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Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics

Using transparency flattening and object stacking order


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Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics

with Mordy Golding

Video: Using transparency flattening and object stacking order

When you are using transparent effects inside of Illustrator we know that at the end of the day, we are going to have to go to that transparency flattening process and in doing so we also know that under certain circumstances Illustrator will be forced to convert certain artwork into rasterized regions if necessary. Now obviously if Illustrator is forced to rasterize a certain area there is a nothing that we can do to prevent that. But if we know when those particular times happen, we may be able to build our file in a certain way so that the rasterization process is never necessary at all. So keeping that in mind, let's take a look at how stacking order can affect the results of what happens during the flattening process. I have here a file that's called stacking_order and I have an image that exists within a mask. In this case it's an oval shape. And I have some text here called SURF'S UP! Now let's take a look at my Layers panel here. I'll see that I have my text over here called SURF'S UP! And then beneath it I have the group, which is basically the image inside of the mask. Now what I'm going to do is I'm actually going to change the stacking order a little bit. I'm going to take the actual image itself, I'm going to choose Object > Arrange, I'm going to choose Bring to Front. So now you can see that my Group with the image is sitting on top of the text in the stacking order.
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  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 anchor points
      5m 36s
    5. Blending three or more objects
      2m 9s
    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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Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics
9h 42m Intermediate Apr 03, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Tracing artwork both automatically and manually
  • Mapping artwork to complex 3D surfaces
  • Using pressure-sensitive distortion tools
  • Recoloring artwork across a document
  • Using Excel data to create charts and graphs
  • Understanding how transparency really works
  • Creating high-quality, press-ready PDFs
  • Building efficient files with graphic styles
Subject:
Design
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Mordy Golding

Using transparency flattening and object stacking order

When you are using transparent effects inside of Illustrator we know that at the end of the day, we are going to have to go to that transparency flattening process and in doing so we also know that under certain circumstances Illustrator will be forced to convert certain artwork into rasterized regions if necessary. Now obviously if Illustrator is forced to rasterize a certain area there is a nothing that we can do to prevent that. But if we know when those particular times happen, we may be able to build our file in a certain way so that the rasterization process is never necessary at all. So keeping that in mind, let's take a look at how stacking order can affect the results of what happens during the flattening process. I have here a file that's called stacking_order and I have an image that exists within a mask. In this case it's an oval shape. And I have some text here called SURF'S UP! Now let's take a look at my Layers panel here. I'll see that I have my text over here called SURF'S UP! And then beneath it I have the group, which is basically the image inside of the mask. Now what I'm going to do is I'm actually going to change the stacking order a little bit. I'm going to take the actual image itself, I'm going to choose Object > Arrange, I'm going to choose Bring to Front. So now you can see that my Group with the image is sitting on top of the text in the stacking order.

Next, I'm going to go ahead and with this particular artwork selected, I'm now going to go to the Effect menu, I'm going to choose Stylize and we are going to add a Drop Shadow. Just take the regular settings right here. Then I see now that I have added a Drop Shadow to this mask right over here. I am also going to take my text. I'm going to position it just about over here. Let's move this over to the side of the screen just somewhat, where the text is not actually touching the drop shadow in anyway. But we also know basically how Illustrator is going to have to rasterize that drop shadow.

We know that the Drop Shadow is going to be an effect that's going to get rasterize during the flattening process. We also know that raster images are always rectangular in shape and because this drop shadow has a soft edge, there is no clipping mask that can be made to contain that area. So that means that I'm basically going to end up with like a rectangle that's going to be about this big that's going to contain that particular Drop Shadow. But notice that the rectangle went out and covered over certain letters in my text. I'm actually going to go ahead and delete this for now. We will also note that the background here in my file is white. Remember when Illustrator goes ahead and flattens the transparency there can be no transparent areas. So in that rectangular raster image that's going to be created that will contain the Drop Shadow, the Drop Shadow will fade beautifully into a white background.

So here is the problem. My text currently sits in the back of the stacking order. If my image when it gets flattened gets that big white rectangle behind it, the white rectangle will actually cover over some of the letters in the words over here. Now that results in a change in appearance. Now Illustrator is not allowed to change the appearance of my file, so in doing so because my text is just somewhere in the vicinity of this Drop Shadow, this text gets caught in the drop shadow. That's going to be turned into a raster image. As such part of this text will get rasterize.

Now if you remember some of the examples that we have used to actually demonstrate how the transparency flattening process happens, when Illustrator does need to rasterize certain areas it doesn't rasterize the entire file. It only rasterize those specific regions that need to get rasterize. So the result that's going to happen in this case here is that part of my letters will become rasterize because they get caught or fall within the bounding area of that drop shadow. But a couple of letters here that exist outside of that bounding area don't need to get rasterize at all. So those remain vector. My result of my file is going to be some of those letters will be rasterized in form, some will be vector and the output will actually show that difference and that's because we know that vector and raster images also get rasterized at different levels, especially in the rift.

For example, images may get rasterized at 300 dpi whereas text may get rasterized at the native resolution, which could be 2400 or even 3600 dpi. In fact, if you ever seen a particular file like a magazine where you have some text that looks like it's bold and some text is not bold. There is a good chance that that particular text that's bold is not really set to the bold version of the typeface. More likely it somewhere in the vicinity of another transparency effect and that text got caught in that transparency effect and during the flattening process it became rasterized and hence it had that bold appearance.

So let's demonstrate that exactly. I have this text over here. Remember my text is now sitting beneath my group with the image in the object stacking order. I'm going to press Command+A on the Mac or Ctrl+A on Windows to select all of my artwork and now I'm going to go to the Object menu and I'm going to Flatten Transparency. I'm just going to use the regular settings here and you will see that the result simply is over here that I had some text and part of that text got actually turned into image. See over here where I have Image Pixels and this part over here SURF'S and half of the U got converted to an image. I'm going to press Undo here to move my text beneath it, so you can see that that certainly becomes a problem. And again, that happened because the bounding box, the region for this particular drop shadow was so big that it actually taken up part of that particular text.

So I'm going to press Undo. I'm going to go back to now where the transparency is still live in my document. I have a live drop shadow and my live text. I'm simply going to change the stacking order of my artwork. I'm going to take my text and choose Object > Arrange > Bring to Front. So now in the stacking order my text is above the image. Now if my drop shadow needs to have a white box, that's fine because the white box will sit behind the text. Hence there will be no change in appearance in my document and as such that second rule of flattening that basically would tell Illustrator that it has to rasterize those areas never comes into play at all.

So by simply moving the text up to the top of the stacking order, I can avoid any of the side effects and in this way the text itself will not have to get rasterize. Just to show you I'll press Command+A or Ctrl+A once again. I'll now choose Object > Flatten Transparency and click OK and we can now see that the text itself is completely vector. There is no raster part at all. I have this part of the image to the white image that sits behind the text. So at the end of the day my text basically appears without any issues whatsoever. So the take away is this. When you are working with transparency, it's really important to always make sure that your text objects are always at the top of the stacking order.

One of the ways that I always ensure that this is the case is that I go ahead and I create a new layer in my document and I put that layer at top of my stacking order and I call it my text layer. Where possible I always put my text objects in that text layer. Since that layer will always sit above everything else in my file, I'm always assured that my text will not get rasterized.

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