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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.
Back when transparency was first introduced in Illustrator 9, many printers advised the design community to simply avoid using transparency features altogether. In other words, it was okay to use newer versions of Illustrator, but it was not okay to use the transparency features that were found in those versions. In my opinion, that wasn't really such good advice. This is because most people hold the belief that a document only uses transparency if you've applied Opacity or Blend Mode settings from the Transparency panel.
But in truth transparency is less of a feature inside of Illustrator and more of an underlying technology. In other words, transparency itself is used whenever you perform any of the following functions. For example, when you place an image such as a native PSD or Photoshop file that contains transparent content; you apply a blend mode to a fill, stroke, an object, group, or layer; or you apply an opacity value to a fill, stroke, object, group, or layer; if you add an opacity value to either a gradient stop or a gradient mesh point; if you apply an opacity mask; if you use the Rasterize effect from the Effect menu; if you use the Drop Shadow, Feather, Inner Grow, or Outer Glow effect from the Stylize submenu in the Effect menu; if you apply a 3D effect that has a transparent image that's mapped to one of its surfaces; if you use any effect that appears inside of the Photoshop Effects section of the Effect menu; or if you use the Rasterize effect found inside the Object menu and you have the Transparent Background option turned on.
So obviously, it's entirely possible that a designer might think that they're not using transparency inside of their document without realizing that they actually are. And if you don't know about something you probably aren't being careful enough to look out for potential issues. In my opinion the better advice is, learn how to insure that the documents with transparency inside of them print correctly. As we'll see throughout this course, once you understand a few basic principles you'll not only learn how to get great results with transparency, but you'll also learn how to use some of it's more powerful functions to create art more efficiently and expand your creative boundaries.
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