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Covering a wide range of topics, from advanced masking to chart creation, Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics reveals a whole new level of power, creativity, and efficiency with Illustrator. Instructor Mordy Golding explores how to work with Live Paint groups, get the most out of the Live Trace feature, and take advantage of Illustrator’s wide range of effects. He also discusses advanced transformation techniques, powerful 3D functionality, and important color concepts. Exercise files accompany the course.
In a normal transparency workflow, you are working and you are having Illustrator handle all the flattening for you automatically in the workflow. For example, in the print stream or when it saves the file as EPS. But it's rare that you actually see the results of your flattening until you get your print job back or you get a proof back from the printer. So it can be really helpful to find some kind of way inside of Illustrator to make sure that your file is going to print correctly before you release the file. Likewise if you are in the business of pre-press you may want to double check a file before you send it out to print. Well, the good news is that Illustrator has a feature called Flattener Preview and that allows you to see the results of flattening before you actually flatten the file.
Now I have a file here called flattener_ preview. I'm actually going to zoom out just a little bit. You really need a big monitor or big screen to take advantage of this feature because it simply just takes up your whole screen. I'm going to move this over here to the upper left hand corner of my screen. I'm going to go to the Window menu and I'm going to choose Flattener Preview. Now you can resize this to be just about anything that you want but obviously the bigger that you can make it the better, as this area here is going to preview how your artwork will appear when it does get flattened. Now by default right now this Preview area is empty and I'm going to click on this Refresh button, which will now load my entire documents artwork into this window.
Now Illustrator gives me a variety of different ways or settings that I can look at my artwork and preview how the transparency is going to be flattened. For example, right over here there is a pop-up menu and for Highlight it says now None, just giving me a color preview of my artwork. But if I click on this button over here and I say show me all transparent objects in my file. Illustrator will now turn all the artwork gray and any art that does have any kind of transparency setting inside of it will turn red. So now if I just take a look at my artwork I can see exactly what is transparent and what is not. For example, here this image has the drop shadow. The image itself has no transparency inside of it so that stays gray. But I'm seeing the bounding area, which is going to get rasterized over here. More importantly there is a setting here called All Affected Objects. This simply highlights to me in red, all colors that are somehow affected by transparency.
Notice over here at this text. This text that, as we have discussed in previous movies, can be affected by transparency if it sits beneath the drop shadow in the objects stacking order. However, if I bring that text to the top of the stacking order it will not get affected by transparency. Well as you can see right here my text is colored red which means that it is going to be rasterized and somehow affected by the transparency flattening. For example, if I go over here and I choose show me all transparent objects, I can see that the S, the U, and the R are all colored red while the F and then the rest of the letters here are not. In fact, if I zoom in a little bit closer here, you can use just a regular mouse over here to actually click and zoom in and use a regular keyboard shortcuts that you would on the artboard. For example, hold down the Option key or the Alt key on my keyboard to zoom back out over here. But you can easily see over here that this text is red, which means that it will be affected by transparency and in this case here it would get rasterized.
Let me zoom out just a little bit over here and I can know that I can adjust that by simply coming over here, selecting the text on my artboard bringing it to the top of my stacking order and then choosing the Refresh button here. Notice that now in doing so this text is no longer colored red, I'm now ensured that that text will not get rasterized in flattening process and my file will print correctly. So, this is a great way to use the Flattener Preview panel to really make sure that your artwork is going to print correctly before you send it out to print. Now one of the things I want to point out over here where it says Highlight, I could also choose to basically highlight all of my Rasterized Complex Region.
In doing so, we can now see the areas that Illustrator has identified as being very complex and these are the areas that Illustrator is going to rasterize purely due to performance reasons. Now I'm going to move this panel over just a little bit because I want to access the fly-out menu here. I want to go ahead and choose Show Options and you will notice that now all the settings that I have had in the Flatten Transparency dialog box are now here as well. In fact, this is a great way to really see the difference that some of these particular setting make on your final results when your artwork get flattened. For example, we have been speaking about now the complex regions. So I'm going to go ahead and move this up a little bit. I want to be able to see the difference what happens to my artwork here when I adjust these settings here on the slider. We know that as I move my slider far, far towards the right more areas will become vector.
So I'll make sure that I'll have less and less rasterized content in my file, whereas the more I move the slider towards the left, I know that my artwork now becomes more and more raster. Basically I get better performance down here but I get better output quality when my slider is somewhere over here. So now for example, in this particular setting here where it set to 75 which is a default setting inside of Illustrator, I'm seeing a lot of this area here which is red which means that these are areas that Illustrator has identified as complex regions and will hence raster those areas so that they print faster.
But watch what happens when I take this slider and I turn it over up to 100. Now when I go ahead and I choose Refresh you will see that for the Highlight here the Rasterized Complex Regions setting is grayed out. That's because at the 100 setting there is no way that Illustrator can actually rasterize anything due to performance reasons. That's my way of basically turning off that possible setting. If I come down to 99 though and I choose Refresh, I may see now that there are fewer areas that are being rasterized as complex regions because now Illustrator just being a little bit more generous as far as saying I'll be okay with printing things little bit slower so I get better quality.
So there is one of the things to take a note of here in the Flattener Preview panel and that's with this particular setting right here, Convert All Text to Outlines or Convert All Strokes to Outlines. Now as I have spoken about before in previous movies those settings ensure that when I go ahead and I flatten all the text in my file, even it that text does overlap transparent regions and gets rasterize, they will all be converted to outlines so that my text will appear consistent in my file. However, calculating all that information takes a lot of time here in the Flattener Preview panel. So by default if I look over here at the panel menu I can see that the Quick Preview setting is turned on. With the Quick Preview setting Illustrator does not bother rendering how text is going to look when it gets converted to outlines. However, if I do choose the Detailed Preview, I'll see that any of the settings for the text also take effect here in the Flattener Preview panel and I'll also know that I have to take a little bit more time in rendering that from a performance perspective.
I will choose Hide Options again to return the Flattener Preview panel to its default view. So there you have it. The Flattener Preview panel does give you the opportunity to preview your artwork as it's going to get rasterized before you actually perform those steps. Now you don't need to do this for every file that you work on but if there are some files that you are working on it, you just want to make sure they are going to print correctly, the Flattener Preview is a great way to do that.
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