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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of the Illustrator drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
One of the things that we've come to expect when working with computer-based design is that whatever you see on your screen should match what you expect to see in printed output, or on other computer screens if for example you're creating Web graphics. However, Illustrator does have various preview modes. These various preview modes really serve two basic functions in Illustrator. The first function is well, giving you a really good idea of what your artwork is going to look like in its final form, whether that artwork will be appearing on a computer screen or in print.
But there's also a view mode in Illustrator that gives you a better idea of the structure of your artwork. In fact, you'll probably end up using that one more often. Let's take a closer look. I'll zoom in on this artboard right here. Click on it to make it active. Press Command+0 to zoom in on it. And I'm currently right now in Illustrator's default mode called Preview mode. You can see what mode you are in simply by looking over here in that document tab itself. It currently says CMYK. That's the color model my document is set to and it tells me the preview mode. However, you can choose between different preview modes by going to the View menu and looking at the first three settings that appear here.
First is a setting here called Outline mode. Outline mode is a way to view your artwork from the perspective of structure. In other words, rid your mind of color or actual appearance itself. You just want to see the raw vector paths that exist inside of your artwork. The keyboard shortcut for that is Command+Y and it's actually a very helpful mode to look at, because it gives you an idea of how the art is built inside of Illustrator. When you have very detailed artwork or artwork that overlaps itself, it may be easier for you to actually make selections in this viewing mode.
Also if you are tracing objects and you just want to get a really good idea of what your paths are doing, this is the mode for that. Again Command+Y is the toggle to go between Preview mode and Outline mode. Now, Illustrator has an additional two modes, which help you identify how your artwork will appear in different mediums. For example, I am going to go to View and then choose Pixel Preview mode. Pixel Preview mode is use to simulate how your artwork will appear when displayed on a television or on the web. For example, if you zoom in you'll actually see the anti-aliasing or the pixels that occur on those devices.
However, if my design is going to be used in print and I want to see what this is going to look like when it appears in final print, I can get a very accurate preview by going to the View menu and choosing something called Overprint Preview. This was actually a setting that was added to Illustrator to help you see certain transparency effects. For example, there is a way for you to define something called an overprint where you specify that certain inks mix on press to create special effect. Using the Overprint Preview mode you'd be able to see the result of those effects right on your screen.
Perhaps more importantly though the Overprint Preview mode gives you a very accurate display when using spot colors. For example, many designers when designing print pieces may use something called Pantone colors. We'll talk more about color in another chapter, but for now know if you are using Pantone spot colors and you want to get an accurate display of what that color is going to look like when it gets printed, using the Overprint Preview setting is the best way for you to see those colors. It's important to know that you can actually work and use either the Overprint Preview mode or the Pixel Preview mode the same way that you might work with the Preview mode in Illustrator.
However, the Overprint Preview mode is a little bit slower when it comes to redraw. Also even if you are in Overprint Preview mode when you press Command+Y to view outlines and you press Command+Y to come back to Preview, it doesn't return you to the Overprint Preview mode. It actually returns you back to the regular Preview mode. It's certainly important to know that all these preview modes exist, but realize on a day-to-day basis you are probably just be dealing with the Outline and the regular Preview mode. Just know that these additional preview modes are available to you should you ever need them.
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