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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 show you how to trap gaps using Rich Blacks and it's a complicated problem to understand, but it's a really easy solution. So here is the idea. When you send an illustration out to a commercial printer to be rendered in process colors, they have got a different plate devoted to each one of the inks. So four plates for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black, and these plates have to be exactly aligned with each other, and the paper has to run through these plates independently in order to render your job, and if anything goes out of alignment, if the paper slips, for example, at all, then any time where you have neighboring objects that use different inks, you may see gaps between those objects, just these really razor thin gaps, and you can get rid of those gaps using trapping. And the easiest trapping method out there is Rich Blacks, and the great thing about Illustrator is the kind of previews of these gaps, if you pay very close attention.
So I'm working inside of this catch-up document. That is to say I have saved my progress as Clay swatches.ai, found inside the 06 fill_stroke folder, and I'm going to click on this front circle right there, and notice if we were to Shift-click on the Stroke icon, you can see that the stroke is 0 Cyan, 0 Magenta. It's 0 Yellow, so no CMY, just 100% Black and that's a plain black by the way. Now I'm going to go ahead and Shift- click on the Fill icon right there, and I'm going to change it to 50% Cyan, and 100% Magenta, no Yellow. We won't worry about Yellow. No Black. So in other words, these two neighboring colors, fill and stroke, do not share any inks, and therefore if there is any mis-registration, we might get gaps. And Illustrator is actually showing us the potential for gaps. Do you see it? If you are working along with me, you will see this very, very thin white line.
I'm going to zoom in, and if you look very closely, you are going to see that we have this orange path outline, and on either side of it is the black stroke, and then we have this very, very thin light edge before we come to the violet fill right there, and that is showing us that we have a potential for a gap at that location. Believe it or not, that extremely subtle display is a feature inside of Illustrator. All right, now I'm going to zoom back out and I want to show you something. I'm going to press Ctrl+K or Command+K on the Mac, in order to bring up the Preferences dialog box, and then I'm going to switch to this last option, Appearance of Black, and I want to make sure that On Screen for you is set to Display All Blacks Accurately. That's what you want.
That way 100% black with no other ink is going to look like this; a fairly sort of darkish gray really, and then a rich black which involves Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and the Black inks all working together is going to look nice and dark, just like in the real world. It's very important you have things set up this way, and I mention it because it's not the default setting, which is very frustrating to me. Anyway, it is fine for me, so I'm going to cancel out of there. Watch the difference, watch what happens. If we go ahead and dial in a rich black for this stroke. So here is what I'm going to do, I'm going to click on the Stroke icon in order to bring the Swatches palette. I'm going to click on the little Page icon to create a New Swatch, and I'm going to call this one, Rich black like so. It's going to be a Process Color. Let's go ahead and make it global, and I'm going to change all the values except for K. K is already 100 %. That's fine. I'm going to change the other ones to 50 a piece.
Now this is a kind of no brain to Rich black, there is other ways to mix Rich blacks. The great thing about this one is that these values add up to 250 %, which will fall below the total ink maximum, for any press out there. So in other words, if there is too much ink on the page, then the paper can absorb all that ink, and ink is gong to smear, and that happens at some point, usually at 280 % or higher. We are just at 250 % here, so we are well under that maximum. So this is good, this is going to look like a really great Rich black.
Now click OK in order to accept that modification. Now notice, we can still see that little bit of white edge there next to the stroke and the fill, even though it's telling me that this stroke has been applied. I'm going to go ahead and click on Rich Black just to make doubly sure, and now we no longer have that gap, and I'm going to show you what I mean using my little zoom technique again. I am going to go ahead and zoom in there, pane the screen image so that we can see what I'm talking about. There is my path outline in orange, there is the stroke in black, there is the violet fill. There is no gap between the two. We have now trapped the gap with the Rich Black but we have only done it with this one circle. We need to do it with the rest of the objects inside of this illustration.
So zoom out, and I'm going to click on any other object inside of this illustration, like this circle right there, this outer circle, and can you now see on screen how this black is darker than the others? If you are working with me, you can definitely see it, but I'll select this outer circle, and then I'll go up to this Select Similar Options, an option up here in the Control palette. I'll click on it, and I'll choose Stroke Color. Here it's probably set to All, I'll go ahead and choose Stroke Color, and you will select everything else inside of the illustration, hopefully.
And now we are going to go ahead and change the color of these objects. I'm going to make my stroke active like so, I'll switch over to Swatches, and then I'll click on my New Swatch Rich black in order to assign that Rich black, and you could see it darken up ever so slightly there, assign that Rich Black to all of my strokes. Now just to make sure I'm going to click off in order to deselect all these objects, just to make sure I have got everybody because this is a global color, I'm going to go ahead and edit it and I should be able to see all of my objects change in kind.
So let's go ahead and get rid of Black here, and we will make some wacky sort of red color here, so that we can really see what's going on and I'll turn on Preview and oh, my goodness, look that, for some reason we left behind the nose and the mouth. I don't know what's going on with that darn nose. I can never get that selected. All right, anyway let's cancel, because we don't really want to change all the strokes to red right there. We need to go ahead and change these guys too manually. So I'll click on the nose, and it was definitely set to that weak black right there, and I'll switch the color, sure enough 0, 0, 0, and 100, so I don't know why it didn't get picked up. The lips on the other hand, I have a different color assigned to them bizarrely.
So anyway, let's just go ahead and select those guys manually, like so, then go back to the Swatches palette, click on Rich Black, thank you very much, sir, and we have now managed to create strokes that will automatically trap all colors around them. It's a wonderful thing, so definitely remember that trick. It's very easy to forget, and get sloppy, and not do it, when you are creating your own illustration here inside Illustrator.
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