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Understanding image sprites

From: Illustrator for Web Design

Video: Understanding image sprites

One of the easiest ways to help speed up your web sites, especially when it comes to images rendering on the web site, is to utilize a technique know as image sprites. And in most cases we are going to talking about these in terms of CSS, but they have to be created somewhere, and so Adobe Illustrator is actually really good for creating these things called image sprites. But first let's talk a look at what exactly an image sprite is. I have inside of this document two layers, one of which is called window. And the window layer is simply a compound shape that has a 48 x 48 pixel wide opening in the middle of it.

Understanding image sprites

One of the easiest ways to help speed up your web sites, especially when it comes to images rendering on the web site, is to utilize a technique know as image sprites. And in most cases we are going to talking about these in terms of CSS, but they have to be created somewhere, and so Adobe Illustrator is actually really good for creating these things called image sprites. But first let's talk a look at what exactly an image sprite is. I have inside of this document two layers, one of which is called window. And the window layer is simply a compound shape that has a 48 x 48 pixel wide opening in the middle of it.

And underneath that, on layer 2, you'll see there are several social icons. If I hide the Window layer, you can actually see all of the icons right there. So I am going to temporarily leave the Window layer hidden and just work on layer 2 for now. You can see here I have all of these different icons as one single group. And that's basically what an image sprite is. It's a group of images that are laid out in a grid format that are easily displayed via CSS in different ways and in different positions throughout your web site. So for instance, if I wanted to display the Facebook icon as opposed to the Twitter icon through CSS, basically what I would do, I would set the window to be 48 x 48 pixels, just like this, and then I would simply move the group so that the Facebook icon is now present in the windows.

Now the Facebook icon is the only one you see. The added benefit here is that all of the rest of the images are actually rendered in the background, so anytime you call upon those images to be displayed, the load time is significantly reduced because those images have already been rendered. So all they have to do is just pop into place. So if I needed to get the Skype icon in the right place, just maneuver it through CSS. It pops up in the window, instead of the Facebook icon. So what you are able to do is take multiple images, lay them out in a grid, and then call them out based on their position in the grid to be displayed in different areas of your web site.

Again, this is mainly for speed and convenience factor so that you don't have a whole bunch of images in your images directory and you don't have to worry about loading individual images across your site. So if you do a Google search for "Image Sprite" or even a specific one, like say "Facebook Image Sprite," you'll see how this has being employed on hundreds of web sites around the world. And it's a really great technique for helping you speed up the load time of your site and also for the convenience factor. The big thing here that you have to remember is setting these up inside of a grid, making sure that they are evenly spaced, and knowing the overall location of each individual icon so that when you toss this over the wall to a developer they can easily use round numbers for the positioning and it makes it a whole lot easier when they are calculating the CSS.

So again a CSS image sprite, or an image sprite in this case, is nothing more than big grid full of images that you are going to use to display in different areas through these little windows of which you define the size, shape, and location.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator for Web Design
Illustrator for Web Design

67 video lessons · 25438 viewers

Justin Seeley
Author

 
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  1. 1m 13s
    1. Welcome
      50s
    2. Using the exercise files
      23s
  2. 43m 51s
    1. Designing for screens
      1m 57s
    2. Decoding screen size and resolution
      2m 40s
    3. Exploring the Illustrator to HTML workflow
      3m 42s
    4. Setting up Illustrator for web work
      6m 55s
    5. Creating a new document for web
      6m 25s
    6. Creating a new document for mobile
      3m 31s
    7. Using artboards for responsive layouts
      7m 42s
    8. Creating email newsletter documents
      4m 31s
    9. Working with Pixel Preview and anti-aliasing
      6m 28s
  3. 25m 28s
    1. Adjusting color settings
      6m 47s
    2. Understanding web color
      3m 47s
    3. Creating a color palette
      5m 4s
    4. Creating custom swatches
      4m 50s
    5. Working with fills and strokes
      5m 0s
  4. 13m 15s
    1. Exploring the Layers panel
      5m 21s
    2. Renaming and grouping layers
      7m 54s
  5. 24m 5s
    1. Drawing simple shapes
      4m 16s
    2. Working with Pathfinder
      5m 4s
    3. Using the Shape Builder tool
      4m 33s
    4. Creating symbols
      6m 24s
    5. Editing and replacing symbols
      3m 48s
  6. 20m 22s
    1. Planning your project
      2m 56s
    2. Using guides and rulers
      5m 56s
    3. Developing a layout with shapes
      6m 21s
    4. Using a grid system
      5m 9s
  7. 25m 53s
    1. Exploring the rules of typography
      4m 1s
    2. Using text as text vs. using text as an image
      3m 37s
    3. Understanding web-safe fonts
      1m 46s
    4. Creating and using paragraph styles
      5m 16s
    5. Creating and using character styles
      3m 2s
    6. Simulating the CSS box model
      8m 11s
  8. 21m 17s
    1. Understanding object appearance
      4m 43s
    2. Applying and editing live effects
      3m 34s
    3. Creating and using drop shadows
      3m 13s
    4. Creating more flexible rounded rectangles
      3m 17s
    5. Saving appearance as graphic styles
      6m 30s
  9. 35m 57s
    1. Starting with a wireframe
      5m 23s
    2. Adding master elements
      6m 45s
    3. Creating navigation buttons
      13m 34s
    4. Working with photographs
      5m 50s
    5. Simulating pages with artboards
      4m 25s
  10. 54m 45s
    1. Creating video placeholders
      10m 33s
    2. Creating buttons
      13m 1s
    3. Creating form fields
      8m 15s
    4. Creating radio boxes and checkboxes
      5m 11s
    5. Creating progress bars
      10m 12s
    6. Creating tabbed interfaces
      7m 33s
  11. 35m 28s
    1. Understanding slicing
      3m 26s
    2. Slicing up a mockup
      3m 6s
    3. Understanding web file formats
      5m 33s
    4. Exploring the Save for Web dialog
      3m 50s
    5. Optimizing photographs
      4m 29s
    6. Optimizing transparent graphics
      4m 43s
    7. Saving Retina display graphics
      3m 46s
    8. Exporting SVG graphics
      6m 35s
  12. 9m 29s
    1. Understanding image sprites
      3m 4s
    2. Creating a sprite grid
      4m 36s
    3. Optimizing sprites for the web
      1m 49s
  13. 15m 29s
    1. Placing Illustrator Smart Objects
      3m 22s
    2. Sharing color swatches between apps
      2m 9s
    3. Exporting Illustrator artwork as a PSD
      3m 49s
    4. Importing artwork into Fireworks
      2m 41s
    5. Exporting HTML from Illustrator
      3m 28s
  14. 1m 19s
    1. Taking the next step
      1m 1s
    2. Goodbye
      18s

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