transparency
2h 50m Intermediate May 10, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this installment of Illustrator Insider Training, Mordy Golding shows experienced Illustrator users how to create transparency effects and ensure reliable printing results. This course reviews the history of vector transparency and covers features such as knockout groups, opacity masks, and transparency flattening. Mordy also shows how to establish a safe workflow when placing Illustrator graphics containing transparency in PostScript, PDF, and InDesign files. A free worksheet is included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Understanding how transparency works across the Adobe applications
  • Deconstructing the Transparency panel
  • Adding transparency to gradients
  • Understanding how overprints and knockouts work
  • Using a gradient or complex appearance as an opacity mask
  • The rules of transparency flattening
  • Working with complex regions
  • Understanding the relationship between flattening and stacking order
  • Creating and sharing flattener presets
  • Saving PDF files and using the PDF/X standards
Subject:
Design
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Mordy Golding

Transparency living in a world of PostScript

By far the most common question that I get about transparency triggered by the initial fear around its use when it was first introduced is, will it print? A brief look at the underlying technology will help us understand this question and also provides some key concepts that we'll be applying throughout this course. Now the majority of output devices used by print professionals use a technology called PostScript, a computer language that describes graphics. Companies like Xerox, Canon, Agfa, Heidelberg, etcetera, either license this PostScript language directly from Adobe or they license a PostScript clone, which is basically a cheaper copy of Adobe's technology.

Now PostScript itself does not support transparency. Any art that does contain transparency must be translated to something that PostScript can understand. This translation process is called transparency flattening. When printing files from Adobe applications, transparency is recognized and the artwork is flattened, making it compatible with PostScript. Potential issues in the print process can occur under two circumstances. The first is something goes wrong with your art during the actual transparency flattening process.

As we'll learn in Chapter 4 of this course, the flattening process itself has many settings and it's possible that the wrong settings can introduce some visual problems in your artwork. The second potential issue is that art that contains transparency is sent to the printer without the transparency flattening process happening at all. Many of us assume that when a printer receives a file from us, either a PDF or an Illustrator file for example, that they open the files inside of Illustrator or Acrobat and they print it from there, but that isn't always the case.

Some high-end print systems support direct downloading. Meaning a printer can just send your PDF or your EPS file directly to the printer and if a device itself does not recognize a transparency and flatten it, then what comes out of that printer is anyone's guess. Now in today's world for the most part these two potential issues have been addressed. Adobe has updated their design applications and the transparency flattening process itself to handle the translation process really in a much better way. In addition Adobe has adopted industry standards like PDF/X for example to help designers build and print better files.

Just about all of the printer manufacturers have updated and improved their devices to handle files with transparency inside of them and most prepress professionals have learned how to recognize and address potential issues. This course will help you understand how to make the most of transparency features that are available inside of Illustrator and they will help you recognize the situations where problems may occur so that you can act upon them and prevent bigger issues later on in your workflow. So there is no need to worry. Transparency does indeed print.

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