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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, author and industry expert Deke McClelland teaches how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic features in Illustrator CS5. This course demonstrates how to apply these features to paths, groups, and editable text to create professional-quality artwork. The course covers Live Trace, Live Paint, and Live Color, as well as symbols, gradients, exporting, and integration with Photoshop. Exercise files accompany the course.
I have saved my progress as Letters in 14 colors.ai. In this exercise I am going to demonstrate what I consider to be the most significant setting inside of the Tracing Options dialog box, it's a check box that goes by the name of Ignore White. And it's very useful when you have a bunch of black objects or colored objects as well, against a white background. Because otherwise what happens when that check box is turned off as by default, you trace the white areas as well as all of the other colors. So let me show you what that means, I'll go up to the Expand button here in the control panel and click on it.
So my live trace object is selected. To convert it to static path outlines, I will click on Expand and you can see that along with all of my other path outlines, I have this big rectangle around my entire image. Now if I twirl open the image layer, I will see that I've got a group. I want to get rid of that group, so I can gain access to my individual objects. So I will go up here to the Object menu and I'll choose Ungroup or press Ctrl+Shift+G, Cmd+Shift+G on the Mac in order to ungroup my various objects. Then I'll click off of the artwork to deselect it, and I will hover over the location where that rectangle used to be a moment ago.
Then I can see a little black square next to my cursor, so that tells me that there is something under the cursor that I can click on and select, and sure enough it's this big huge mass of whiteness. And notice if I move it to a different location, I end up covering up some of these letters such as the black letters up at top. There is no reason to have this path outline, it's just a waste of time and it would make editing my artwork a lot more difficult. So I could just press the Backspace Key or the Delete Key on the Mac to get rid of it. And then set about editing my remaining letters or I could just not create that path in the first place, so let me show you how that works.
I will go up to the File menu and choose the Revert command or press F12, then I will say yes, I want to revert the artwork to the saved version and that will reinstate my traced object right there. So I will go ahead and marquee it to select it. Then I will go up to the control panel and click on that Tracing options icon to bring up the dialog box and there's Ignore White right there. But I want you to notice something, before I turn it on; I want you to see the statistics that are located over here on the right side of the dialog box. So I can see the number of path outlines that I'll be creating if I were to expand the artwork.
I'll see the number of anchor points, that's fairly interesting I guess, that I have 2800 and change anchor points inside my artwork. I've a total of 13 colors, even though I specified 14, for some reason Illustrator's seen fit to just apply 13 of them, one of them is white by the way. I've got 261 areas. Now areas are areas that have to be traced inside of the artwork. Areas that Illustrator has computed, that is, that it's isolated and it knows it needs to trace. But it needs to trace them using 470 different path outlines, some of which are sub paths inside of other paths.
And we will see that these numbers change, well at least one of them does. The paths number will change dramatically when we turn on Ignore White. And then we can see image PPI, that is the image resolution is 72 pixels per inch. All right, so I am going to turn on Ignore White, and that's going to tell Illustrator not to trace the white regions, that didn't change my values at all or my artwork and that's because the Preview check box is not on. In order to see the results of your changes and in order to update the stats, Preview has to be turned on. So turn on that check box and watch these values right here.
Watch how the Areas doesn't change at all, because those are the areas that need to be traced no matter what, however, the number of paths just dropped precipitously and we have far fewer anchor points as well and we have one fewer color. So instead of 13 colors, we now are tracing 12 colors, because we're no longer creating white. And now if I go ahead and click the Trace button in order to apply that setting, then I am going to go ahead and zoom in on my artwork right here. And I want you to see how we can see some pixels around each one of the letters.
I will go ahead and zoom in even farther, that's because if I go up to the jagged pyramid, I have the original image lurking in the background; that is where the preview is concerned. And because there's no white to cover up those edges, we can see those pixels. All right now however, if I go ahead and click on the Expand button, let's go and zoom out a little bit here so that we can see the results. As soon as I click on Expand, where formerly we had that big rectangle around all the artwork, when I click on expand now, there is no rectangle, the white totally disappears, and we are just left with our significant pieces of artwork which are the letters themselves.
And the letters are treated as compound paths, so Illustrator is not tempted to fill the area inside the D for example with white, not that it necessarily would do that, but now it has no option other than to create compound paths, that is this area inside the D cuts a hole in the outer path. And that's how you use that Ignore White check box. I recommend that you go ahead and give that one a try any time you are tracing artwork, but particularly when you're tracing black or colored objects against a white background.
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