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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 create a trap in Illustrator using an overprinting stroke. Now the technique itself is very easy. You create a stroke and overprint it. That's all there is to it. However, conceptually it's difficult because you need to know when and why you need a trap in the first place. Most folks, even those folks who have been working in the business for years who know what trapping is, most of them don't know when you actually need a trap. So I want you to be one of the people who does know this, because it's very important. Most of the time, you don't need to worry about trapping, but sometimes you do and when you do, you really do. So I'm going to demonstrate that in this document. I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as Overprint document.ai found inside the 11_ printing folder and I'm going to move my Separations Preview palette down here.
Now you may recall this text right here, set in this spot color Pantone 200 C at this point of time. It has this big thick white stroke and let's say we don't want to have any white strokes. Now if we do have a big white stroke, we don't need to worry about trapping at all, because what we are trying to account for with trapping is a misregistration of plates that results in a little bit of a white gap, a paper colored gap, between different inks. We are asking for a big thick paper colored gap, so we wouldn't have anything to worry about in this case. It's only if that stroke were to go away that we would have problems. So I'll go ahead and click on this text to select it and then I'll go up to the Control panel and change the Stroke to None.
Now if we were to have a little bit of misregistration between the spot color plate and the other inks, the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black plates, then we would end up with these tiny little hairline white gaps that would be complete giveaways of our bad printing job. And that's not something we want. So I'm going to press Ctrl+Shift+A, Command+ Shift+A on the Mac to deselect that text. Now let's start with a scenario that does not require trapping. When you are working with process color inks and you are doing a lot of sharing, in other words, two neighboring objects share some Magenta or they share some Yellow or they share some Black or they share some Cyan, what have you, then you don't need to worry about trapping, it's when they don't share inks in common that you have problem.
So let's look at the first scenario where you don't have a problem. I'm going to go over here to the Swatches palette and I'm going to take this color right here, this Pantone 200 C that we just got done converting to a spot color, I'm going to convert it back to a process color by double-clicking on it and I'm going to change the color type from Spot Color to Process Color, like so and notice what it's made up of here 0, 100, 63, 12. So we are not going to have anything going on in Cyan, but we are going to have a lot going on in Magenta, Yellow, and a little bit going on in Black. Click OK. Now it shouldn't change on screen. It should look exactly the same on screen, except for Separations Preview palette, which just lost the color. So our Pantone 200 C color went away because we don't have it anymore, we are not coloring for it inside of this document any longer.
All right, let's take a look at the various plates however. I'm going to start by Alt clicking or Option clicking on the eyeball, in front of the Cyan ink. Now in this case we have got a big knock -out, right. We have got a solid color background essentially, a solid Cyan with a white knock-out right here. Which means that where the Cyan ink is concerned, where the Cyan plate is concerned, we would definitely need some kind of trapping because we have no coverage here, something could go wrong. All right, but that's just one plate. We have got four plates to work with here.
So go ahead and turn on Magenta and turn off Cyan and now we have got ink sharing, we have full coverage inside the letters in the Magenta plate and we have got light coverage in the background. This is enough to prevent us from having to worry about trapping. Just this one plate by itself is enough. So let's see what we have going on in yellow as well. Turn on Yellow, turn off Magenta. They are getting to be identical, they are not almost identical but we have solid coverage of Yellow In the background and we have 63%coverage of Yellow inside the letters. So they are only 40%off from each other. That's perfectly fine. That eliminates the need for any trapping as well. Turn on Black and turn off Yellow, it's almost uniform. Those are almost identical colors, there in Black.
So in other words, between Black, Yellow and Magenta, we have all the ink sharing that we need. We do not need to worry about gaps. We are not going to get them. We are not going to get white gaps there, because everything is getting filled in and we do not need to worry about trapping around these letters. The fact that's Cyan in the mix, who cares? It's not going to cause any problems for us whatsoever. All right, so let's compare this to working with a spot color. Spot colors almost always demand traps, because they are always knocking things out. I'm going to go back to the Swatches palette, double-click on that Pantone 200 C guy. Let's just change it back to spot color and then click OK. Now let's see where the difference is noticed. That the Separations Preview palette went ahead and added back in Pantone 200 C. Let's go ahead and see the difference.
Now, if I turn off just Pantone 200 C, just turn off that one by clicking on that eyeball. Big massive knockout. I'm knocking out the Cyan plate, I'm knocking out the Magenta plate, I'm knocking out the Yellow plate and I'm knocking out the black plate. So solid knockouts across the board, this guy is quite the boxer, he however is leaving the opportunity for gaps around the letters that's a bad thing so we need to do some trapping and here is how it works. Go ahead and turn back on Pantone 200 C so that you can see that text. Once again click on it to select it. And then I want you to go up to the Stroke item here in the Control palette once again and click on it and set it to that spot color.
You can see that's the spot color because it has a little dot in its white triangle. That's our guy, go ahead and click on it, in order to assign the same color that we are using for the Fill to the Stroke. And in my case, the stroke is set to one point, which is fine, I'm going to raise it really high to four point for a second, which is completely insane, where trapping is concerned but I want you to see what's going on. All right, now this by itself doesn't solve our problem at all. All we are doing is shifting the red outward and we are shifting the knockout outward as well. So if I were to turn off Pantone 200 C, you can see that we have just got a bigger knockout. So we haven't accomplished anything. Turn it back on, then you want to bring up that Attributes palette again, it's this guy right there and you could also choose Attributes from the Window menu and then turn on Overprint Stroke.
Now because Overprint Preview is turned on, we can see the effects of overprinting. Let's go ahead and put the Attribute palettes away because we are done with it. We do not, by the way, want to overprint the Fill that will create this effect here. That would just fill in the letters. We don't want that. Just the Stroke. All right, go ahead and put that guy away and notice what we have got is a smaller knockout. So this is what the knock-out looks like now, it looks like original letters without the stroke and this is what the Pantone 200 C plate adds, it adds a thicker bunch of letters right here and then it's definitely going to fill in the gap. So if we have any misregistration between the plates, this extra trap here, which is the Stroke itself, is going to fill in the gaps quite nicely. Now the only thing is that also looks terrible.
We have got this big ginormous strokes around all of our texts. We don't want that. So we want to make the stroke as thin as it can be. And here is what I'm going to tell you, by way of advice. If you are working with a cheap consumer print house, then you might want the stroke to be as high as one point in order to make sure to fill in the gaps. Now you shouldn't see such a pronounced tracing affect as this when you actually up with the document but you will see a little bit of tracing when you have such a high stroke value. If you are working with the real top-of-the-line, commercial print house, you know a big one that really takes their job seriously, then you can take this value down to 0.5 points as a Stroke or you can even talk to your print house and see what they recommend.
They may say no, ma'am. You know we can do a Hairline stroke, we can do a 0.3 ,no problem, and we will hold that for you, we guarantee it. That kind of thing. So just check with your people, talk to them. Anyway, this is how you make a trap and bear in mind, I just want to make this clear in case it's not, you never need to trap when you are printing a local composite job. In other words, when you are printing it to your personal ink-jet printer, trapping is never required. Because you can't really do a spot color. hat's not an issue. So you are always mixing inks together; it's only when you are preparing a job for commercial reproduction.
In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to take one of these illustrations here and print it from inside a page layout program such as InDesign. Stay tuned.
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