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Working with the Flattener preview

From: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced

Video: Working with the Flattener preview

Now if you know anything about the commercial print industry, you know that it's all digital these days and it's all based on the Postscript Printing Language. So you would naturally assume that anything that you can do in Illustrator is 100% Postscript compatible. After all who owns Postscript? Adobe. Adobe led with Postscript back in 1985 and then a couple of years later they came out with Illustrator 1.0. And back in the old days the two used to be in lockstep with each other, but these days Adobe invests it's new printing wizardry into the ever expanding PDF file format.

Working with the Flattener preview

Now if you know anything about the commercial print industry, you know that it's all digital these days and it's all based on the Postscript Printing Language. So you would naturally assume that anything that you can do in Illustrator is 100% Postscript compatible. After all who owns Postscript? Adobe. Adobe led with Postscript back in 1985 and then a couple of years later they came out with Illustrator 1.0. And back in the old days the two used to be in lockstep with each other, but these days Adobe invests it's new printing wizardry into the ever expanding PDF file format.

So things like Transparency are not compatible with Postscript. Postscript provides no provision for the Opacity value or blend modes or opacity masks or anything that we have seen in this chapter except for clipping masks. Everything else falls outside the domain of Postscript, so how in the world are we going to get an illustration like this to print? Well Illustrator does one of two things. It either breaks complex regions down into a bunch of independent vectors as you are printing the file or it goes ahead and rasterizes complex regions. Meaning that it converts those regions to pixels and that may seem like absolute heresy, that you spend in all this time creating vectors inside of Illustrator and then coverts the artwork to pixels behind your back.

To a certain extent it is heresy and I'll show you control that heresy, how to mitigate it inside of this exercise from the Flattener Preview palette, but I'm going to warn you of something about this palette. It is an absolute propeller head palette meaning that its quite tacky. You may find that you never want to revisit this palette again in your life and I'll show you a better technique then working inside of this palette in the next exercise when we take a look at Photoshop. But in the mean time you owe it to yourself to at least understand that this palette exist and get a sense of how you work with it. So I'm still working inside Final sans frame.ai. I'm going to go ahead and move this artwork over to left so I have some room right there to bring up my Flattener Preview palette and I'm going to go the Window menu and choose Flattener Preview, here it is.

Now not the most welcoming palette. It doesn't have much in the way of options. The only thing it really invites you to do actively anyway is to zoom on the blankness, which is an act of absurdity. But anyway here is how to make the palette, well, functional. Go up to the fly out menu and choose Show Option and that will give your a hand full of options with which to modify your artwork and by default I'm going to go ahead an change this Preset to Medium Resolution. These are the settings that you will see by default inside of Illustrator. Then I'll go ahead and switch to the Detail Preview, which permits me access to the couple of additional options.

All right so now you have got a palette that's actually useful make it taller so that you have a big Preview area here and then to take advantage of the Preview go ahead and click on the Refresh button. Now you will spend a lot of your time inside this palette clicking on Refresh. You can also zoom in by inside of the Preview area with this Zoom tool you can Alt-click or Option-click to zoom out and you can Spacebar+drag to move. Now don't press Ctrl+plus or Ctrl+ minus because if you do that you will actually zoom in and out of the artwork and that will get rid of your Preview and you have to click Refresh again and it's just a big pain in the neck. All right so I'll go ahead and zoom in on my artwork just a little bit. Right now we are just seeing Color Preview of the artwork. That doesn't really serve our purposes. We need to see what's going to print in what way. So go to the Highlight options and notice that you can check out a lot of different stuff.

For example you can see which strokes inside of your artwork are going to get outlined, converted to path outlines that is, and any where you are seeing red those represents outlines strokes. So these strokes are going to get converted to outlines which is pretty much everything inside the artwork because after all covert all the strokes to outlines is checked right there and if you didn't want that you turn it off but there is no reason to turn it off, because there is no downside to converting stroke to paths and if it suits Illustrator's purposes if the program is more likely to put the artwork this way then all the better. You can also see which text is going to get converted to outlines, so the top text is not but if you scroll down you will see that the bottom text is because it has all this transparency going on inside of it and that will have to be rendered out to independent vectors if nothing else.

Also you have the option of seeing which regions are going to be rasterized based on there sheer complexity this is kind of an interesting one. Some areas inside of Sammy's face are going to get rasterized that is converted to pixels, but now I should say this doesn't mean these are the only areas that will get rasterized, these are the areas that are so complicated they have to be rasterized but really everything inside of Sammy's face is ultimately going to get rasterized because its already a raster. Illustrator is not going to covert a raster object this is a photograph for example a pixel based photograph to a bunch of Vectors there is just no reason to do that.

So these are just regions that based again on their sheer complexity will be rendered out to rasters. If you want to see everything that's going to be rasterized, you will choose this command and you only see this command if you are looking at the Detailed View. Remember this detailed view function right there? You have to have that turned on in order to see this command all rasterized regions. This can be a little alarming when you choose this command especially where this artwork is concerned. Notice that the entire artwork is going to be rasterized and I'll go ahead and Alt-click or Option-click to zoom out and the only thing that's not getting rasterized is the border, oh my gosh, and the text right there at the top.

And that's well just playing strange. Well here is why that's happening. We have this gradient that's covering up this entire area that's proposing to get rasterzied right there. If you turn that gradient off, that gradient overlay that's responsible for that blue bound stand there, then of course my preview will disappear. That's just par for the course. You have to click on the Refresh once again and now you will see then not nearly so much stuff is getting rasterized. This area around the text because of its transparency and because of its Drop Shadow and also the other areas that are effected by Drop Shadows, like below these drapes right here and below the curtains. Those areas are getting rasterized and then of course the areas that are getting rasterized based on their sheer complexity, like in Sammy's face.

All right so that's a lot better. Oh and this area that has the gradient applied to the bench, remember that gradient opacity mask that's going on inside the bench right there, that area requires rasterization as well. Not that may concern you that you are converting the pixels and after all that should concern you because it's very possible that because of this gradient right there, let's say just for a moment let's backup and say you want that gradient you are married to that gradient it has to remain part of the artwork. Okay fair enough, go ahead and turn it back on. Click Refresh. This entire area is getting rasterized. That's just the way it is, but what is the resolution of that image that's going to be printed from Illustrator and you don't really know is the answer.

It could be the Line Art and Text Resolution of 300 pixels per inch or it could be the Gradient and Mesh Resolution of 150 pixels per inch because after all it's a gradient that's causing this problem and if you look at this warning it says Resolution values are saved with Presets, yes they are, but will not be previewed in the panel. So you cant tell what's going on inside the panel you cannot see the pixels inside the panel you are just going to see the Vector art. So what I would suggest, if you are looking in alarming situation like this where just basically the entire artwork is going to pixels no matter what you do and notice even if you crank up this slider right there, you can switch by the way between Presets if you want and high resolution is going to go ahead and crank that slider all the way to Vector. So in other words, if Illustrator can print it as Vectors it will. It will do it and you click on Refresh and it's still showing you that oh, my gosh that this entire area is going to get rasterized.

Now then we have higher resolution values of 1200 pixels per inch but we still have Gradient and Mesh resolution of 300 pixels per inch and the thing is your final commercial printer probably has a resolution of something like 2540 pixels per inch or it may be beyond that. So 300 pixels per inch for Line Art is not all that high and so you might want it just go ahead and increase that value to something like 600 pixels per inch. You loose your Preview so then go ahead and click on the Refresh button to bring it back and you will once again see that this is rasterized area.

So that's one way to work is to basically explicitly state to Illustrator the resolution at which you want your artwork to print. The other thing though, if you are looking at a piece of artwork that is going to get converted to pixels like this, the better thing to do is just save the artwork as a pixel based image. Because after all that's going to print really quickly you are not asking Illustrator make all these decisions on the fly you are not leaving it to fate to decide what's going to happen, when you send this out to a commercial print house. If you open the illustration inside of Photoshop you can see a better preview of what that illustration is going to look like then you can inside of Illustrator and I'm going to show you what I mean and how that works in the next exercise.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced
Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced

149 video lessons · 21466 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
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  1. 28m 41s
    1. Welcome
      1m 7s
    2. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      8m 59s
    3. Resetting the Function keys on a Mac
      4m 47s
    4. Installing the CS4 color settings
      4m 20s
    5. Loading the CS4 color settings in Illustrator
      6m 3s
    6. Loading the CS4 color settings in Bridge CS4
      3m 25s
  2. 1h 53m
    1. From the simple emerges the complex
      42s
    2. Introducing Pathfinder operations
      4m 17s
    3. Editing a compound shape
      4m 39s
    4. Adding to a compound shape
      3m 11s
    5. Inserting a subpath into a compound shape
      3m 56s
    6. Expanding a compound shape
      4m 53s
    7. Assembling primitives
      4m 42s
    8. Preparing a template in Photoshop
      7m 0s
    9. Uniting paths permanently
      5m 40s
    10. Minus Front vs. Minus Back
      1m 55s
    11. Working with compound paths
      6m 49s
    12. When in doubt, divide
      3m 54s
    13. Divide and Unite
      3m 2s
    14. Open path pitfalls
      5m 35s
    15. Strokes bad, fills good
      4m 38s
    16. Advanced Divide and Unite
      8m 59s
    17. Using the Crop operation
      8m 30s
    18. Expert Divide and Unite
      8m 45s
    19. "Ghosting" shapes with Fill Opacity
      6m 45s
    20. Anticipating and troubleshooting
      8m 16s
    21. Exclude and Intersect
      7m 24s
  3. 44m 59s
    1. Familiar one moment, different the next
      1m 3s
    2. Snapping to anchor points
      5m 41s
    3. Aligning a group to the artboard
      3m 34s
    4. Distributing objects on the artboard
      4m 16s
    5. Setting the key object
      4m 54s
    6. Distributing objects by space
      3m 6s
    7. Distributing objects by selections
      3m 19s
    8. Aligning point text
      6m 7s
    9. Aligning live text vs. using outlines
      4m 58s
    10. Aligning key letters
      3m 35s
    11. Aligning to key objects
      4m 26s
  4. 1h 4m
    1. CS4’s gradient renaissance
      1m 7s
    2. Applying a gradient
      6m 0s
    3. Dragging and dropping color swatches
      2m 55s
    4. Using the Gradient palette
      6m 27s
    5. Designing a shaded gradient
      5m 9s
    6. Saving a gradient swatch and adding a texture
      4m 2s
    7. Introducing the new Gradient tool
      4m 39s
    8. Editing color stops inside a shape
      3m 26s
    9. Setting multiple gradients to the same angle
      5m 0s
    10. Adding and adjusting radial gradients
      7m 20s
    11. Making a transparent gradient
      7m 6s
    12. Adding drop shadows (a kind of gradient)
      6m 28s
    13. Blends vs. blend modes
      4m 38s
  5. 1h 17m
    1. Creating freeform color flows
      1m 0s
    2. The power of CS4's transparent gradients
      10m 25s
    3. Creating a gradient mesh
      4m 30s
    4. Expanding a gradient to a gradient mesh
      7m 40s
    5. Adding and deleting rows and columns
      6m 13s
    6. Selecting and coloring points
      6m 5s
    7. Assigning colors with the Eyedropper tool
      7m 42s
    8. Cool mesh editing techniques
      3m 56s
    9. Warping and puckering a mesh
      7m 24s
    10. Applying precise finishing touches
      5m 48s
    11. Gradient strokes
      9m 45s
    12. Gradient text
      6m 50s
  6. 55m 35s
    1. The first of the dynamic functions
      1m 4s
    2. Making a blend automatically
      5m 48s
    3. Fixing problem blends
      3m 56s
    4. Making a blend with the Blend tool
      3m 6s
    5. Cloning and coloring a blended path
      4m 37s
    6. Creating a mask
      3m 53s
    7. Blending between translucent shapes
      5m 30s
    8. Blending along a curve
      4m 34s
    9. Adjusting the speed of a blend
      2m 58s
    10. Filling and stroking a mask
      4m 36s
    11. Creating a compound clipping mask
      6m 3s
    12. Nesting one clipping mask inside another
      6m 7s
    13. Ghosting nested masks and blends
      3m 23s
  7. 1h 13m
    1. Patterns that repeat forever and ever
      51s
    2. Introducing tile patterns
      6m 36s
    3. Beginning a core design
      5m 6s
    4. Building an interlocking element
      6m 25s
    5. Achieving precise radial symmetry
      4m 46s
    6. Rotating duplicates around a common center
      3m 10s
    7. Determining how a pattern repeats
      9m 54s
    8. Coloring the core objects
      5m 0s
    9. Identifying the rectangular tile
      7m 14s
    10. Saving tile patterns
      7m 19s
    11. Applying tile patterns to a shape
      3m 25s
    12. Protecting patterns from transformations
      7m 36s
    13. Moving patterns without paths
      5m 51s
  8. 1h 19m
    1. Illustrator gets natural
      1m 15s
    2. Introducing the vector painting tools
      3m 16s
    3. Calligraphic brush options
      4m 3s
    4. Pressure sensitivity
      5m 17s
    5. Editing a calligraphic brush
      5m 53s
    6. Repainting and smoothing paths
      5m 30s
    7. Making the paintbrush behave
      6m 16s
    8. Erasing stroked paths
      3m 17s
    9. Painting with the new Blob brush
      6m 24s
    10. Refining filled paths with the Eraser
      4m 14s
    11. Painting independent paths
      3m 53s
    12. The Selection Limits Merge options
      3m 20s
    13. Applying and scaling an art brush
      6m 23s
    14. Snipping a brushed path
      4m 55s
    15. Colorizing an art brush
      4m 9s
    16. Heaping a stroke on an art brush effect
      4m 32s
    17. Creating a custom art brush
      6m 51s
  9. 1h 44m
    1. The computer art world’s dynamic duo
      1m 7s
    2. Copying and pasting pixels from Photoshop
      7m 21s
    3. Linking is efficient, embedding is not
      2m 47s
    4. Editing an image in Illustrator
      7m 30s
    5. Filtering an image in Photoshop
      6m 34s
    6. Adding a filter mask in Photoshop
      6m 25s
    7. Masking a woman from the background
      3m 49s
    8. Creating a sepia effect
      6m 37s
    9. Adding a second gradient map layer
      2m 13s
    10. Achieving a graphic effect with Levels
      8m 10s
    11. Preparing an image for use in Illustrator
      5m 46s
    12. The importance of image resolution
      9m 40s
    13. Placing and linking images
      4m 43s
    14. Managing linked images
      6m 18s
    15. Integrating an image into a design
      5m 12s
    16. A better way to wrap text
      7m 28s
    17. Previewing the trim size
      4m 25s
    18. Layer comps and editable text
      8m 42s
  10. 2h 11m
    1. Transparency is safe and fun
      1m 27s
    2. Introducing the translucent composition
      4m 39s
    3. Assigning opacity to an Appearance attribute
      3m 41s
    4. Creating a knockout group
      5m 7s
    5. Defining an opacity mask
      7m 15s
    6. Using the Clip checkbox
      2m 41s
    7. Opacity mask tips and tricks
      3m 20s
    8. The Multiply blend mode
      6m 8s
    9. Adding to an existing opacity mask
      7m 53s
    10. Blending between parallel groups
      7m 27s
    11. Creating a gradient opacity mask
      4m 54s
    12. Employing an opposing gradient mask
      7m 57s
    13. Combining Multiply and Screen
      3m 49s
    14. Blend mode roundup
      5m 24s
    15. Mixing blend modes inside a single path
      3m 48s
    16. Blend mode and transparent gradient
      3m 49s
    17. Masking an entire layer
      7m 0s
    18. Combining Screen with 100K Black
      7m 43s
    19. Knocking out a drop shadow
      5m 18s
    20. But will it print?
      3m 8s
    21. Working with the Flattener preview
      8m 44s
    22. Rasterizing an illustration in Photoshop
      9m 16s
    23. Super-rich blacks and raster effects
      3m 35s
    24. Exporting TIFF artwork from Illustrator
      7m 48s
  11. 58s
    1. Until next time
      58s

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