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Understanding resolutions

From: Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics

Video: Understanding resolutions

One of the main benefits of using Adobe Illustrator is the fact that any artwork that you create is completely scalable to any size. That's what we refer to as being resolution independent. Compared to Photoshop documents, which are tied to a specific resolution, an Illustrator file can be scaled to any size that you need. However, it's important to note that inside of Illustrator we do have several effects that we can apply to our document that do result in a rasterized result. For example, live effects like glows and shadows, those things do get rasterized. So when they do, which resolution do they get rasterized at? The answer is that there is a setting inside of Illustrator that determines it. But if you are not careful about paying attention to that setting, you may end up tripping yourself up when you want to print out your document.

Understanding resolutions

One of the main benefits of using Adobe Illustrator is the fact that any artwork that you create is completely scalable to any size. That's what we refer to as being resolution independent. Compared to Photoshop documents, which are tied to a specific resolution, an Illustrator file can be scaled to any size that you need. However, it's important to note that inside of Illustrator we do have several effects that we can apply to our document that do result in a rasterized result. For example, live effects like glows and shadows, those things do get rasterized. So when they do, which resolution do they get rasterized at? The answer is that there is a setting inside of Illustrator that determines it. But if you are not careful about paying attention to that setting, you may end up tripping yourself up when you want to print out your document.

Let me show you what I mean. I'm actually going to create a new document here. I'm going to press Command+N or Ctrl+ N on Windows to get the New Document dialog box. You can see that where it says New Document Profile, if I have the Advanced options open, and you can just simply toggle that by clicking on this Arrow here. I can see that for Web profiles, my Raster Effects are set to 72 pixels per inch. That means that if I create drop shadows or I apply Photoshop effects like Pixelate or Mezzotint, those kinds of things get rasterized at 72 PPI. However, when I change to a print profile, you could see that the Raster Effects are now set to a higher resolution or 300 pixels per inch. So Illustrator is really smart in that the profiles contain the raster effects resolution that's best optimized for the kind of work that you want to do.

However, there may be times when you have a print document that you've created and you are copying and pasting content into a document that's specified for web. Alternatively, you may be working with documents that other people have created and you are not really sure what resolution those documents are set to. Even in a more common scenario, this particular feature where Illustrator is smart enough to know which resolution you want to choose based on your profile, only became available when Illustrator started having new document profiles. That's been since Illustrator CS3. In fact, from versions Illustrator 9, all the way through CS2, the default Raster Effect settings for any kind of document is only 72 pixels per inch.

So if you have documents that you are working on that have been created in those versions, you will also need to adjust this Effect Setting. So let me show you exactly where this setting actually applies inside of a document, and then we'll talk about exactly why it's important to pay attention to the Setting as well. I am going to start with a print document that's currently set to 300 pixels per inch. When I click OK and that creates my new document here. I can actually change that setting here by going to the Effect menu and choosing Document Raster Effects Settings. By choosing that over here, you can see that right now it is set to the High setting. That's because I chose the print profile. Remember had I chose the Web profile, the default setting would have been 72 pixels per inch. These resolution settings apply to the following effects. I'll click Cancel here.

If I go to the Effect menu, anytime that I use the Stylize, Drop Shadow, Feather, Inner Glow or Outer Glow effects, those elements to be rasterized at a setting that is currently used for document Raster Effects settings. It's important by the way to pay attention to this first word here, Document. This setting applies to all objects in your file. You have really no way to select one object and have that rasterized at one setting and have another particular object rasterized at a second setting. It's a document wide setting. You will also notice that if you choose the Rasterize option, you will have the ability here to say Use Document Raster Effects Resolution. That way, if you ever do rasterize things, you can just say well, use whatever setting I have in one place.

There is actually one other area where this setting is incredibly important. I'll click on the Cancel button here. You can see that the Effect menu is actually split into two different categories, Illustrator Effects and Photoshop Effects. Now, all these effects right here are actually plug-ins or filters that have come directly from Photoshop. As such they are all raster in nature. Therefore, any of these settings that appear in this list here also get rasterized at the setting that is currently set in the Document Raster Effects Settings. Now it's important to realize this because this is actually split up into two different lists for a reason. I want to show you an example of exactly what I mean. I'm going to go over here to my toolbar, I'm actually going to use my regular Ellipse tool, and draw two circles on my page. Let me go ahead and create a copy of this. We'll leave them side-by-side right here. And what I'm going to do is I'm actually going to get rid of the strokes on them.

Let's choose a Red fill. So now I want to apply some effects to this. For example I'll click on this one on the left over here. I'll choose Effect, then I'll choose Stylize. Let's apply a Feather to this. I'll choose let's say for the Preview option here I'll use the 50 point Feather. That looks pretty good. Now, we'll come and select this object and I want to apply a different effect. I'll go over to the Effect menu, I'll choose Blur, and then I'll choose Gaussian Blur. Remember this appears in the Photoshop Effects list, not in the Illustrator Effects list. So I'm going to go ahead and choose Gaussian Blur. I'll choose a setting for example like 60 pixels. Click OK. I can see that now both these shapes have somewhat of a similar appearance as far as how fuzzy they are.

But let's say I decided that I now can take some artwork that I defined in this particular document for print, and then I want to re-purpose it for some kind of web design. That document might have a document Raster Effect Settings set to 72 pixels per inch, not 300 pixels per inch. Well, take a look at this. I'm actually going to go back to the Effect menu. I'm going to choose Document Raster Effects Settings. For this document, I'm actually going to change the resolution to 72 PPI and not 300 PPI. When I click OK, take a look what happens to these objects here. This Gaussian Blur, which used 60 pixels, became such a large blur. It even gets clipped by the edges here. However, the Feather itself really hasn't changed in appearance at all. Why did this happen? So let's take a closer look at exactly what each of these filters do.

When I click on this one over here, and I go to my Appearance panel, I see that I have a feather. I'm going to click on the Feather, and I can see that my Feather Radius is set to 50 points. Points is a relative measure. Just because I have added more pixels in my document, Illustrator does the mathematical equations to figure that how many pixels need to fit inside of 50 points. So the overall appearance of that particular feather stays the same. Now, I'll click Cancel. Let's take a look at this object right here which has a Gaussian Blur applied to it. When I open up the Gaussian Blur effect, I can see that over here the Radius is set to 60 pixels. Pixels is an absolute measure.

By changing the number of pixels in my document, well it was once before 300 pixels per inch, which means my pixels are very, very, very small. Now, I have set my document to 72 pixels per inch, which means that the pixels get bigger. Hence, my Gaussian Blur becomes much bigger as well. That's the real reason why you have two different settings inside of the Effect menu. Anything that appears inside of the Illustrator Effects menu, even if it does get converted to raster as a final result, for example the Drop Shadows and the Inner Glows. Those are still vector in nature which means that Illustrator just figures out what I need.

However, the Photoshop effects all rely on the actual pixel setting itself. As such, anything that you ever apply to this Photoshop Effects menu will change in its appearance when you change the Document Raster Effects Settings. Now I just want to point out one other important thing inside of Illustrator. There are actually two resolution settings inside of Illustrator. One is dealing with effects as we've just been talking about here. Whenever I apply any kind of effect inside of Illustrator and that effect ends up turning into a rasterized image, that image will get rasterized at whatever setting I have set in the Document Raster Effects Settings.

However, you may also know that when it comes to transparency flattening, you also have the ability to set your document to a Low, Medium or High Resolution Flattener Setting. For example, if I go over here to the Edit menu and I choose Transparency Flattener Presets, I see that there is Low, Medium and High resolution settings. These settings here actually have nothing to do with the Document Raster Effects Resolution Settings that we have been talking about until this point. The Low, Medium and High resolution settings only come into play when Illustrator needs to flatten artwork due to transparency. For example, if I have two overlapping gradients that are transparent, the areas of those overlapping gradients to become rasterized, do so at whatever setting you have set here, meaning Low, Medium or High.

However, just as an example, if you have your Document Raster Effects Resolution set to 72 pixels per inch, for example with a Web profile and you then choose the High Resolution Flattener Preset when you print your document, that Drop Shadow or any of those other rasterized effects will still print at the 72 PPI setting. Now in reality, if you are doing web design, you really don't care about Transparency Flattener Presets at all, because everything is just being rendered to the screen. However, in a print-based workflow, you'll always want to make sure that your Document Raster Effects Setting is set to 300 pixels per inch from the beginning. Remember if you actually receive a document that was created in an earlier version of Illustrator, say Illustrator CS2, that document may be set to 72 pixels per inch. If you change the Document Resolution setting to 300 pixels per inch, any of those Photoshop types effects may change in appearance. So it's just something actually to look out for.

In addition, when you do print your document, you also want to make sure you are using the High Resolution Flattener Preset when printing final output.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics
Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics

137 video lessons · 29411 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 4s
    1. Welcome
      1m 41s
    2. Using the exercise files
      23s
  2. 33m 20s
    1. Introducing Live Paint
      38s
    2. Drawing in Illustrator
      4m 21s
    3. Creating a Live Paint group
      2m 54s
    4. Using the Live Paint Bucket tool
      3m 17s
    5. Using Live Paint with open paths
      2m 29s
    6. Detecting gaps in Live Paint groups
      4m 17s
    7. Adding paths to a Live Paint group
      3m 41s
    8. Using the Live Paint Selection tool
      5m 44s
    9. Releasing and expanding Live Paint groups
      2m 55s
    10. Understanding how Live Paint groups work
      3m 4s
  3. 49m 36s
    1. Introducing the trace options
      39s
    2. Setting expectations: Live Trace
      2m 26s
    3. Using the Live Trace feature
      1m 51s
    4. Understanding how Live Trace works
      5m 41s
    5. Making raster-based adjustments
      5m 52s
    6. Tracing with fills, strokes, or both
      2m 55s
    7. Making vector-based adjustments
      6m 12s
    8. Adjusting colors in Live Trace
      4m 39s
    9. Using Photoshop with Live Trace
      5m 22s
    10. Releasing and expanding Live Trace artwork
      2m 58s
    11. Saving and exporting Live Trace presets
      2m 36s
    12. Tracing in Batch mode with Adobe Bridge
      1m 35s
    13. Turning an image into mosaic tiles
      2m 28s
    14. Tracing an image manually
      4m 22s
  4. 1h 24m
    1. Introducing 3D
      33s
    2. Setting expectations: 3D in Illustrator
      2m 53s
    3. How fills and strokes affect 3D artwork
      4m 43s
    4. Applying the 3D Extrude & Bevel effect
      6m 25s
    5. Applying a bevel
      5m 40s
    6. Showing the hidden faces of a 3D object
      4m 49s
    7. Applying the 3D Revolve effect
      5m 22s
    8. Visualizing the revolve axis
      3m 5s
    9. Applying the 3D Rotate effect
      1m 35s
    10. Adjusting surface settings
      9m 33s
    11. Understanding the importance of 3D and groups
      3m 24s
    12. Preparing art for mapping
      10m 19s
    13. Mapping artwork to a 3D surface
      14m 21s
    14. Hiding geometry with 3D artwork mapping
      4m 0s
    15. Extending the use of 3D in Illustrator
      8m 7s
  5. 44m 37s
    1. Introducing transformations and effects
      32s
    2. Using the Transform panel
      12m 37s
    3. Repeating transformations
      5m 23s
    4. Using the Transform Each function
      3m 48s
    5. Using the Convert to Shape effects
      5m 49s
    6. Using the Distort & Transform effects
      5m 12s
    7. Using the Path effects
      6m 58s
    8. Using the Pathfinder effects
      4m 18s
  6. 28m 23s
    1. Introducing graphic styles
      33s
    2. Applying graphic styles
      10m 8s
    3. Defining graphic styles
      8m 46s
    4. Previewing graphic styles
      2m 10s
    5. Modifying graphic styles
      3m 30s
    6. Understanding graphic styles for text
      3m 16s
  7. 22m 49s
    1. Introducing advanced masking techniques
      32s
    2. Understanding clipping masks
      7m 15s
    3. Using layer clipping masks
      6m 30s
    4. Creating opacity masks
      8m 32s
  8. 1h 6m
    1. Introducing color
      40s
    2. Considering three types of color swatches
      7m 7s
    3. Managing color groups
      2m 58s
    4. Understanding the HSB color wheel
      3m 57s
    5. Understanding color harmonies
      2m 57s
    6. Using the color guide
      3m 54s
    7. Limiting the color guide
      3m 17s
    8. Modifying color with the Recolor Artwork feature
      6m 25s
    9. Using the Edit tab to adjust color
      5m 44s
    10. Using the Assign tab to replace colors
      8m 37s
    11. Making global color adjustments
      2m 17s
    12. Using Recolor options
      7m 3s
    13. Converting artwork to grayscale
      3m 23s
    14. Simulating artwork on different devices
      3m 18s
    15. Accessing Kuler directly from Illustrator
      2m 7s
    16. Ensuring high contrast for color-blind people
      2m 42s
  9. 53m 19s
    1. Introducing transparency
      40s
    2. Understanding transparency flattening
      2m 31s
    3. Exercising the two rules of transparency flattening
      10m 53s
    4. Understanding complex regions in transparency flattening
      4m 50s
    5. Exploring the transparency flattener settings
      8m 37s
    6. Using transparency flattening and object stacking order
      6m 39s
    7. Using the Flattener Preview panel
      6m 31s
    8. Creating and sharing Transparency Flattener presets
      2m 25s
    9. Working within an EPS workflow
      5m 3s
    10. Understanding the Illustrator and InDesign workflow
      5m 10s
  10. 50m 1s
    1. Introducing prepress and output
      23s
    2. Understanding resolutions
      8m 27s
    3. Discovering RGB and CMYK "gotchas"
      5m 42s
    4. Using Overprints and Overprint Preview
      7m 43s
    5. Understanding "book color" and proofing spot colors
      8m 1s
    6. Collecting vital information with Document Info
      2m 28s
    7. Previewing color separations onscreen
      1m 12s
    8. Making 3D artwork look good
      2m 16s
    9. Seeing white lines and knowing what to do about them
      2m 41s
    10. Creating "bulletproof" press-ready PDF files
      3m 45s
    11. Protecting content with secure PDFs
      2m 48s
    12. Using PDF presets
      2m 47s
    13. Moving forward: The Adobe PDF Print Engine
      1m 48s
  11. 35m 43s
    1. Introducing distortions
      27s
    2. Using the Warp effect
      4m 20s
    3. The Warp effect vs. envelope distortion
      3m 48s
    4. Applying the Make with Warp envelope distortion
      2m 45s
    5. Applying the Make with Mesh envelope distortion
      2m 41s
    6. Applying the Make with Top Object envelope distortion
      3m 45s
    7. Editing envelopes
      5m 0s
    8. Adjusting envelope settings
      4m 2s
    9. Releasing and expanding envelope distortions
      1m 44s
    10. Applying envelope distortions to text
      1m 27s
    11. Using the liquify distortion tools
      3m 5s
    12. Customizing the liquify tools
      2m 39s
  12. 28m 56s
    1. Introducing blends
      32s
    2. Blending two objects
      6m 18s
    3. Adjusting blend options
      5m 47s
    4. Blending three or more objects
      2m 9s
    5. Blending anchor points
      5m 36s
    6. Replacing the spine of a blend
      4m 32s
    7. Reversing the direction of a blend
      2m 15s
    8. Releasing and expanding a blend
      1m 47s
  13. 46m 54s
    1. Introducing charts and graphs
      35s
    2. Setting expectations: Graphs in Illustrator
      3m 19s
    3. Creating a chart
      8m 2s
    4. Importing data
      3m 34s
    5. Formatting data
      5m 1s
    6. Customizing a chart
      10m 21s
    7. Combining chart types
      2m 40s
    8. Creating graph designs
      6m 0s
    9. Styling and updating graphs
      5m 33s
    10. Ungrouping graphs
      1m 49s
  14. 26m 36s
    1. Introducing Gradient Mesh
      23s
    2. Understanding the Gradient Mesh feature
      9m 34s
    3. Using Gradient Mesh to add contoured shading
      6m 14s
    4. Using Gradient Mesh to create photorealistic effects
      10m 25s
  15. 8m 18s
    1. Introducing flare effects
      25s
    2. Drawing a lens flare
      3m 28s
    3. Modifying a lens flare
      1m 27s
    4. Using a mask with lens flares
      2m 58s
  16. 29s
    1. Goodbye
      29s

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