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One of the unfortunate things about computer-based design is that we as designers have become accustomed to what I call the WYSIWYG complex. By this I mean that we're used to whatever we see on our screens reflecting exactly what comes out of our printer or shows up on other people's screens. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case, and we need a way to preview our work in an accurate manner. In Illustrator, we use something called Preview modes to accomplish this, let's take a look at some of those modes now. So I have this file open here, and one of the things that I might want to look at is the overall structure of the document, because I might have some effects applied to things or I might have some warps or meshes going on inside of my document and I really just need to see the underlying structure of the document itself.
In order to do that I can jump into something called Outline Mode, which is basically just going to show me all of the different shapes that are available to me inside of my design. There are two ways to get to Outline Mode; I can go up to the View menu and choose Outline, or I can simply hit the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Y or Command+Y and that cycles me in and out. Once I'm inside of Outline Mode, you can see all of the different little pieces and parts that make up my artwork. This look significantly different than the artwork itself, as you can see the flower actually has some effects applied to it, these little squares down here, all different colors and things like that, but at its core, the skeleton of this is just this composition of squares and circles and things like that.
So Outline Mode is a great way to actually get down to the heart of your graphics and look exactly what's going on. Now once you've done that, you may also want to utilize something called Overprint Preview. Overprint Preview is a great way to look at your artwork as if it were actually going to be printed. This is especially helpful when you're working with spot colors. When you're working with spot colors inside of Illustrator, using the Overprint Preview is the easiest way to get an accurate representation of exactly how those spot colors will look, once they're printed. You also have the ability to utilize something called Pixel Preview.
Pixel Preview is a great way to see exactly what your artwork is going to look like when it's reproduced on a screen, like a web site, or even a TV or a projector for instance. If you turn on Pixel Preview, you'll notice immediately your artwork doesn't look quite as crisp as it did before. Especially, if you're zoomed into a high zoom percentage, like I am here 300%. If I go back out to 100%, you'll notice it looks pretty good, that's because that's the default size, but as I zoom in you'll see the more pixelated it becomes.
If you want to turn Pixel Preview off, just go back to View and uncheck the box. Now if I zoom in, it looks just as crisp and clear as ever. So depending on the size of your document the Pixel Preview may look different at different magnification levels. No matter what though, preview modes are extremely handy for making sure that your work displays properly in a variety of different formats. The next time you're working on a project, whether it be for print, or web, or wherever, use the preview modes to get a better understanding of how your finished product will appear, whether that's going to be on a piece of paper or on a TV screen or on a web site.
Preview modes are a great way to get accurate representations of your finished product.
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